Crime, criminals and a troubled humanity

Since creation, Nigerians have never had it this bad according to history. I’m talking about the reality of terrible oddities in our lives. Strange acts wrought by people who seem ordinary but sophisticated in wickedness and barbarism.

Men rape their daughters. Other ones and their sons take turns in raping minors who they put in family ways. Claimed religious leaders caught raping physically challenged ladies in places of worship and flee. Boys go after girls’ underwears for money ritual. Human waste becomes edible in a money-making ritual. Boys rape their grandmothers. Men sleep with minors in a bizarre assault on innocence. A man was found with a roasted human hand as if it was a trophy won in a sporting competition and several other cases of trafficking in human parts.

What is happening to our world? Why do men commit these atrocities that make nonsense of our generation and claim to humanity?

Is it mental depravity? Or spiritual powers and spiritual powers for what? Are such powers an end in themselves or a vehicle for some ends that are selfish and destructive? Why will a human being want to destroy others just for his personal interest, forgetting that the well-being of an individual becomes a Herculean task if the society is troubled in whatever way?

Why? Is it for money and fame? Young men murder their girlfriends, dig graves in their bedrooms and bury the bodies. But the ghost of several murdered persons refused to rest in peace until the law hit those killers.

Young men crave fame and riches. They register into cultism, acquire some strange powers for quick cash, get so rich and spend lavishly with so much obscenity, revel in being called “Big Boys” and end it all shockingly and horrifyingly. They die just when the sun of their lives begin to rise, sunset before noon. A tragic end so to say and why?

Is, money- and its material benefits all that is to life? Does joy actually spring forth from the fountain of cash? Can illicit money buy happiness? The Holy Books enjoy us not to lay up for ourselves “treasures upon earth where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal…”

We still lay claim to our membership of the human community, but our sense of right and wrong is suspect. How do we halt the way we hurt ourselves? Why bend it when we should end it?

It is not that Nigeria had been crime-free all along. No! It is far from it. Criminals have been with us for ages – and they will remain with us anyway- it is the heartless nature of today’s criminals that is worrisome as they battle to turn our world into a jungle in which there are no laws. All is fair. No fear.

Those men of the underworld whose stories sound like Hollywood scripts handled by first television producers and actors must be surprised at the way their bloody records are being shredded by our new gangsters, mobsters, fraudsters and tricksters.

Some flashback into the hall of infamy when I was a young crime reporter in the 80s in Lagos with the rested Nationalist Newspaper, Salami Bello Jaguda was a Lagos musician who found fulfilment in crime. So popular was he in the nefarious trade that his name became synonymous with armed robbery and theft. He quit the bloody stage for the dreaded self-styled Dr. Ishola Oyenusi (aka Dr. Rob and Kill) who reigned as told from 1965 – 1971. His first reported major operation was on Herbert Macaulay Street, Yaba, Lagos mainland where he snatched a car, killed the owner. Reason: His girlfriend was broke and needed money for her makeup.

Thousands watched excitedly as Oyenusi was tied to the stake and executed by a firing squad on the Lagos Bar Beach. The spectators had come to confirm his much-rumoured invincibility.

Oyenusi, according to the myth possessed the power to be visible, invisible and invincible. Besides, his body was said to be impenetrable to bullets. It all turned out to be a myth. But the spectators confirmed that he was all smiles as the soldiers took the position, awaiting the command, “fire”.

Oyenusi died a criminal. But his gang remained active, headed by his second-in-command Isiaka Busari (aka Mighty Joe), who killed many in savagery that also crashed before a firing squad on the Bar Beach.

Horrible as it was, the Oyenusi saga had a redeeming feature. Kayode Williams, a member of the gang, later found Jesus Christ. He became the Bishop of the Christ Vessel of Grace Church and the Director-General of the Prison Rehabilitation Mission International (PREMI) after completing a 10-year jail term.

Army deserter Youpelle Dakuro was reputed to have masterminded the most vicious daylight robbery in Lagos in 1978. Babatunde Folorunsho, Lt. Oyazimo and Muhammed Kolomi were dreaded names then in Lagos. But their exploits were nothing compared to those of Lawrence Nomayogbon Anini (aka The Law) and his deputy, Monday Osunbor.

