Nigerian gangs have a reputation that is taught in university halls in the United States, but at home, they are remembered for bloodshed and heavy violence. When Nigerian gangs are mentioned, the infamous campus cults first come to mind. Sadly, violent gangs have formed outside the university, in streets and close-knit communities.
Some of these groups have gone almost as swiftly as they came, while others have terrorised entire towns and cities and inspired the creation of vigilante groups to curb their excesses.
Here are 5 gangs and cults that have terrorised Nigerians
The ritual group is perhaps the most infamous on this list. Over the last one year or so, the group has terrorised the residents of Ikorodu.
Badoo herbalist, Fatai Adebayo was arrested following a confession given by a cult member earlier apprehended.
According to members who have been caught, a small handkerchief is doused in the victims’ blood. On some occasions, body parts are severed. After a long spree of unchecked violence, security agencies have turned the heat up on the group.
Several members have been apprehended since the year began; a herbalist and a sponsor of the group are also in custody.
Nigeria’s south-south has an unsavoury reputation for deep-rooted cultism. The phenomenon has seeped from the universities into everyday life; campus cults in places like Benin and PortHarcourt have street cells and offshoots in residential communities where kids are recruited from a very young age.
Members of the Icelanders and Dewell cults paraded by the Rivers State Police Command. (Linda Ikeji’s Blog)
In other circumstances, it is hardened criminals or older persons with the potential and desperation to lead a life of crime who are recruited.
The Icelanders were created in this mould. the group is an offshoot of the Supreme Vikings Confraternity.
It was created after the fraternity first tried their hands with Dewell, a similar group to limited success. Since its inception, the Icelanders have terrorised residents of Port Harcourt and areas where oil wealth is vastly segregated.
The group engages in paid murder, kidnappings, oil bunkering and similar activities. Members of the group have always been at the forefront of the Niger Delta militancy.
Ateke Tom, for instance, one of the leaders of the group, is also one of the leaders of MEND.
The Outlaws is another product of the South-South, and Rivers in particular. The group split from the Icelanders in the early 2000s after a power tussle between leaders in the group.
Members of various Rivers-based cult group display weapons surrended by their groups and fellow militants. (Action against Armed Violence)
No sooner had they become a separate entity than they began to affirm their presence with waves of extreme violence. Like their parent group, the outlaws are heavily involved in kidnappings, oil bunkering, assassinations and political brigandage.
However, over a decade, the outlaws have built a reputation for clashing with the police, with heavy fatalities. Their most infamous attack happened in February 2007.
The group subdued a barrage of police officers while entering into cells and breaking out one of its leaders and over 124 suspects.
(4) One Million Boys:
One of the most saddening aspects of street violence in Nigeria is how young boys have become involved, forming armed groups.
One of such is One Million Boys, the code-name of a gang known for its notorious robbery activities around Lagos and surrounding towns.
Members of the One Million Boys gang arrested by the Nigerian Police. (Nigerian Newspapers)
The group was reportedly formed in Ajegunle by a group of about 20 boys who sought to “represent” their communities. At some point, the group’s objectives moved to robbery activities, rape and maiming.
At the group’s height, it was so well-known and feared that many clamoured for them to be called to justice. A movie titled “1 Million Boyz” was released in 2014 based on their activities.
On October 9, 2012, about 130 suspected members of the group were arrested by the Lagos State Police Command during a raid around Apapa and Ajegunle. This raid signalled the beginning of the group’s end.
Somolu and Bariga are two communities that are immensely familiar with gang violence. However, in 2015, they had to deal with a new threat.
A gang of young boys, with ages ranging from 14 to 19 years of age began to terrorise the communities. Residents believe the group formed in Angus Comprehensive High School and Somolu High School on the basis of street loyalty.
Where physical force failed them, the group moved found strength in numbers. The boys operated by parading the streets at night in groups of up to 50 at a time.
Unfortunate passers-by would be robbed, raped and waylay-ed, often with very severe injuries. After the group became a menace, the Police stepped in.
Some of the boys were killed during confrontations with the police, others were arrested. The group has since gone silent, although other boys have moved on to other groups.
Written by Segun Akande