Femi Ogbonnikan takes a critical look at the renewed attacks of the Badoo cult group in Ikorodu community and its environs, and the security measures put in place by the Lagos State Police Command, in collaboration with other stakeholders, to end the activities of the dreaded group

The mere mention of the word “Badoo” to residents of Ikorodu, a suburb of Lagos State, leaves a sour taste in their mouths and sends jitters down their spines and quickly forecloses a social media platform where it was originally coined, but as synonymous to a dare-devil cult group.

It is a money-making ritual cult group which has its masterminds and sponsors in Ikorodu and operates within the confines of the upscale community and its immediate environs. Noted as the haven of notorious criminal activities, ranging from pipeline vandals to armed robbers, and to ritualists, Ikorodu has become a no-go area for visitors, on account of the unwholesome activities of the criminal elements that have made the community inhabitable.

But barely three months on, the unwholesome activities of the cult group was brought to an abrupt halt, following the swift intervention of the Lagos State Police Command, in collaboration with the Lagos State Government and traditional institutions in the affected Ikorodu community and its environs, the masterminds of the group have called the bluff of the threat of the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. Imohinmi Edgal, that read the riot act three months ago, halting the menace, and returned to the trenches, as no fewer than five deaths, traceable to the activities of the group, have been recorded in the areas a couple of weeks ago.

In the latest onslaught, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, November 26, 2017, like an unleashing resurgence, the cult group struck in Offin, a neighbouring community in Igbogbo/Baiyeku Local Council Development Area (LCDA), in Ikorodu where it left in the wake the murder of a Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Victor Kanayo, in-charge of Fingers of God Parish, Offin and the maiming of his wife and a child. However, the injured wife and a 10-month old child were rushed to Ikorodu General Hospital, Beach Road, Ikorodu by police operatives attached to Igbogbo Road Divisional Police Station, Ikorodu.

It was gathered that the assailants smashed the head of the pastor with two big stones, which were said to have been found placed beside his corpse.
On arrival, it was learnt that the gang had cut the iron bars on the window of the bungalow where the family lived to gain access into the house.
Further findings revealed that the pastor and his two family members (wife and child) were the only occupants, living in the building because the landlord moved out some months ago as a result of fear and as well as the growing increase in insecurity in the affected area.

While confirming the incident, the new Lagos State Police Command Public Relations Officer (PRO), SP Chike Oti, confirmed that the slain pastor was the head of Fingers of God Parish, RCCG, Igbogbo.

“However, the command has made a couple of arrests, and suspects are being questioned with a view to discovering the author of the heinous crime.
“The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Imohinmi Edgal, has also dispatched a team of crack detectives to unravel those behind the dastardly act; dig into the past of the victim and see if there is a correlation between his past and his fate.
“The issue of his past before he became a born-again Christian is of interest to the police because of a human skull tattoo drawn on his left arm which gives the victim away as one who may have belonged to any of the cult groups.
“Meanwhile, investigation into the case is ongoing, findings will be made public as usual by the CP.”

Shortly after, the police hierarchy in a special police gazette bulletin under the authority of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, with reference number CR 07/2017, had declared a popular independent oil marketer and prime suspect of the Badoo cult killing gang in Ikorodu and Epe axis of the state, Alhaji Alaka Abayomi Kamal, wanted.

Alaka, who had earlier been arrested and released on bail by the police, was said to have frustrated attempts to re-arrest him.

The 51-year-old suspect, who is the owner of Alaka Petroleum, is wanted in connection with series of well-orchestrated killings and nefarious activities of the Badoo cult group.
The notorious activities of the dreaded cult group had sent many to their early graves with cruel killings through the smashing of mortar and pestle on victims’ heads.
His declaration as a wanted man followed a warrant of arrest duly obtained from a Lagos State Magistrate Court.

According to the bulletin, “The above-named person (Alhaji Alaka Abayomi Kamal “M”) is hereby declared wanted by the Nigeria Police Force on CRO Form “5” issued by the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Criminal Intelligence and Intelligence Department (CIID), Musiliu Smith Street, Yaba, Lagos.
“He (Alaka) is wanted for the offence of Badoo cult killings in Ikorodu and Epe areas of Lagos State. He was once arrested, and released on bail; since then it has been impossible to re-arrest him.

“He is 5ft 8ft tall, dark in complexion, stout in stature, no tribal marks, speaks Yoruba and English. A Yoruba by tribe, 51 years of age. Home Address – No 22, PSSDC Magodo Estate, Shangisha, Lagos State. A business man with good set of teeth, brown eyes, oval face, small head, low forehead and always on white kaftan.

“If seen he should be arrested and handed over to the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Musiliu Street, Yaba, Lagos or any nearest Police Station or call 08068169076 and 08125151772.”

It could be recalled that the Lagos State Government and the State Police Command had earlier uncovered and demolished the alleged Badoo shrine belonging to Alaka in Agbowa area, in Epe Local Government Area, a neighbouring community sharing common border with Ikorodu on September 20, 2017, in an operation led by the Commissioner of Police, Edgal.

