Between June 2016 when it came to public notice and now, the notorious Badoo cult in Ikorodu, Lagos State, has reportedly killed 26 residents and injured several others. Strangely enough, its trademark is unprovoked, dastardly attacks on harmless citizens. On a few occasions, it has wiped out entire families, leaving the whole community perplexed. For over a year now, the authorities in charge of the protection of life and property, namely the state apparatus and the security agencies in Ikorodu, have appeared flustered and exasperated as the Badoo cult embarked on mindless killing sprees that defied logic. Anybody and everybody is a potential victim of the cult’s mindless and bestial rage.
Responding to the situation, the spokesperson of the Lagos State Police Command, Olarinde Famous-Cole, stated that the command had activated certain operational strategies and identified some areas suspected to be the cult’s hideouts. He said: “Hideouts and criminal black spots have been identified and moves to hit these criminals are being conducted as we speak.” His colleague in the Zone 2 Police Command, Onikan, which supervises Ogun and Lagos police commands, also told reporters that the zone had come up with operational strategies to tackle the crime and that the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of the zone had directed the command to engage all stakeholders with a view to putting an end to the killings. Indeed, last weekend, the command, in collaboration with the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and Onyabo, an Ikorodu-based militia, effected the arrest of 65 suspected Badoo members. Currently, over 100 suspects are reportedly in police custody following other operations carried out since last weekend.
However, there are reasons to believe that the Ikorodu community has resorted to self-help in the last one year. In one instance when an eight-year-old girl abducted from a church during a vigil was allegedly raped to a coma, a suspected cult member who was caught later that day was set ablaze by a mob. In another instance, a suspect arrested based on mere suspicion and whose request to be handed over to the police or allowed to see members of his family was turned down, as shown in a video widely circulated on the internet, was similarly killed.
We are appalled that such jungle justice meted out by a lynch mob can be tolerated in the civilised, urban community that Ikorodu and its entire neighbourhood represent. Self-help from such vigilantes as Onyabo cannot be trusted to deliver justice, especially in a situation where identification of a culprit by a mob is suspect. We believe that the resort to self-help is a result of the community’s frustration in getting appropriate reprieve from the security agencies. The situation will certainly lead to anarchy eventually if the police do not retrieve their statutory functions from the vigilantes. The groups have their uses, but they should not be allowed to continue stepping beyond their limits by handling the delivery of justice to mobs.
In the past one year, the Badoo cult, with its brand of ruthless attacks, has established itself in Ikorodu and the entire neighbourhood as the cult to fear, becoming almost an alternative government in the area. From experience, it is easy to see that the possibility of the cult morphing into something more deadly and sinister in the approaching days of politicking is not farfetched. At that point, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the establishment to eradicate a cult that has morphed into a sinister institution, compelling the society to recognise it willy-nilly.
The Badoo cult is an outrage that needs to be stopped immediately. The explanations offered by the police and the Lagos State Commissioner for Information and Strategy do not address the urgency of the situation in Ikorodu. It is sad that issues like the development of dangerous cults are left to fester until they become quite unmanageable. The ugly implication of life becoming insecure for the ordinary citizen who is not rich enough to afford private security is too shameful and absurd to contemplate, let alone endorse. The slow and plodding response from those in charge of security of life and property must stop.