•How they maim, brutalize, kill and rob residents
By Evelyn Usman
The menace of cultism in Lagos State is gradually assuming an alarming proportion, 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.
Investigation by Vanguard Metro showed that there are over 10 different cult groups in Lagos State, as well as different street gangs.
In the densely populated Ajegunle area of the state, One Million Boys group is reportedly holding sway.
In Fadeyi area, Fadeyi Boys group holds sway, while the Akala Boys group reigns in Mushin area of the state.
READ ALSO: Cultists on rampage in Lagos communities
Also, Nokia Boys group dominates Surulere area with Shitta Boys group holding sway in Bariga, Oworoshoki, Shomolu and Palm Groove areas of the state.
In areas like Dopemu, Agege, Ogba , Iyana- Ipaja and parts of Ago- Okota, Awawa Boys Cult group exerts control while the Aiye and Eiye confraternities are predominant in areas like Okokomaiko, Badagry, Lekki, Ajah, Jakande Estate, Oke-Afa, Ikorodu, Ikotun and Ilasamaja, among other areas.
At Ipaja and Ayobo areas of the state, Koko Cult group dominates there, while Arobaga and Eiye confraternities are battling control in Satellite area.
The most deadly cult in Lagos used to be the Badoo group, which members operated in the Ikorodu area, until their reign of terror was brought to an end in 2018 by former Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, Imohimi Edgal.
Awawa Boys on top
At the moment in Lagos State, the trending cult group is known as Awawa, with its members spread across densely populated areas like Ikorodu, Ajegunle, Old Ojo Road, Agege, Ikorodu among other places. Symbol of this cult group is a rain-like incision by the side of their left eye.
Members of these cult groups cut across different spheres of the society. Some are undergraduates in citadels of learning, while others are traders, artisans, bus drivers, conductors and commercial motorcyclists.
Investigation by Vanguard Metro revealed that some traders in almost all the popular markets in Lagos belong to one cult group or the other. One of the popular cult groups where they dominate is called Arobaga.
Minors initiated too
An alarming twist to this worrisome trend is the involvement of minors,: both male and female. Most shocking is the fact that after initiation, these underage boys and girls are further introduced to robbery and other forms of criminalities like; pickpocketing and burglary.
Most of them are positioned at major bus-stops in the state, posing as commuters waiting to board buses to their respective destinations, only to end up snatching phones, cash and other valuables from unsuspecting genuine commuters.
At other times, these teens who are usually seen in groups, would board a commercial bus and sit strategically at the edge.
All of a sudden, they would alert the driver to stop, pretending to have entered the wrong bus. By then, they would have successfully made away with their victim’s cash and other valuables, unnoticed.
These acts occur in areas like Agege, Oshodi, Okokomaiko, Ojota, Ketu, Alakija, Ikotun, Orile, Mile-Two, Suru-Alaba, Costain, Iyana-Ipaja, among other areas.
Also, these minors are sent as advance parties to survey an environment before their bosses would storm the area for operation.
Posing as hawkers
Investigation also revealed that at times, they pose as hawkers to monitor targets and give details to their senior partners for onward onslaught.
Some of these minors throw caution, fear and discretion to the dogs by sneaking into Navy Town Barracks, in Ojo area of the state sometime ago, to burgle apartments of Naval personnel who had gone to work.
Three of them that were caught in the act told Vanguard Metro that they usually scaled the fence of the barracks through a billboard close to the wall.
They disclosed that their ‘masters’ usually waited for them at the other side of the fence each time they went for operation. At the end of any successful operation, according to them, they will be given N1,000 to feed.
Initiation extends to primary, secondary schools
Surprisingly, initiation of members into different confraternities has been extended to primary and secondary schools in Lagos State.
Not too long ago, the Lagos State Police Command bust a syndicate that specialised in initiating primary and secondary school pupils into the Awawa confraternity group.
Twelve primary and secondary pupils of Egan Primary and Secondary School, in Igando, a Lagos suburb, whose ages were between eight and 16 years, were discovered to have been initiated into the cult group.
Investigation into the case by detectives at the Gender Unit of the Lagos State Police Command revealed that the eldest of the victims and only female, a Junior Secondary School 3 student, was the first to be initiated into the cult group.
Thereafter, she lured other pupils in Primary 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 to the initiation ground where they were initiated.
Conceal weapons in knapsacks
Further checks revealed that some primary and secondary school pupils go about with dangerous weapons which are concealed in their knapsacks.
It was discovered that supremacy battles are extended to secondary schools in Lagos.
Sometime ago, policemen in the state recovered axes, cutlasses and knives in the bags of four students, who were on their way to attack rival cult members at Eko Boys High School, in Mushin area of the state.
Upon interrogation, the students, Ajala Hafiz (13), Femi Awoniyi (17), Dauda Sodiq (15) and Timilehin Balogun (17), said the fifth suspect, Mayowa Rauf Oguntoye (18) was their leader who provided the weapons in their possession.
One of them, Hafiz, a Junior Secondary School 1 student of Birch Freeman Junior Secondary School, Surulere, told Vanguard Metro that the cutlass found on him was for self-defense.
He said: “We went to play the Principal Cup football match with other schools. Fights usually break out at the end of a match, as the loser would attack the winning school.
