•Agony, anger as ritual killers, cultists, kidnappers make life miserable for residents
By Kehinde Aderemi
In the last few weeks in Ikorodu, a sprawling community in Lagos, all has not been well. The town and scores of its satellite communities have been enveloped in deep apprehension prompted by the gruesome activities of kidnappers, bloodthirsty cultists and ritual killers.
Since the completion, in 2015, of the new Lagos Road, which stretches from the town to Mile 12, Ikorodu has been welcoming new residents in their numbers. Unarguably one of the fast developing towns in the state, it is estimated that about two million souls dwell in Ikorodu and its satellite communities. Lagoons, creeks and rivers literally encircle the entire town.
From Ajegunle, Majidun, Ebute, Baiyeku and Ijede, residents of the community can easily commute to Lagos Island via the waterways. And in a matter of minutes, the commuter is at Marina, Ajah or whatever part of the Island he’s travelling to.
Until recently, Ikorodu residents had no reason to be apprehensive. Blessed with indigenes that are quite homely and accommodating, Ikorodu has for years been a land of fun. At the weekends, many of the residents host social parties where attendees don uniform traditional attire called aso-ebi, soirees at which participants get the best of food and drinks. Indeed, until recently, Ikorodu had always been a town bubbling with life.
Ikorodu in recent times
Well, not anymore. Today, many have tagged Ikorodu the Lagos capital of horror. With many criminal activities, ranging from ritual killings, bank robberies, oil bunkering, kidnapping and others recurring in the community, the usually peaceful town and its satellite communities are gradually becoming a very volatile abode for residents. Many of the dwellers no longer sleep with both eyes closed. Residents are now voluntarily vacating their homes as security challenges stare them in the face. From Ibeshe, Agric, Imota, Adamo, Erunwe, Ijede and other communities across the town, fear, frustration and cries of agony are the lot of many.
Adekunle Ajayi, a resident, told the reporter: “I relocated to Ikorodu in 1999, and since then, I have been living here peacefully without any chaos. But the situation changed recently.
“I would say it began with the supremacy battle between two rival cult groups, The Aiye and the Eiye, and they started killing one another in the town. And that has been the major security challenge that I have experienced since I moved down to Ikorodu from Mushin.”
The Badoo boys
Of the many criminal activities in Ikorodu, none has been as frightening to the people as the viciousness of the group known as Badoo Boys. In the past few weeks, serial murders of entire families in Ikorodu have been a recurring evil. The killings allegedly perpetrated by the daredevil gang have caused a lot of fear and apprehension in the community.
Since June last year, the Badoo Boys have allegedly struck in over 12 different homes, killing entire families. They started from Ibeshe, one of the coastal communities around Ikorodu about two years ago. They have since spread their devilish dragnets to other communities like Imota, Layode in Adamo, Erunwen and others.
Since the Badoo Boys invaded Ikorodu, inflicting death and sorrow upon many families, many myths have been woven around the seemingly irrepressible band of criminals. Some swear that the members are well schooled in voodoo, insisting that the killer boys simply appear inside the homes of would-be victims whom they hypnotise and slaughter, before disappearing without a trace. It is also believed that the Badoo Boys are ritual killers, who rape their female victims and kill the males. It is said that they never steal anything from the homes of their victims.
Now, Ikorodu residents can no longer sleep with both eyes closed, that is, if they sleep at all. They now engage in house-to-house vigilance, with residents of affected areas mounting all-night surveillance almost on daily basis.
Naturally, many young boys suspected of belonging to the Badoo group have been mobbed and lynched by angry residents.
“The killings are becoming too much for us residents of Ikorodu,” lamented Adeola Talabi. “We can no longer sleep comfortably in our homes. Now, everybody comes out every night to participate in security duties. I think the police should help get rid of these boys. How long will residents continue to have sleepless nights over security issues when we have a government? The state government as well as the police should be proactive and find a lasting solution to all these security challenges we are faced with in Ikorodu and its environs.”
On Monday, June 5, a young man suspected of belonging to the Badoo group was set ablaze at Aga area of Ikorodu. A police team despatched to rescue the young man was resisted by the mob, which ensured that the suspect was sufficiently beaten and battered before he was burnt alive.
Menace of cult boys
Thursday, July 7, 2016 was a normal day in Ikorodu. But that was until the Aiye and Eiye cult groups turned the day into a dreadful one. Members of the rival groups invaded many communities in the town, killing, maiming and spreading sorrow across the place. It was gathered that both groups were initiating new members on the day, and that part of the initiation process was the killing of seven members of each of the communities. Residents told the reporter that many residents lost their lives on that day.
Illegal oil bunkering
The activities of oil thieves have been largely curtailed by the security agencies, especially the Nigerian Navy. But before then, the illicit trade was big business among the ‘big boys’ in the creeks of Ikorodu. A few years ago, the oil thieves in Majidun area of the town engaged the Nigerian Navy personnel in a gun-duel, in a battle won by the military men. Thousands of gallons of premium motor spirit, otherwise known as petrol, were seized from the suspected oil thieves. Since then, the Navy men have created a mini-outpost at Majidun. And the oil thieves seem to have relocated to other areas. But the community is now a shadow of its former self.
In 2015, vicious bank robbers made Ikorodu their target. Between January and July of that year, four different cases of bank attacks were reported in Ikorodu, all carried out in broad daylight, with all the robbers escaping into the creeks after successful raids during which millions of naira were carted away. Among such cases were the raids on banks on Lagos Road, Ebute and Ijede areas of Ikorodu.
