True Story: How Lagos Police Ended Badoo Cult Killings
Deadly cult groups have ‘reigned’ at different times in the history of Nigeria, particularly when you consider what tertiary institutions have been in years past.
But when the news of the Badoo cult gang started in July 2016 and became constant towards the end of the year, we knew we were dealing with an unprecedented form of criminality deeply rooted in rituals.
Their mode of operation sent shivers down the spines if Ikorodu residents and other Lagosians after the news of what is considered their first operation in Ibeshe, Ikorodu hit the media.
They look out for open or loosely-shut windows and doors of isolated buildings and smashed the heads of their victims while they slept at night.
The blood was money and they harvested this with a white handkerchief. It had to be white. It was obviously ritual as they never went for victims’ belongings.
For months, the police seemed to lack a definite plan to stop Badoo. All we got were random arrests and raids that end up looking like insults to Lagosians’ intelligence.
We remember Saturday July 1, 2017, when the Lagos State Police Command announced that it had arrested over 100 suspected members of the dreaded “Badoo” cult in their various hideouts.
Just two days later, Badoo was back to work while the identities of those arrested started coming out and we realized some of them were innocent residents going about their businesses.
Before Mr Imohimi Edgal got promoted and assumed office as the Lagos State Commissioner of Police in September 2017, he had been in Lagos.
He was the Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, in charge of Operations, and coordinated many assaults that resulted in arrests of suspected members of the dreaded gang.
The Lagos job at the time could not have been a coveted type and we didn’t think anyone would be eager to take Fatai Owoseni’s job as CP at that time.
After all controversies and drama, Mr Edgal took over and of course, Badoo was his biggest headache but he was quick to establish his strategy to clean up the embarrassing Badoo mess.
He believed that the traditional system in Ikorodu and other towns around were behind Badoo gang and he went straight for them.
They became the main protagonists in his community policing strategy. He started making frequent visits to Ikorodu to meet with traditional, religious and community leaders.
He once told Bounce News: “The problem (of cultism) has been there for so long and I don’t think that you can only use force to solve the problem...That is why I have not stopped our partnership with local communities and I am trying to involve the relevant agencies of government in finding solutions.”
He popularized the saying, “If you see something, say something.”
The CP also went for students in a friendly manner by hosting the Student Union leaders from all tertiary institutions in Lagos state.
His strategy was clear, if students have successfully been able to reduce cultism in their various campuses, then they were the best to work with in dealing with the Badoo trend in Lagos.
He knew he needed to also get more young people on the side of the police, but don’t get it twisted, he never stopped using force. It was simply the carrot and stick approach.
The activities of Badoo climaxed in 2017, with residents no longer able to wait for police to save them.
They took the law into their hands, delivering jungle justice - beating to death or setting ablaze - anyone suspected to be member of the group.
In the midst of this, innocent people were killed, and pressure mounted on the police to end the trend.
The police stuck to their strategy and it paid off as they started getting useful information about the gang from several links within these communities.
The year 2018 opened (January 2) with the busting of a shrine at Ayegbami quarters, Imosan in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun state where suspected Badoo cult members allegedly took oath before going on operations.
This was unlike the previous shrines the police had smashed in the past because this time, items that resonate with the gang’s operation were recovered.
The owner of the shrine, one Fatai Adebayo, 34, was also arrested with his stone, although he described the stone as one he used only for grinding pepper.
The king of Olumosan, Chief Tajudeen Adekunle Muili, condemned the discovery and ordered that the shrine be destroyed.
Immediately after this came a renewed hunt for an Ikorodu-based businessman Alaka Abayomi, whom they accused of being the main Badoo kingpin.
Was it a coincidence that this was the same man arrested by the police before on July 30, 2017 for allegedly owning a shrine being used by the cult group in the Agbowa area of Ikorodu?
Alaka denied all allegations and even challenged the police to show proof of him being a Badoo kingpin but CP Imohimi Edgal did not find Alaka’s tough-talking funny at all.
“I have advised him to report, he has been declared wanted and the command or the state is not going to waste money on him.
“If he believes, like he is claiming to a section of the media, that he is innocent, he should report himself, he will have his day in court.
“It’s as simple as that and it’s nothing personal,” an obviously irritated Imohimi Edgal said. No news of his re-arrest has been recorded yet.
But for obvious reasons plus the not so obvious ones, this marked the end of Badoo operations in Ikorodu and its environs.
This was an indication that the police got their arrests right this time, but we must respect the law that ‘all suspects are presumed innocent until proven otherwise’.
However, Lagosians also demand that no one found guilty in these killings should go unpunished. This may just be Mr Edgal Imohimi’s biggest legacy as Lagos state Commissioner of Police.
The lesson from this story is that when the Nigerian police want to achieve results, they know what to do and when they want something, they are indeed your friend.
The question now is how to make diligence their culture irrespective of who is in charge and who ‘has special interest in the case’.
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