Wednesday, January 25, 2017


It was an Okada rider friend of mine that told me about it last week, even before I saw the visuals on Sahara TV. An Okada (moped taxi) rider was riding his customer and child to their destination in Bariga, in Lagos. While she was alighting, the Okada rider sighted a policeman in mufti (as is their nature, especially when they intend to raid unsuspecting members of the public, justly or unjustly), coming towards him with the aim of "arresting" and milking him of his hard earned money, decided to bolt away, thinking the child behind him had alighted with the mother, only for the woman to begin to shout to him to stop so her child could come down from the bike. Unfortunately, this incident happened around Bariga market, with the crowd that could easily become a lynch mob at the slightest provocation. These, thinking that this was yet another case of kidnapping (especially for ritual purposes) successfully stopped the Okada rider and began to descend on him without hearing his side of the story, nor the womans' (whose child had by now been safely returned to her), whose appeal to them to desist from hitting the man was falling on deaf ears.

Interestingly, the policeman and his colleagues (who had by now joined in the melee) who were responsible for the fiasco in the first place, rather than help situate the matter in its right perspective, even if at the end of the day, they'd arrest the Okadaman and deal with him as they wished, allowed the man to be beaten to near comatose level before the woman with the help of others was able to gain access to the pummeling party, to relate the true side of the story, and they helped take the man to the clinic for treatment. That day Okada riders rode free of police intimidation and extortion in Bariga, because the Divisional Police Officer, without accepting responsibility for the actions of his men or apologizing for it, appeared to have prevailed on his men to sheathe their swords at least for that day, because of the seething anger amongst the populace when the truth of what actually happened was made manifest. In fact the Okadaman and the woman she carried were familiar with each other, and this wasn't the first time he'd be carrying her and her child.

Only a few of the inhabitants of Bariga felt that the coming of the new DPO at the Ilaje Police Station in Bariga, will change the extortionist ways and tendencies of the police in that part of Lagos. At the end of their evil stick are Okada and Tricycle (Keke) riders, sometimes the "Danfo" drivers though they have a strong union with connections with politicians and powerful people in the society that unless for serious criminal cases have become untouchable by the Nigerian police, as long as their palms are frequently greased with "shandy", "wazo" or any other pseudonym for any of Nigeria's currencies that the policemen routine collect at various points in Lagos where legally and illegally position themselves daily come rain or shine. Part of the proceeds from their "day's labour" goes into "deliveries" they make to the bosses in the offices, who assign them to "juicy" spots, like the areas around Bariga market in Lagos (for instance), with the heavy flow of traffic there. Some of it goes into the various "esusu" (like cooperatives) they join, to which they deliver huge sums of money daily, weekly or monthly, amounts that sometimes either equal, or more in multiples of their monthly emoluments, of which when collected eventually a few of them have gone on to build estates, even establish businesses.

It's a known fact that a large percentage of the Okada plying the Bariga route are owned by the policemen posted there, and the riders of Okada not owned by any policeman have to "settle" some policemen frequently, for "protection" in the days they have a falling-out with the colleagues of their "protector"; though a few times these have joined their peers in complicating matters, when their help is sought leaving the Okada riders in deeper shit and despair than they were before calling up their chargers for "protective aid". With these policemen in Bariga there's no gain, just losses, severally they'd carry out raids on the neighbourhoods arresting boys for just about any flimsy reason under the sun. Of course, only the Inspector-General of Police know that "BAIL IS FREE", Nigerians know that the contrary is true, and the amount they collect will make you wonder if police stations haven't become revenue generation centers, not for government, but those men in uniform. That police station in Ilaje, at some point had an ATM within its environ before the immediate past Central Bank governor outlawed the siting of ATMs at locations other than around banks. While that ATM was there though, it was difficult for anyone who had "business" to do at that police station, to claim they had no money for bail.

