The security situation in Ikorodu Division was the focus of discussion by stakeholders who agreed that the increased security threats pose serious dangers to the community and called for collective responsibilities in tackling it.
Three major issues – cultism, activities of the landgrabbers, popularly known as ‘Ajagungbales’, and drugs, were hitherto, identified by keynote speakers, discussants and other stakeholders as causes of high rate of insecurity in the division, at the First Ikorodu Division Security Summit held at the main auditorium of the Ikorodu town hall on Thursday, September 22, 2021.
The security summit was organized by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikorodu branch.
The event, themed, “Eradicating Menace of Cultism and Other Social Vices: Causes, Effects and Solutions”, was also supported by the Ikorodu Division Youth Initiative (IDYI) and National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), while three Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), security experts, State lawmaker, traditional chiefs, youths and other stakeholders examined the security challenges.
High Chief Adewunmi Ogunsanya, SAN, the Chairman, MultiChoice Nigeria and the chairman of the maiden edition of the Ikorodu Division Security Summit, said that the summit would help in changing the narrative.
“It gives me great pleasure to be called upon to chair the very first Ikorodu Division Summit on Anti – Cultism, organized by the NBA Ikorodu branch in partnership with the Youth organizations in our community”, Ogunsanya said.
“We have seasoned speakers and discussants that will unravel the mystery of cultism, why we have this problem and how we can solve this problem.
“It is very important that we listen carefully, digest what we hear and find some middle ground to change the negative narrative of our beloved Ikorodu Division as a home base for cultism in Lagos State.
“Ikorodu Division is known for having great minds, scholars, professionals, philanthropists, economists and statesmen. We need to put heads and minds together to tackle this threatening menace, otherwise we may lose our history and culture to this abyss called cultism.
The Odofin of Ikorodu Kingdom charged that all stakeholders must be involved in addressing the security challenges if it is to be effectively tackled.
“Let me say here that, if we must change this narrative; traditional, government and private institutions must work closely together to empower our youths, educate, mentor and equip them so that they can resist the temptations of being use by men of depraved minds who seek only to use them to cause mayhem and unrest within our great community”, he said.
He said that distress in any part of the division must consider security issues that must be addressed together, while assuring that the Ikorodu Division Security Limited that he is the chairman would aid the security agencies and local security groups in their operations.
The senior lawyer cum business mogul, identified cultists, ‘Ajagungbales’ and settlers as major security concerns to Ikorodu.
Chief Ogunsanya also described some of the youths in Ikorodu as lazy youths, stating that such youths are jobless not because there is no job but because they are not just interested in working.
In the first keynote address, Mr Lawal Pedro, SAN, Principal, Lawal Pedro & Associates and former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice and Solicitor-General of Lagos State, said that cases of cultism and the activities of ‘Ajagungbales’ has been on the increase in parts of the state.
He said that the administration of justice in the state would have to be looked into if these issues, which he said posed serious security threats, are to be addressed.
“Cultism has really increased in our society and increased the crime rate. Landgrabbing has also increased and this is only peculiar to Ikorodu alone but also to other parts of the state, including Badagry and Epe”, he said.
“We have to deal with our administration of justice. Matters concerning lands should be decided within six months if we are to reduce land grabbing cases.
“The timing for the administration of justice must be fast to address the issue”.
He also said that management of the influx of people into Lagos State must be checked by the government, adding that anyone wishing to stay in the state must have means of livelihood and must also have relatives.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also charged the Lagos State House of Assembly to enhance the residency law and make it more effective.
The keynote speaker also charged young people against joining gangs.
The second keynote speaker, Mr Tunde Adejuyigbe, SAN, the Principal, Olatunde Adejuyigbe & Co., described cultism as a reflection of the general society while calling for concerted efforts to ensure proper training and upbringing for the youths, especially from homes.
“This is the kind of situation that we will have when everybody is trying to be successful either by crook or hook”, he said.
“Those in cultism are in it for power, protection and access and if we want to address it, we must look inwardly. This is a major issue that everyone must be involved to tackle it effectively”.
He charged parents to be more concerned about what their children are doing when they are not with them, especially those in schools.
“I am not sure it’s possible to be eradicated but we can curb it because the system is yielding to these cult groups”.
On drug abuse, the senior lawyer called for the increment in the capacity of social workers so as to be able to take care of victims.
He stated that it is the collective responsibility of every member of the society to pay attention to what is happening and and stated that this must be jointly addressed.
The Majority Leader, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade accused some lawyers, community leaders, land owning families and police officers of contributing to the increase in insecurity in Ikorodu through their association and connivance with ‘Agungbales’ whom he said are encouraging cultism.
