By Esther Onyegbula

When 14-year-old Barakat Rotimi began to date her boyfriend, little did she know she will end up being a member of Eiye Confraternity, one day be arrested and paraded like a common criminal.

Barakat’s journey into cultism began soon after she began to date her boyfriend.

She narrated: “It was my boyfriend who lured me into the cult. When we started dating, I never knew he was into cultism. It was after a while that I discovered that he was a member and because of the love I had for him, I joined them.

“And since I joined them, I stopped going home. I began to stay with my boyfriend in his parents’ house. After the group had studied me for a while, I was given the role of spying; my work was to look out for policemen and other security agencies on the cult’s trail.

“My other job was to cook for our members. I don’t know how my parents will feel now seeing me in this position. I regret my action.”

Lured by boys

Like Barakat, in December 2018, four girls, aged between 10 and 13, were among 13 other suspected cultists arrested by detectives attached to Owode-Egba Divisional Police Headquarters in Ogun State.

According to the police, male members of the suspected cult group were in their early teens, and their leader identified as 19-year-old Tunde Adio. As of the time of their arrest, all suspects were residents of Mosunmore village near Kobape, Abeokuta.

The arrest of the suspects, who called themselves ‘Penalty Guys’, was made possible after the mother of one of the girls raised the alarm about her daughter’s activities.

Apparently disturbed by her daughter’s late night outings, the woman pestered the girl who later confessed that she was a member of a cult group, a development the woman found difficult to stomach and alerted the community head who, in turn, called in the police.

All four girls, who just left primary school, confessed to have been lured into the group by the boys.

The footage of a young boy, identified as Shanawole and who was rescued from the streets by one Pastor Tony Rapu, recently went viral.

The 11-year-old boy, who claimed to be a member of Eiye Confraternity and smoked marijuana well, revealed that if anyone messed with his group, it was his job to kill the person.

Although Shanawole is undergoing rehabilitation, it beats the imagination how the society has degenerated to a level that such a young boy will be involved in the unwholesome activities he confessed to.

The fact that cultism is evil can never be over emphasised as uncounted number of people have lost their lives in cult related violence across the country in recent times.

Cultism, according to Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Zubairu Muazu, is a crime against the collective will of the people.

When cultism thrives, other heinous crimes like murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping, among others, are surely to fester too.

The position of Zubairu simply explains the many crises caused by cultistism in different communities which have led to the death of several youths.

The case of a 14-year-old girl who was hospitalised after she was allegedly raped by 10 boys during a cult initiation in Nkpor, Anambra State in September 2017 is still very fresh in the minds of many Nigerians.

The said girl, according to reports, decided to join the cult group and was forced to have sex with all the guys present during initiation.

It was in the process that she collapsed and was rushed to hospital.

In another weird case, Enugu State Police Command told a startling story of how female students in Junior Secondary School were getting gang-raped as part of the requirements for joining different female cult groups.

The revelation came after 30 female students were busted by the police while about to be initiated into two suspected cult groups identified as Viron Queens/White Angels Confraternities.

Like Barakat, many teenagers who get involved in cult activities were allegedly introduced by close friends or associates who they trusted.

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Some others simply get involved due to peer pressure or the need to overcome intimidation.

Solomon Olowu resident in Ikorodu falls into the category of those who allegedly became cultists out of the need to overcome intimidation.

Olowu, 23, narrating his story, said, “I joined the Aiye Confraternity while in high school because I was being oppressed”.

The suspected cultist told his story at the Igbogbo Police Division when Lagos State Police Command paraded 50 alleged cult members believed to have been terrorising Ikorodu area.

Olowo, who was arrested during the police raid in Igbogbo community, said, “I was picked up last week Monday around 8am. I am a member of Aiye. We were fighting around Ikorodu and the fight was between Aiye and Eiye cult groups.

“I was not with any weapon but my colleagues were armed. I joined the cult in 2015 while in Adeola Odetola College because I was being oppressed. And since I became a cult member, the police have never been able to arrest me. I promise to leave the cult group and dirty life, if I am released”.

Meanwhile there are cults everywhere across the country.

In Lagos State for instance, there are a thousand and one cult gangs operating in different communities with the main ones being Aiye, Eiye, Owonikoko, Alora, One Million Boys at Ajegunle, Fadeyi Boys at Fadeyi, Akala Boys at Mushin, Nokia at Surulere, Shitta Boys at Bariga, Oworonshoki, Shomolu and Palm Grove, and Awawa Boys at Dopemu, Agege, Ogba and Iyana Ipaja.