When it comes to the police, President Buhari's "CHANGE" mantra holds no water. Even the state police commissioners who have been regaling the public with rallies of "Change Begins With Me" by policemen and women under them, know that it's just mere lip service and another money making adventure. Nothing in the extortionist behavior of the police have changed, rather the fees payable have astronomically increased owing to the "recession" in the air, and Nigerians have been left none the better for it. When last year, a policeman lost three of his children to a landslide in Lagos, not a few Nigerians and Lagosians were unsympathetic with the man, when it returns to their consciousness that the man is a member of the Nigerian Police Force, many of those unsympathetic Nigerians had a good reason to feel the way they did.



Thursday, January 19, 2017


During the Christmas holidays I saw a documentary on Al-Jazeerah about refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo domiciled in Malawi. It featured one of the Congolese refugees who was formerly a popular rapper in the DRC (before threats to his life forced him to flee and become a refugee), and showcased life at the refugee camp, as well as the rapper's attempt to regain as much as possible every bit of the life he left behind in the Congo. Many things about that refugee camp struck me as out of the ordinary, compared with those in Nigeria. For one, make shift shelters have given way to brick bungalows, raw food was adequately dispensed as and at when due, and I think to some extent quite more for some people, because the rapper in the documentary claims (and it was shown) he gives excess of his to families with more mouths to feed, seeing as he is a bachelor and lives alone. This United Nations administered refugee camp had running water, and was like a small town only that there is a gate that restricts movement, allowing people who had genuine reasons to go outside it to leave for a specified period only, then return. Believe me, except what I saw on that day was stage managed, I could have sworn that most people's existence in that camp was far better than those of most Nigerians who live free, talk more those who have found themselves in Internally Displaced Peoples', IDP camps because of the ongoing war against the dreaded Islamic Fundamentalist group, Boko Haram in the northeast.

I cannot recall at anytime, besides the provision of makeshift shelter, that the IDPs in Nigeria's northeast had any cause to celebrate, though not that anyone in an IDP camp would or should have anything to celebrate, but if one considers the austere situation that brought them to the camps, then little mercies like the one I highlighted with the situation in Malawi would've been enough cause to celebrate, unfortunately this hasn't been the case with the Nigerian IDP, whom I daresay, that save for the inclement weather Syrian refugees have to contend with presently, as well as political issues surrounding their situation in Europe, are far better in terms of welfare and related matters.

To say that the IDPs of Nigeria's northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, have been dealt the wrong hands of fate will be an understatement. These escaped literally with their lives in their hands, onto the protection of  government that provided camps for them. From the very first day they set their foot 'pon those camps, it's been one sad news to the other. At the initial stage when the economy was bouyant under former president Goodluck Jonathan, and even after stealing some of the funds allocated to the welfare of those displaced by Nigeria's "war on terror", the IDPs were not treated like humans. I saw pictures of IDPs been dished bland "jollof" rice using spades and shovels for instance. There were widespread reports of sexual abuse of mostly female IDPs at the hands of those who managed the camps, and personnel of security agencies deployed to those camps.

These cases worsened with the emergence of the President Muhammadu Buhari government with its "lean purse" policy. Now the people in authority, who had a bit to spare for the IDPs after  corruptly enriching themselves with the much in the days of plenty, had little or nothing to spare for the welfare of the IDPs after removing their part, as their cut now became the whole, and that scandal lingered for a while, till it fizzled out of press coverage, not because the situation got better but as with everything Nigerian, noise just simply dies down after a while (especially when government feeds to the press, yet another arrest of an opposition politician for embezzlement while in power, and the gullible get carried away by the frenzy thus created four another while), and the IDPs continued to suffer for no just cause (not that there's even a just cause for them to suffer). Those who escaped death at the hands of Boko Haram, found it at the hands of  government-induced malnutrition and hunger, and the pictures are there for all to see. Of course, the abuse of IDPs continued not only unabated but with impunity and  shamelessly, under a regime flaunting a no-nonsense approach towards corruption as it's credentials, so much so that the secretary to the federal government, awarded a contract for the clearing of weed around IDP camps to a company in which he has interest, and as if that wasn't even bad enough, the company had the temerity not to deliver on its trivial mandate for the millions of naira allocated to it, and yet the man neither resigned from his position, nor the government fired him.

