Evil Forest of Ibadan
The recent gruesome discovery of some one hundred and twenty decomposing bodies, some of them decapitated, in a forest near Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, is a tragic reminder of the huge deficit in law and order in Nigeria.
The horrific scene attracted hundreds of shocked residents, including Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi, who apparently could not make sense out of what was before his very eyes.
There is no precise account about how these people met their death or how their bodies came to be in the area that has been dubbed the ‘evil forest’. But the police are reported to have arrested ten suspects who might know a thing or two.
Most accounts claimed that these were the work of kidnappers who allegedly killed their victims and dumped their corpses in the evil forest. However, it is not clear whether they have been recent cases of kidnapping or missing persons report with law enforcement agencies.
The discovery has stirred a section of the community to complain that the police had been alerted in the past of untoward behaviours of some person in the vicinity of the forest, and that no action was taken in response.
Officers at the Sanyo police station, which is the closest security post to the scene of the crime, were reported to have dismissed such complaints, with the statement that the area had been carved out by local authorities to keep the destitute that had been rounded up from streets for constituting a nuisance to the rest of the community.
Whatever may have happened, it is the responsibility of the state government and the police authorities to establish the facts of the case.
It is vital that the identity of each of these corpses is also established against any possible report of unresolved cases of missing persons.
There may be nothing evil about the forest, but the action of the people who perpetrated these crimes.
Only a thorough inquiry will establish what period these killings took place in, and what the motives of the perpetrators are.
One inquiry has been pledged by the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone 11, Mr Femi Omolaja, who also said that security operatives had been deployed to ensure that those connected with the killings are caught and prosecuted.
Some reports also said that a number of persons arrested while in possession with human skulls could be part of the band of kidnappers suspected to have to be behind the mayhem.
Beyond these, however, is the issue of community action in addressing crimes of this nature.
In this case, although probably a few people who thought what was going on could be criminal activity and reported their fears to the police, and no action apparently was taken, there should have been pressure on local authorities, even traditional rulers in the area, for some action or to bring the matter to higher authorities.
A planned demolition of a house in which the suspected kidnappers were arrested has wisely been halted by the police. As Mr Omolaja explained, this would allow for a complete investigation that he said had been ordered by the Inspector General of Police.
Not surprisingly, the Soka community, where the so-called evil forest is located, is agitated, and the tendency is that if the police are not up to the task, or are suspected of undue delay in their investigation, the people may take the law into their hands. This should not be allowed to happen.
SOURCE: DAILY TRUST