Police, Governors Losing Battle Against Cult Violence

Police, Governors Losing Battle Against Cult Violence

Cult-related violence is posing serious security challenges to schools, communities and businesses, leading to the death of many people, including a senior police officer working in the Niger Delta region.

Investigations by Journalists show that the violence is mostly confined to states in southern Nigeria, and is engulfing entire communities, and in some cases forcing the police and other security agencies to withdraw. This is in spite of the relentless efforts of the police to stem the menace, with dozens of arrests made in recent times.

And according to the narrative of the police and residents of communities where cultism-related violence is prevalent, the willingness of cultists to venture into crime is linked to the use of hard drugs.

The most frightening aspect is the way cultism has found its way into secondary schools in some states, with authorities unable to do nothing. 

In Akwa Ibom, incidences of cultism fuelled by youths indulging in hard drugs have been on the rise over the years which, according to the state command’s police public relations officer (PPRO), SP Odiko MacDon, was the major reason behind the establishment of the Anti-Cult Unit (ACU) to combat the scourge.

The violence has led to the death of dozens of people in the state over the last one year.

“Several crimes recorded in the state are fuelled by cultism and so many of them (cultists) are in detention, while several are facing different court cases and those found culpable have been jailed to serve various terms of imprisonment, with even others on death row,” a senior prosecuting officer of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at the Ikot Akpanabia, state headquarters, told our correspondent on condition of anonymity.

He recalled that one Akaniyene Isaac,  23, who murdered his 55 -year-old mother recently for failing to give him money to satisfy his urge for illicit drug indulgence and to pay his confraternity dues, is currently facing his trial in court.

“The major crisis of cultism in the state is that it has permeated the basic school system with children as young as 10 being indoctrinated to what they call ‘family’ in their parlance,” Comrade Akpan Asuquo, a civil society advocate, said.

Worried by the problem which had, during the immediate past administration of former Governor Udom Emmanuel, led to several cult clashes in some notorious secondary schools on the Uyo metropolis, including Aka Comprehensive, Uyo High School, Ewet Technical, Four Towns and others, the government was forced to intervene by ordering the erection of perimeter fencing with some culpable students banned, while others were asked to come with their parents to sign an undertaking before readmission.

Besides, the ministry of education led by the commissioner, Mrs. Idongesit Etiebet, had banned off-season enrolment of students to, according to Ms Agnes Thompson, a public school teacher at Government School, Iba Oku, “check the influx of students expelled from other schools because of cultism from being readmitted.”

At the University of Uyo (UNIUYO), a security officer who identified himself as Ime Edet said the two campuses at Ikpa road and the main campus at Nwaniba, Uyo, that used to be theatres of frequent cult clashes over the years had been calm in the last one year, due to  “effective investment and management of security by the school management led by the vice chancellor, Prof. Nyaudoh Ndaeyo.”

But at the state-run Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU), especially the main campus at Ikot Akpaden in Mkpat Enin Local Government Area, incidences of cult killings, have instilled fear in the minds of the students, with the killing of a final year student a couple of months ago, a night after a Mr Campus pageantry.

And Governor Umo Eno, determined to contain the upsurge in cultism and other forms of criminalities, he said, compelled him to create a new Ministry of Internal Security headed by a retired general as commissioner. 

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