In a further move to bring the unwholesome activities of the gang to an abrupt end, a combined team of armed policemen led by the Lagos State CP, Edgal, and ably assisted by the RRS Commander, ACP Olatunji Disu, Chairman, Lagos State Environmental Task Force and Special Offences, SP Yinka Egbeyemi, on Tuesday, January 2, 2018, invaded and raided a shrine in Ogun State where the suspected killers use to take oath before going on the prowl.

At a shrine located in Imosan, Ogun State, a lot of arrests were made.

According to the police, a suspected herbalist working with the so-called Badoo cultists, Fatai Adebayo (alias Alese) was arrested.
It was learnt that Adebayo, 34 years old, was accused of administering oath on members of the group before they launch any attack. He was arrested at his shrine located in Imosan Village, a suburb of Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.
The arrest of the herbalist was a follow-up to that of other suspects including the overall head of the group.

Speaking while parading Adebayo before reporters at the shrine, Edgal disclosed that the head of the Badoo group was arrested on a river while attempting to escape.
He said: “Over the weekend, we had far reaching achievement in the fight against the killers popularly known as Badoo in Ikorodu.
“Their kingpin who is the head of the group has been arrested. He was arrested on water as he was making his escape.”

Revealing how the herbalist was arrested, “One of the suspects arrested confessed and he led us here that before they go for any killing, the head of the group brings them to this gentleman (Adebayo) to come and carry out oath for both themselves and the piece of stone they used for their killings and that they don’t go for any killing without first of all coming for oath in this shrine and that is why we are here.

“This gentleman is an accomplice before the fact and so definitely we are placing him under arrest and as well as sealing off the shrine till after investigation.

“I will give further details on Thursday during my press briefing but I can assure the good people of Ikorodu, Lagosians and Nigerians that we will not rest until this evil is completely rooted out from Lagos State,” Edgal assured.”

However, it was further learnt that the CP also made a brief stop-over at the palace of the traditional ruler of Imosan Village, Chief Tajudeen Muili, to intimate him of the criminal activities going on under his domain.
Recovered at the shrine located at No 38, Ayegbami Quarters in Imosan, which was later demolished by policemen, were different charms and big stones said to be used for the illicit activities of the Badoo group.

With the arrests of the egg-heads, many people believe respite seems to be on the way of the residents of Ikorodu and its environs who have for long been adorned in the garb of the fear of the unknown.

Meanwhile, during the security meeting with the monarch in his palace, recently, the Edgal had sought the collaboration of stakeholders in the community to sustain the peace being enjoyed in Ikorodu and environs.

He disclosed that majority of the ritual killings recorded took place within church premises, adding that in most cases, the pastors would have concluded their prayers, left before they attack vulnerable women and children.
Decrying the bail granted five out of seven suspected key members of the ritual gang by the court last week, Edgal expressed worries that they could wreak havoc if checks were not put in place.

To achieve that, the commissioner announced a curfew between 1a.m. and 4a.m. across the old division, urging the traditional ruler to prevail on his chiefs and youths to commence patrols and ignite bonfires to wade off the killers.
“Vigilante groups should be strengthened and given the mandate to question people moving around by that time. Anyone without a good reason should be arrested and handed over to security agents. I will not tolerate jungle justice.
“The bad news is that out of the seven principal suspects charged to court in connection with the ritual killings, five of them have been released from prison. They were granted bail by the court and they have gone underground.

“Recently, a case of murder at Agbowa that resembles their style of ritual murder was recorded. Investigation had gone to advance stage and details would be given.
“We are tracking the five major suspects and I can assure you that we would get them soon. With their release, there is need for vigilance. We must immediately restore all security measures that chased all hoodlums and criminals away from Ikorodu.”
In response, the traditional ruler pledged the support of his people to the police in ensuring that the peace already achieved in Ikorodu by the CP is sustained.

Meanwhile, the latest attack occurred shortly after the late night meeting on Saturday, November 25, 2017, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police (CP), Edgal, and the Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Kabiru Shotobi, which was held at the latter’s palace.

The meeting which started by 10p.m. and round off at 1a.m., it was gathered, was necessitated by the resurgence of the recent ritual killings by suspected members of the Badoo gang in Ikorodu.
Edgal had during the meeting, which had leaders of different religious faiths, security operatives (DSS, NSCDC, Police and Army), local vigilantes, like OPC, Onyabo, Vigilante Service of Nigeria (VSN), Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC) and community leaders in attendance, sent a warning signal to the perpetrators of the heinous crime.

Among the security measures put in place to curb the menace of the cult group and ritual killings in recent times in the Ikorodu community and its environs, include the resolve to curb the security challenges within the division, community curfew to be imposed, starting with Ikorodu and this shall be between 12a.m. to 5a.m.; violators shall be handed over to the Police; all youths are enjoined to protect their areas within the ambit of the regulations guiding such activities; bon fire will commence immediately as signs of the presence of vigilante in areas concerned; families are encouraged to accommodate their loved ones over night, whose residence are in isolated places as part of the security measures; all churches and mosques are to stop night vigil and where found to be imperative, should involve security personnel which must be put in place; and arising from this, staging of vigils without participation of such security men which eventually results in death or killing during or after any vigil, such Pastor or Imam shall be held liable; everybody in Ikorodu to be security conscious for now, especially during the yuletide; and all CDAs members are advised to call emergency meetings immediately not only to sensitise their members but more importantly to generate the data base of all neighbours within their community.