By Olanrewaju Akojede, NAN.
The latest attack was as chilling as others before it. Men, armed with grindstones in the dead of the night, surreptitiously scaled the fence of a church in the suburb of Ikorodu town and attacked two women and their children, fast asleep.
The cries of the victims awoke others who had come for vigil on 3 July at the Cherubim and Seraphim Church in Ajegunle. The attackers squirreled away, the way they had come, not fully accomplishing their deadly mission. Now the women, hospitalized are battling to stay alive.
A few days earlier, a Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministry (MFM) minister, Pastor Wale Solomon was killed. The Ikorodu-based cleric had his head smashed with a grinding stone, the killers’ trademark weapon.
The grisly attacks were just some of the bestial acts of the cult group known in Ikorodu and environs as the Badoo Boys, a dreaded group that now sends shivers down the spines of residents.
Despite attempts by the police authorities and various citizen actions manifesting in the setting up of vigilante groups, the Badoo gang are on the prowl, making residents live in palpable fear.
One resident summed up the mood of everyone: “We now sleep in Ikorodu with our eyes wide open”.
There appears no other option for residents of the ancient town and the surrounding settlements as the Badoo gangsters keep striking fear and keep piling up one grisly murder after another.
The Badoo Boys first came into public reckoning on June 5, 2016 when the suspected members of the group killed a 27-year-old Ghanaian identified as Obina in Oke-Ota Community in Ibeshe.
Their next prey was a 60 year-old woman. She was killed on July 9, 2016 in the same Ibeshe town, where the Ghanaian was killed. Her attackers, who appeared to victims naked, with bodies greased up, had hit her with a pestle and when they spilled blood out of her, they wiped it with a cloth and disappeared into the night. Her ten year-old child was also blinded by the predators.
On July 23, 2016, an 18-year-old lady was raped into coma right inside a church in Ikorodu. On October 23, 2016, the killer gang wiped out a family of five, including a pregnant woman, Afusat Yusuf, who was killed with a grinding stone.
Few days after that, the gang killed a 62-year-old widow. On Boxing Day last year, two siblings Azeezat and Abeeb Oriade were also killed. All the killings were attributed to the Badoo Boys.
On March 1, 2017, they wiped out another family of five: the father and mother and their three children on Mosafejo Street, Agbowa Ikorodu. The children were aged three, four and nine.
The group also hit a family of three in Ibeshe Tuntun Town on April 11. On May 4, members of the cult wiped out a family of six in Imota.
The serial killings, almost done with impunity, sooner put the residents on edge, as patience thinned out about police inaction in taming the menace. Some communities set up their own vigilante gangs to protect themselves, since the police had woefully failed in their duties.
The self-help culminated into recent lynching of suspected members of the gang. The first happened at Igbo Oluwo Estate in Ikorodu on 30 June. Three members of the gang arrested by the security team were burnt to death.
Last week, seven suspected members of the gang were set ablaze at Odogunyan and the police followed up, with the arrest of over 100 people, suspected to be linked with the bloodthirsty gang.
The latest lynching misfired as a comedian, Paul Chinedu, alias “MC Think Twice’’, was killed. Chinedu was apprehended by vigilance group along Oju-Emuren Street.
The popular comedian in the company of his friends was returning from a show around 1a.m. He was said to have told the local security men that he and his friend were going to tow his broken down SUV, but their accusers were not convinced.
The three men were lynched and burnt, while the Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) was also set ablaze. It turned out Chinedu was returning from a show, when he had a flat tyre. He had sought help from the other two victims, burnt with him.
Ikorodu, arguably,one of the fastest developing towns of Lagos metropolis, has suburbs such as Solomade Estate, Ikorodu Garage, Itowolo, Majidun, Agric, Ibeshe, Ladega and LASPOTECH among others.
From 2014, life in the city became unsafe because of the activities of criminals, mainly cultists, pipelinevandals, ritualists and kidnappers.
One of the criminal activities by outlaws in Ikorodu is Pipeline vandalism in the riverine areas of the community.
On September 1, 2015, there was an attack on a team of policemen in Owutu area by the pipeline vandals, euphemism for oil bandits. The attack left three policemen dead and others injured.
On August 15, 2016, the Lagos State Government shut a hotel in Ikorodu over criminal activities.
Also, on June 24, 2016, some vandals, said to be militants, invaded Ikorodu leaving 30 dead. The attacks were carried out in Abule Oba and Oke Oko, two hotspots notorious for oil theft and militancy, just like Arepo in Ogun state.
It took the intervention of the combined team of naval personnel and the Nigerian Air Force who launched air strikes to smoke out the hardened criminals out of the creeks.
The activities of the Badoo gang represent a different dimension to the climate of criminality in the Ikorodu area. The Lagos State Government and the police authorities are worried.
In response to the menace, the Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, has promised the residents that he would wipe out the cult.
As part of his efforts at achieving that, he has directed the traditional rulers to ensure that the menace of ritual killings and kidnappings happening in the communities is stamped out.
He said that there were intelligence reports that the gang had the backing of some powerful persons in the state.
“As far as Badoo case is concerned, I don’t believe that rituals can be taking place without some people being behind it.
“So, I challenge all our Kabiyesis, Baales and traditional rulers to arrest this situation. We will support you,’’ Ambode said.
The Lagos State police command’s spokesperson, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, said the command had embarked on screening of the 138 suspects arrested to identify those directly involved in the criminal activities.
He also urged residents to always arm themselves with their identity cards to forestall cases of mistaken identity.
The Commandant of the Lagos State Neighborhood Safety Agency, retired DIG Israel Ajao, said the agency would adopt traditional methods to unravel the mystery behind the cult killings.
Ajao said the killings had a ritual undertone, adding that there was need for security operatives to go beyond the conventional approach in tackling the ritual killings.