- Gang dubbed the Badoo is believed to have killed 30 people since June last year.
- The gang then moved to another church on the same street to steal money and mobile phones.
People cover their noses at the stench of death in the Crystal Church of God in Owode Onirin, just outside Lagos, where bloody clothes, drums, bibles and hymn books still litter the bare floor.
Three days earlier, four worshippers were killed as they prayed, in the latest murders blamed on a shadowy gang dubbed the Badoo, believed to have killed 30 people since June last year.
So-called "cult killings" — gang violence often fuelled by drugs and belief in black magic — are not a new phenomenon in Nigeria, which is nearly evenly split between a Muslim north and Christian south.
Crime often spikes during times of economic hardship.
But the murders by the Badoo are making headlines because of their increasing frequency and the manner in which victims are dispatched.
"They must have scaled the fence and hypnotised the victims before carrying out their deadly act," Israel Ojobaro, an engineer who lives on the church premises, told AFP.
"Two women and two children, including a nine-month-old baby, had their heads smashed with a grinding stone."
The gang then moved to another church on the same street to steal money and mobile phones.
"They must have used (magic) charms as no one noticed when they entered the church. By the time the worshippers were awake, their phones and money had been taken away," said church head Taiwo Adesanya.
Fear and a lack of faith in the police to protect them has prompted residents to watch over their communities. Every night, bonfires are lit on the streets between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am.
Anyone caught on suspicion of being a member of the gang is immediately lynched, locals said.
Police say vigilantes have killed at least 10 suspects in the last month. Innocent people have been targeted.
The Badoo saga started last year when a female schoolteacher was raped and killed in the Ibeshe area of Ikorodu, which lies 10 kilometres from Lagos across the lagoon as the crow flies.
The woman's skull was smashed with a stone. Before leaving, the gang wrote "Badoo" on the wall. Since then, there have been similar killings across the town.