Cultism: Concerns as politicians, students, others glamorize groups’ activities
A few weeks before he was attacked by suspected cultists for refusing to join their gang, Oke Ademiju, a final year student of Political Science at Osun State University, UNIOSUN, was set to write his final papers as a Political Science student.
Ademiju, according to eyewitnesses, was attacked with cutlasses, stones and thereafter set ablaze by his assailants before residents came to his rescue.
His school’s official account said, “Oke Ademiju Victor kept shouting that he was not going to join any cult but his assailants continued to pummel him with cutlasses, hard stones and even attempted to set him ablaze, partially succeeding until he was rescued.”
While his mates have graduated from the University, Ademiju could not write his final papers as he was bedridden due to the cult attack.
However, many said the aspiring political scientist is lucky to be alive since many like him have died or have been maimed for life for daring to reject the daredevil cultists’ proposal.
Only recently, a child of 12 years, Sylvester Oromoni, was attacked in his hostel for allegedly refusing to join a cult gang in a secondary school.
Many lives have been lost in clashes between rival cult groups over supremacy battle. Cult groups often count the number of deaths recorded by a gang as a sign of superiority, discarding life of all its values.
Now, some parents hesitate to send their children to boarding schools or even higher institutions for fear that their wards may be forcefully initiated into cult groups.
Keen watchers of the education system have also listed bullying, drug dealing, prostitution as some of the crimes to checkmate in Nigerian schools.
A recent investigation published by the BBC Africa Eye accused cult groups of masterminding illegal activities.
The report showed that many brutal killings and armed robberies in Nigeria were traced to dreaded groups such as The Neo-Black Movement of Africa (also called Black Axe); Eiye Confraternity; The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrate Confraternity); Vikings Confraternity; Brothers Across Nigeria (BAN) or National Association of Sealords also known as Buccaneers Confraternity and others.
This is the extent the threat of cultism has risen in recent times across the country.
Analysts say cultism has been unfortunately promoted as charity and humanitarian organisations, making it appealing to young people who are hoping to get connections or meet their benefactors.
Allegedly, prominent persons including politicians and celebrities in Nigeria, have been linked to violent cult clashes that have resulted in hundreds of unsolved murders in Nigeria. Till date, none has been indicted or arrested.
Artisans are not left out of the trend. In fact, they appear to be the only ones who are perpetrating most of the violence.
Even street urchins have taken over cult groups originally thought to be the preserve of university undergraduates.
In 2020, a 32-year-old Kabiru Ahmed, a tailor, who was described as cool-headed and compassionate, was arrested by the Anti-Cultism Unit of the Lagos State Police Command and confessed to killing four members of a rival cult group.
Ahmed was the hitman of the infamous Black axe (Aiye) confraternity. The cultist said the killing of his ‘Babalawo’ led to a killing spree for both the Black axe and its rival, Eiye confraternity.
While one wonders the role of security agencies amid all the violence, the Police have tried to exonerate themselves by arresting and parading suspected cultists for killing, robbing, raping and for engaging in other illegal activities.
But analysts say this still does not solve the problem from the root.
Checks by DAILY POST revealed that majorly, all the cult groups have social media handles where their activities are promoted.
A security expert, Nnamdi Anekwe Chife, who spoke to DAILY POST exclusively said the effect of glamorising cultism among young people by either celebrities or politicians has far-reaching effects.
Chife said it was utterly dangerous for Nigerian society to condone the flattering of the criminal side of cultism.
He said, “There are two sides of the debate. On one side, people are saying cults are charity organisations while on the other side, it is a criminal organisation, in the sense that they carry out criminal activities. If someone is glamorising the criminal aspect of cultism, definitely it’s going to impact the young ones.
The security expert also claimed that “on the security side, there are allegations that elements in the security outfits are also involved in cult activities but there is no proof to nail them.
“Political classes who partner with them to glamorise cultism could also be nailed too,” he said.
However, the Field Commander of Amotekun in Osun State, Comrade Amitolu Shittu said only a bad society and the nation without a good leader will fold their arms and allow cultism to rise.
According to him, “cultism is a lawless organization that should not be allow and we must tackle them with force. Cultists are more or less the supporter of ritual killing and it must not be allowed in our society. The organization are lawless that we cannot be proud of because it is ungodly and God frowns at it as “he who kills with swords shall also be killed with the swords.”
Amitolu said that cultism and other social vices are one and the same. “We are doing our best day and night and we have apprehended some of them and sent them to jail. They are the ones that engage in robbery, kidnapping, and ritual killing, so they are not supposed to be welcomed in our society.
He said Amotekun has succeeded in reducing, “their illicit character and the killing of innocent people to barest minimum and we are not taking it kindly with them. Democracy should not be allowed to kill democracy, so democracy that we are practicing is that which encourages the rule of law and nobody has the right to kill a fellow human being, and whoever that does so, the law should be taken to their doorsteps,” he concluded.
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