OGUNTADE ISMAILA in this report takes a look at the rampant involvement of Nigerian under age boys and girls in cultism and other social vices across the country.
All over Lagos and indeed most other states in the country, cult groups are on the rampage. When they strike, they leave sorrow, tears and blood in their trails.
Long before now, many had thought that the activities of cult groups were only restricted to the tertiary institutions, but their increased presence and activities in some Lagos communities and secondary schools are fast assuming frightening dimensions.
Everywhere you turn, incidents of merciless killings, raping and maiming during cult clashes reverberate in the air.
Recently, over 15 underage age boys and girls were paraded by the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, they were believed to be members of the cult group terrorizing the people of Ejirin Iworo area of Ikorodu.
The officer-in-charge (O/C) Anti-Cultism, Superintendent of Police, Agbegbe Godwin, and his team arrested the 15 suspected cultist belonging to the Eiye Confraternity. All the arrested suspects confessed to being members of the group. The suspects are: Hassan Olaniyi, 18; Afolabi Muiz, 18; Lekan David, 17; Eko John, 17; Kudus Idris, 18; Sakiru Ademode,17; Rahman Adepoju, 18; Ibrahim Waheed, 17; Alabi Abidemi, 18; Abimbola Gbadamosi, 17; Seun Giwa, 16; Ganiyu Babatunde, 16; Yusuf wale, 17; Liyasu Azeez, 16; and Adebowale Uthman, 17.
They were arrested while they were conducting initiation for newly recruited member Secondary schools in the country have become veritable grounds for the recruitment of students into secret cult groups.
In spite of the efforts by the Police and the Lagos State government to eradicate cultism in the state, most secondary school students are being lured by different cult groups with threats on the one hand and mouth-watering benefits on the other hand, to join their groups, especially with promises of protection from any attack and harassment.
LEADERSHIP Weekend learnt that cult members usually visit senior and junior secondary schools in the guise of being old students, in search of students who have records of being brutal, stubborn and hard looking to join their group.
According to LEADERSHIP investigation, the representative of different cult groups, always pose as visitors, standing near the school gate to cajole their victims by buying them drinks, using the opportunity to lure them into joining their groups. Recently, in Lagos Island, many boys and girls were reported to have been lured into the societies, with a threat of being killed if they should report to anyone, including their parents.
An incident occurred in a school, (name withheld) in Lagos Island, where an old student of the school and another member of a cult group called ‘Supreme Islander’ accosted two boys after closing from school and took them to a hidden place where they were beaten and threatened with death if they reported to their parents.
One of the victim, Adebayo Omoniyi, 16, an SSS 2 student, narrated how he and his friend, Dayo Ogunayao, 16, SSS 2, were seriously beaten and later told to bring N2,500 each as registration fee to become full members, as they are already initiated.
He said, “I was afraid to tell my parents because I don’t want to die and we have been promised good and easy money when we became full members. It was during the period of initiation that I saw other boys and girls from our school and other secondary schools who have become full members of the society.
“Among other things promised us is free sexual intercourse with any girl we want within and outside the group. It was the N2,500 that I have not paid that stopped me from becoming full member.”
A Lagos resident, Bose Omogbayi, told LEADERSHIP that a state-owned school in the Meiran area of Lagos, where he completed his secondary education three years ago, was renowned for high-level cult activities, with severe fights among rival groups.
According to him, “There were so many cult guys in my time. Perhaps nothing has changed now. They fought with different weapons over girls.
“Most of the student cultists expelled from the school later came back to terrorise the school community. They used charms and often bragged about the charms. The cultists usually referred to themselves as ‘big boys and girls’ while non-members were mocked and sometimes oppressed if we crossed their paths.
“There were different cult groups in that school. Some called themselves ‘Fine Boys’, ‘No Nonsense’ and ‘Freedom Fighters.’
“A boy, known as Scorpion, a leader of one of the groups, was so dreaded by all, including the teachers. They said his father was rich but had disowned him. He was tall and handsome, but he was a notorious cultist.”
