By Simeon Nwakaudu
FÂ or weeks, Lagos State has been in one of the worstÂ cult crisis ever imagined for a metropolitan city. On a dailyÂ basis, blood of theÂ innocent andÂ supposedlyÂ guiltyÂ flow on the streets on the account ofÂ Badoo members going on a ritual killing spree.
Reports had it that a budding comedian, Chinedu Paul alias Think Twice was lynched and burnt to deathÂ by a mob. He was lynched alongside two of hisÂ friends on the suspicionÂ that theyÂ were members of the Badoo.
Badoo members have been killing people in Ikorodu and it was even reported that residents of the area have armed themselves with cutlasses and other weapons.
The residents have resorted to self-help becauseÂ the security agencies have failed them. They haveÂ formed armed vigilance groups, which have bypassed the criminal justice system, dispensingÂ justice on the street as it pleases them. WithoutÂ thinking twice, they sent MC Think TwiceÂ and his friendsÂ to untimely graves. Some many other cases abound.
Before the advent of Badoo boys, deadly kidnappersÂ had taken firm hold of Lagos. They kidnapped landlords, teachers, students,Â traders and other residents at will. TheyÂ appear to have overwhelmedÂ the security agencies.Â There was a time when the military bombed their supposed hideouts. But when kidnappingÂ did notÂ abate, the militaryÂ went into voice mail.
Notorious EvansÂ was arrested in his posh residence in a highbrowÂ residentialÂ area in Lagos. Since kidnapping has yet to abate in Lagos, we can safely assume thatÂ otherÂ â€œEvansesâ€ are holding sway in different parts of Lagos.
As I penned downÂ this piece, I readÂ onlineÂ the deadly robbery attackÂ that claimed four lives in Ajah. A movie-like gun battle between the military and the robbers. We cannot begin to discuss the horrible trend of robbery in Lagos.
All this is happeningÂ in Lagos whichÂ plays host to majorityÂ of national print and electronic media. It is happeningÂ in Lagos, an APC state, with a friendlyÂ relationshipÂ with federal security agencies. Yet the crisis has claimed serveral lives.
It is hardlyÂ reportedÂ with front-page banner headlines.Â It is hardly included amongstÂ the main news items of anyÂ major electronic media.
When it is reported at all, it is done to protect the economy and politicalÂ framework of Lagos State.Â It is reported like the street â€œtwo fightingâ€, to give an impression that all is well.
Before Governor Wike used his internationallyÂ recognised Amnesty programmeÂ to resolve the pockets of security challengesÂ in Rivers State, these media organisations, especially those with APC connection, embarrassedÂ journalismÂ profession by their style of reportage.
Headlines like, â€œRivers of Blood,â€Â â€œFive Die in Rivers Community â€œ and â€œRivers APCÂ blameÂ Governor Wike for Insecurity â€œ were recycled in the media on a regular basis.Â The editors of the pro-APCÂ deliberatelyÂ neglectedÂ their professional responsibilities to theÂ society and descendedÂ into the murky arena of politics.
Even where no securityÂ infractionÂ tookÂ place, they relied on Rivers APCÂ to issue damning statements, which they gave front page attentionÂ or primetime coverage.
Hosts of television programmes feasted on these false reports to create a negativeÂ security impression about Rivers State.Â Today, Rivers State is the safest state in the country, while their host state ranksÂ amongstÂ the most insecure.
Has anybody seenÂ a headline: â€œLagos of Bloodâ€ on the front page of any nationalÂ newspaper?Â Instead, the reporters localise tne deadly crisis to Ikorodu and Ajegunle.
Has anyone seen Gbenga Aruleba inviteÂ a PDP leader to his programme to rain insults on Ambode? Has anyone readÂ in The Nation or Punch where an editorial was written placing the blame squarely on the doorstep of Ambode? Where are theÂ paid columnists whoseÂ intelligence is at the peak when concocted storiesÂ are published on Rivers State?
Â Nobody is gloatingÂ over the security misfortuneÂ of Lagos State, but theÂ truth remains that the media cannot afford to be agentsÂ of destruction as has played out in recent times. Like Governor Wike continues to declare, we cannot afford to politicise security. The media cannot afford to be in the vanguard of APCâ€™sÂ plot to de-market Rivers State.
This unfortunateÂ securityÂ crisis in Lagos affords the mainstreamÂ media the opportunityÂ to reflect on its failures. What is good for Lagos, is good for Rivers State.
Today, CNN is battling for credibilityÂ because of its political inclinationÂ during the last American election. Here in Nigeria, the media controlled byÂ APCÂ spinned all manner of lies againstÂ ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.Â That lack of objectivity has crippled the nation.
The United States of America has several major citiesÂ thriving and supporting that countryâ€™s economy. It is foolhardyÂ for the APC-controlled media to think thatÂ it will be profitableÂ to undo Rivers State, so that Lagos State can standÂ alone. The consequencesÂ will beÂ too graveÂ to imagine.
God strategicallyÂ placed Governor WikeÂ in Rivers StateÂ at this time to serveÂ as the conscience of the nation. He isÂ here to serveÂ as the required stabilisingÂ factor for theÂ sustenance of true democracy. Therefore, he should be allowed to continueÂ to provide the alternativeÂ platform through hisÂ outstandingÂ roll out of projects and programmes.
I cringe when I imagine what the headlines would be if Badoo boysÂ were killing people with reckless abandon in Rivers.Â I am horribly frightenedÂ to think of theÂ mannerÂ of men like Gbenga Aruleba would be discussing with in hisÂ Focus APCÂ studio. Even in time of peace, Aruleba invites murder suspectsÂ to lampoon Rivers State. The Lagos deadlyÂ security crisis isÂ a wake-up call for the media to retraceÂ her steps. This isÂ the time to jettison Pro-APCÂ reportage and embrace the tenetsÂ of objective journalism.
I must state categorically that in the strict sense, once a governor has provided logistics, funded security operations and supported the welfare of security agentsÂ in his state, he has performedÂ hisÂ obligations.Â The reason is simple: In the flawed federalismÂ practiced today, the police, DSS, Armed Forces, para military and quasi-security agencies are strictly under the control of theÂ Federal Government.Â There is no governor who dishes out orders to the police commissionerÂ or military commanders in his state.
It is even worse for opposition states like Rivers, where the security agencies are subtly instructedÂ to undermine the state government for political reasons. Governor WikeÂ has bent backwards, employed intelligent strategies and tactics to keep Rivers State safe for investments.
Over the last two years, Governor WikeÂ initiated and signed into law the anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Cultism law passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly. The law gave the security agencies the legal instrumentÂ to tackleÂ kidnappers and cultists .
To strengthenÂ the securityÂ architecture of the state; Governor WikeÂ in the courseÂ of the last two years, has distributed over 150 securityÂ vans to all the securityÂ agencies in the stateÂ to fight crime.
The Wike administration has also procured six armoured personnelÂ carriers, while 50 broken down armoured personnel carriers have been rehabilitated by the Rivers State Government for use of security agencies. Eight gunboats were donated to the Nigerian Navy, while another 13 have been ordered for furtherÂ distributionÂ to security agencies.
It is clear that the APC controlled media are afraid to hold the Federal Government responsibleÂ for the failures of the politicallyÂ tainted security agencies. But the truth is known to all.
In Rivers State, Governor Wike remainsÂ focusedÂ to protect lives and property. His overwhelmingÂ success is premised on theÂ fact that he is not moved by negative propaganda as sponsored by the APC . The Lagos tragedyÂ is a reminderÂ of theÂ inadequaciesÂ of everyÂ conspiracy.