Suspected members of Badoo cult moved from their Ikorodu base on Tuesday, attacking two churches in Owode Onirin.
Two babies and a woman were killed in the latest attack.
This is just as five residents were crushed to death by a car in Isiwu, Ikorodu, while trying to administer jungle justice on a suspected Badoo member.
In Owode Onirin, the cult members were said to have attacked two orthodox churches – Cherubim and Seraphim Church, Crystal Church of Christ parish; and Celestial Church of Christ, Orisun Ayomi parish – both on Anibaba Street, Weigh Bridge, Owode Onirin.
We learnt that in the C&S church, the assailants killed a woman, identified simply as Iya Dabira and her nine-month-old baby, Dabira. A one year-old boy, Ayomide, was killed as well.
Ayomide’s mother, who was also attacked, was said to be in a critical condition at the General Hospital, Ikorodu.
It was gathered that the victims had attended a vigil at the church. They were said to have slept off in the church after the prayer ended at 2am.
The hoodlums reportedly scaled the church’s fence, which bordered an uncompleted building and entered the house of God, smashing a big stone on the heads of the four victims.
A member of the church, Tayo Moses, said Dabira died on the spot.
“The three others were admitted to the general hospital. Dabira’s mother and Ayomide have been confirmed dead. The only survivor is still unconscious,” he added.
Our correspondent learnt that the pastor in charge of the parish, Pastor Rotimi Ajidara, who lived in one of the apartments on the premises, became aware of the incident around 6am and alerted other residents.
Our correspondent, who went round Ajidara’s church, observed footprints of the suspects on the fence and on the wet ground at the back of the fence.
A resident, Mrs. Tolulope Adelaja, said she participated in the vigil, adding that she retired to her apartment when the prayer ended around 2am.
“Around 6am, the pastor alerted me to the incident. We took the victims in my car to Elam Hospital. A doctor at the hospital confirmed Dabira dead and referred others to the general hospital. It was a special vigil and the congregation was few,” she added.
Another resident, Oluwadare Anibaba, noted that members found a stone beside the victims, adding that policemen from the Owode Onirin division took away the stone.
“When the pastor alerted us, we rushed to the church and met the victims in a pool of blood,” he added.
The pastor in charge of the second church attacked by the gang, Prophet Taiwo Adesanya, said the invaders stole some members’ property.
He noted that attacks by the gang might escalate to other parts of the state if stringent security measures were not taken by the government.
He said, “We discovered in the morning that strangers had entered our church and stole mobile phones. Nobody was attacked, but we saw traces of engine oil on the ground.
“We were wondering about who the robbers were when we saw a crowd in front of the nearby church. The Lagos State Government should take proactive measures against these criminals. The gang members are gradually moving away from Ikorodu.
“They attacked Owode Onirin today, people in Mile 12, Agege, Ikeja and even Victoria Island should be on the alert.”
The Chairman, Idera Tuntun Community Development Association, Owode Onirin, Ganiyu Ogundipe, urged the police to station a patrol van at a strategic junction so that they could quickly respond to distress calls.
A resident, Ayo Folarin, said the attack could have been averted if some landlords had not stopped a vigilance operation initiated by some youths on Monday.
He said, “At about 12pm on Sunday, we accosted a boy who was wandering. When we queried him, he said he was going to visit his brother on Ketu Estate. We checked a small bag with him and found a handkerchief, lighter, kitchen knife and four ATM cards.
“As we were questioning him, somebody came and said the boy was not a Badoo member and that we should release him. A few minutes after we released him, it occurred to us that we should have handed him over to the police. We looked everywhere, but we couldn’t find him. We decided that we would guard the community at night.
“In the evening, we knocked on the gates of all the residents to come out for the vigil. Only a landlord came out to encourage us. We made bonfires on the road and secured the community till dawn. In the morning (Monday), people blamed us for the bonfires and told us to stop the vigil.”
As the neighbourhood dicussed the attack, a man who identified himself as a mechanic was accosted by a mob.
He was accused of being a Badoo member and beaten to a pulp.
He was later rescued and handed over to the police at the Owode Onirin division.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, confirmed the attack, but said the command had a record of one casualty.
In Ikorodu, no fewer than five residents of Isiwu community were crushed to death by a car on Sunday on Itokin Road, Isiwu Junction, while trying to lynch a suspected member of the gang.
While two persons died on the spot, three others were said to have been confirmed dead in different hospitals.
Our correspondent gathered that many others were injured in the accident.
Policemen from the Imota division were said to have deposited the corpses in a mortuary.
A resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a motorcyclist (okada rider) in the community had raised the alarm that he was being attacked by a thief.
He said, “The okada rider had picked the man along the road around 8.30pm on Sunday. They were on Itokin Road, Isiwu, when the okada rider suddenly stopped, abandoned his motorcycle and started screaming, ‘thief, thief, thief’. He said the man brought out a knife to stab him.
“In a jiffy, a mob gathered. However, the story quickly changed as people started shouting, ‘Badoo’, which drew more crowds.
“The man was taken to the expressway, close to a filling station in the community and they put tyres around his neck.
“A motorist, who was speeding on the expressway, ran into the mob, killing two people on the spot, while many were seriously injured.”
The resident said policemen from the Imota division were alerted to the incident.
A community leader, Chief Lateef Ogunbanwo, told PUNCH Metro that the death toll reached five on Tuesday as three other residents later died.
Ogunbanwo, who is the Lapini Awo Opa of Isiwu, said he believed that the Badoo members were land grabbers who had been terrorising the community for some time.
He said, “Our community has been under siege for a long time. The ajagungbales (land grabbers) have taken over our community and they invade our homes at will. Appeals in the form of letters and protests to the state secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, have gone unheeded.
“It is these people that became Badoo. They killed four people. When it became unbearable, traditionalists came together to pronounce curses on them.
“When I also saw the suspect, I confirmed that he was indeed a Badoo member. When he was hacked with a cutlass, he was not hurt. I have been told that five people are now dead.”
The community leader said the suspect’s corpse was not removed from the road until late Monday, adding that there was tension in Isiwu.
The Commanding Officer of the Ikorodu North Neighbourhood Safety Corps, who did not want his name mentioned, said the case was not brought to his office.
A top government official, who resided in the area, said the tragedy could have been averted if the youths did not take the law into their own hands.
“I don’t know why they could not contact the police to handle the case. With what is going on now in Lagos State, many innocent people will lose their lives. The government must take immediate control of the situation,” he said.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, noted that although Isiwu hosted the headquarters of the Ikorodu North Local Council Development Area, it lacked police presence.
He explained that efforts to build a security post for operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in the community were frustrated by some residents.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Famous-Cole, did not pick his calls and had yet to respond to a text message on the incident.
However, the command in a statement by the PPRO directed residents of Ikorodu to always move around with valid identity cards to avoid being restricted or arrested.
The statement read in part, “The Lagos State Police Command will like to inform members of the public, especially residents of Ikorodu and environs that henceforth, everybody moving around that part of the state – residents, students or workers – should always have on them a valid form of identification.
“This has become necessary because of the series of police operations lined up in the area by the command. The command is deeply concerned about the criminal activities in the area, which is not only unlawful, but also affecting the integrity of the state.”