Omogbayi said that some of the factors that are responsible for such are the nature of the homes where the cultists come from, their environment, socio economic status of parents, peer group influence, residential location.
More recently, the cat was let out of the bag when an official of Lagos Neighborhood Safety Corps (LSNC), in Lagos Island got hint that his 16-year old daughter, who had run away from home for three weeks was discovered to be residing with some boys and girls at Isale –Eko.
He immediately organized his colleagues and the Police who raided the area and arrested two boys along with his daughter. It was the information gathered from the two boys that led to the arrest of other members of the group.
At the LSNC office, one the arrested boys gave details of their activities in the last one month, adding that students from other secondary schools in Lagos Island and other parts of the state have been initiated and have been warned not to informed their parents or relations and if they do, they will get killed.
Also in a community in Ogun State, no fewer than four underage girls and nine teenage boys suspected cultists were arrested by the Ogun State Police Command, Eleweran. All the suspects were residents of Mosunmore Village near Kobape in Abeokuta, the state capital. The girls were aged between 10 and 13 while the male members were in their early teens; only their leader is 19 years of age. The police did not disclose their names.
The Baale of the community was said to have alerted the police, sequel to the alarm raised by one of the suspected girl’s mother.
Acting on the information, detectives attached to Owode-Egba Police Divisional Headquarters, led by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Shehu Alao, swung into action and succeeded in smoking them out of their camp during initiation of another set of girls.
The Ogun State Command of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps Ogun State Command fished out another 18 secondary school student cultists while initiating new members in Abeokuta area of Ogun State.
Seven of the students were arrested at Nazareth High School in Imeko in Imeko-Afon LGA of the state while the others were caught at Lisabi High School, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta NSCDC spokesperson, Mr. Kareem Olanrewaju said the seven students caught at Nazareth High School in Imeko were caught while initiating new members into their group.
Police operatives attached to Isiala-Ngwa North Division, during a raid of suspected criminal hideouts at Mbubo Nsulu Isiala-Ngwa North, arrested four teenagers belonging to the notorious ABC cult group.
The underage cultists, whose names are David Adieze, 18; Chinemere Isaac, 14; Chimezie Moses Francis, 17; and Okon Effiong Samuel, 19 were arrested with one locally made revolver pistol, its two rounds of live ammunition and charms.
A security expert, Babatunde Aleshinloye, revealed to LEADERSHIP that parents and government have a lot do about the current anti-social vices before it gets out of hand. He said that, Nigeria is one of the nations where crimes tend to pay.
According to him, it is worthy of note that Niger Delta militants who once terrorised people in the region, kidnapped, maimed and killed people, blew up oil wells and vandalised pipelines carrying oil between 2007 and 2011 are being provided cash rewards after amnesty has been granted to them. Some of these former militants are in the payroll of politicians for doing their dirty jobs, while some obtain lucrative contracts to provide security services to oil companies operating in the region.
Again, the business of kidnapping has assumed an alarming proportion in recent times in Nigeria, and has permeated every nook and cranny of the society.
Meanwhile, Lagos State police boss, Imohimi, has said that parents of any underage cultist will henceforth risk arrest and will be made to answer questions over the activities of their children.
Imohimi made this known after the revelation of overwhelming and damning rate of involvement of underage children in cultism in the state recently.
He said that the parents had the responsibility to guide and protect children under their care until they were adults and above 18, adding that it is the constitutional role of parents to take care of their children.
He added that failure to protect and monitor their children and stop them from joining cult, the parent would be seen to have committed a criminal offence and risk prosecution.
He said that the increased rate in cult activities in the state has made the command to take the bull by the horn and engage in purpose driven intelligence raids across the state to nib the crime in the bud.
The government has a bigger role to play to curb this malaise that is eating deep into the fabrics of the society and this it can do by preferring stringent punishment to anyone found guilty of any of these anti-social behaviours to serve as deterrent to others who may be nursing the idea.
Parents and guardians should also play their own part by adequately monitoring their children and wards and know the kind of friends they keep.
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