By Rotimi Fasan 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 Orjia��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 havena��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 couldna��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 parts of Ibadan. Some of these traders in human merchandise go about their business under the pretext of being mentally unbalanced. Which leaves one wondering what people wouldna��t do just to get by.
Our failure to examine certain aspects of our lives has left loopholes for criminals to exploit. But for the culture that allows mental patients to roam around unattended to, some people wouldna��t find it easy to hide under the cover of madness to commit crimes. When citizens fail to be alert to their surroundings they invite unspeakable evil upon themselves. But it is worse when political leaders, state officials and others with important responsibilities to the community, fail in their duties. They create room for all kinds of criminalities. Life doesna��t appear to have been cheaper at anytime than now in Nigeria. Everywhere you turn, everyday, human lives are being wasted without consequences. While the rest of the world have in the last four weeks been wondering what happened to 239 people aboard a missing Malaysian airline, far more Nigerians are killed in just a single day.
To live in Nigeria has become a very brutal and nasty experience. Terrorists widen the latitude of their operations and kill hundreds across different parts of the north-east, they break jails, set their comrades free and launch attacks on military formations even after issuing advance notice of their plan. Fulani herdsmen have been going around, not with their prodding staff and cattle, but AK 47, explosive devices and weapons of mass death, sacking villages, maiming and killing hundreds in their sleep. Job seekers are crushed to death, government houses and governorsa�� convoys are not secure- all are open targets. Now the authorities must quit sitting on their hands and be about their duties. Nobody is safe anymore. This should tell us all we have to be vigilant. As for those who think they are safe because they are in government, the spate of attacks on government houses or places close to them should tell them we are all in the same boat.