Apart from Lagos, two other states notable for cult activities are Ogun and Rivers.

The cults unleash mayhem and leave on their trail blood wherever they strike.

Battle for supremacy has been fingered 98% of the time as the main reason for cult violence.

About 10 persons were early this month reportedly killed in Ikorodu area of Lagos after two rival groups engaged in supremacy battle.

The suspected cultists struck at Ojuirowo area of Ikorodu and killed a family of three – father, mother and child on Friday, June 7.

The attackers were said to belong to the Eiye Confraternity and on a vengeance mission.

Also on April 14, 2019, four suspected cultists were reportedly beheaded during a clash between Aiye and Eiye in Ogonbo community and Abraham Adesanya Estate in Ajah area of Lagos.

The two cult groups in supremacy battle in the Sangotedo area of Ajah used machetes and other dangerous weapons in the fight and inflicted fatal wounds on themselves.

Few days after the bloody fight, policemen arrested six suspects in connection with the incident.

The police at Langbasa Division, Langbasa, Ajah also arrested nine suspected members of a secret cult and dragged them before a Lagos Magistrate Court over alleged unlawful assembly with intent to cause breach of peace.

Undergraduates are oftentimes victims of cult violence.

Penultimate week, two students of Enugu State University of Science and Technology were killed in Agbani, Enugu State in a cult clash.

Exporting cultism

Nigerian cultists are believed to now export cultism to Ghana, South Africa, Benin Republic, Malaysia, Italy and Spain among others.

Two months ago, some people identified as Nigerians were seriously injured and rushed to hospital following a cult clash in Malaysia.

According to reports, fracas broke out on Sunday, April 7 between Aiye and Vikings cult groups in Kuala Lumpur in the Asian country.

In November 2018, security operatives arrested a group of suspected Nigerian cultists believed to be part of a drug and criminal syndicate near Cagliari area of Italy.

The suspects, accused of being members of Supreme Eiye Confraternity, were apprehended following months of investigations by the police who raided their apartments.

Drugs, money and other items, including suspected cult materials, were recovered from the suspects’ houses.

The group was also accused of trafficking women across Europe.

Another Nigerian, a suspected member of Aiye, was reportedly murdered by a rival gang in South Africa.

Police efforts

In Lagos State, immediate past Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgar, gave cultists a good fight during his tenure.

With town hall meetings, Edgal engaged community leaders, religious leaders and tradition rulers.

But in a renewed effort to curb cultism, his successor, Zubairu, just launched Operation Crush targeted at cultists.

Flagging-off the exercise at Igbogbo Police Station, Ikorodu, the CP noted that it was aimed at ending cultism and gangsterism in Lagos.

Zubairu said the exercise will operate directly under his command while Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers will lead the fight in their areas of jurisdiction.

“Tackling cultism requires a holistic approach. We intend to adopt community policing approach. We will soon embark on sensitization programs in collaboration with the police relations committee and other stakeholders in schools, neighbourhoods, media etc”, the CP said.

Lagos police under Zubairu direction has arrested 202 suspected cult members who have been charged to court and are at different stages of prosecution.

Sounding a stern warning, he asked members of cult groups in the state to renounce their membership or be prepared to face the full weight of the law.

Zubairu charged parents and guardians to monitor the activities of their children and wards to ensure that their mission on public space is legitimate.

He also called on everyone to join the 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”, he said.

In another development, Ebonyi State Police Command, penultimate week, paraded 11 suspected cultists.

Seven of them, according to the state Commissioner of Police, Awoshola Awotunde, murdered one Friday Irem, 30, in the Umuezali-Orizor community, Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi.

The suspected cultists allegedly inflicted machete cuts on the deceased before abandoning him in a pool of blood only to be confirmed dead at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, where he was rushed to.

Every week police commands across the country arrest and parade suspected cultists.

However analysts say most of them are charged to court where they spend three to six months facing trial after which they are discharged for poor prosecution and they return into the society where they continue to wreak havoc.

The analysts told Sunday Vanguard that beyond the arrests, government should put in place measures to reclaim the destiny of our youths who have chosen the path of crime by engaging in various cult activities.


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