Lagos cult gangs kill 80 in six months

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Samson Folarin writes that cult groups have killed no fewer than 80 persons in Lagos from
January to June 2015.No fewer than 80 people have been killed in Lagos State by cult groups between January and June, 2015.
A senior police officer at the Lagos State Police Command gave SUNDAY PUNCH this statistic.

Out of these 80 cases, The PUNCH had
reported 65. The senior police officer who
spoke on condition of anonymity said the
figure could be higher than 80 because not all
cases were reported to the police.
He said, “We have had so many cult killings
within the past six months. Most of the cases
involved former university students who left
school and decided to carry on with their cult
related activities after school in their areas.
“The number of cases reported cannot be less
than 80, and that is leaving out the number
of unreported cases.”
SUNDAY PUNCH investigations showed that in
January alone, no fewer than 16 people were
killed in cult-related circumstances. In
February, 17 people were murdered while in
March no fewer than four people were
murdered by cultists. In April, eight people
were killed, seven in May and 13 in June.
Most of these murders took place in Ikorodu,
Mushin, Somolu, Onipanu, Bariga, Ketu and
Igando.
One of the victims was Debo Uturu, a 25-
year-old computer engineer turned tricycle
driver. Uturu was killed on Friday, May 15
while on a visit to his mother on Lawani Street,
Mushin. Some men numbering about five got
entrance into the Uturus’ residence by
breaking the fence of an adjoining building.
Having succeeded in entering, the men found
Uturu as he approached his mother’s room
from where he had gone to buy a sachet of
water for a dinner of rice prepared by his
sister.
They opened fire on him.
Wounded, Uturu crawled and begged for his
life; but he was held down by the men who
descended on him with machete blows until he
breathed his last.
Barely two months after Uturu was killed,
another resident of Lawani Street, Sodiq
Shittu, whose wife was six months pregnant,
had life snuffed out of him in broad daylight
by the same group of cult members.
This time, the men broke his skull open with a
hammer and smashed his face with stone.
Shittu died immediately, while his remains
were wheeled to a street corner for all to see.
Shittu’s death brought the number of those
killed on Lawani alone to three, as a truck
loader, Gbenga, had been shot dead on the
same street earlier in March.
Killings of this nature have become common
sight to residents on this street, and indeed
the whole of Mushin area, which has become
notorious for all kinds of cult killings.
Recently in the same area, a 32-year-old
man simply identified as Tunde had his head
severed from his body and kicked around in a
soccer match on the street.
In June, Lagos Island was thrown into
mourning when the news filtered in that five
of the residents returning from a naming
ceremony in the Ajah area of the state were
ambushed and killed by some cult members.
The killer gang opened fire on the bus
conveying the victims and some other people
from the venue of the ceremony and killed
Ganiyu Lawal, aka Ebe; Idris Kolapo;
Samsudeen Osoja, aka Songa; Rafiu, aka
Ralph; and Ladi.
Osoja, in particular, was decapitated and had
his head taken away, for reportedly showing
disrespect to the leader of a rival cult group.
Similarly, the year for many residents of
Ijora Bardia, in the Apapa Iganmu area of
Lagos State started on a sad note.
On January 12, around 10am, gang members
numbering about 50 invaded Akoshile junction
and engaged one another in a gun battle.
By the time the din of gunfire died down and
smoke cleared, no fewer than 17 people,
including passersby had been hit and five
killed.
The casualties were identified as Ramon
Oladejo, Lateef Abdullahi, Yusuf, Rasheed
and Alausa.
Oladejo, a father of four, was on his way to
work when he was caught in the cross fire from
the shootout.
The spate of cult fights and killings have since
increased in the former somnolent
communities of the Ikorodu area of Lagos
State.
In June, 57-year-old Mrs. Osayemi Victoria
and one-year-old Opeyemi, her grandchild,
were killed in a cross fire between rival cult
groups along Ishawo Road, Ikorodu.
Earlier in May, two men, Ayodele Adefiwaju,
and Ogunsanya Lateef, were stabbed to death
in Odogunyan part of the community during
another cult fight.
In June a leader of a gang in Bariga, Godwin
Victor, was killed by members of his own group.
His sin: Tired of constant fighting, he
negotiated peace with a rival gang.
Also, in May, 22-year-old Sulaiman Musbau,
and one Rilwan, aka Chaka were killed in the
Somolu area of Lagos for reportedly changing
loyalty to a rival group.
Earlier, the leader of the Apapa boys, in the
Ebute Meta area of the state, Waheed Yusuf,
aka Skippo, was shot dead on New Year’s Eve.
After his death, one Christmas, who
abandoned the gang, was abducted and his
body decapitated. The police recovered his
trunk in Surulere, while the head was found
in Ebute-Meta.
A community leader, Musbau Agbodemu, who
had also been attacked and stabbed by cult
members in the area, said eight more people
had been killed since Christmas’ death in the
area.
They included that of a 23-year-old student
of Business Administration, Olubunmi
Elusakin in February. He was shot dead at a
bar while an unknown youth was shot dead at
the varsity’s amphitheatre in March.The
University of Lagos, Akoka, though a citadel
of knowledge, has had its own share. In the
past six months, it recorded no fewer than
two cult-related killings.
The senior police officer who spoke with our
correspondent said not all the cult members
were former students.
He said, “Some of them are members of motor
park unions who think they can fight for the
right of their members by joining the groups.”
A security expert, Dr. Ona Ekhomu, explained
that cultism is caused by various factors
among which are unemployment, lack of
parental training and breakdown of societal
values.
He said the scourge was on the rise in Lagos
State due to turf battles between cult groups
who always seek to avenge the death of their
members in the hand of rival gangs.
He said, “Different studies conducted have
shown that cultism is normally a problem of
young people, who have a lot of energy and
want to explore.
“The youth population go into it because they
are not well engaged; for others, it’s about
peer pressure and acceptance. It is also
caused by poor parental supervision and
breakdown in social values.
“The spike in casualty in Lagos cult fights is
caused by what we call turf wars. This is when
some cult members encroach on other’s area or
space and those guys will want to fight back
and where there is incidence of violence and
one cult kills another, there is vendetta or the
desire to revenge against the other group. We
also don’t have well organised police task
forces and intelligence task forces.”
Ekhomu, who is the President of the
Association of Industrial Security and Safety
Operators of Nigeria, warned that if cultism
was not quickly addressed, it could aggravate
the problem of insecurity in the country.
He said cult groups usually form kidnap and
robbery gangs because of the bond they share.
The security expert urged the police and other
stakeholders to create amenities and
recreational centres that would help youths
channel their exuberance toward productive
ventures.
A legal practitioner, Spurgeon Ataene, said
prosecuting cases of death involving cultists
had been difficult because politicians were
involved.
He said, “We should not shy away from the
fact that most of those in government were
cult members when they were in the higher
institution and they had godfathers.
“So, when they left the tertiary institution,
these godfathers became their business
partners and political allies, making it
difficult to tackle cultism.
“These people are still sponsoring cultism in
the universities with a view to using them to
orchestrate their political plans.
“And that is why when cultists kill, you see
police being disturbed with calls from
government officials, in order to get the
culprits off the hook.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer,
Kenneth Nwosu, told our correspondent that
the police was doing its best to curb the
menace of cultists in the state.
Nwosu said, “The command has never relented
in its resolve to curb the menace of cultism in
our communities. The crackdown on their
activities is still ongoing. It is progressively
yielding results as quite an appreciable
number of arrests have been made in a bid to
curb the menace.”

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