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EDITORIAL

Minors As Cultists

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Presently, when issues of insecurity are raised in the nation’s public discourse, attention is focused on terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and assassinations. But a different kind of threat to the nation’s security situation is brewing underground and it is serious considering the segment of the population that is involved.

The increasing rate of cultism and its related activities, as wll as the danger it poses to the society should give everyone real cause for concern. It demands that all hands must be on deck if the unsavoury phenomenon is to be nipped in the bud. Annually, dozens of youths in their prime lose their lives to cult clashes in different parts of the country.

In the past, cult related activities were limited to, and in the main, prevalent to higher institutions of learning where rival groups in fights for supremacy slug it out using machetes and other weapons to terrorize each other. Such menace sometimes have in some cases led to closure of many institutions.

But lately, cult related activities have spread to secondary schools and scores of innocent pupils are being forcefully initiated into it. Refusal to abide by the initiation rites can result in dire consequences and, in some cases, avoidable death.

A recent occurrence was in a Port Harcourt secondary school where it was reported that a student went to school with dynamite which he intended to use on a rival cult group. The substance exploded in the class, leading to catastrophic outcome, and eventually compelled the school authority to shut down the school.

Gradually, cult related activities have moved beyond institutions of leaning to streets. Those who may escape the invitation or threat to join cult groups in schools may find out that they are not altogether safe as cult related groups and activities have spilled over into the streets. Members terrorize areas with machetes, guns and other weapons.

The use of drugs and other psychotropic substances and possession of weapons are associated with these cult groups and members who inflict maximum pains for effect.

Reports available to this newspaper indicate that membership of these groups are not restricted to any gender, even as it has religious and national spread. Sadly, in our view, not enough measures are being put in place to curb the excesses of these outrageous behaviours that, in some cases, involve minors. With this development, it is trite to urge parents, school authorities and, of course, security agencies to address this strange and sinister trend with all the seriousness it deserves. What ought to be of real concern is the rate at which this social malaise is spreading among vulnerable groups. Law enforcement agencies should, as a matter of national duty, beam their searchlight on these groups with a view to curbing their spread.

To allow this deviant tendency to fester is inimical to achieving the development goals and aspirations of the country. Why everyone ought to be concerned is that to add it to the growing insecurity and tension in the land is not just potentially dangerous but also economically retarding.

Considering the age of some these cult members, the government, while trying to dissuade some of the members from towing that path of self-destruction, should also deploy resources towards arresting and rehabilitating them to live in conformity with the norms of the society.

Those at the forefront of the growing tension can find them as willing hands to engage in their evil plots including planning for reprisals. Statistics have shown that many youths have ruined their future and dashed the hopes of their parents, the society and the nation at large by getting involved in cult related activities. Where they are not killed by rival groups or members, they are in some cases rusticated from schools. Some end up as armed robbers, living on drugs, and in some other instances, they end up in psychiatric hospitals.

In our opinion, parents and schools should instil appropriate morals in their children and wards to ensure they do not derail and become vagabonds. Religious organisations and government agencies responsible for guiding the youths should also brace up and live up to their responsibilities.

Government, privileged individuals and organizations should also make available opportunities of engaging youths in sports and other productive activities to deter them from being willing tools in the hand of the devil.

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