The Nigeria Police Force is at a loss about the operations of a new gang in Lagos State known as Badoo. In fact, the residents of Ikorodu — where Badoo holds sway — accuse the police of doing nothing.
In the last 12 months, 26 residents of Lagos State have been killed by this gang. A family of five were among the victims of last week’s attack—David Ikehi, his wife and son were killed with a grinding stone, while his other children sustained injuries.
This gang is known for using bricks and mortars in smashing the skulls of their victims. And are known to target homes in secluded areas where the screams of victims cannot be heard. When they attack, they take the body parts of victims and rape female victims.
Local residents seem to know what the police doesn’t know: they claim that members of Badoo are not thieves but ritualists. They also claim that some traditional rulers were behind this gang, which started operation in July 2016. Rumours in Ikorodo have it that anytime suspected members of this gang are arrested, powerful individuals ensured that they were released.
Consequently, residents of Ikorodu have resorted to jungle justice: some suspected members of the gang werekilled by mobs a couple of days ago.
This is a failure of community policing.
Ideally, community policing offers a medium for police and communities to work together and solve problems in communities. When local vigilante groups—who are well trained — work with police, communities are better protected.
But the level of distrust between communities and police hampers the smooth operation of community policing. Reports have it that some suspected members of Badoo were killed after residents refused to hand over the suspects to police.
With the level of distrust between police and communities, groups such as Badoo could strive.
One reason for this is that affected communities have embraced relatively untrained vigilante groups for help.
This could have grave consequences. For example, the quality of training received by members of local vigilante groups are not regulated, so not many can vouch for the quality of trainings they receive. Do members of local vigilante groups have training in psychology? How do they identify members of Badoo? An uncoordinated strategy for identifying members of Badoo can only lead to anarchy when innocent citizens are mistakenly killed.
This brings to mind the level of trainings members of vigilante groups might have in arms handling.
Training is not the only issue here. In most cases, members of vigilante groups are known in the community, but this doesn’t pass for proper security checks on members. It will be a tragedy for persons with criminal networks to be engaged in securing a community.
Most importantly, for community policing to work, there has to be a clear rule for engagement between police and vigilante groups. In this regard, the police should do all it can to gain the trust of communities. It will not be out of place for the police to engage in the training and recruitment of members of vigilantes, since Nigeria is still under policed.
Solution to gang crimes can only come from collaboration between police and community. Fundamentally, gangs are a local problem and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to gang crimes. So solutions should be tailored to fit local contexts.This is where communities come in.
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