At last, the menace of the Badoo ritual killings finally made the news out of Ikorodu town, a littoral suburb of Lagos which is gaining prominence for all kinds of social crimes from kidnapping to ritual killing.
For some of us, who journeyed to the town some years back, the Badoo experience now almost makes us regret the arguments we put up against some of our relatives’ warning that the place was unsafe for non-indigenes, especially with the Oro phenomenon (an esoteric cultural practice in the community which forbids non-indigenes and women from moving at some periods of the day).
What encouraged us then was the mass movement of people especially from the mainland and its surroundings into the town, no thanks to the ‘tyranny’ of money-bags and novo-riche whose encroachment from the island into the mainland took the cost of accommodation to new unaffordable heights for many.
Our thinking then was that with the influx of people and the opening up of the town, that is, ‘modernisation’, even in its crash and elementary form, the town would gradually transform in its ‘cultural’ orientation from that of an exclusivist, fear-laden, somewhat hooded and stranger-endangered place to a cosmopolitan one.
But years down the lane, the pace of ‘modernisation’ is still so painfully slow and almost retarded due to the same phenomenon. A testimony to this is that, beyond the roundabout which is the gateway to the town where you find the banks and other cottage industries, little activities are found in the other adjoining interiors.
A huge credit goes to the late king of the town – Oba Oyefusi, Ayangburen 1 – who stood his ground against the injurious practices of the Oro cult, restricted the number of days, and had a tough time with some of the big wigs of the town involved, when he insisted on the total cancellation of the practice.
Under Ayangburen 1, a great semblance of security prevailed as the Oro practice was regulated. However, since his demise, the town seemed to have witnessed a reversal with an upsurge in that practice and other related ones.
The Oro cult and its practices represent the ambience under which the Badoo phenomenon should be viewed. It is the usual ‘cry’ of the Oro ‘announcer’ to say in his warning to the people to abide by the ‘curfew’ that the group arbitrarily imposes that, ‘if you lose your sheep or dog, look for it, but if your child, don’t bother looking for him/her’.
This is because the ‘owners’ of the land have dispensed with him/her. This is how the state of darkness fostered on society by the Oro phenomenon which takes the lives of others for rituals of some sort, gave cover to the ‘individualised’ versions of ritual killing such as Badoo.
Before Badoo, there have been rampant cases of ritual killings and of ritual dens that are either glossed over or whose news never sees the light of the day.
It is true that as a new evil trend, Badoo could have been explained in the context of the grinding socio-economic realities of poverty and desperation being experienced by young Nigerians the bulk of whom are into the ‘trade’. For instance, a confession by one of the apprehended culprits in Ibeshe area of the town had it that a handkerchief with the blood of a victim on it used to cost a million naira paid them by their death-contractors.
But because there are many of them recruited for the trade now, the ‘pay’ has gone down to half a million. And names have been mentioned by some of them caught before their summary execution. Of note among those mentioned was the owner of a popular hotel, a king in one of the adjoining towns and an owner of a popular dance-hall, all of whom have fled town.
The security apparatus, especially the Police seemed overwhelmed. In one of the incidents of arrest where a member of the gang was dragged to the Police Station, the mob was forced to lynch him to death after learning that a phone call alone from some quarters would ensure his release immediately the mob is gone. So Badoo is a game of the big wigs and traditional ritualists beneath whose wealth is carrion of fellow humans!
Of note among those mentioned was the owner of a popular hotel, a king in one of the adjoining towns and an owner of a popular dance-hall, all of whom have fled town. The security apparatus, especially the Police seemed overwhelmed.
In one of the incidents of arrest where a member of the gang was dragged to the Police Station, the mob was forced to lynch him to death after learning that a phone call alone from some quarters would ensure his release immediately the mob is gone. So Badoo is a game of the big wigs and traditional ritualists beneath whose wealth is carrion of fellow humans!
Although ‘Badoo’ may be a new, fast-paced, ubiquitous innovation in ritual killing, its precursors such as the Oro and other related practices donning our cultural landscape which feeds on taking the lives of others for the false claims of propitiation of the land or appeasement of some deities are the real roots of ritual killings either for money or politics.
A careful observation of events in the Southwest since the advent of democracy in 1999 and the attempted revival of so-called cultural legacies (obviously for political repositioning and firming up) by those whose ‘political legitimacy’ depends upon the invocation of a romanticised cultural past, one would see the rise in the glorification of things fetish, nebulous or esoteric all in the name of cultural re-invention.
Badoo no doubt exposes both the weaknesses in our security apparatus as well as the compromise of society in its quintessential categories of sanity, safety, honesty, and integrity by ‘constituencies’ charged with its protection.
Therefore, if we must nip this satanic trade in the bud, efforts must not only be made to improve our security apparatus in a holistic manner as a form of the physical solution, practices such as Oro and other related ‘tradition’ must be upturned if society is to regain its breath of life.
We have been silent for too long in acts and practices that live with us, yet undervalue life and its meaning. Unless and until Oro et al are criminalised and abolished, ritual killers will always reinvent themselves to strike at society.
By Ayinde Yekinni S, Executive Director, Center for Global Peace Initiative (CGPI)