By Adewale Kupoluyi
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, 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 cult groups are put under tight control.
In the last few months, members of the Badoo cult group have been accused of being responsible for the violent killings in the Ikorodu axis of Lagos State; a situation, which had 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 that 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 get justice in the society.
A litany of cases ascribed to the cult group is numerous to mention but it would suffice to mention a few of them, although, many of the attacks were said to be either unreported or under-reported. Badoo was said to have first been heard of in 2016, when suspected members of the gang struck at the Oke-Ota community in Ibeshe, allegedly raping and eventually killing a Ghanaian lady before returning to Ibeshe, where its members attacked a 60-year-old woman and blinded her daughter. Not only that, another horrific experience was relayed with the breaking of a pastor’s head with mortar. After this ugly tale, members of the cult group allegedly sneaked into a church during service and abducted a girl and raped to a coma. In October 2016, the gang was said to have attacked a family in Oluwoye community, killing 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 and killed its three siblings alongside their mother while a family of five was equally hacked to death in their rented apartment at Olopomeji, Odogunyan!
The recurring and protected incidence of cult groups is a true reflection of what obtains in the country in general in terms of lawlessness 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. The oldest campus cult groups are said to be the Black Axe, as well as the National Association of Seadogs; the Pyrate 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 quest for fame, power, wealth, authority and prestigious affiliation in society may actually be responsible for why people may want to join a group considered to be influential.
Today, the negative influences of cultism remain a source of worry to many communities. In their branding, they are known to embark on nefarious activities under the influence of drugs and brandishing dangerous weapons such as guns, cutlasses, axes, knives, swords and other dangerous 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 and increasingly by the day, there is the need to discuss how relief can come to the people and be free from reign of terror caused by cultists.
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. 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. 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, daily being introduced to beat official security systems in the country. Hence, our law enforcement agencies should ensure that those that are apprehended for engaging in one form of criminality are brought to justice without fear or favour. After 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.
Furthermore, carrying out of jungle justice on suspected members of the gang should be curtailed. Not only is jungle justice illegal, evidence has shown that innocent persons have turned out to be victims. While contending with apprehending the cultists, government would have to add more burden to its work by leaving no stone unturned in bringing perpetrators of jungle justice to book.
On the sustainable way forward, there is the need to reconsider removing police operations from central operations, as presently obtained so as to ensure peace, boost crime prevention, effective monitoring and intelligence gathering. An arrangement whereby an Abuja-based Inspector-General of Police, commanding policing throughout the country appears to be unrealistic, as this could have been largely responsible for why policing has not been 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. Therefore, without further delay, community policing should be accorded the necessary priority, not only to curb the Badoo menace, but the growing insecurity in the land.