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OPINION: Taming Badoo Cultists

By Adewale Kupoluyi

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Many things are happening in our country, simultaneously. Perhaps, one of the disturbing trends is the high rate of crime and criminality. When a nation is enmeshed under such circumstances, attaining development becomes a nightmare. That is the more reason why concerted efforts should be made to see how the ravaging and deadly attacks by the Badoo cult group are put under tight control in the interest of all.

In the last few months, members of the Badoo cult group have reigned terror on the Ikorodu axis of Lagos State; a situation, which has prompted some suspected members of the group to be lynched through mob action. Ordinarily, resorting to jungle justice is a barbaric way of seeking redress and should never have a place under any democratic setting. But why do people still resort to this sporadic, fast and illegal means of settling differences? The answer is simple; lack of faith in the conventional system of administration of justice that has been criticised as being too expensive, slow and riddled with corruption such that it is only the rich that can afford, and even get justice in the society.

A litany of unpleasant cases have been ascribed to the cult group that are too numerous to mention. However, it would suffice to mention a few of them, although, many of the attacks were either said to be unreported or under-reported. The Badoo ritualists were said to have first been heard of in 2016, when suspected members of the gang struck at the Oke-Ota community; allegedly raping and eventually killing a Ghanaian lady before returning to Ibeshe, where its members attacked a 60-year-old woman and dastardly blinded her daughter. Not only that, another horrific experience was relayed with the breaking of a pastor’s head with mortar; a killing pattern unique to the notorious group.

In addition, members of the cult group allegedly sneaked into a church during service, abducted a girl and raped her to a coma. It is also saddening to note that the gang reportedly attacked a family in Oluwoye community and killed a pregnant woman. Two months after, the group was said to have struck on Saka Adegbose Street and murdered two siblings. Still on the gory story, Badoo members allegedly attacked a family brutally and killed its three siblings alongside their mother while a family of five was equally violently hacked to death in their rented apartment at Olopomeji, Odogunyan!

The recurring and protected incidence of cult groups can be described as a worrisome reflection of what obtains in the larger society in terms of lawlessness, hatred and the use of extra-judicial means to settle personal scores. Before the advent of Badoo, other recent groups have unleashed one form of terror or the other on Nigerians, although, many people have argued that the initial rationale for the emergence of cultism, especially on university campus, was to bring about social justice and a sane society.

Unfortunately, the way cultist groups operate today is a clear departure from what the founding fathers, perhaps, had in mind from the outset when they established such groups. The oldest campus cult groups were said to be Black Axe, as well as the National Association of Seadogs; the Pyrates Confraternity that was founded in the 1950s. While sociologists and social scientists are still unable to fully unravel the main reasons why people join cult groups, many observers believe that the desperate quest for fame, power, wealth, authority and prestigious affiliation in society may actually be responsible for why people may want to join a cult group.

Today, the negative influences of cultism remain a source of worry to many people. In their branding, ritual cult groups commit nefarious activities under the influence of drugs while brandishing dangerous weapons such as guns, cutlasses, axes, knives, swords and other sophisticated weapons. Many of them were armed with fetish objects like animal horns tied with red ribbons, chanting war songs and incantations. With the series of atrocities being committed on an increasing level by the day, there is the need to discuss how relief can come to the people and be free from reign of terror.

To begin with, there is the need for the people to be more security conscious. The reason is that cultists are no ghosts. They are most likely to be close to the residents. People should report any abnormal or strange happenings to the law enforcement agents. In return, the law enforcement agents should swing into action and save situations with the use of more intelligence and intense patrol on a 24-hour basis. Pro-active measures should be the focus, going by the limitations of our security agencies, in terms of inadequate personnel and equipment to combat the cultists.

Secondly, traditional and religious leaders should show more concern by ensuring that criminal-minded persons do not turn their domains into havens of death and destruction. Why Ikorodu? Who are the backers? These questions and more call for thorough investigations. The use of orthodox and traditional methods to curb crime should be combined, especially now that conventional approach seems to be overtaken by the sophistication and the innovative ways, developed by criminally-minded persons on a daily basis, to defeat official security apparatus in the country. The Lagos State Government should announce and give reasonable financial reward to volunteers with useful information that could lead to the apprehension of members of the group while adequately protecting the identities of such persons.

Hence, our law enforcement agencies should always be on top and ensure that those apprehended for engaging in one form of crime and criminality are brought to justice without any fear or favour. After thorough investigations, those found culpable should be made to face the law. Unless people are treated the same under the law, many influential and powerful offenders would continue to evade justice and the nation would be the loser. Furthermore, carrying out of jungle justice on suspected members of Badoo should be curtailed. Not only is jungle justice illegal, evidence has shown that innocent persons have turned out to be victims. While contending with the urgent task of apprehending the cultists, government would need to work harder in bringing perpetrators of jungle justice to book.

On a more enduring and sustainable way to maintain law and order in Nigeria, there is the need to reconsider removing police duties from central operations, as presently obtained, to ensure peace, boost crime prevention, guarantee effective monitoring and intelligence gathering. An arrangement whereby an Abuja-based Inspector-General of Police commands complex police activities throughout the country appears to be unrealistic, counter-productive and unwieldy. This configuration could largely have been responsible for why policing has not been efficient and effective in the country. Police formations at the local, state and federal can still work independently but harmoniously in the maintenance of law and order. Without further delay, community policing should be accorded the necessary priority it deserves, not only to curb the Badoo menace, but the growing insecurity in the land.

Kupoluyi writes from Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), adewalekupoluyi@yahoo.co.uk,@AdewaleKupoluyi


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