Alhaji Azeez Rahman, an Ikorodu-based businessman, told the reporter: “There was never a time in the entire Ikorodu when robbers would sack the whole town. It came as a huge surprise and threat to us as robbers raided two banks in a day, robbing for hours and shooting all through the period. And then, they all disappeared like ghosts through the waterways.
“But at the moment, the situation has subsided, and no bank robbery has been recorded since then. The Lagos State government and the police have really done well on this.”
In most parts of Ikorodu, the rift between landowners and land grabbers, commonly known as omo-onile, has for long been a major issue. Few years ago, residents of Igbo Olomu, Agbede and Isawo became so worried about the menace of the Omo-onile that many fled their homes. Not a few people lost their lives in the crisis. However, the Lagos State government later came to their rescue by banning the unlawful activities of land speculators across the state. With the regulation, it seems the state government was able to reduce the activities of the Omo-onile in the state. However, there are signs that they still operate in parts of Ikorodu, in spite of the law, and many landowners are still at the mercy of the land speculators.
A recent crisis at Araromi, in Ikorodu North Local Council Development Area, was as a result of the unlawful activities of the land speculators. The disagreements between the owner of a building and some Omo-onile over the payment of some levies allegedly degenerated into a major crisis in the community that led to the death of four people. Several houses were set ablaze. Those killed were accused of being members of the dreaded Badoo group. Since the incident, many have fled their homes in the area.
In times past, stories of violence and kidnappings were not too common in Ikorodu, although there had been a few isolated cases. But the crisis spiralled in March 2016, when three students of Babington Macaulay School, Agunfoye, Ikorodu, were abducted by a group of gunmen. For five days, the three girls were held hostage by their abductors, who demanded several millions as ransom from the parents of their victims. The girls were later released, shortly after the parents have allegedly parted with some money.
At various times after the incident, residents of Ikorodu have consistently experienced various attacks. One of such attacks occurred when militants invaded Isawo community and went on a killing spree, murdering five policemen and a community leader. And up till today, tales of militancy and kidnappings have remained unresolved.
Mrs. Alabi, a teacher in one of the private schools in Ikorodu, narrated her ordeal in the hands of kidnappers. Said she: “It was by divine intervention that I was released without paying any ransom. I spent five days in their hideout and they later released me shortly after a disagreement ensued among them.”
Alhaji Monsur Olowosaago is a prominent Nigerian journalist. The publisher of Oriwu Sun, a community newspaper, Olowosaago is an eminent son of Ikorodu and a leader of the community. In a chat with the reporter, he said: “In a fast developing community like Ikorodu, it is not uncommon to witness and experience the various security challenges we are experiencing right now. It is as a result of so many factors. These include the drop in moral and societal values, high rate of unemployment among the youths, harsh economic situation in the country, leadership failure and several other factors. The influx of people coming to Ikorodu daily has continued to create its challenges and both the leaders and residents of these communities have been working hard to salvage the situation. The police should also take responsibility and they should be up and doing in their job so as to protect the people of Ikorodu and its environs.”
The community leader said the concerned authorities, including the Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Kabiru Shotobi, as well as community leaders, the police and religious leaders in the town were on top of the situation. He was optimistic that the challenges would soon be surmounted.
He said the monarch had been spending time and resources, doing everything possible to address the challenges.
Red alert from the police
Disturbed by the spate of violent crimes in the area, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, recently held a meeting with the Ikorodu monarch as well as other Obas, Baales and community leaders in the area. He charged them to support the police in getting rid of the bad boys in the area. He noted also that the security challenges in Ikorodu were becoming too rampant. He warned that the police would not allow any leadership failure and breakdown of law and order in the state. The police boss also urged all the community leaders to ensure that their communities were safe enough for residents. Owoseni charged all the Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) in the state to roll up their sleeves and take up the responsibility of getting rid of criminals in the state. He directed the DPOs to quickly round up all the cultists in the town and bring them to book.
And residents speak
All efforts by the reporter to get the reaction of Oba Kabiru Shotobi were unsuccessful. After several futile trips to the palace of the monarch in Ikorodu, Oba Sotobi gave the reporter an appointment for 10am on Thursday, June 8. On that day, the Ikorodu Muslim Community held a special prayer session at the palace over the spate of insecurity in the town. A group of practitioners of traditional religion also held their own prayers in the palace. After he had waited to see the monarch for about four hours, the reporter was informed that the royal father said he was too tired to grant an interview.
But the residents are crying out loud.
Mr. Okumade, who lives around Adamo told the reporter: “The police should double their efforts in ensuring effective security in Ikorodu. For instance, from Sabo to Adamo in Ikorodu North LCDA, there is no police station. There should be police presence in a fast developing community like Adamo and its environs. There should also be regular police patrol teams operating across these communities. I have already relocated my family from Ikorodu, and until these are done, we will stay off the area.”
Another resident, David Okoji said: “It is sad to hear that a group of deadly cultists would attack and kill entire family members in their homes. So what is the essence of life if there is no security of lives and property?”
Mr. Patrick Ogayi, a member of the Vigilance Group of Nigeria (VGN), said there were many people spreading unconfirmed information in the Ikorodu area. He told the reporter:
“Rather than giving useful information to the police and other security agencies in these communities, the people continually spread rumours. Security issue is a major one in every society and people unknowingly feed on false information passed across to them. That is why it is very important for residents of these communities to be sure of certain information. In this kind of situation, getting vital and relevant information is very crucial to all the security agencies. Residents of these communities should help themselves and also help the police by providing vital information on the security situation in their communities. And the local security outfits like the Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN), the Neighbourhood Watch, the Onyabo group and the others should also help to manage the information they get daily on every situation in all the communities in Ikorodu.”