How Yorubas are bagging life term, courting Scotland Yard in London

Among the U.K. Black Minority Ethnic Groups, Nigeria’s Yoruba has been making waves for its big bashes, and also getting all the eyeballs for its orgies of bloody knife fights


AS Nigeria’s population grows in the U.K., so has been its crime rate, especially homicide.

No fewer than 11 Nigerians, convicted of murder in London in the last six years, have been clammed behind bars for the rest of their lives.

A life term is Britain’s harshest punishment for capital offences.

Two of the murder convicts, however, bagged between 14 years and 22 years.

Court cases, particularly in southern London Old Bailey, and the BBC homicide database, reveal about 80 percent of the lifers are Yorubas.

Five of the jailbirds committed the murder when they were teenagers. The freshest of them who got sentenced early September, Wale Kekere Ekun, was 25 when he, along with his gang members, murdered a rival gangster in London. The long arms of the law caught him 16 years later, after fleeing the U.K. for Nigeria.

The oldest of the murderers was Raymond Iriogbe, 49 as of 2011, when he was sent up for life. Iriogbe comes from Edo.

The youngest, John Onyenachi was 12 when he stabbed a cop; Nelson Idiabeta, was 17 when he and Nathaniel Okusanya, 18, both members of the Trust No One (TNI) gang, killed a young Ghanaian mistaken for a rival gangster.

Most of the murders were committed using small arms and light weapons (SALWs).

Apart from Kayode Oshin, 21 and Junior Tahir-Akinyele, 19, both cokeheads, who pulled a Mac 10 on their victim in 2011 in an attempted murder, the like of Emmanuel Kalejaiye, Michael Adebolajo, Oyenachi, Iriogbe, and a couple of others knifed their victims to death.

Many of the victims were close relatives like mother, ex-girlfriends, and friends bumped off at home, and, mostly, outside club houses or around mosh pits.

There were also a cop and a soldier—the latter being a victim of mujahid Adebolajo who was 28 when he jabbed a cleaver in the neck of the British soldier.

Sociologists have always attributed increase in crime to immigration, among other factors. As of 1991, the BBC, in conjunction with the Institute for Public Policy Research, reckoned about 48,000 Nigerians were living in the UK.

By 2001, the figure ballooned up to about 88,000, more than 87 percent surge.

And, since then, the Nigerian population in the UK has been galloping.

“We have a large community of Nigerians in London,” Michael Adeyeye, mayor of Brent, London, told the Vanguard when he and two others visited Lagos in 2013.

“And the population of Nigerians living in the city is over one million. This was what we got from the high commission.”

Besides southern London, eastern and northwestern England also crawl with Nigerians. And a large chunk of them is Yoruba.

Peckham has been particularly described by Travelstart, an online travel agency, as mini Lagos in southwestern Nigeria. Yoruba was said to be the secondary language there until recently when it started waning.

There are about 300 languages Londoners speak, according to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe. Such diversity obviously poses a challenge for policing.

To address this, the UK biggest police force recently put up an advert asking recruits to be able to speak one of 14 secondary languages. Yoruba was among them.

“I believe it will help boost confidence, help to solve crime more effectively and support victims and witnesses,” said Hogan-Howe in July.

Effective policing, however, has its own flip side, especially in a hodgepodge of ethnic nationalities that keeps swelling in Britain. MET keeping a beady eye on the Yoruba, of all the Black Minority Ethnic Groups (BMEGs) in the U.K., could easily be chalked up to racism now that the nation is battening down the hatches as its economy recedes.

True, the racist appeal could be an excuse. And it will make a meaty one.

About 37,000 cases of racial violence were recorded in 2011 and 2012 in the U.K., according to the Institute of Race Relations.

And policing was roped into the fracas, too, wrote IRR researcher Jon Burnett in After Lawrence: Racial Violence and Policing in the UK.