And just as usual with all things Nigerian, when it seems government have become so steeped in its ways over a subject that the people simply just let go, especially at this period when Human Rights Activists have either in the main pitched their lot with the government in power, fearing retribution and silencing that's become the lot of those who felt to continue where they left off with the previous  government, only to hear that a Nigerian Airforce jet bombarded an IDP camp in the Rann (a border town between Nigeria and Cameroon) area of Borno state, on Tuesday. Depending on which media you're listening to, the death toll is between fifty and two hundred, involving personnel of Medecins Sans Frontieres, MSF, International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC and several IDPs who according to eye witness accounts, were on a queue to collect humanitarian materials. As usual the  government owned Nigerian Television Authority, NTA has stuck with "accidental incident" at an IDP camp as the body of its news item concerning the unfortunate event, totally withdrawing the naming of the culprit in that dastardly act, except when it involved condemnation by the president and his order to concerned authorities to investigate the matter (with findings that will never be made public even if the order is complied with).

What is most baffling for many an observer of this event is how the Nigerian Airforce, which had in the past claimed that it restrained from bombing Boko Haram insurgents severally because they had people suspected to be innocent civilians (including at some point, the abducted secondary school girls from Chibok) in their midst and may be using same as human shield, yet in this matter opted to bomb civilians on a queue, not once, not twice, but thrice (according to eye witness account)! I cannot even begin to imagine the trauma, already  traumatized IDPs affected by this incident are presently going through, after the dehumanization they had witnessed at the hands of those saddled with the responsibility of their safety and well-being so far, only to now have to suffer this as well. When one of the survivors told the press that the government was out to wipe them out I couldn't but empathize with his situation. Who wouldn't think such, having gone through their many predicaments?



Wednesday, January 11, 2017


In recent times Ikorodu has been appearing on the timelines of my head more often than before. There was a time I didn't even know it was a part of Lagos, okay yea I had a girlfriend who I never visited because she lived there back then in secondary school. But that was just it, the other times it was because I'd use Ikorodu Road to several other destinations besides the place it actually led to, and then again that was it. It wasn't until a colleague at work some years back regaled us with tales of how she would wake up as early as three in the morning, and be on the road by four just to be at work on the island before seven that my consciousness was raised a notch concerning the place. Of course, we also witnessed the many times she was robbed, phones and bags collected severally, besides the physical and psychological trauma she was subjected to by (armed) robbers and hoodlums, as she made her way to work, and the many times she'd had to leave work before closing hours for home, because the people of Ikorodu had one (Orò) festival or the other, bordering on the fetish and diabolical to perform, for which women, sometimes men are required to stay indoors sometimes for days on end. You could tell how evidently she changed once she moved out of Ikorodu, where she didn't have to pay rent because it was her parent's house, to the island where she paid massively, but had rest of mind.

With these at the back of my mind, when I forayed into a bit of real estate, I wasn't keen on Ikorodu, even though it seemed like it was the only place we could afford to buy land in Lagos at the time, before we decided to move outside of Lagos, although it was the issue of land speculators and/or grabbers that topped the list of our disenchantment with that part of Lagos at the time, over and above my personal issues with the place. It also meant that when accommodation became an issue for me sometime last year, Ikorodu wasn't even up for consideration, despite the fact that many of the new apartments on display, mostly online had the kind of space as well as other facilities, for less competitive pricing that you'd find nowhere else on the mainland or on the island, without boring a huge hole in your pocket.

Now, recently a man was caught (while his accomplices managed to escape) in the Majidun area of Ikorodu, said to be planning to blow up the third mainland bridge in Lagos. He was said to be part of the oil bunkering militants, whose stock in trade was to burst oil pipelines in the Arepo and Ikorodu areas of Ogun and Lagos States respectively, fill barges with twenty-five litre kegs containing fuel, and even bigger containers for onward sales to customers in the black market. He and his cohorts, according to the police decided to blow up the bridge because of recent Nigerian army and airforce raids that bombed them out of their hideouts and out of business (at least for now). As usual, and as is commonplace with the Nigerian security services, they overplayed and over-sensationalized that event in the press, ignoring the wider, even more deadlier scenario, that this was just one man (which I doubt would've been able to go through with his plans, with the few dynamites and other explosive paraphernalia on him) out of the horde that have now gotten their hands to other mischief to make "ends" meet, ends that have widened exponentially, based on the amount of money that was formerly available to them in their oil bunkering days. That simply added to my dread of Ikorodu, and I simply noted the event.

