Lagos Urged to Adopt Community Policing to Tackle Cultism

Lagos Urged to Adopt Community Policing to Tackle Cultism

Ugo Aliogo

Residents in some parts of Lagos facing the menace of cultism activities have called for the intervention of the state government in reinforcing dedication and efforts of law enforcement in tackling the menace.

Whilst the police have announced the apprehension of cult gang leaders within a few months since the declaration, residents in areas such as Ipaja/Ayobo, Isolo and Ikorodu continue to report concerning the wave of cultist activities in their vicinities.

A resident in Ayobo urged law enforcement to adopt community policing approach as it has done in the past in sensitizing critical members of the communities in collaboration with Police Community Relations Committee.

Another resident in Isolo, who would rather remain anonymous, praised the efforts of the Nigerian Police in apprehending some wmembers of a newly formed cult named Aleeba and Agbara. The culprits were arrested in hideouts around Ayobo and Atan area of Ogun state, also areas notorious for cultism activities.

Last June a number of cultists were arrested in Ikorodu, Badagry and Isolo.

Spokesperson for the Lagos Police Command, Benjamin Hundeyin, who paraded the suspects, said that activities of cultists in the state have been brought to the barest minimum due to decentralised efforts of Police Commissioner, Idowu Owohunwa.

The activities of cultist have though been reported to have run deeper from the schools to communities and even among market traders.

A civil servant in the Lagos State Government, who preferred to be addressed as Belinda, gave an account of her neighbour who was resident in Ikorodu before fleeing with his family due to threats to his life. The wife of the said neighbour, Caroline, who was contacted for comments said they had to leave the community after her husband had a brush with members of a cult while he lectured at the Ikorodu Campus of the Lagos State Polytechnic.

Her husband, whose name she simply gave as Moses has been in hiding for almost five years after some boys who approached him for help in manipulating their results were arrested.

“Eventually, Moses became a target, enduring assaults and battery until he fled one day after surviving a beating that almost took his life,” she said.

Caroline said that several innocent persons have been devastated by cultist activities or fallen victims during cultism operations. Some who ran into the warring groups lost their lives in the process, while others are still nursing their wounds, years after.

Rival cult clashes are though majorly that of supremacy battle, there are incidences where theft, assault and even murder occur. An example is the ongoing trial of three alleged members of one IBILE cult group alleged to have murdered a Baale’s son, Owolabi Ajibola, on Kirikiri Road, Olodi Apapa.

In a sitting of the trial of the defendants, Jemilu Adamu, Babatunde Gbenga, and Jimoh Idris, facing two counts of conspiracy, unlawful society, and murder preferred against them by the Lagos State Government before the Lagos State High Court at the Tafawa Balewa Square, on Monday October 30, 2023 Inspector Usang Otu, a police prosecution witness who was led in evidence by state prosecuting counsel, E. O. Anyabisi, told the court that the defendants committed the offences on April 22, 2018.

In the matter before Justice Yetunde Adesanya, Otu said: “The first defendant said on the day of the incident, he and his group numbering 23, were coming back from a joint called Rita’s joint, and along the way, they had a fight with the deceased and one Alome brought out a knife and another person in the group, Adejo, collected the knife and stabbed the deceased in the chest.

“He said they left him there and took to their heels, but by the time the deceased was rushed to the hospital, he was confirmed dead,” the witness narrated. According to the prosecuting counsel, Olayemi Shofolu, the offence committed contravened Sections 223 and 42, of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015.

Areas that has been most affected by cultism activities in Lagos include Ikorodu, the densely populated Ajegunle, Fadeyi, Mushin, Surulere, Bariga, Oworoshoki, Shomolu and Palm Groove areas. Others are Dopemu, Agege, Ogba , Iyana Ipaja, Ago area, Badagry, Lekki, Okokomaiko, Ajah, Ipaja and Ayobo areas of the state.

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