Saturday, 2nd December 2023

Badoo’s trail of blood and dark statistics

Regardless of the huge investment the Lagos State government may have dedicated to the improvement of security situation through its Lagos State Security Trust Fund, the statistics for 2017 are already looking grimmer midway through the year, no thanks to the activities of the Badoo cult.

A man points to blood stained clothes, drums, bibles and hymn books on the bare floor, where shadowy gang dubbed the Badoo killed four worshippers in the Crystal Church of God at Owode Onirin in Lagos, on July 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

In May 2017, Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics rated the country’s commercial capital and one of its most populated states, as the most crime-infested in 2016. Atop the damning crime index for Lagos State is the crime against persons, which NBS said included murder, manslaughter, infanticide and concealment of birth.

Regardless of the huge investment, the Lagos State government may have dedicated to the improvement of the security situation through its Lagos State Security Trust Fund, the statistics for 2017 are already looking grimmer midway through the year, no thanks to the activities of the Badoo cult.

Since its emergence in late 2016 in Ikorodu, the gang has become one of the most lethal crime syndicates the State has seen in recent times, leaving in its trail, bloody tales and damning statistics that underline the group’s propensity for bloodletting and disregard for human life. While the actual number of casualties cannot be ascertained, the gang is said to drain the blood of their victims into a calabash, or gourd, then soaks it onto a white handkerchief for sale to ritualists. Curiously, the gang members do not rob households they attack.

“The rumour is that Badoo sells the blood-stained handkerchief to ritualists who use it for money and power charms,” said Babatunde Ogunyemi, a traditional chief in Ibeshe, in the south of Ikorodu.

Believed to have developed quietly at the turn of 2015, Badoo to some residents in the area, is a fiction, a convenient media creation, SBM Intelligence says in its report published on July 24, 2017. What is clear, however, is the sense of helplessness and fear that their activities, which have surged in recent months, have resulted in.

During the recent visit of Nigeria’s Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris to the Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, the latter noted that the state had invested in security, spending N15 billion in the process.

Such amount is by no means meagre. It is about N1.4 billion more than the N13.60 billion Oyo State spent on social services including security in the same year and represents 19.2 per cent of what neighbouring Ogun state devoted to ‘other sectors’ of its economy in its 2016 budget, excluding education, healthcare, agriculture, housing and rural and infrastructural development/employment generation.

According to SBM Intelligence, a private intelligence outfit that provides analysis of the Nigerian socio-political and economic situation, the impacts of Badoo on the residents of Ikorodu is far-reaching. SBM bases its submission on the data collected from randomly sampling 100 people who work, live or run businesses in Ikorodu.

Twenty-eight percent of respondents noted that the activities of the gang have negatively impacted their businesses. Another fifty-three per cent said they had to close their businesses early for the fear of being attacked while one per cent have lost their jobs owing to Badoo’s operations. There exist possibilities of losses for hours lost to early closure. But the financial implications were not stated in SBM’s report. In addition, eighteen per cent of the respondents said they have not been affected by the gang’s activities.

The fear of the gang has also impacted the free movement of people in some parts of Ikorodu as thirty-seven per cent of respondents to SBM’s poll said they have limited their movements while another thirty-five per cent do not go out at night. Eighteen per cent of the respondents also now avoid going to certain places while only ten per cent responded that they have not been affected whatsoever.

“While the activities of the Badoo gang has undoubtedly had an effect on the lives of residents, we observed an almost equal negative important effect of the activities of vigilante groups which have cropped up in response to the insecurity,” stated SBM in its report.

“This is in order to avoid harassment by the vigilante groups who have filled the void left by security operatives and mounted roadblocks at which encounters can quickly devolve to jungle justice if a person is suspected to be a Badoo member.”

As members of the gang become more brazen in their onslaughts without respite in sight, the people resorted to self-help which brought with it its own drawbacks. The lynching of a budding comedian Paul Chinedu ( also known as MC Think Twice), whose family claimed was not a member of the gang, represents a poignant reminder that regardless of its potency, self-help in security situation can only go thus far, and in some cases, could fall short of what is required.

Beyond Chinedu’s death and the lynching of other suspected Badoo cultists, fifty per cent of respondents to SBM’s questions who operate businesses in the affected areas attested to being harassed by vigilante groups. Another fifty per cent said they responded otherwise.

Unfortunately, to rein in Badoo’s campaign of terror seems easier said than done especially if the socioeconomic and political indices that permit the festering of their activities are not first addressed.

As the country looks ahead to another general election in a couple of years, there is no better time to do it than now. As SBM noted in its report, Badoo is “presenting Nigeria with yet another opportunity to learn how to properly learn and manage a potential insecurity outbreak. It must not be squandered.”