So, weeks ago, just before Christmas, on the stretch of Ikorodu road of which Majidun (again) is part of, a robbery incident was recorded in which Aisha Alli- Balogun, a TV presenter was shot dead while in traffic and her daughter, a kid was kidnapped (later released to her family, with no news as to whether a ransom was paid or not) during the attack that involved several commuters in traffic on the said night. It was while I was scanning through twitter that it came to light that this wasn't the first time this would be happening there, especially on that part of Ikorodu road, as I began to read of experiences of even passengers in public buses who have lost valuables while they were caught up in traffic, and robbers took advantage of their helpless situation to strike.

In that period, I also noticed that another staff at work who lives close to Ikorodu was now coming later than usual, and I asked her about the situation, only for her to attribute her lateness to her now having to leave home later than usual, till such a time as she could see the light of day because of the nefarious activities of "former oil bunkerers" who have taken to armed robbery and kidnapping, since their oil bunkering activity was halted by the Nigerian military. She stated that on one particular occasion the armed robbers blocked both sides of the traffic at about seven o'clock in the evening around the Ogijo part of the Ikorodu road, and  perpetrated their crime, robbing from vehicle to vehicle for more than an hour without police showing up anywhere to rescue the situation, while it lasted, till the thieves got tired of hauling loot and left. What broke the camel's back for her however, was the recent abduction last week of passengers in a bus still on the Majidun axis of Ikorodu road, who were hailed down by armed men very early in the morning, and transferred from their bus to that of the kidnappers, and driven to an unknown location from where families of those abducted were called to pay varying amounts as ransom to facilitate the release of their wards and family members, then in the care of kidnappers. Since then, this staff, has defied the fear of a query for late coming because of that incident, saying she'd be devastated if something like that happened to her, while still nursing and breastfeeding a baby. Unfortunately, moving to other parts of Lagos is presently out of the question for her seeing as her husband prefers Ikorodu, due to the proximity to his business to their house, and also not wanting his wife to be closer to her people in mainland Lagos, which a move away from Ikorodu, outskirt of Lagos might enable.

How could I have gotten this far without mentioning the cult problem in Ikorodu. When in discussions last week over the issue with a friend, he attributed the situation to the presence of the Lagos State Polytechnic students there who are members of one cult or the other, but I was quick to inform him that the cultism in that institution, and indeed of tertiary institutions in Nigeria is child's play compared to the horror that cultists, who aren't mainly students, in Ikorodu get up to, as well as visit on the people of Ikorodu, sometimes with active connivance of the police and other security agencies, as well as politicians and the well entrenched traditional society in that part of town. Many times, when the people resort to jungle justice and lynching of a criminal, they say that at other times they resorted to following the law such criminals were released from police custody under controversial circumstances, sometimes by influential chieftaincy title holders and powerful politicians, whom they might have done some favour for, many times the gory ones that the people of Ikorodu wake to see some mornings as headless corpses, with other parts of the body missing, and these include of males and females. Even with rape cases, Ikorodu stands out, with victims at certain times including either the very young, or the very old, then bizarre in that some of the perpetrators then go on to wipe the vaginas of their victims with a white handkerchief, in what many suggest will be used for ritual purposes.

It isn't unusual that Ikorodu is getting all these bad vibes now. It's where the middle class have elected in recent times, to build their homes on cheaper to acquire land, though that comes with its own challenges, including as mentioned before, land speculators/grabbers who could make a landowner pay several times for the same land, depending on the number of times different aboriginal families win cases in court to upturn a former so called "original" aboriginal landowner (omo onílè). Ikorodu is like sugar surrounded by a horde of ants. Even an arm of Nigeria's entertainment industry, the Yoruba-speaking film industry, known as the National Association of Nigerian Theater Arts Practitioners, NANTAP, have lots of their members who have homes, businesses like hotels and sundry in Ikorodu, as against their English-speaking Nollywood counterparts who have made Lekki axis on the island their base, as with the very wealthy of Lagos. When the criminals abduct (even primary and secondary school students, some of them while on the assembly ground in the morning), rob or perpetrate crime in Ikorodu, they do these aware that some of their victims are wealthy, or are related to those who are and own houses in Ikorodu, and can afford to pay ransom to secure the release of their wards in their captivity.

