Despite the campaigns against cultism, cult related killings and other crimes have continued on the rise in many Nigerian institutions.
Youths are daily lured and initiated into various cult group a development that often lead to the truncation of their educational pursuit or even death.
For instance, the article below, first published by Edotrailers in February 2008, shows that despite the campaigns against cultism, killings by members of cult groups are rising daily in Edo State.
Igbinosa Jude, was a member of NBM (Black Axe), until he was arrested by the police in Benin City, Edo State recently. That was after a bloody confrontation with another cultist. When Edotrailers trailed him to the State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID in Benin City, the state capital, he expressed his regret for having anything to do with the secret cult, which had brought him much pain and sorrow than he ever imagined.
“I joined the NBM (Black Axe) in 2007 and three weeks after, I had a police case which brought me to State CID,” Jude told Edotrailers.
But that experience did not teach Jude the desired lesson. He remained a cult member afterwards. Last month he was arrested again after he allegedly shot Mrs. Veronica Omosefe, mother of Kelly Omosefe, a fellow cultist of the NBM (Black Axe) who had earlier renounced his membership of the cult during a forum organised by the management of University of Benin, Edo State. He was alleged to have shot her on the leg because Kelly Omosefe refused to come back to the cult group and was nowhere to be found when they stormed his house. Consequently, vigilante group operating around Murtala Mohammed Way, where the incident occurred rounded Jude up and handed him over to the police.
Edotrailer learnt that Kelly Omosefe who joined NBM (Black Axe) in 2004 in the University of Benin, Edo State, Nigeria was even lucky to be alive as he was not at home when they stormed his house because once initiated in cult, there is no going back. To default means death. For Jude, whoever nurses the plan to join the cult should kill it because cultism is a bad thing which one can only regret.
Kelly Omosefe whose mother was shot in the leg is still at large as his fellow cult members of the NBM (Black Axe) vows to hunt for him until he is killed for renouncing membership of NBM (Black Axe).
It remains to be seen if these regrets being expressed by them are genuine. Because cultism, despite the campaign against it and the clampdown on it, is still thriving. In the last three months, Edo State, particularly Benin City, has witnessed an orgy of cult violence leaving its in trail sorrow, tears and blood. More than 25 people were said to have been killed within this period. Independent radio, a private radio station in Benin was said to have reported that about 12 people were killed around the University of Benin environs. The gory manner some of the killings were carried out give it a reputation of merciless villainy.
A man who could not be identified, was killed at Obaruyi Street, around Okhoro by cultists suspected to be members of the NBM (Black Axe Confraternity). They pumped bullets into his chest and inflicted machete cuts all over his body in broad daylight.
Another person had all his limbs cut off on top of his bed in his room. He was said to have reported a cultist who had threatened him to the police. When the police arrested the cultist, his friends went and cut off his limbs for allowing the police to arrest their friend. He later died.
At the Textile Mill road, one youth was shot dead. The assailant came on an okada (Motorcycle), which sped off after several shots were fired at the victim. The killings forced many cultists to go into hiding as no one was sure who was going to be the next victim.
No one has yet identified what caused the spate of cult killings. However, there are insinuations that it was a fallout from the last general elections. Politicians allegedly used the services of the cult groups particularly Black Axe and Eiye Fraternity for the election. The disaffection that emanated in the course of the elections allegedly resulted in the serial killings that have kept Edo people on the edge.
The police were overwhelmed by the commando-like operation of the cultists but were able to arrest a number of suspected cultists. They have charged some of them to court already
Edotrailer met a few of them at the SCID yet to be charged to court. Among them are Nosa Obanor, a high school graduate, Zubairu Abdullahi, final year Business Administation student of University of Benin, Lucky Isuman, a high school graduate and Osaze Okungbowa who operates a video coverage outfit. They all confessed to being members of the cult although a few claimed to had withdrawn their membership.
Membership of the known secret cults on campus is no longer the exclusive preserve of students in higher institutions. For long, it has been entrenched in both primary and secondary schools. It has become pervasive and intractable.
Security agents have established that at least 35 cult groups exist in institutions of higher learning across the country. Some of the identified ones are Pyrates, Black Axe, Buccaneers, Eiye, Vikings, Black Berrets, Red Devils, KKK, Maifites and Black Heart. An educationist who does not want to be identified pointed out that the spate of cult activities is anathema to academic pursuits. With an atmosphere of fear and insecurity, the ivory tower can no longer live up to its name as the citadel of learning and knowledge.
Shortly after former President Olusegun Obasanjo assumed office in 1999, he gave authorities of higher institutions across the country a directive against cultism. Following that directive, a large number of cultists renounced their members at colourful ceremonies organised in different institutions.
Last June, University of Benin again organised a renunciation exercise were more than 35 cultists publicly renounced membership of secret cults. Most people expected that the exercise would go a long way to eradicate the menace. “Cultism can be eradicated,” said a former registrar at the University of Benin. She told Edotrailer that the latest renunciation exercise was a council decision. She added that the council had given approval for the exercise to hold regularly to expose the evils of cultism. According to her, both the religious and traditional institution attended the occasion. Those who renounced are being rehabilitated.
While the Muslim community rehabilitates those who are Muslims, the Christian community particularly the Anglican Church handles those that are Christians.
Apart from the renunciation exercise, the school devised other means to curb the cult menace. She noted that the management now require both staff and students to fill in an anti-cult form and swear an affidavit “that you are not a member of any secret cult and we place it in everybody’s file.” She added that if investigation later reveals the contrary, such a person will face the music.
Edo State House of Assembly, said it is worrisome to see such killings of people by secret cult members. The parliament said it strongly frowns at the trend. “We would probably be considering a law to prohibit such killing. There is no law that legitimises killing. It is murder whether it is done by cult or non-cult members,” a member of the Assembly who did not want his name in print for fear of being attacked by cultists, told Edotrailer. He noted that the Federal law in existence was very effective, adding that the House would be more interested in how to enforce that law. “Secret cults have to do with men and women who have accepted defeat and are mentally lazy, people who cannot use legitimate means to earn legitimate results.”, said Peter Ogbebor, a security officer in Edo State.
Ogbebor told Edotrailer in Benin City that Edo State Police Command has a cardinal objective to deal with cultism in the state decisively. He added that they would not give cultists a breathing space. According to him, the police have arrested more than 100 cultists in the last three months. They were arrested either in the process of initiation or in the process of committing crime.
Members of a group of cultists used by a particular union during their struggle for power were also arrested. Many had been taken to court.
The politicians used the cultists to fight election, they (cultists) had arms that were procured to fight election and after election, it was diverted into cultism and thuggery. He urged churches, mosques and families to join in the effort to curb the menace.