#ReformThugNG will soon become a trend in the reformation process of a better Nigeria that we all seek. This is a national call and obligation. I recently wrote on this hashtag but directed the article to Nigerian youths who are clamouring for a radical change for this country.
But my experience of cultists on Sunday, 1st of November, 2020 changed my mindset about a whole lot of things. I saw what I never experienced during my university years and this has called for additional hands to curb this menace; else we all would not be able to walk around the streets of Lagos peacefully and feeling secure.
If we have the courage to stroll down these streets; what about our younger generations or even present teens whose minds have been demonically transformed or occupied with erroneous information about the insecurity issues of this country?
#ReformThugNG is a movement that should be quickly integrated into combating insecurity and high crimes in the society. It is a movement that the government should not take chances; and neglecting stones unturned.
A Sunday Afternoon
Let me share my experience of some invaded cultists I encountered on Sunday at Mile 12 with you; and probably if this story would eventually be documented in the history of this nation.
On Sunday morning after I attended the monthly Thanksgiving service at my local church; I had an errand to go pick up an item at Ajegunle axis of Ikorodu Road, Lagos, precisely at Irawo area. I remember vividly that I boarded the commercial bus at about 11:45 am at Ketu bus station; en route Irawo or Ikorodu then to alight at Irawo bus stop.
There was a heavy gridlock on that road, everywhere stood still on both lanes; so, as fondly done by the ‘danfo’ bus drivers; our driver manoeuvred his way into some streets and eventually headed close to Mile 12, exactly at Kosofe. Then we continued with the dragging of the heavy traffic.
Our bus struggled to drive through the road and after two hours, we were at Owode. Suddenly, we saw some people running to and fro Ikorodu road; but I didn’t know what was going on, so I kept my cool. We later saw some hoodlums with some heavy sticks, broken bottles and knives; but they did not attack anyone. I understood why these people ran for their lives when I saw these thugs. Safety is very key.
Some passengers in my bus started screaming and asking to alight on the road. Chai! People can panic o. Well, a coward dies many times before his or her death. I had to use my church mind to calm the fearful passengers; so that they don’t pollute my faith with their fears. I was intentional about not getting scared. Where the courage sprang from is what I don’t know but I was sure of my deliberate intentions of remaining calm and fearless.
Abandoned BRT Buses
To the glory of God, my bus was able to scale through that obstacle; but little did I know that it was the beginning or tip of the iceberg. I alighted at Irawo bus stop and quickly collected the item I went for, then set off again for another traumatic heavy (so I thought). The traffic en route Mile 12 was heavier than my previous route to Irawo.
I saw some BRT buses that plied the road too and was even happy that some of them are still on the road after the looting; and destruction saga after the #EndSARS protest and hijacks by these same hoodlums. But that was not all.
Approaching Owode, we began to hear some road users or commuters that some hoodlums were fighting at Owode; then a passenger who was with a five-month-old baby received a call from her husband, informing her that there was a fight at Mile 12 and about five people had been killed. We thought it was one of the fake news, but there was nowhere we could run to even if we all tried to run out of the bus, which was not the best and safest option for anyone.
Our driver successfully drove past Owode bus stop without any hitches except the gridlock and we gradually approached the danger zone – Mile 12 where the event took place. Just very close to the long bridge, there was a total standstill, no movement and I saw people pulling off their footwears to enable them to run faster. Some ran towards Ikorodu road, while others ran towards Mile 12.
Pandemonium and Tension
There were pandemonium and tension everywhere. Road traders immediately cleared their goods off the roads, residential houses near to the road who had gates at the entrance of their streets quickly shut the gates, preventing people from seeking shelter with them. I also think they shut the gates because of these people we were about to see who stood afar – cultists.
I saw some commuters banging at the gate of one of the streets or mini estate, begging to be let in but they refused to let them in. Then they kept running and scouting for an escape route which they did not find except the road occupied with vehicles whose doors had already been closed and locked too. No one allowed anybody into the bus. But some passengers in other vehicles ran out of the bus to save their lives.
The BRT buses were abandoned on the road as the drivers or pilots as fondly called, ran for their dear lives, while the passengers struggled to pass through the small door. I also saw a white garment spiritual leader who abandoned his car and ran for his own life too. I understood all these scenes, no one wanted to be a victim of horror or cults clashes. Their clashes are not good experiences.
Immediately we approached close to where the cultists gathered, it dawned on us that we were in for a shit. Two beautiful ladies in my bus could not hold back their fears, they broke down in terrible tears; while the one very close to me held my cloth, bowed her head and shut her eyes from having eye contact with them.
All I kept saying were words of faith and pleading the blood of Jesus over myself and the bus – “I will not embark on a journey of no return. I will not be a victim of misfortune. I plead the blood of Jesus over myself and this bus.”
Highlights of My Experience
The highlights of my encounter with the cultists were the fact that 90% of them were youths. More so, all of them had at least a weapon with them such as knives of different shapes and sizes, saw, cutlass, axe, guns of different sizes and charms.
Some of them even hit our bus with their weapons and these further increased fear and tension in people as they screamed louder and longer in an uncontrollable panic.
I sat at the entrance of the second roll on the bus, so I could see most things that transpired. One of them approached our bus and spoke with me. He said, “They have killed the head or leader of Eiye.” Eiye is one of the most popular confraternities or cults in most Nigeria universities. Then he walked away.
Another cultist approached our bus again and asked us if any of them robbed us of our belongings. We replied no and thanked him.
They were in hundreds that invaded the road and no vehicle dared drive through under Mile 12 long bridge. All vehicles quickly diverted their routes to the left and used the long bridge. But our bus needed to go through under the bridge.
God’s mercy and favour showered on us and some of them told our driver that he should drive through under the bridge in a jiffy. They cleared the road for us and he drove off quickly.
Young and Fearless
I observed that some of these young men involved in this fraternity could be university or polytechnic graduates who, the societal ills and vices have dealt blow with them, leaving them no choice rather than to belong to a deceptive brotherhood of crime and political connection.
Furthermore, I discovered that these young people are not just angry about their leader’s death, rather an avenue to display their powers and fearless ability to destroy.
No police officer was on ground to curtail the menace, except a few military personnel who shot some gunshots into the thin air at that time.
Beyond #EndSARS Movement
#ReformThugNG cannot be achieved without a proper and thorough investigation into the hidden cribs of these people. It cannot be done without a full; and total overhaul of the insecurity issues in this country. #ReformThugNG should not be approached with the #EndSARS movement; it is beyond just protesting against bad governance and violence.
The #ReformThugNG is more of Reformation right from the grassroots of the four walls of academic environments which include the elementary level.
This #ReformThugNG movement would involve a critical approach of different strategies of reformation and awareness. Our governments at all levels need to be fully involved in combating this menace that has eaten deep into this society.
I am aware of much efforts put in place by the Nigeria Police Force in fighting cultism and other crimes in the country; but I think more can be done.
Kindly share this article across various platforms to aid this movement of #ReformThugNG.