Although a one-off feat, last week’s cooperation between the Lagos Police Command and the Oodua Peoples’ Congress against the rising crime wave in some parts of Lagos State yielded commendable results, writes Olawale Olaleye
The news of a recent emergency meeting between the Lagos State Police Command and men of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) in agreement with other affiliate vigilante groups, penultimate week, was though long overdue, it was well-conceived. The meeting was designed to fashion out ways to curb the increasing kidnapping and nefarious cult activities in parts of Lagos State.
At the centre of the tumult is Badoo, a notorious killer cult, whose menace had permeated the whole of Ikorodu part of the state and sent jitters down the spines of the residents and visitors alike. Thus, this police/OPC meeting also followed several others, which were believed to have graduated into a major raid penultimate Saturday on their different hideouts in Ikorodu. The raid was made easy by the verse knowledge of the OPC members and other vigilante groups about the terrain and at the end of the day, over 100 suspects were rounded up.
But before the raid, activities of the Badoo cult had increased for about two and a half years as people in Ikorodu and environs continued to live in the fear of the unknown. People get killed every other day especially in groups and mostly family members. This rising new crime wave was also compounded by kidnapping and armed robbery.
Leader of the OPC, Otunba Gani Adams’ account of the situation gave a more lucid explanation on the depth of what had been going on in that part of Lagos for some time. He noted that the OPC coordinators in Ijede, Igbogbo and Bayeku had kept a tab on the group and had been furnishing the OPC with relevant information on the security situation in that part of the state.
According to him, one thing he took away from all the pieces of information available to him was that some highly placed persons in the country were behind the killer cult for rituals. But regardless of the information at his disposal, it was difficult for the OPC to move in without the consent and cooperation of the police.
During an exclusive chat in the week, Adams noted that “The issue of the Badoo cult group went out of proportion. In about four weeks, over 18 people were killed. Perhaps, that was one of the reasons the Lagos State Police Command invited me that they needed the cooperation of the OPC to curb the Badoo menace. Most of the people involved in the Badoo cult group are ritualists. They use stones and big sticks to kill their victims.
“After that, they remove some parts of the body and also use white handkerchief to take their victims’ blood. Those white handkerchiefs are taken to their godfathers and paid for to the tune of one million naira and above. So, when the deputy Commissioner of Police in Lagos State on operations invited me and some leaders of Onyabo to his office, I told them that there was need for us to invite our coordinators in Ikorodu, who would have more information to provide.”
In deploying to work, he said “We went to some black spots and other places, where some cultists usually stay, because we found out that cultists were usually recruited to operate as Badoo members. They recruit by putting up vacancy and requesting for applicants to apply. By the time you apply, you will be asked to come for interviews; you will be recruited and given some money. They also designed some measures of giving money to some people as empowerment to recruit them. In some cases, they give as much as N250, 000 to lure people to the cult.”
Interestingly, the result of the cooperation between the police, the OPC and other vigilante groups is impressive as some of those arrested now are said to be helping the police with salient information. The result is also a proof of the fact that the police require such cooperation from time to time to stem the tide of crime in different parts of the country, albeit properly coordinated and regulated.
This, in a way, also dismantles the logic behind a neighbourhood watch system that does not take into account, the involvement of persons like the OPC members in the state, when indeed they are part of the terrain and understand it better. It is however ironical that a majority of the prominent personalities in the state and region, including banks and other corporate organisations employ the services of the OPC and yet, they are not deemed fit as part of the neighbourhood watch.
This therefore should be seen as a wakeup call to a revised security system in the state, devoid of politics or personal aggrandisements. The police should not only sustain the current tempo but take it a notch up. The security architecture of the state requires some structural modification with a multi-level approach that would help address crime-fighting bottom-up.
It is also expected that the police would approach their new “operation show your identification card” in the wake of the Ikorodu crisis with caution. Such an initiative could be mismanaged if not properly guided, especially with the possibility of mistaken identity or the inability of some to present a valid ID because of the nature of their means of livelihood, more so that the criminals have not ceased from successfully striking at their victims.
However, coming from the Ikorodu experience, police cannot afford to lax in their efforts and operations but consolidate therefrom and of course, replicate the initiative in other parts of the state and the country at large.