According to Rotimi Fasan reporting for Vanguard, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, has of late been in the news for not very good reasons. In what could easily pass as a scene from a horror film, a slave camp was discovered in the heart of the city.
This camp where unspeakable horrors have been committed apparently combined the functions of a shrine with that of a home or a transit camp where captives were randomly raped and offered up for rituals after vital organs have been taken out of their body.
The Ibadan camp of horror brings under one roof the cannibal practice of Clifford Orji and the blood-chilling sacrifices and oath-taking of Okija. Like Orji’s one-man practice, the site was located in a city but like the Okija shrine, the camp was enveloped in a wilderness of sort, not far from a busy expressway in a well populated area.
Which makes it all so unbelievable that such a camp could have been operated even for a day without inhabitants of the area knowing. But then locating their evil camp close to a built-up area could have been a strategy to evade detection. Who would have imagined that some people could have been so brazen as to run a slave camp literally under the nose of other city dwellers?
The culture of impunity that has permeated every aspect of the Nigerian society would remain with us for a long time to come. Politicians and other state officials are merciless in their looting of the treasury. They amass wealth without fear of discovery even as their ostentatious and extravagant lifestyle seems to mock the relevance of the many anti-corruption agencies that populate our country, daring them to discover the source of their stolen wealth if they could.
Armed robbers are no less brazen: they serve their victims advanced notice of their visit and take their time to rob as freely as they could and rape as many as suits their fancy. And the ritual killers? They pick their victims in broad daylight, push them into vehicles and carry them away in the presence of eager onlookers without anyone asking questions.
Since certain categories of Nigerians such as security men are thought to be above the law, they can do as they please in public. They can arrest or shoot other citizens at will. Ritualists disguised as law enforcers have now obviously bought into this trick and now carry people into slavery and keep them for months or years without anyone being wiser. This was how some found themselves at the Ibadan slave camp.
For many years, Ibadan appeared to live up to its reputation and origin as a former war camp. It was volatile and violence-prone. Even as the regional capital of western Nigeria, violence was not far from Ibadan. But it was a relatively peaceful place, a melting pot of various Yoruba groups as well as Nigerians from other parts of the country. When politicians have allowed it, Ibadan has been quiet.
But the sprawling nature of Ibadan with its huge population of uneducated youths made it a favourite recruitment spot for politicians interested in disrupting the peace of the city that combines modernity with unbelievable rusticity in many parts. There is much truth in the claim that politicians have a lot to answer for in the volatility of Ibadan. They align themselves with local chieftains, leaders of the union of road workers, commercial drivers, who turn their supporters into ready armies to prosecute the political battles of rival politicians.
This group of Ibadan people has enjoyed neither the support nor patronage of the present governor, Abiola Ajimobi. At least there is nothing to suggest that. They have been cleared off from their favourite sites and some of their leaders have been fugitives from the law. For this reason Ibadan has been at peace. There haven’t been cases of brutal attacks on rival groups of transport workers and the impunity of touts running motor parks like their personal estate has stopped.
Things are more organized around and inside the parks and traffic flow is relatively freer than in the immediate past. But it does appear that criminals in Ibadan have turned there attention to less obvious activities. Or it is the people that have not been as vigilant as they ought to? The slave camp operators have been running their criminal business for long, it seems.
And but for the inadvertent discovery of their hideout by commercial bike riders out looking for one of their missing members, the people of Ibadan couldn’t have been wiser to the abominable activities going on right under their eyes.
Since the discovery of this camp, there have been more cases of individuals apprehended with human body parts in different part