What Ikorodu needs is more opening. The expansion and reconstruction of Ikorodu road is a step in the right direction, but that long stretch needs now to be policed, not just by the armored personnel carrier with a few policemen at strategic points on that stretch of road but far more than that, to include frequent patrols. If the fourth mainland bridge, which will link Ikorodu with Lekki, is finally built that will further

open up Ikorodu and naturally that sort of openness will bring that part of town under further scrutiny especially of the security agencies, as well as government attention, which because there'll be facilities to protect on that axis, with new markets and economic opportunities, the land will be forced to modernize and hopefully crime will be effectively fought just because of exposure to the outside world, without forgetting the old ways that Ikorodu must shed to move forward, with or without the opening up of the area. It is heartwarming to learn that the Lagos state House of Assembly has passed into law, the anti-kidnapping bill into law, which prescribes life imprisonment for kidnappers, and a death sentence for them, if their captive dies in their custody, as well as forfeiture of the property in which the abducted was held incommunicado, though I don't know how the complicity of the owner of a property can be proven in such a situation, but notwithstanding it is a step in the right direction, if the laws can be implemented. Hopefully, the tales from Ikorodu will turnaround for good, for now it remains a no-go area for me.



Sunday, January 8, 2017


When it came to light that the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN had declared today, a National Day of Mourning sometime last week, I was very happy. Happy, not because it will bring back the dead, or heal the injured, or restore all that the people of southern Kaduna lost, after marauding Fulani herdsmen paid them a "Christmas day visit", leaving destruction and death in their wake, but because for once a body like that, deemed it fit to dedicate a day to remember and honour the dead, even when the government at both state and federal level conveniently turned their eyes and ears away from the carnage that took the lives of more than eight hundred Nigerians away in yet another ethno-religious crisis in the north, disguised as farmer's versus herder's clashes, even when so called farmers died in their homes mostly while they slept, or very early in the mornings trying to escape the invasion unarmed, and that includes women and children as young as just a few months.

If you hadn't heard about this declaration by the CAN last week, after the gruesome murder of Christians and animist inhabitants of Southern Kaduna, you'd be shocked that the office of the vice president could release a video afterwards in which former Nigerian Christian presidents and vice presidents rendered a hymnal in English and in they're language, for those who could like there hadn't been a massacre at all, talk more, the killings of fellow Christians, and to go ahead and say a few words afterwards without mentioning the travails and persecution of Christians, non-Muslims and southerners in the north. Yes, I am not surprised about the silence of the vice president, whom when a deaconess from his church (where he incidentally is one of the pastors) was killed during "morning cry" a few kilometers from his abode in Abuja, said nothing, neither pressured the authorities using his high office, to even pretend to leave no stone unturned in bringing the killers of that woman to book, before you begin to wonder at his quiet about other killings before and after that of male and female Christians in the north following accusations of blasphemy against the Muslim God and/or his prophets. Of course when such Christian leaders keep quiet, you don't expect the sultan or emirs, whose ultimate goals may be inadvertently served in the long run by these killings to speak on behalf of Christians, or demand justice for their maltreatment, abuse or wrongful deaths at the hands of intolerant and fanatical Muslim fundamentalists.

If you were unaware of this declaration by the CAN, you'd think Nigerians and Christians are quite insensitive, especially when an aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, a Christian comes on air to say that his principal doesn't have to make a comment concerning killings of fellow Nigerians (and Christians like him), since the state governor is on top of the matter. You'd hear the Inspector General of police dispute the number of the dead like even the killing of one Nigerian would matter less, under the circumstances those that died where mercilessly massacred and butchered. He would then go on to assure southern Kaduna people of increased security by promising to locate a mobile police force unit there, as if the presence of police and/or the military in that region has ever been the case, over and above how they conveniently disappear when  marauding Fulani begin their raid. Only to return and arrest those indigenes found even with a pen knife (either for self defence or to peel orange to avert the unpleasantness of the harsh harmattan weather), for attempting to disturb the peace, while a Fulani walks by armed with his AK-47 unhindered, talk more arrested.


