Blessed with a landscape replete with some of nature’s finest gifts, only few towns in Nigeria can compete with Ikorodu in terms of economic and social viability. Blessed with arable land for farming, good waterways for fishing, the area is equally a hotbed for individual and real estate moguls looking to erect eye-catching edifices at affordable rates. Serene and boasting an atmosphere that calms the nerves, it is the town of choice for many in Lagos.
But that was until about two years ago when gun-wielding gangs found comfort in its creeks and vast forests. Apart from hacking residents to death at the slightest excitement, the gangs – mostly suspected Niger Delta militants, have over this period reduced the community to a shadow of its old, vibrant self – leaving dwellers to endure each day in perpetual fear.
While residents were still grappling with the menace of militants, the emergence of a ‘gunless’ but even more ruthless group – Badoo – added a troubling twist to their worries, sadly. Sneaking into houses at odd hours through unprotected windows and loosely-shut doors, members of the group slam huge stones and pestles on the heads of their victims, clean their blood before quietly fleeing the scene. Dozens of individuals have been killed this way since the gang began its operation in Ikorodu in mid-2016. Those who are lucky to survive their crushing stones, live with the scar still.
“I still feel very weak and unable to calculate with my brain properly since June 2, 2017 when I was attacked by Badoo,” Olawale Anthony, a minister with the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry and victim of the blood-spilling gang, told Saturday PUNCH earlier in the week at his First Gate, Ikorodu, home. “I was sleeping that night after a hard day’s job when one of the cult members came into the house around 2:00am through the window and hit my head with a heavy stone. I lost consciousness immediately but my wife who managed to escape before the guy could overpower her, rushed out to call for help. The man escaped before people could come around.
“On the fourth day when I regained consciousness at the hospital, two policemen who came to check on me from Sagamu Road Police Station, Ikorodu, told me that out of 13 cases that were reported to them, I was the only one who survived the attack from Badoo. I could have been a dead man today if not for God’s grace and support of members of Orija Community Development Association where we live.
“I have goned through series of surgeries since the attack. I am yet to fully recover because the attack really affected me. I am not able to work for now and this is causing me and my family serious pains. We have been surviving only through the grace of God. It has been a very tough period for us,” he said.
Since Anthony’s attack and miraculous escape, there have been several more gruesome killings by Badoo in different parts of Ikorodu. On Wednesday, a couple and one of their children were murdered while sleeping in their home in Odogunyan, a small neighbourhood in the community. Two of their other children battle for life at a hospital. This was about one week after another couple felt the brutal force of the gang’s killer-pestle at Ogijo – a border town between Ogun and Lagos.
Disturbed by the rising spate of the group’s ruthless killing spree, community leaders, landlords and residents are devising new means to tackle the problem.
During a visit to Ikorodu earlier in the week, our correspondent observed how owners of houses without or with low fences are beginning to construct and raise such. This is aside fitting their buildings with stronger iron burglar-proof for windows and replacing weak, wooden doors with ones made of steel. This, our correspondent discovered, was to make penetration into these apartments difficult for members of the Badoo gang.
“We have advised every home in the community to make sure they protect their houses very well,” Chairman of Orija Community Development Association in Lambo-Lasunwo area of Ikorodu, Mr. Oluwasegun Adesoji, told Saturday PUNCH. “For those whose buildings have not been completed, we have encouraged them to fit iron burglar-proof and steel doors to guard their apartments. For those who do not have the means, the community is supporting them to do so. We are discouraging people from sleeping in houses that have no proper security.
“There is fear in the land; a lot of people are still planning to relocate. Only few families sleep in their houses at night these days. Even when a rat makes a noise, it leaves fear on our minds. We have been encouraging ourselves with words.
“The baale are trying their best to address the situation. As a CDA, we have been organising regular prayers among ourselves to ward off the incursion of this cult group called Badoo.
“We have also formed ourselves into vigilante groups to protect the area at night. We do the night watch every day. Once we see anything strange, we report at the Sagamu Police Station,” he said.
At the Adamo area of the community, residents have become more vigilant as a result of the frightening development, monitoring and questioning any new face seen in the neighbourhood on what their mission is at the place.
According to a leader in the town, who spoke with Saturday PUNCH, Alade Adesina, they are adopting every means possible in addressing the problem.
“Every new and strange face is stopped for a brief questioning these days in our community,” he said. “We noticed that before members of the Badoo gang strike any area or building, they would have done a thorough surveillance of the place during the day time. Many of them come in to carry out this mission without raising any form of suspicion. So, to tackle this, we have resorted to forming ourselves into groups to parade the entire community throughout the day and monitor who comes in and goes out of the neighbourhood.
“Apart from this, we have spoken to churches and mosques not to use loud public address system when conducting night vigils, so that when residents call for help in case of an attack, we can easily hear and respond to them. There are also other tactics we have adopted to tackle this problem,” he said.
