Not less than eighteen young men have been reportedly killed in a renewed cult war within a week in Edo State.
Residents across Benin City, the state capital are now leaving in fear.
Almost all residents in the state capital on Friday locked themselves indoor to prevent being killed by stray bullets.
The dire devil cult boys shoot sporadically and recklessly.
Children of nursery school age ran and scape for safety under gutters and closer-by houses as they see the dire devil cult boys sometimes numbering more than fifty in numbers in rampage display of guns and other dangerous weapons.
Police are yet to be seen significantly manning their duty posts in all locations in the state capital.
Banks during the week operated in fear and may stop operation if fear continue to build up in the state.
The cult boys mainly 18- 30 years of age in large number move in droves killing, robbing suspected and unsuspected gang members across the state capital.
Reports indicate the dire devil cult boys usually starts their killing operations from 4:00am through out the whole day sometimes unchallenged.
The cult boys open fire at assistant commissioner of police around Upper Sakpoba axis of the state capital on Friday.
The assistant commissioner of police is said to be receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital in the state.
Military men deployed to the affected areas are reportedly being challenged by the dire devil cult boys as they continued the killing spree.
Independent Television, ITV in one of its morning programmes anchored by Sunny Duke Okosun reported that more than two new dead bodies were found across different locations on Saturday morning in Benin City.
It is a well known fact that every election year, secret cult members usually showcase guns and other dangerous weapons received from politicians in Edo state; often leading to show of supremacy by secret cult members.
Yesterday morning, the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki made only one political appointment, (the office of the secretary to state government, SSG) into his new government.
The governor insisted that all other political appointment will wait till the first week of February, 2021.
The governor did not state the reason for the seemingly strange development to set up new cabinet almost after 100 days in office. This is rare in the state.
Action of the governor may be commended but the governor can do more by reading riot acts to all politicians in the state.
Specifically demanding them to call their secret cult boys to order.
Any politician who could not control his secret cult boys should be severely dealt with and such politician and his group should not be included in the formation of the new government.
Research conducted and part of the study published ten years ago gives more light on the possibility to control cult activities in Nigeria.
The research work titled “Cultism In Nigeria Tertiary Institutions” read thus:
CuItism has been identified as the major factor responsible for the rising rate of violence and crimes in Nigeria.
Sequel to its existence, the country has been thrown into a theatre of blood letting and tension arising from concomitant armed robbery, assassinations, ritual murder, arson, piracy, sexual harassment
and rape and other crime such as election malpractices, examination
malpractices and prostitution.
All these crime wax stronger and stronger in our society due to hydra- headed monster known as cultism.
According to Ali (2004), armed robbery and hired killings are all the spin offs from cultism.
Ali added that cultism is responsible for a situation where a graduate with honours degree is unable to write an application for a job and speak intelligently and grammatically in English. “Examination
malpractice is an extension of cultism”, he said.
Atolagbe (2003) observed that armed robbers are getting more sophisticated because of the influx of young and educated Nigerians who had been involved in cult activities while on campus.
“Politicians join cult groups in order to get people that would serve as thugs and help them to silence the opposition.
Politicians use cult members and force voters to vote for them either by offering them bribe or issue threats to the voters” (Nwagbara 2006).
It would be recalled that since Independence Nigeria has never managed any political process without hitches.
Amongst others, the process have been characteristic fraught with all manners of election
malpractices ranging from hijacking of ballot boxes, violence,
harassment of candidates, agents and voters, killings and kidnapping of
Cultists as agents used for election malpractice in Nigeria; Ubaka (1992) observed that politicians hire youths as thugs and miscreants to do their bidding days to and on the polling day.
Newswatch magazine (2007) reported that the 1964/65 first indigenously conducted elections stand tall to be the political process where election has evolved in fits and spurts in Nigeria.
The election led to a complete break down of law and order in the west-area that house University of Ibadan; wherein campus cult started.
The magazine added that the dust raised by the crisis was yet to settle when young military officers led by the late major Kaduna Nzeogu plotted the first military coup in the country which swept away many of the leading politicians in the country, particularly those of the
A counter coup soon followed as many northern military officers felt that the first coup was directed at their leaders and the region.
