…12 killed in a week
T he various cult groups in Lagos and Ogun states who had gone into hiding and stopped the senseless killing of members of other group have now returned to the tranches and renewed the killings. Cultism, it was learnt has become a menace plaguing the country, especially the two states. It is now so endemic that even primary school pupils and artisans now indulge in cult activities that are known to be the problem in universities and other higher institutions of learning before now. In a move against cultism that has brought great pain to the society and social ill, the Lagos State Government last year promulgated an anti-cultism law to punish parents of convicted cultists, alongside their children, as a way of making the parents more responsible for their children’s upbringing and monitoring of their actions. Immediately, after the law was promulgated and was assented to by Governor Babajide Sanwo- Olu, some of the cultists went into hiding, while, some parents relocated their children, whom they did not trust, out of Lagos for fear of being used as scapegoats. According to Governor Sanwo-Olu, the law was necessitated by the colossal devastation of lives and public properties by cultists as they fragrantly perpetrate terror against the masses and the state at a slight provocation. In a statement last year, the governor was quoted to have said at different times that government had tried to clamp down on their activities by publicly creating awareness of the dangers posed by the groups in the society. While government went as far as making public the punishment to be meted out to members of cult groups if apprehended, but they seem not to be deterred. He said: “Sadly, cultism has gone beyond the boundaries of tertiary institutions. It has crept into almost all other sectors of the society. Being the nation’s economic nerve centre, Lagos has had cases of cult skirmishes across length and breadth of the state.”
Renewed cult war
Unfortunately, the cult groups have returned to the tranches, killing each other like chickens on the streets. On Monday March 27, three persons were hacked to death in Bariga area of Lagos as rival cult groups engaged each other. The suspected cultists were said to be avenging the killing of their colleague by a rival group, and hacked one Lekan Omoekun to death on Kajola Street in the Bariga. It was learnt that the deceased was a younger brother to the hit man of the Aiye group, who shot and killed a member of Eye, called Moses alias Loworo on Tapa Street, March 16. The incident which happened around 3pm on Monday, threw the whole community into apprehension as residents were scampering for safety, while the cultists were said to have trailed the victim on bike to the scene where he was hacked to death. New Telegraph also learnt that two other members of Aiye had been hacked to death in the community earlier that day before Omoekun was killed by the same group. A source, who did not want his name in print because of the sensitive nature of the matter told our correspondent that in a bid to avenge their colleagues’ death, they trailed the Aiye hit man’s younger brother to Idi Aba, Kajola area where he was hacked to death. He said: “What the cultists were doing was a reprisal attack on their rivals and those close to them. The boy they killed was not a cultist. He was just going on errand for his father when they trailed him to where he was hacked to death in broad daylight, nobody could challenge the cultists. It was a gory sight to behold. The source added that the victim was told to put off his shirt and trousers before they started hacking him with machetes and axes. Moses was standing alone close to a kiosk on Tapa Street and unaware of the presence of the cultists. Suddenly, the Eye vehicle moved close to him and four guys came out and surrounded him. That was when one of them pulled a gun and shot him three times. After shooting him, he wanted to escape, but he fell and they inflicted machete cuts on him. When other members of his group heard what happened, they rushed down to the spot and found his body in the drainage where it was dumped. They also attempted to chase those who attacked him, but they did not see any of them. The incident was said to have caused apprehension in the area as business owners quickly locked their shops. Meanwhile, three other cult members were also killed in a renewed clash in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. The victims were killed in different parts of the metropolis within four days. New Telegraph learnt that, the cultists resumed their killing spree in a renewed supremacy battle to mark the one year remembrance of a popular area boy, Tommy who was killed in Oluwo area of the state capital last year. Tommy was said to be a leader of the Eiye cult group, who was killed on March 24, 2022 at Panseke area of Abeokuta.