They killed several policemen before fate caught up with them. Before he was executed on March 29, 1987, Anini wheelchair-bound – one of his legs was amputated – sober and dejected, said of the fate that awaited him: “I am afraiding”. He also warned my excited colleagues (Photo-journalists) to stop feasting on him. “E don do now”, he said, waving his hand.

Those who thought the worse of the beasts had been seen off were proved wrong soon. Enter Shina Rambo. With Yemisi Akinsanmi alias Yemo and Tony “Montana” Ikiagwu, Rambo rumbled through the 90s. He was notorious for striking in several places at the same time, driving snatched exotic vehicles in a long convoy all the way from Lagos to Cotonou, Republic of Benin.

Okwudili Ndiwe (aka Derico Nwamama) held Onitsha, Anambra State’s commercial city, and other parts of the East by the throat early 2000. A former “area boy” and pickpocket, he became the most dreaded gangster of his bloody time, smashing banks at will. The police on August 1, 2013, gunned down Abiodun Egunjobi (aka Abbey Godogodo), who reportedly killed scores of policemen. His arsenal included 60 AK 47 rifles, which the police recovered. He reigned for 14 solid years.

Henry Chibueze (aka Vampire), who terrorized Imo and neighbouring states, fell in March 2017. His gang was said to have murdered no fewer than 200 people, including the victims of the 2013 bloodshed in Igando on the outskirts of Lagos, among them his girlfriend, her expectant sister and their children.

Ruthless and brutal Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike (aka Evans) is currently on trial for a coordinated kidnapping offence of the rich and collecting ransom in foreign currencies. The police described him as Nigeria’s “cleverest” kidnapper who evaded arrest for seven years by using 126 mobile phone SIM cards.

Five Nigerians were arrested the other day in the United Arab Emirates after smashing their way into a currency exchange shop, injuring the staff and carting away some cash. Their fate hangs in the balance.

In the northern part of Nigeria, Boko Haram seems to be yielding the headlines to herdsmen/farmers clashes and pockets of ethno-religious crises particularly in Plateau, Taraba, Benue and the southern axis of Kaduna state where frustrated tribal warlords preach hatred and beat drums of baseless wars that has retarded progress, eroded unity and shattered brotherliness. By the way, where the hell is the loudmouth Abubakar Shekau? Now, the new criminals have no name; they are simply lumped together as bandits.

Why are they killing In Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Nasarawa states where the Federal Government has banned mining activities? Why are guns used by those bandits coming from? Who exactly are these gangsters? Are they more powerful and sophisticated than our governments? Why has it taken this long – and many lives of innocent Nigerians, including women and children to think of reining in these murderers?

The other day, former Defence Minister General Mansur Dan Ali, an indigene of the embattled Zamfara State had accused some traditional rulers of aiding criminals, leaking information on security moves to curtail them. He could have done more to flush out the bandits but lacked the capacity despite the opportunity at his disposal. Any monarch who fuels any bloodshed does not deserve any respect but a criminal treatment. He should be seized like a common criminal and brought to justice.

Most of the wealthy men, women and the influential ones have since fled the Kaduna – Abuja highway for fear of being kidnapped for ransom. The train ride is now preferred. Kajuru, Kaduna State residents are crying for safety. Batsari local government residents in Katsina State are crying for solution. Cultists are striking daily in Rivers State. Kidnappers have just let go of several celebrated personalities.

Honestly, the government should start to go after the big masquerades behind these evil ventures including political thuggery that is taking a more catastrophic dimension. Look at how the woman leader of PDP in Kogi state was forced to death by hoodlums. This should be part of the “tough decisions” we expect in this second tenure of President Buhari. Nigerians are dying in droves from their inhumanity. Enough should be enough!

And now, the Gods are offended it seems. We have coronavirus that is claiming lives daily. Lassa fever is there while kidnappers and their most senior and protector in crime, corruption are there destroying Nigeria steadily. It is a typical case of suffering and smiling. Nigeria, which way out? A bloodless or bloody revolution as a remedy or which way do we go?

Muhammad is a veteran journalist and commentator on National Issues

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