The fall out of the counter coup led to the 30 months Nigerian civil war
whereby scores of lives and properties were destroyed.
Recounting how cultism foiled the 1965 election crisis that wrought the civil war, Jaffrey (1997) reported that the co-founder of the first Nigerian campus cult, Prof. Wole Soyinka was arrested during the election crisis in 1965 when a “masked intruder” held up a radio station at gunpoint in Western Nigeria.
The intruder, said to have been Soyinka, substituted his own tape for the scheduled rigged election victory speech of Chief S.I. Akintola, urging him to get out of town.
Prof. Wole Soyinka, the co-founder and leader of the Pirates confraternity in an interview with Zia Jaffrey in April 1997 in New York City seemly didn’t deny this allegation.
Wikipedia (2010) corroborated
the story and reported that Wole Soyinka did it, but freed on the ground of technicality by Justice Esho.
Even during the civil war, BBC (2007) reported that federal government also imprisoned Soyinka for more than two years in which he spent the most part in solitary confinement on suspicion of his involvement in the sale of Military aircraft to the East – the Biafrans area.
He was released in 1969 and entered a period of voluntary exile.
He returned to Nigeria in 1975, but left again in 1983 when he learned that there was a price on his head, after Shehu Shagari allegedly rigged
himself back into power and riots broke out.
On March 12, 1995, Soyinka and fifteen others were charged with treason by the Military government of the Late General Sanni Abacha on two count charge of ‘Conspiracy to levy war against the federal government of Nigeria” and ‘Causing explosions in various parts of Nigeria”.
And Wole Soyinka during the aforesaid interview with Zia Jaffrey also said that the planned mass action was directed towards Aso Rock and Nigerian students amongst others were to be used in the protest.
However, Wikipedia (2010) reported that he escaped from the country via Nadeco Route with motorcycle and Abacha regime pronounced a death
sentence on him “in absentia”.
The above portrayed picture point to the fact that cultism has been foiling the violence, arsons and killings in Nigeria on the negative perspective; while on the positive account it has been used in fighting military government and their repressive degrees and bad leadership or political office holders.
The latter is no longer true bearing in mind the contemporary activities of cultists in Nigeria.
ORIGIN OF CAMPUS CULT IN NIGERIA
In the 1953/54 academic session, seven young men named Wole Soyinka, Pius Oleghe, Muyiwa Awe, Ralph Opara, Sylvanus Egbuche. I.I Aig-Imoukhuede, and Nat O. Oyelola started an organization called Pirates confraternity, at the University College, Ibadan now the
University of Ibadan.
The original seven entered the University College
in the session shown against their names below:Session 1951/52 — Muyiwa Awe, Session 1952/53 — I.I. Aig —Imoukhuede, Nat. O. Oyelola and Wole Soyinka, session 1953/54 — S.U. Egbuche, R.C. Opara and Pius Oleghe — (FOCEM 2004).
Awe (2004) said none of them is active in the organization any longer except Wole Soyinka whose views and current links with the confraternity are well known while Ralph Opara and Pius Oleghe are now
Atolagbe (2003) observed that the objectives of the original seven in founding the Pirates confraternity was to having identified the constraints militating against the attainment of a just society, show
resolve in combating social ills such as colonial mentality, tribalism,
corruption and elitism.
But bearing in mind the alleged role played by cultists or Wole Soyinka in the aforementioned crises in Nigeria; it is suffice to say that Wole Soyinka or Pirates confraternity employed wrong approach in trying to halt the social ills and consequent upon this the social ills have continued to wax stronger and spreading wider rather than being curbed.
This assertion can be said to be corroborated by the words of Soyinka (2009) that Illegimacy begets Illegimacy and Illegality begets Illegality.
This is so because Wole Soyinka or pirates confraternity
approaches in curbing the social ills were seemingly illegal and thus
have increased the level of illegality, criminality, corruption,
tribalism, elitism and other forms of social ills in the country rather
than solving it.
That aside, Awe (2004:2) observed that for almost 20 years of its existence, the Pirates Confraternity was the only student organization of its kind within the University system in Nigeria.
By 1972 however, as schism occurred within the confraternity; some of the members were expelled and they promptly started a rival organization, the Buccaneers confraternity.