The killing of Tommy by the rival group sparked a face-off in Abeokuta particularly as members of Aiye and Eiye cult groups took turns to kill one another across the state. It was reported that many members of the rival cult groups were killed between March and April last year in the superiority clashes that ensued between them. To stop the crisis, the Ogun State Police Command at the time swung into action by arresting scores of the suspected killers. Exactly a year after Tommy was murdered, a young man was also shot dead at Panseke by yet-to-be identified persons. The man was reportedly killed on Friday evening while returning from the Computer Village at Ibara Roundabout where he went to transact. It was gathered that a child of a trader was also hit by a stray bullet fired by the gunmen and the little child died in the process. At noon on Tuesday, March 28, another young man was shot dead at Araromi, behind the Navy Boys Secondary School in Abeokuta. Some locals told our correspondent that the man was accosted by his assailants along the narrow path and he was shot at very close range. The victim died immediately, causing tension among residents of the area. It was also gathered that the body of the victim has been evacuated by the police from Adigbe Division.
How Cults are formed
Historically, confraternity in school environment in the country can be traced back to 1952, when eight students, led by Prof. Wole Soyinka, formed the Pirate Confraternity at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State. Other founding members were Aig Imoukhuede, Nathaniel Oyelola, Olumuyiwa Awe, Ifeghale Amata, Ralph Opara and Pius Obeghe. The confraternity had as a mandate to address some social ills and conformist degradation both by students and the society at large. It never had any record of destructive or violence tendencies, as membership were restricted only to those with enviable academic performances. Its ideals were humanistic and did not pose any threat or danger to students. Unfortunately, as time went by, it was characterised by break-ups with the introduction of ritualistic tendencies and violence manifesting in the form of attacks on rival groups to test each confraternity’s might.
Former police chief reacts
In the war against cultism in Lagos State, especially among the teenagers, a former Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG Imohimi Edgal, blamed parents for the increasing rate of indulgence of young citizens in cult activities. The former, AIG, who was then reacting to the growing cases of rivalry among cult groups in secondary and primary schools across the country, especially in Lagos, stressed the need for parents to monitor activities of their children, both in school and at home, saying many of them were being lost to cultism and drug-related crimes. According to Edgal, police investigations revealed that youths join cults to gain supremacy over others, avoid intimidation by others, as well as to have edge over girls in their respective communities. The police chief, who said six out of every 10 youths in the state were involved in cult activities, urged parents to take absolute interest in the lives of their children, the company they keep and what they do at home, including checking their school bags and rooms on regular basis. He said sometime back, while speaking to some parents at a meeting with some residents of Surulere, Lagos, he said: “Some of you are afraid of your children and it’s a shame on you. Some of us don’t sleep at home to monitor what our children do. How many times have you paid a surprise visit to your children’s schools and how many times have you checked what is in your children’s rooms and their bags to know what they bring into your house?”
30 cultists killed in Ogun last year
It would also be noted that last year in Ogun State, cult war claimed 30 lives in three months, while 80 suspected cultists were arrested by the police. The raging attacks which started in Abeokuta, had spread to Sagamu, Ilaro and Mowe areas of the state, where they were killing each other indiscriminately. The clash took a turn for the worse on Sunday, May 22 when a popular area boy in Abeokuta, Sorunke Akinwale, popularly known as “Matasaka” was gruesomely murdered by suspected members of the Eiye cult group.
Over 80 suspected cultists arrested
Worried by the incessant cult clashes, the Commissioner of Police then, ordered a continuous operation “clamp down” on all known cultists in the state in order to put an end to their nefarious activities across the state. The clampdown on cultists by the police in the state led to the arrest of more than 80 suspected cultists. But, cult clashes persisted despite the police onslaught on cultists. On Thursday, April 28, 2022, the command paraded 52 suspected members of various cult groups arrested for their alleged involvement in the cult clash. The Police Public Relations Officer(PPRO), SP Abimbola Oyeyemi said, the cult war witnessed in the state was as a result of supremacy battle among four rival cult groups of Eiye, Aiye, Alora and Viking Confraternity.