•How security agents, vigilantes took fight to Badoo gang’s hideouts
By Kehinde Aderemi
Last weekend, a team of police operatives, members of Gani Adams-led Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) and men of the Onyabo local vigilante stormed communities in Ikorodu area of Lagos. They raided dark spots in the communities, picking suspected criminals. At the end of the raid, which took many hours, about 138 suspects were picked up for interrogation by the team.
And with the success of the raid, many people in Ikorodu are nursing the hope that the strange killings purportedly perpetrated by the Badoo group in the area would soon become a thing of the past.
The joint operation was led by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations, Lagos State Police Command, Mr. Edgal Imohimi.
The deadly group has in the last year been terrorising Ikorodu and its neighbouring communities, killing over 30 persons. Residents of the town who spoke with Daily Sun commended the police for the raid.
National coordinator of the OPC, Otunba Gani Adams, told newsmen that police authorities in Lagos State invited the group for a joint operation to rid Ikorodu of the violent crimes that had lately wreaked havoc on the sprawling community.
His words: “The police invited us to a meeting to see how we could complement their efforts in getting rid of the group. I was invited personally, but I told them I was coming with six of our coordinators in Ikorodu. They understand the terrain and could provide useful information needed for the job. And the police authorities obliged.
“It is sad that things got to this stage before we were invited. In an ideal environment, people at the grassroots take the centre stage in ensuring effective security of lives and property in their communities. That is community policing at the grassroots.”
Adams explained that the meeting had started yielding positive results with the recent raid of the area, even as he said the move by the police should have taken place earlier than now. He, however,applauded the police boss for the initiative and asserted that the brief of the OPC was to assist the police in information gathering and strategy that could lead to the arrest of the criminals.
“Security of life and property is beyond the security agencies alone. There should be a good relationship between residents of these crisis-prone communities and all the security agencies, including NGOs and other groups. This is very important because they all have different but complementary roles to play in ensuring effective security in various communities,” he said.
Adams noted that the raid was successful, with investigations still in progress; moreover, some of those that were arrested have been released based on police findings after interrogation.
He also spoke on the barbaric killings of innocent families by members of the Badoo cult, who he said were obviously killing their victims for rituals.
Adams said: “From our findings, there are reports that the Badoo group have been terrorising Ikorodu and its environs for the past two years. They have been killing people for rituals and some prominent Nigerians are allegedly behind this criminal act. From our findings, the Badoo boys don’t use guns or machetes. They use big grinding stones or pestles to kill their victims in the wee hours of the night. So it is sad, but now the police are investigating and we are supporting them with information and strategies to ensure that Ikorodu remains safe for residents.”
Beyond the Badoo group, Adams said the OPC was also collaborating with the police to rid Ikorodu of other criminals. In his opinion, Ikorodu had for along remained a haven for a number of criminals, including kidnappers, oil thieves, cultists and perpetrators of sundry other vices.
“Ikorodu has gradually become a safe hideaway for criminals. Of all the cultists in Lagos State, Ikorodu alone has about 30 per cent. That is bad. Unfortunately, secret cults have shifted their base from the universities to our homes. Artisans, like vulcanisers, mechanics and others are now members of dreaded secret cults. Young boys in their teens are being initiated into cults and that is bad and it is a very dangerous signal and threat to the security of life and property in our society.
All these cultists are being recruited by prominent people in the society, especially politicians and leaders, who use them to perpetrate evil in the society.
“In this vein, we must do something to stop this trend, because it is going out of proportion. The public transporters, including their unions and associations, have to be checkmated.”
Some people have accused the OPC of having cultists and thugs as members, but Adams vehemently denied such accusations. He said, “For us in the OPC, under my leadership, it is a new dawn. We have got rid of all those with criminal tendencies in our group and we have a brand new OPC with educated members across board. So, as far as I am concerned, different leaders should train and retrain their followers. Insecurity in our society has huge implication for us as a country, especially in the area of tourism. It affects us badly because no tourists will come to an insecure and volatile country.
“The situation in Ikorodu at the moment will affect us definitely because it is sending a wrong signal to the entire world. All these killings are reflected in our newspapers, which are read globally. And, mind you, anything that affects Lagos, as the commercial nerve of the country, affects the entire country. The federal government should join hands with the Lagos State government and other security outfits to stop this senseless killings by the Badoo gang.”
Adams restated the commitment of his group to ensuring effective security of lives and property in the country, particularly in areas like Ikorodu.
He also noted that the case of the Badoo cult was spiritual and should be treated as such.
The OPC leader had a word for members of the killer gang: they either desist from their criminal activities or face the wrath of the law. He also appealed to residents of Ikorodu to stop taking the law into their hands by mobbing and lynching suspected Badoo members. Some of those lynched have been discovered to be innocent members of the public.
“I urge residents of Ikorodu never to take the law into their hands. In a civilised country, whenever a suspect is apprehended over a criminal act, he or she is handed over to the police for investigation. Lynching or killing a suspected criminal is outdated and we shouldn’t encourage jungle justice in our society. A situation whereby innocent citizens are killed over trumped-up allegations is absolutely bad and unlawful, therefore, we should be mindful of how we react to situations like this,” he counselled.
He advised residents to come out with vital information that could help the police in their investigations.
In their own little way, traditionalists in Ikorodu are currently carrying out a weeklong series of nocturnal rites to stop the spate of criminal acts in the community. Publisher of a community newspaper and an Ikorodu indigene, Chief Monsur Olowosaago, expressed satisfaction at the development in the town. He said the partnership between the police and the OPC would go a long way in solving the security issues in the town.
“I am happy that the police have done the needful. With the new strategy, I believe the issue of Badoo in Ikorodu will soon become a thing of the past,” he said.
Some members of the public are wondering, however, why men of the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps have been silent and seemingly inactive since the outfit was launched by the state government.