By Vincent Ujumadu, Awka
IT was celebration time at the Oko campus of the Federal Polytechnic in Anambra State recently when 51 students belonging to five notorious cult groups in the institution publicly destroyed their dangerous initiation instruments, forcing many students, lecturers and parents to shed tears of joy.
The general belief in the institution was that with the destruction, Oko Poly has been freed from the incessant killing and harassment of people by the cult members which had given the institution a very bad name in the past.
The groups that destroyed what they described as their “altars” and what was called “the sinking of the ship” in their parlance, included the Black Beret, the Bukkaneers, the Vickings Confraternity, the Aiye and the Black Axe. The destruction was the culmination of what the churches in the Polytechnic began several months ago following the appeal by the new Rector of the Polytechnic, Professor Godwin Onu that everything possible would be done to wipe out cultism in the institution.
Among instruments surrendered by the cultists were guns and ammunitions, machetes, clothes and candles of various colours and masks which were all set ablaze before the Polytechnic community. As the ceremony was being performed, many students, especially the female ones shouted in jubilation and sang religious choruses that made tears to flow freely.
It was learnt that the clergy, namely Rev Fr. Anthony Ezeoke and Venerable Chukwudi Osondu of the Catholic and Anglican churches, respectively, had for several months made the issue of cultism the theme for sermons during church services in the Polytechnic. An Evangelist, Barth Chukwukadibia who confessed being a notorious leader of one of the cult groups in the institution between 1994 and 1996, mounted crusades that helped to work on the cult members, leading to their eventual decision to renounce their membership.
Though cultists in the institution had been renouncing their membership of the various groups over the years, there had never been a time when the instruments used for initiation and worshipping were brought out and destroyed publicly. That, perhaps, explained why the joy of the polytechnic community knew no bounds as they believed that what happened was total destruction of the groups in Oko.
The Rector of the Polytechnic, Prof Onu who was elated at the development said: “Today is very important in the history of this Polytechnic as we are privileged to witness the cleansing of the institution which will help to move the school forward. This cleansing is a continuation of what has been a tradition and I want to thank God on the resolve of the anti –cult group to rid the institution of cultists. We commend the efforts of the clergy who have been counselling the students which made them to take the right decision to free themselves.
“I have said it that anybody who chooses to remain in associations banned in the Polytechnic is taking a very big risk because there is nothing to gain from belonging to these groups as what usually results from them is death. We will continue to advise the students who are still bent on joining these groups, that it is in their best interest to come out now as we are assuring them that no punishment would be meted out to them and nobody will victimize them. Besides, there is nothing like freedom. We know that it is not easy for somebody to own up what he knows the society abhors.”
He, however, warned those who have not renounced to do so immediately as authorities of the Polytechnic already has their names and photographs and would take the necessary action in due course, adding that the management of the Polytechnic has zero tolerance for cultism.
Realising that it is not easy for the former cultists to blend easily, all the former cultists are to undergo an orientation exercise to reintegrate them into the community. The exercise, according to authorities of the Polytechnic, would involve lectures, prayer sessions, among others.
Venerable Osondu summed up the ceremony thus: “The success of this exercise is not the making of any man. It is God’s. I want to than God for those He used to fish out the cultists. Anybody who is a cultist is a living dead and for the devil to be comprehensively defeated, the cultists must renounce it once and for all, hence the destruction of the instruments”.