“So, I had to arm myself with a knife for self defense.”
Findings also showed that in some of the public schools, students are traumatized by those who have been initiated into one cult group or the other, in their bid to force them to join their confraternities.
They are threatened with death if they open up to anyone.
‘We’re forced into cult group’
One of the most startling confessions from a self-confessed cultist was that of 16-year-old Babajide Akiola, who revealed that he bowed to pressure from members of Eiye confraternity in 2013, after much battering.
In an interaction with the secondary school certificate holder, he revealed that primary school pupils and secondary school students, including artisans in the area were forced into cultism, adding that any attempt by anyone approached to put up resistance meant an outright relocation of such child’s parents from the area.
He revealed that most robbery cases in Satellite Town and its environs were carried out by cultists, adding that he only participated in morning raids, when residents leaving for their respective business places were attacked and dispossessed of their cash, phones and other valuables.
At the end of each operation, he said he was given between N1,500 and N3,000.
Akiola further disclosed that a series of fights in the area were caused by rival cultists. He gave names of two major volatile cult groups in the area as Eiye and Arrow.
“We usually had problems with the Arrow Boys over supremacy. So many people have died during such clashes in both camps.
“Our hit men are referred to as Flyers and Adaba. To graduate from the position of Tender to Flyer or Adaba requires human blood.
“Anyone that can kill three persons at a go during a fight with rival cult groups automatically becomes a Flyer or an Adaba. But I don’t have the mind to kill.”
Load carriers in the day, robbers at night
Vanguard Metro observed that some of these teenage cultists left their parents’ abodes to live in dumpsites.
Four of those arrested at Alaba, along the Mile-Two/Badagry Expressway confessed to have left their parents in search of greener pastures.
The suspects, who were between ages 15 and 19, confessed to being members of the Eiye confraternity.
They revealed that in the daytime, they worked as load carriers and scavengers, while at night some of them would complement their job with robbery.
Furthermore, Vanguard Metro checks showed that some of these minors were forcefully initiated into different confraternities where they were made to swear oaths of secrecy with a threat to their lives if they dared reveal names of members of the cult group.
Findings also revealed that most of the incessant fights in Lagos State are cult-related.
Areas like Mushin,Yaba, Ebute-Metta, Bariga, Lagos Island, Amukoko, Ajegunle, Ikorodu, Odogunyan, Okokomaiko, LASU Road, Ajangbadi, Ojo, Ijora Badia, Ilasamaja and Idi-Araba, are prone to violent and reprisal attacks which usually resulted in the colossal loss of lives from both sides.
Unfortunately, innocent persons have fallen victims during such fights. 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.
Special strike day
Cultists in Lagos have special days when they avenge killings of their members by rival cultists.
The months of June (6/6), July (7/7) and August (8/8) each year, are slated for this purpose. It is called Special Strike Day.
However, the Lagos State Police Command through intelligence-led investigations, botched some cultists’ operations in areas like Ilasamaja, Ikorodu, Odogunyan and Bariga, among others.
‘Why we joined’
Investigation on why youths take to these unwholesome and dreadful secret cults showed that while some of them are used as errands boys by some politicians, particularly during elections, others joined confraternity groups for protection against other rival cult members.
Some of them, especially artisans who spoke to Vanguard Metro disclosed that they joined cult groups in order to have easy access to rape prominent girls or women within their locality.
They described rape as a means to have their pound of flesh on ladies who turned down their love advances. Others said they derive pleasure in raping women.
They record the process and threaten to upload it on the internet if their victims reveal the act to the police or their parents.
Some of them revealed that they were hired by members of the public to rape women and girls to avenge an undisclosed offence and at the end got payment of N10,000.
Cause of cult clash
In a recent raid of areas like Ikorodu, Surulere and Mile 12, that are prone to clashes between rival cult groups, some arrests were made.
One of the suspects, Ganiu Ibikunle Obale, who confessed to be a member of Eiye confraternity revealed that he killed his friend, Aloma, who belonged to a rival cult group.
He said: “I was initiated into Eiye in December 2020. I am from Ikorodu. The recent fight between Eiye and Aiye was as a result of some money given to us by some politicians.”
Asked what the money was meant for, he replied: “It is called Owo adugbo (community money). Each time politicians give us money, Aiye would want to take the largest share claiming they are superior to us.
“Another thing that causes fights among rival cultists, especially Eiye and Aiye, is women.
For instance, if an Eiye member takes a girl to a party and an Aiye member tries to molest the girl, it could lead to a fight between both groups.
“At other times, a girl may be dating two rival cult members unknowingly. On getting to a party, if one of the boyfriends sees her with the rival member, it will lead to a fight.”
Several arrests of suspected cultists have been made in Lagos State by the Police.
Statistics at Vanguard Metro’s disposal revealed that 202 suspected members of different cult groups were arrested in different parts of Lagos, with the recovery of various types of arms and ammunition, between February 2019 and June 2019.
Out of this figure, 50 suspects were arrested within four days in Ikorodu area alone. Among them was the most wanted leader of one of the rival cult groups, Yusuf Omidele, popularly known as General.
In year 2020, 195 suspected cultists were arrested in the month of July alone, while 397 were arrested between January 2021 and September 2021.