Badoo at the gate

Some of the suspects arrested by the police

It is far from reprieve for the citizens as the country lurches from one dismal failure to another. While they are still choking under the weight of an economic recession, their miserable existence has been further blighted by worsening insecurity.

Of course, it is not for nothing that the citizens loathe the country’s security agencies. It is just a way of their expressing their outrage at the incapability of the security operatives to deliver on their mandate of protecting life and property.

But in some rare moments when the security operatives exude flashes of professional brilliance and depart from the path of turning their guns on the citizens, they often get well-deserved accolades. This is why the police who have succeeded in smashing the kidnap syndicate led by Evans in Lagos have rightly been lauded for their courage and professionalism.

Yet, the praise is subdued. It is drowned in the phalanx of posers their success has triggered. Why did it take so long to get him? Why are kidnappers still on the prowl? And why are the pupils of the Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe, still being held in captivity over 40 days after their abduction?

These are questions that the security operatives are not likely to provide answers to soon. In other words, the citizens are still haunted by insecurity. This is despite that even soldiers have been heavily deployed on the streets to boost security. The House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara who was recently alarmed by this heavy deployment declared that the country was under a state of emergency in peace time. In fact, the citizens have lost confidence in the ability of the security operatives to protect them.

This is why the Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Bello has said that he no longer has confidence in the state security agencies. He is alarmed that there has been an upsurge in crime despite the huge amounts voted for the security agencies.

Bello may not be wrong after all. The failure of the security agencies is manifest in a place like Ikorodu in Lagos. Here ritual killers, kidnappers and vandals are on the prowl. This is despite the huge support for the police by the state government. There was a media blitz generated by the state government buying vehicles, gunboats and even helicopters for the police to boost the security of the state. Despite this, these criminals have turned Ikorodu into their den.

This failure of the security agencies has made some residents of Ikorodu to sell off their houses and other property and fled the community. But those who still have the courage to stay behind have initiated their own efforts at protecting themselves. They have launched their vigilance groups. But these vigilance groups have become sources of anarchy and jungle justice. But what did we expect from a people who cannot trust the police to protect them? Or a people who do not trust the judicial system to dispense justice if they hand over the suspects to the police and the courts? The citizens also do not trust the political class. These kidnappers and ritual killers work in collusion with the political class. It is politicians who send Badoo members to get human blood for them to legitimise their positions or secure new ones. Badoo members do not use guns to kill their victims. They use stones. They do not often rob their victims. All they want is their blood which they take on handkerchiefs. In this macabre quest for blood, they have wiped out whole families of parents and children.

When blood-thirsty criminals like Badoo members are arrested, it is politicians and other so-called big men and women in the society who ask the police to release them. If they are ever prosecuted, their backers ensure that they are not served their well-deserved comeuppance. Ikorodu residents are well aware of this absence of justice, thus they have resorted to jungle justice that is now claiming innocent lives. The latest victims of this self-help were the three young men who were lynched. It was only after their gruesome death at the hands of vigilance group members that it was discovered that young comedian Chinedu Paul, popularly called Think Twice, and his two mechanics were not Badoo members.
It was discovered too late that they were going to tow the comedian’s broken down vehicle.

Like the undiscriminating vigilance group, the police cannot extricate themselves from culpability in the murder of these young men. The police knew that Ikorodu was under siege by Badoo but they were not available in the community in the night. If the police were alive to the urgent security challenges of Ikorodu, they would have deployed their operatives and vehicles to be patrolling in the area. The vigilance group might have handed over the suspects to them and after a thorough interrogation they would have known that the young men were innocent and they would have saved their lives.

Now, because the state government cannot tame Badoo, this new plague is spreading to other places like Ogun State. This was how kidnapping began in the eastern part of the country. Then the police were fond of boasting that the kidnappers would never get to Lagos. But after they were dislodged from the east, Lagos became their haven where they give pre-attack notices to their victims but the police cannot do anything to preempt them.

Obviously, the Lagos State government is waiting for one big person to be a victim before it seriously tackles Badoo. It was the same way that a past government waited until those close to it were either assassinated or robbed by hoodlums using commercial motorcycles before it decided to restrict them to certain areas of the state. Yet, if the state government cannot secure a tiny part of the state, Ikorodu, it cannot convince us that it can secure the whole state. Thus, the spectre of Badoo attacks and those of more ferocious criminals hang over all the citizens.

While it is good that the government of Akinwunmi Ambode is building roads and bridges, it should take cognisance of the fact that the ultimate test of good governance is not the building of bridges and roads through which government officials award contracts that benefit them but how much the lives of the citizens have been improved in real terms. What can be a better measure of good governance than the protection of life? It is not that Badoo has only struck once and consigned itself into oblivion because of the fear of being hunted by security agencies. Its attacks have been regular. Why can’t the state government and the security agencies massively deploy security operatives in that area? Or is this a case of wilful negligence? After all, stopping the marauding Badoo may not be a top priority to the state government as its officials are not only heavily protected, they live in areas where such blood-thirsty hoodlums would not have access to them.

Those Badoo-racked residents of Ikorodu constitute that segment of the population in Lagos who do not know that there is a government run by Ambode at Alausa. The government may only come to them skeletally and thus they have taken their destiny in their own hands by eking out a living no matter how miserable it is. The government owes them the responsibility of providing them the security they need to exist in peace. This it can do by repelling the Badoo members who are variants of barbarians who are bent on unspooling the gate of civilisation in the state.

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