Gabriel Anate was in 200 Level when he joined a cult group. Speaking to LEADERSHIP WEEKEND he said, “Harassment and intimidation by cult guys got to me. I never set out to join them though I had friends who were members. And because I promised my mum that I wasn’t going to join them, I rejected the temptation and pressure for two years.
“The first confrontation with cultists started the day I wore new shoes. The Capone of Vikings sent his guys to collect it. They came the second time to collect my leather jacket, but I refused to give them. That night I had strange ‘visitors’ who beat me up, packed my best clothes and left me with a broken nose.
Another time one of them went after my babe. I didn’t even know anything about it until they stopped us one day and asked her to follow him. She refused and I wanted to prove my manhood and challenge them. It was only God that saved me that day. They almost killed me but for the intervention of Isaac Omoghenehi, the Capone of Black Eye. It was after that second attack that I decided to join the Black Eye.
“I gradually rose to be the second in command. People respect me, lecturers dare not fail me. People would hire us to do ‘jobs’ for them outside the campus. But my mother still didn't know that I am a strong cult member. Being a cultist has given me respect and power.”
Tochukwu Chinedu, also known as Don T, is another cultist who said, “People condemn us for being in the cult. Some insult us. But being in the cult gives you power, a sense of belonging and brotherhood. My ‘brothers' will give their lives for me. We look out for our own. Nobody messes with us in school and outside school. Our names bring fear to people.
That is the power of being in the cult. Even our parents are protected. You will be surprised to see the kind of friends we have in high places. Some were in the cult while they were in school. They contribute financially and assist those who graduate after them by getting jobs for them. We defend ourselves and those close to us. People are only afraid of initiation.’’
Dr. Edgar Adegoke , a psychologist is a lecturer and counsellor. Speaking on cultism, he said, ”A cult is a group of people who worship or believe in a ‘being’, ’deity.‘ They do this through rituals, praise songs, chants and worship. Once they get committed to this ‘being’, getting them to stop or quit is always difficult. They tend to defend their beliefs with their lives. They hold their meetings in secret and intruders are dealt with decisively.
“A secret cult could therefore be defined as a set of practices, belief system and concept which value is known only to the inner caucus. Most times it is their resilience and strong conviction that draw new members.’’
“In Nigeria we have popular cults like The Reformed Ogboni Fraternity, Oboni Society, Ekpo Society, The Odumu Masquerade, The Akujane Society, The Ejalekwu, The Eyo Society and so many others that are not popular.
Although cultism was first started by Professor Wole Soyinka with a good intention, which was to abolish convention, to revive the age chivalry and end tribalism and elitism in the campus, miscreants and selfish people have distorted its concept and turned it to an instrument of wickedness.
“Cults are being used to intimidate, harass, maim and kill perceived enemies. It has also contributed to the destruction of the educational system as cultists use their ‘privileged’ position to secure marks from lecturers. Cult activities have also led to the death, incarceration and rustication of many bright students from the universities. Cult wars have led to destruction of infrastructure. Cultism has brought an atmosphere of fear and insecurity in universities.”
Similarly, a lecturer in a state university who wished to be anonymous said, “We can stamp out cultism if we want. All the authorities need is the will and determination.
The problems have persisted because both lecturers and students turn to the cultists when they want help. So indirectly we are legitimising them. We need to create a framework for social justice, fairness and security in the system.
“It is not enough for vice chancellors to come out and denounce cultists, what concrete steps have they taken to stop it once and for all? Measures must be put in place that will make cultism unattractive to students.
Government must also solve the myriad of problems that bedevil the educational sector. I will advise them to create a course of study on values and ethics for first year students. A conducive environment must also be created for students while sporting activities must be revived.
Rustication is not enough for student cultists; they should be made to face the law for their crimes against the school and fellow students. This will deter others from participation.”