If peradventure the day that declaration was made, you were cocooned away from the Nigerian reality by the workload on your workstation, and therefore missed it, you may not miss the secretary of the Miyeti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, justifying their ignoble act, while warning on the side that inhabitants of southern Kaduna should forget about avenging the death of their loved ones, but rather come to negotiate peace with the Fulani (without justice), so that all could get on with their live, as they are content now that a wrong done them since 2011 have been somewhat righted. Though that  statement was widely publicized, no single arrest, either of that man, nor of the perpetrators which he may know have so far been made, rather reports keep making the rounds that despite increased police and military presence, the murderous Fulani are camped well in the sight of everyone that cares to know, with the possibility of a new onslaught not ruled out, while a journalist courageous enough to publish pictures from the pit of hell that some parts of Southern Kaduna became, was promptly picked up and could've been surely whisked off to Abuja from Lagos had not the problem with Nigeria's aviation sector not reared its ugly head in the form of lack of aviation fuel, leading to delays in takeoff, and thereby having the journalist and his police captors waiting a while at the departure lounge, catching the attention of passersby via which that piece of news was leaked.


When black South Africans were dying at the hands of their Boer rulers like flies, and they were helpless, even hopeless in ending their unfortunate situations, they didn't lose opportunity to openly mark the demise of their dead. Each time any country in the west suffers an act of terror by groups even low in terrorist ranking to the Fulani terrorists, this same quiet President Buhari (on issues concerning killings of Nigerians, especially by his kinsmen), is usually one of the first presidents to send condolences to the countries concerned. Those countries mark the passage of their dead by flying their flags at half mast, they declare day(s) of mourning for their dead, especially following such dastardly acts, hence you could imagine my sadness when I learnt that the Catholic Bishop Conference of Nigeria, CBCN berated CAN for making statements that is capable of threatening the fragile unity of Nigeria, and I'm guessing they said this because CAN in the release calling for the declaration of a "National Day of Mourning' (in which amongst others' Christians are to adorn themselves in black apparel), had stated that they "perceived President Buhari's silence (on the killings) as official endorsement of the dastardly and ungodly acts",  instead of joining the call for a day of national mourning. How about the fact that I waited till after Pastor Bakare's so called speech to the nation, before writing this with the hope that he'll say something about the massacre of Christians in the north, especially seeing as he'd visited the president last week, only for him to come out with an uninspiring call for the "restructuring of Nigeria" into six regions, which he knows is a tall order, considering the posture of the man he ran as running mate to many years back, and continues to wholeheartedly support despite the man's total "about-turn" on lofty ideas many thought he'd espouse now that he's gotten power eventually?

Yes, there are issues, a myriad of them that Nigeria needs to tackle, but for now some Nigerians, as were many before them, have been brutally murdered, in what could pass as genocide, and the  government and those who should have prevented this have kept quiet, or spoken up after constant and consistent criticisms was thrown in their direction. We are left with nothing to do but observe a day of mourning in their honour, like we weren't wont to do before now. Nothing in the government's body language, as well as security operatives drafted to southern Kaduna and indeed, other hotspots in Nigeria, suggest that a recurrence isn't likely, so when it does happen again, we should dedicate another national day of mourning to those that will die then. Maybe, after several national days of mourning for those lost in crisis such as the one bedeviling southern Kaduna now, with complicity of government at both state and federal levels, a Pharaoh who knows not Joseph will use his/her presidential or gubernatorial powers to act to make the protection of human lives and property, as enshrined in Nigeria's constitution, a priority. For now, we will mourn our dead and declaring a national day for it is trite or else when history is being told, the story of the genocide would be suppressed by the same people who stood by doing nothing when it was being perpetrated.