202 suspects in four months •49 arrested in four days, assorted weapons recovered •Police launch ‘Operation Crush’ to fight the scourge
By Evelyn Usman
The menace of cultism in Lagos state , is gradually assuming an alarming trend, following the orgy of killings and wanton destruction of both public and private properties, associated with rival cult clashes in different parts of the state.
Unfortunately, innocent persons have fallen victims during their operations, as some of them, who ran into the warring groups, lost their lives in the process, while others are still nursing their wounds, years after.
One of the instances that readily comes to mind was the case of a commercial motorcyclist identified simply as Lukeman, a father of two, who was hacked to death at Odo-Eran area of Oworoshoki ,Lagos, by suspected hoodlums, recently.
The rival cult clash is majorly that of supremacy battle. In Ikorodu area of Lagos, the battle is between Aiye and Eiye confraternities.
In the densely populated Ajegunle area of the state, One Million boys gangster holds sway, while you have Fadeyi boys in Fadeyi, Akala boys at Mushin area, Nokia boys at Surulere and Shitta Boys at Bariga, Oworoshoki, Shomolu and Palm Groove areas.
In Dopemu, Agege, Ogba , Iyana Ipaja and parts of Ago area, Awawa boys hold sway, while Badagry, Lekki, Okokomaiko and Ajah areas have Aiye and Eiye groups slugging it out. At Ipaja and Ayobo areas of the state, Koko cult group dominates there.
Surprisingly, cultism has been transported into markets, as some traders in almost all the popular markets in Lagos belong to a cult group. One of the popular cult groups among traders is Arobago Cult Group.
202 cultists arrested
Record by the Lagos State Police Command shows that 202 suspected members of different cult groups have been arrested in different parts of the state, with the recovery of various types of arms and ammunition, from them.
The arrest was made between February 2019 and June 2019. Surprisingly, 50 of them, were arrested in four days, only, with Ikorodu area having the largest number of arrest.
In one of the arrests on June 6, 2019, in Ikorodu area of the state,21 suspects, among them, was a most wanted leader of one of the rival cult groups, Yusuf Omidele, popularly known as General..
Omidele, who is an Elder-in- Council, in Eiye Confraternity, had been charged to Court on several occasions and sentenced to prison. He completed his last sentence in 2014.
He was alleged to have led members of his gang in a reprisal attack on members of Aiye confraternity, who they alleged to have killed the wife of one of their leaders some weeks ago, at about 10pm, last Thursday.
Two suspected cultists lost their lives in the fight while several others sustained varying degrees of injuries.
Same day, 16 suspected cultists were arrested, in Ikorodu area again, during a clash between Eiye and Aiye confraternities, which left a 28-year-old man identified as Sadiq Adwale dead, while one Tayo Ogini sustained severe injury.
One short gun, cutlasses, stolen phones and various charms were recovered from them, according to the Police..
Two days later, nine suspected cultists were arrested at Onireke area of the state. The suspected cultists were alleged to have shot a 20-year-old man identified as Jubril Audu.
Similarly, on June 9, 2019, four other suspected cultists were arrested in Ipaja area of the state, in possession of Machetes.
CP Muazu launches ‘Operation Crush’
In a move to address activities of cultists in the state, the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, CP Zubairu Muazu , flagged off ‘Operation Crush’, Monday, informing that the fight would be taken to cultists door steps.
He informed that the operation would be directly under his command, while Area Commander and Divisional Police Officers would personally lead the various operations in their areas of jurisdiction.
Muazu, noted that: ” Tackling cultism requires a holistic approach. We intend to adopt community policing approach. We will soon embark on sensitization programs in collaboration with Police Community Relations Committee and other stakeholders in schools, neighborhoods and media. We will equally establish Police Students Relations Committee, comprising all the Students Union Presidents and other students leaders. We will organize town hall meetings in areas mostly affected by cult activities. The meetings will discuss extensively, the root causes of cultism and gangsterism in the affected areas and the possible solutions.
“We have observed the activities of cult groups and gangs for the last one month and in the process, credible intelligence was gathered. We have reviewed our strategies and have initiated far reaching approach to totally eradicate this menace. We have had to rejig our Anti Cultism Unit to effectively combat those miscreants who have chosen the wrong path of life. We are taking the fight to their door steps, we are all out for them. We will fish them out, isolate them and bring them to justice. We are battle ready to uproot every cultist den and hideouts until they are totally defeated.
“Let me therefore, use this medium to sound a note of warning to members of those gangs and cult groups, to either renounce membership of such cults and gangs or be prepared to face the full weight of the law. This is a promise.
Advises parents, guardians
“ And to parents and guardians of those youths, my message is simple, monitor activities and movements of your children and wards and make sure that their mission on the public space are legitimate otherwise, they should steer clear.
Let me call on everyone, both old and young, rich and poor to join us in this noble fight. We must cleanse our communities of those few criminal elements who have threatened our social and economic well-being. Together we can subdue them”.