In many parts of Ikorodu visited by our correspondent, residents of neighbourhoods like Ibeshe, Igbogbo, Aga and First Gate, who have tasted Badoo’s killer blow, now adopt an unusual type of tactics to deal with the disturbing situation. Owners of buildings yet to be completed and fitted with iron burglar-proof, sleep in the houses of neighbours whose buildings are more secured once it is night, returning only to their homes by morning.
“My wife and children no longer sleep in the house,” Anthony, who requires around N2m to complete his treatment after the attack on him earlier in June, told Saturday PUNCH. “Once night approaches, they go to one of our friends’ house to sleep for fear of being attacked. They come back to the house in the morning to see and take care of me before moving out at night again. This is the strategy many families have been adopting to stay safe for now.
“I am already making arrangement to raise the fence of my compound. One of my neighbours gifted me an iron burglar-proof for the window after that incident. I also got another one for the main entrance door. We are doing our best to fortify our vicinity,” he said.
In addition to these unusual methods adopted by many residents of Ikorodu to forestall attacks by the deadly gang, support for the main vigilante group in the town – Oyanbo, has swelled considerably in recent times. A top-ranking official of the local security outfit, Nurudeen Oseni, told Saturday PUNCH that they have increased level of patrol in many parts of the community as a result of the rising spate of attacks by Badoo.
Though he said that a spiritual solution into the matter is in the offing, he and his colleagues can successfully put a stop to the killings in only one month if given the right type of support.
“The Badoo guys only attack houses without burglar-proof and that is why we have advised all CDA heads to tell their members to properly protect their buildings.
“Though very soon, Oro will be organised to move round the community to ward off this evil, we are fully prepared to tackle this problem if we have the type of support we need.
“For the three years that I have handled this area, the security is tight. We are ready to work but don’t have enough ammunition to face hoodlums. I used my own money to buy 10 motorcycles for patrol. We need support in this area to tackle these criminals. We are carrying out our job without any form of support from the highest quarters. My boss is Chief Kamorudeen Bombata and I look up to him for assistance and direction. The police are cooperating with us. I am not saying Badoo cultists shouldn’t come to this area, all I am saying is that they will not escape.
“We have put down a new rule and that is people must stay wherever they are once it is 12am. This is to help us protect the area the more.
“If we get the right type of support, we will put an end to the problem of Badoo in one month. We have pleaded with residents not to take laws into their hands. If they are able to apprehend these Badoo guys, they should hand them over to the police for prosecution. Killing them will destroy any form of evidence the police would have needed to carry out more investigation.
“A lot of residents are moving out of this community for fear of being attacked. Government should intervene before the problem gets out of hand. One handkerchief used to clean the blood of a female victim is bought for N500, 000 from the Badoo guys. The reason why they kill men is because they can tackle and overpower them; otherwise it is women that they really target. We got this fact from some of those we have apprehended and handed over to the police,” he said.
While residents and community leaders endure sleepless nights on the new problem confronting them these days, the situation appears to have created an avenue for more income for several artisans all across Ikorodu, our correspondent observed during the visit to the sprawling town earlier in the week.
For example, most welders, who before now grumbled about low patronage, are suddenly getting dozens of orders for iron burglar-proof and steel doors by landlords and owners of uncompleted buildings easily targeted by Badoo members.
Bricklayers and carpenters have also been getting more jobs to do by house owners desperate to raise their fences and fortify their homes.
According to a handful of them, who spoke with Saturday PUNCH, the fear of Badoo among residents has suddenly become a blessing for them.
“There is no day that I don’t get orders of at least five iron burglar-proof for windows and even doors,” Bakare Tiamiyu, a welder at the Aga area of the town, said. “Business has never been this good, I am occupied with work every day as a result of the situation. But I must say I am not happy about the issue of Badoo because it endangers the lives of everyone of us living in Ikorodu. People are too scared to leave their houses unsecured these days. As much as I would love this matter to be solved soon, I am enjoying the increased business patronage these days,” he added.
Also expressing the same feeling, a bricklayer at Igbogbo, Femi Joshua, said he had received requests for building and raising fences more in the last two months than anytime since he came into the trade five years ago.
“I am used to building houses but in the last two months, all I have done is to erect new and raise existing fence,” he revealed. “It was later I realised that the clients were doing so to protect themselves from Badoo. I won’t lie to you, business has been very good,” Joshua said.
Disturbed by the rising spate of killings by the cult gang, the Lagos State Police Command while revealing that they had identified some areas suspected to be hideouts for the gang, said that a new operational strategy to deal with the problem was on ground.
Spokesperson for the Command, Olarinde Famous-Cole, said that work had commenced on ending the deadly trend.
“There are a series of operations going on to ascertain various areas that are prone to attacks in the Ikorodu area. Hideouts and criminal black spots have been identified and moves to hit these criminals are being conducted as we speak.
“Based on the reliable intelligence we got from community leaders, the Oodua People’s Congress and Oyanbo, we will tackle these criminals and put a complete stop to their activities,” he said.
But regardless of the assurances by police, residents and landlords in many parts of Ikorodu are pushing ahead with their own strategy of tackling the situation. For them, all tactics must be adopted to fight the enemy – Badoo.
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Source: The Punch