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IKORODU KILLINGS: Nigerians and the culture of no identity

IKORODU KILLINGS: Nigerians and the culture of no identity

By Benjamin Ugbana…

Many good people have lost their lives in strange environments and many others have ended up in Police cells here in Nigeria simply because they had no form of identification at a crucial point of demand.

The average Nigerian does not see the necessity to leave home with an identity card, something that should bother our minds!

Market traders hardly have work I.D’s, even comedians, musicians and other talents. After millions of persons have reportedly gotten the new national identity card, one wonders why the little piece of art appears in public only when holders are strongly required of it in the bank.

White collar jobbers are also guilty of this neglect. I remember working with a company where only the Director and his PA had a work I.D card. Other staffs were treated like hungry men who only joined the workforce for the ridiculous monthly pay.

More standard organisations traditionally give out identity and complimentary cards to their workers at the point of employment, and even make it compulsory for staffs to come to work with it, yet some persons still find it difficult to keep the tradition, making the job of security operatives harder than supposed.

It’s rather perplexing that normalcy is taken so much for granted in this part of the world. To the extent that a car owner can confidently mount his steering without a Driver’s license in hand. And at checkpoints, they boldly tell inspectors, “I forgot my license at home!”

Could it be a thing of Culture..?

Perhaps the African culture gave birth to this nonchalance. As it’s known to be in rural settlements – where most of us stemmed from -, folks are easily recognised at first sight by mere appearance. (This is probably how the Police reduced identifying suspects by interrogation to simply observing dress styles and hairdo’s).

An elder in a village can swiftly tell the origin of a playing child up to his fifth generation without the help of any encyclopedia. No need for paper identification; everyone knows everyone.

We’ve also heard narrations from the past, at the time of physical inter-tribal wars, of how the ability to speak one’s language fluently with the right accent can save them from being killed by the warriors of their own tribe.

We see that a person’s appearance, spoken language and accent have long served as a valid means of identification, and this has probably become a part of us.

The world has moved on. Many are already enlightened, and so, making an adjustment at this time to a modern way of life shouldn’t be as difficult as it’s currently proving to be.

The Badoo Cult & the killings in Ikorodu

Now, stories relating to the dreaded Badoo cult group have trended the Nigerian news sphere for over two months now, as the Ikorodu area of Lagos has rightly been tagged a red zone by the Nigerian Police.

According to reports, no fewer than 25 persons have been killed by the gang. They’ve attacked thrice in the past two weeks, killing a family of five at one time and attacking a Church where they killed three persons, including the Pastor’s wife.

Alas, apart from the incessant characteristic smashing of heads by the terror group, a good number of feasibly innocent persons have also been killed by angry residents, who do not hesitate to hand jungle justice to any person considered a suspect.

While an unlucky few like Chinedu Paul a.k.a. MC Think2wice have been mistaken for cultists and burnt alive by an irate mob, many others have been erroneously bundled into prison cells by men of the Lagos State Police Command.

Few nights ago, a Pharmacist was reportedly arrested and had been taken alongside other youths to the Lagos Task Force office at Oshodi before a social media campaign by his former course mates led to his release.

His release was facilitated by the Pharmaceutical council, whose officials placed calls to several DPO’s and eventually the Deputy Commissioner of Police, who then ordered his release. But what about those who do not belong to any professional body?

When the Police job becomes difficult…

Perhaps, the several unwarranted arrests in Ikorodu and the resultant social media clamours may have caused the Police so much professional embarrassment that the Lagos Command had to release a public notice in the early hours of last Tuesday.

The statement which began with a kicker, “Attention to Ikorodu residence” was signed by the State’s Police PRO, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, notifying residents about the “series of police operations lined up in the area” demanding that they “carry on them a valid form of identification” in order “not to be restricted or face apprehension.”

The notice boldly stated: “Henceforth everybody moving around that part of the state, residents, students or workers should always have on them a valid form of identification.”

But do we have to wait for such states of emergency before we learn to move around with a form of identification?

Truly, at this point of our existence as a Nation, every citizen should have seen reasons to have at least one form of identification at all times. It’s actually very embarrassing to read in the news that a medical professional is mistaken for a cultist at first sight.

Although it’s general knowledge that the average Police officer does not do as much as ask for identification before pouncing on a sojourner at a crime scene; nevertheless, having a work I.D in hand always pays off in the long run, as some of such victims are freed as soon as they arrive the station in ideal situations.

Nigerians must therefore inculcate it as a habit to always move around with a form of identification, irrespective of their distance from home, in case of any emergency. For by being so conscious, we will not only save security operatives the stress of interrogating a great number of suspects, but also save ourselves from time wastage and unnecessary torment.

 

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Ben Ugbana