Soka Oyo State, on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, made the map last year when police said they uncovered a den of kidnappers there. The graphic images of the discoveries were causes for concern. Public expectations that the police would investigate the matter were dashed.
Decaying body parts that littered the place and the 20 decomposing bodies found there were inadequate to elicit police action. Twenty-three people – 18 men and five women – were rescued from their fleeing captors. The police had ignored complaints from residents about suspicious activities of the kidnappers.
Among the women rescued was one who reportedly had a baby on the day the police arrived, the baby was missing. Police confirmed arresting seven persons in connection with the discovery of human parts in the bush, about a kilometre off the busy expressway.
Those arrested were two persons found in the uncompleted building and five security personnel working for a nearby company. Three dane guns, three single barrel guns, one bow, 16 arrows, 22 cutlasses, 40 live cartridges, seven knives, an axe, two iron files and a phone were found in the building. The building was demolished without searches that could have produced more evidence, a practice also etched into the law in Anambra State to deal with kidnapping. The police did not apprehend those behind Soka.
Soka was not new. It was bound to happen again, in Oyo State, which was the case last March and in parts of Ogun State this month. There have been similar incidents in Lagos, Anambra, Ondo, Imo, Kogi, Enugu, and most of the States in the Niger Delta. The predictable end is that the police mismanage evidence, the suspects are set free.
Emboldened by the slack management of these cases, and possible connivance with the police, kidnappers are on the prowl, not necessarily for ransom. The more frightening cases are where the victims are killed, as could be inferred from the corpses in Soka. The latest dens have marks of Soka: they deal in human parts.
The incidents may differ, but a common thread that runs through them is poor investigations. Clifford Orji was arrested in February 1999 under a Lagos bridge, where he lived for years, terrorising people. He confessed he sold human parts to clients whose names and telephone numbers he had in a diary. Clifford was taken to a magistrate court once in 1999 and died in Kirikiri Prison 13 years later. Police claimed he was mentally unstable, a cogent reason for not investigating his clientele.
Soka got the Clifford treatment, and so have many cases of kidnappers’ dens nationwide. The practice prospers because it is profitable, and the law overlooks them.