THERE is no let up in the barbaric killings linked to the Badoo cult group in Lagos State. After a short-lived reprieve, the killings, which occur mainly in Ikorodu area of the state, apparently for rituals, resurfaced towards the end of 2017. On December 30, the group attacked a family of four in Ibeshe. Unfortunately, the father died in the attack, while the others were injured. Although the Lagos State Police Command has stepped up security and made some arrests, the state should not relent until the evil phenomenon is eradicated.
The modus operandi of the cult has become familiarly eerie. Their major paraphernalia are odd: grinding stone and pestle. The group attack victims in their sleep with these objects, and use handkerchiefs to mop up the blood. Ikorodu residents believe that each blood-soaked handkerchief sells for N500,000. Some of those arrested by the police confess that they have been paid various sums of money by their patrons for bringing them such handkerchiefs.
In some cases, the cult members go around with welding machines. They use this to cut the burglar proof devices on windows and gain access to the rooms of their victims. By now, the police should have put measures in place to detect those going around with welding instruments in the dead of the night, an odd time for such a business.
To be fair, Edgal Imohimi, the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, mobilised his officers into action shortly after the December 30 incident. This led to the arrest of five suspects. The confessions of one of them, Chibuzor Igwe, 18, helped in the arrest of a couple, Gift and Samuel Akaeze; the latter is said to be a welder. Information secured from him enabled the police to raid the cult’s shrine in Imosan-Ijebu, Ogun State. There, the police discovered human skulls and fetish objects and arrested the in-house herbalist, Fatai Adebayo.
In the same vein, the police declared Abayomi Alaka, a businessman and alleged kingpin of the cult, wanted. Alaka had been arrested last year, but he was granted bail after the Badoo onslaught subsided. He has denied the police claim. Thereafter, the state government sealed Alaka’s hotel, petrol station and event centre, saying his business outfits violated the state’s environmental laws.
Imohimi’s assignment is complicated by the judicial system. The Lagos CP says, “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.” This legal rigmarole is irreconcilable with the obvious evil activities of the ritual killers.
The gangsters had murdered a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Victor Kanayo, in November, in Igbogbo (Ikorodu). His wife and 10-month-old baby escaped with injuries. With a frightening success rate, the gang has found it easy to attack soft targets. At the height of its terror, it reportedly murdered 26 residents in 15 attacks in the state in the 12 months to June 2017. Fourteen others were injured. The headline cases occurred in April 2017 when a family of three was slaughtered at Ibeshe-Tuntun; and the murder of a couple in Ogijo last June.
In some other incidents, almost all the family members were wiped out. This was the case with the Agbaje family. The attackers succeeded in killing the father, mother and two children, with two other children escaping. For Badoo, the church is a good hunting ground. Vigils expose churchgoers to Badoo attacks. As a result, the police advised churches holding vigils to request police presence or stop the vigils altogether. Members of the public should also be watchful of the operations of the group, deepen their vigilante operations and utilise the state’s hotlines to alert the security agencies.
On his assumption of office in 2006, the then Mexican president, Felipe Calderon, increased the number of security operatives fighting the country’s drugs cartels from 20,000 to 50,000. In Colombia, a South American country threatened by the influential Medellin and Cali drugs cartels, the government reversed its long-standing policy of not extraditing the drugs lords to face trial in the United States. That U-turn succeeded in decimating the ranks of the cartels after many of them were jailed in the US. The policy weakened the cartels as it forced them to rebuild.
This is where our judiciary, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, Imohimi and Governor Akinwunmi Ambode should prove their mettle. Idris should deploy an increased number of special intelligence squads, with officers well attuned to local nuances in the lead, to infiltrate the Badoo ranks. Something drastic needs to be done.
Granting bail to these notorious cultists enables them to entrench their bestiality. The judiciary should therefore rethink its strict legalism in granting bail to Badoo suspects. When they get such reprieve, they disappear or jump bail. All those brought to court should, however, be properly and speedily prosecuted.
With aid and funding from the Lagos State Security Trust Fund, Ambode should equip officers of the state police command with hi-tech gadgets to perform their duties in Ikorodu. By now, Lagos ought to be operating a 24-hour economy, but the high rate of crime prevents it from coming to fruition. No part of Lagos should be ceded to criminal gangs and ritual killers. The governor and the security agencies should tap into the welter of information that can be provided by traditional and local authorities to flush out the ritual killers.