About the same time, an informal association of friends who got together in Nnamdi Azikiwe hall of UI in 1965, was transformed into the Eiye confraternity:
Anyone with spiritual insight will not fail to agree that the seeds of evil and the decent into decay and violence had been planted even when the benign confraternities were being founded.
The first confraternity identified itself with pirates and the breakaway
association identified itself with buccaneers.
Both names belong to
armed robbers operating on the high seas.
Another meaning of pirate is a person who appropriates or reproduces the work of another for profit without permission, while buccaneer also means a recklessly adventurous and unscrupulous person.
Also, the symbol of the pirates confraternity is a skull and two cross-bones, a signal for life threatening danger as well as the label on poisons in every pharmacy.
Awe (2004) further noted that by 1964, violence had crept into the political system of the country with the introduction of political party thugs operating within the national political land scape.
The situation was most severe in the Western region that house UI where campus cult originated from.
Then, properties of perceived opposition politicians were set on fire using petrol as fuel and, in extreme cases, politicians themselves were set ablaze.
Sequel to the alleged role of Prof Wole Soyinka in the aforesaid crises in Nigeria, it is clearer that cultists have been subtly violent since 1964 and thus they have contributed to the alarming cases of wanton destruction of lives and properties in the country.
Activities of cult groups or confraternities have been in secrecy right from inception.
Bukano (2004) confessed that after he joined the Pirates Confraternity in 1968, he found that there were some
excesses; hard drinking, looting and some reckless damaging and meetings
were held 22: 00 hours or 00:00 hours in the night.
Olusanya (2004) corroborated the story by saying that “our meetings were held and understandably so in the evening after dinner and to clothe it with some mystery, the meetings were held in such out-of-the way places as the top of the old bookshop which was flat”.
Prof. Gabriel Olusanya joined Pirates confraternity in 1957 at the
University College, Ibadan (FOCEM 2004).
By early 80s onwards, other secret cults such as Black Axe, Vikings, Klukluklan (KKK), Maptutes, Jurists, Mafia, Black Beret, Black Scorpion, amongst several others emerged.
The female secret cults also formed their own movement.
These include Daughters of Jezebel, Black Brassier, Daughters of Lady Macbeth, Black ladies and Daughters of Eve.
Former Supreme Court Justice, Kayode Eso cited in Vanguard (2003) identified 36 secret cults existing in the Nigerian education system.
All efforts made to curb cultism have been to no avail in Nigeria.
And the major reason for uprising of cultism on the Nigerian soil being the fact that lack of justice and lack of empirical evidence that could lead to appropriate punishment for the culprits and deter potential cultists.
In 1989, Decree No. 47 was enacted.
It gives the Governing council of Universities power to proscribe any unlawful society and prescribes a jail term not exceeding five years and/or a fine not exceeding N50,000 for anyone convicted under the Decree.
This law has not recorded much success in curbing cultism because of the requirement of proving a case beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law, in a situation where witness are hard to come by- (Awe 2002).
During this era, Oguntuase (2000) cited in Ogunsakin (2000) observed that the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida infiltrated campus groups, especially the fraternities, arming and using them against popular students unionism with a view to fight the latter if it decided to oppose the government.
On July 10, 1999, five students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) IIe-Ife, George Yemi Iwilade, the General Secretary of the students’ Union Government and four others were allegedly killed by members of the Black Axe confraternity.
On October 29th, 2002, Justice Rabiu Yusuff of the Osun State High Court discharged and acquitted three members of the Black Axe, Efosa Idahosa, Kazeern Bello and Emeka Oguagu arrested and charged with the murder of the five students.
The judge freed the suspects for want
of evidence” after almost three years of trial-Vanguard (2003).
As observed by Awe (2002), after the cold-blooded massacre, the Federal Government gave vice chancellors matching orders that cultism must be eradicated in all Universities within three months.
While this order by a civilian regime showed the justifiable concern of government for safety of life and property within its area of justification, it was an indication of a lack of awareness of the problems posed and the nature of cultism.
And subsequently, precisely on the 6th of December, 2000, the Edo State Governor, Chief Lucky Nosakhare Igbinedion signed into law the Bill on secret cult prohibition which provides a 21 years jail term for
membership of cult group either in educational institutions or civil
The law also prescribes a five year jail term for anyone who directly or indirectly assists or facilitates the membership or existence of any cult group in schools.