He said that some families prefer inviting ‘Ajagungables’ who will end up taking large parts of the land to secure their lands rather than resolving and sharing the land with their family members.
The ranking lawmaker also stated that the Assembly is reviewing law on land grabbing to make it more effective.
CP Hakeem Odumosu, the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, who was the first discussant to speak, said that there is need to prosecute cultists to serve as deterrent while also adding that there is need to provide for witness protection to encourage people to willingly coming forward to offer useful information to the police.
He was represented by DCP Goke Fayoalade.
“There is a need to create an enabling atmosphere to safeguard people willing to come forward to offer useful information regarding cultists. These people need protection.
“There must be deterrent for culprits if we are to fight cultism effectively.
“There is also the need to orientate our Magistrates on the provision of the laws in handling land grabbing and cultism cases.
“We cannot make situations like these look as if it is beyond what the government can tackle”.
Barr. Hamzat Jimoh, the representative of Hon. Motunrayo Gbadebo – Alogba, the Chairman of the Ijede LCDA, who was invited to speak on behalf of the youth, said that indigenes are to blame for the increase in the rate of crime waves in Ikorodu and not those that came to reside.
He pointed to the high rate of drug abuse and youths engaging in cultism in various traditional compounds in Ikorodu and said that these are happening without check.
The Commandant of the Joint Ikorodu Division Security Taskforce, Akogun Lanre Olabinjo blamed the failure of Ikorodu people, especially leaders, to respond when their voices were needed to curb cultism and land grabbing.
He also blamed men of the Nigerian police force for the increase in the rate of insecurity as caused by cultists and landgrabbers.
“Ikorodu people, especially the leaders failed to respond when they were needed to take action against these cultists and those engaging in landgrabbing”, he said.
“The police have also contributed greatly to the activities of the cultists and landgrabbers and that is the problem that is confronting us today.
“What we have in Ikorodu are not really cultists but miscreants and there is a need to go after them if we have to tackle the challenges of insecurity”.
He also alleged that some traditional chieftains are also to be blamed for the unchecked activities of the landgrabbers in Ikorodu.
“Some of our royal fathers and Baales are also contributing to the activities of these land grabbers. They make use of them and some of them are even on their payrolls”, Akogun Olabinjo alleged.
“We have seen cases where some of them secured release of these landgrabbers when arrested”.
He, however, called for effective prosecution of cultists and landgrabbers if their activities are to be curbed.
Mayor Muyideen Sanwoola, while commending the Lagos State House of Assembly for the enactment of the Anti – Cultism law, also called for its review to focus more on those that are initiating others and introducing them to cult groups.
According to him, if this is done, the activities of the cult groups will start reducing and in no time fade away.
Mr Aguiyi Henry, the Chief Superintendent of Narcotics (CSN), NDLEA, Lagos State Command, said that the logistics challenges being faced by the command hampered its effective handling of the drug cases which is very rampant in Ikorodu.
However, he said that the command has been partnering with stakeholders in the campaign against drug abuse.
He called for involvement of everybody in dealing with the menace by assisting the NDLEA in its campaign.
The representative of Baales, Chief Adebayo Olomo, the Baale of Ojogbe, Ikorodu, denied that traditional rulers and Baales are encouraging landgrabbing and cultism.
He said that they have instead been assisting in curbing the menace in their respective areas.
The representative of NAOWA also called for good parental care, support and monitoring for children if social vices are to be curbed.
Odofin of Ibeshe, called for more security and patrol vehicles presence in strategic locations to prevent crimes as well as quick and timely response during distress situations.
Mr Abimbola Ojedokun, the Chairman, NBA, Ikorodu branch, speaking earlier, said that he is very optimistic that the summit would help in addressing the issue of insecurity and bring the much desired peace and security back to Ikorodu.
He commended royal fathers in the division, youth groups and other stakeholders for their efforts in addressing the issue.
The Chairman, NBA Anti – Cultism Committee, Mrs Henrietta Adero Fadahunsi, Esq., said that the summit would help in orientating the youths to work in synergy with other stakeholders and also enlighten them in accepting responsibilities and work towards a crime – free society.
Also, Dr. Abiodun Fatai Abatan, the Chairman, Board of Trustees (BOT), Ikorodu Division Youth Initiative (IDYI), in his own remarks, described the summit as an important step by stakeholders towards addressing insecurity in lkorodu.
He added that the summit was a major value to the role of the judiciary in enriching the debates, through a legal lens, on the issues of crime, insecurity and social justice