In defiance to this, on Wednesday, 8th of October, 2003, there was a massacre of members of the Anti-Cult Crusade Organization (ACCON), Alli-University (AAU) Ekpoma chapter which left five students dead, three others died later and others seriously injured (Igbekoyi 2003).
Following the attack, although 20 suspected cultists were arrested by the police in Ekpoma in conjunction with the University Anti-cult group ACCON in an early morning raid, but Vanguard (2003) reported that the Edo State police Command released the 20 suspected cultists because of lack of evidence.
The commissioner of police, Emmanuel Adebayo explained that neither Ambrose Alli University nor any other stakeholders came up with any proof to enable police prosecute the suspects.
And that there was indication that intense pressure were believe to have been mounted on the police by some highly placed people in the society.
Similarly, before the Edo state law on secret cult in 2000, the then Education minister, Dr. Tunde Aderian commuted the expulsion of 15 Auchi Poly Students out of the 23 students earlier expelled to rustication for one academic session.
The gesture according to Edomwande (2000) was due to passionate appeals made by the school management and the student’s Union government amongst others.
However this shows how stakeholders in the society boost cultism.
Also, Osarogiagbon (2009) reported
that there was a time in Edo State police command paraded 25 suspected cultists arrested during a raid of a hotel along Agbor road in Benin City, but how the suspects
found their way back to the streets, days after their parade remains an unresolved puzzle.
However, Okosun (2004:10) noted that cultists have questionable and unpredictable character, emotionally unstable, very secretive, have unquenchable appetite for women which they change like wrappers, they are politically subversive and controversial, the lady folks have their faces painted like Egyptian mummies; keep long nails like lady Macbeth; dress to kill with provocative round protruding buttocks, allegic to pantwearing, expose navel with pubic hairs conspicuously displayed to
the glare of all and sundry.
The female initiation qualifier is the ability to receive and withstand the trash bashing and banging of seven hefty macho men whose natural koboko is not less than any mineral bottle.
He added that female cultists are lesbians.
Seven girls rape one man until saliva drips from his mouth and he became lifeless in his hotel room.
The girls do make away with the victims money loaded briefcase.
On graduation or dropping out of school, the females become highflier prostitutes within and outside the country.
This country called Nigeria is finished as these form the bulk of our today and future leaders (Okosun 2004).
1.2.STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Despite the efforts of succeeding governments made to curb cultism, secret cult activities have continued to wax stronger and stronger and thus made Nigerian campuses a theatre of blood letting and insecure for both students and lecturers.
This raises the problem of this study.
In addition, the National AIDs and STDs control programme (1999) reported that in 1998 alone, 60 percent of the 20, 334 AIDs cases in Nigeria were within the age group of 15 -24.
The 2003 National Sentinel
Survey also reported similar findings.
The age group obviously falls within the age bracket of most children in tertiary institutions or under-graduate students.
And Okosun (2004) asserted that female cultists are rapists, lesbians and highflier prostitutes, within and outside the country.
This also raises the problem of this study.
Does cultism has any effect on the spread of HIV/AIDs in Nigeria?
Akonedo et al (2010) noted that since independence, Nigeria has never managed any political process without hitches.
Cultists are used by politicians as thugs to rig election in Nigeria (Ubaka 1992), (Nwagbara 2006),(Okosun 2004).
Also, cultism encompasses large number of other criminal activities such as killings, rape, armed robbering, drug abuse, examination malpractices, and arson in Nigeria (James 2005), (Okosun
2004), (FOCEM 2004), (Atolagbe 2003), (Ali 2004).
Piracy has been a major problem in Nigeria which thus have made product owners to continue to run at loss while the pirate gains more.
Awe (2004) revealed that confraternities’ names belong to armed robbers operating on the high seas.
Supporting this statement, Osuntokun (2004) affirmed that the slogan of Eiye confraternity is: Eiye o ni sasun, Eiye
nbuta meaning birds do not work but eat peppers’, a phrase meaning a
group of cheat or clever people reaping where they did not sow.
To be continued…