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DAUD OLATUNJI chronicles the growing incidence of cultism among secondary school students in Ogun State and the attendant negative effects
Students and artisans below the age of 20 are now find fantasies in cultism. They brandish weapons anyhow and anywhere. Anyone who feels uncomfortable and attempts to scold or stop them end up a victim.
Cultism has successfully crept into secondary schools across Ogun State with teachers resolving to mind their business and look away whenever the students, who are supposed to be under their care display their skills in cultism.
Investigation has shown that schools have become the haven for cultism as initiation into various groups take place on the premises of public schools.
Many artisans such as carpenters, automobile mechanics and bricklayers, among others, are not left out in the mad rush to join deadly cults.
Recent developments in many parts of Ogun State indicate that the pendulum has swung from tertiary institutions to secondary schools.
While tertiary educational institutions are not completely free of the menace, teenagers who may have been initiated by old cultists in tertiary institutions now hold sway in various secondary schools across the state.
Recently, no fewer than 20 persons were reportedly killed, while several others sustained varying degrees of injury during cult clashes in some parts of Ijebu Ode.
The clashes started about two weeks ago and left no fewer than 20 persons, including the innocent, dead.
Members of the Eiye and Aiye confraternities were reportedly involved in the clashes, which subjected residents of Ijebu Ode and its environs to serious panic.
Findings showed that the affected areas included Epe garage, Ejinrin Road, Adefisan, Ibadan garage, Onirugba, Tatina and the old Benin-Ondo Road, among others.
It was learnt that a woman and her daughter, who were in a commercial tricycle, were shot dead during a clash by cultists.
Our correspondent gathered that members of the rival cult targeted the tricycle rider, who belonged to another group.
It was further gathered that members of the dreaded group also killed an apprentice after his arm had been chopped off during another clash.
Several persons were reportedly killed at Epe garage, Ejinrin Road, Ibadan garage and Adefisan during clashes, which forced the residents and passers-by to run helter-skelter.
It was further gathered that few other persons lost their lives in Onirugba, old Benin-Ondo Road and Oke-Owa areas of the town.
Two persons were reportedly killed behind a popular hotel in Oke-Aje, Ijebu Ode.
The cultists reportedly engaged in daylight shooting of their rivals and in the process killed some innocent persons in the area.
Also in some parts of Abeokuta, the state capital, and Ado-Odo/Ota, cultists have thrown caution to the wind and unleash terror.
The National Schools Crimes Prevention Corps, a non-governmental organisation, has described the issue of cultism in Ogun State as worrisome, dreadful and scary.
The Commandant of the NSCPC, Dr Ige Folayinka, who provided statistics of cult activities in secondary schools in the state, said in the last few months, there had been rising activities of cultists in Abeokuta, Ijebu Ode, Sagamu, Ilaro, Ado-Odo, Sango Ota and other cities.
Folayinka said it had been a tale of students in secondary schools attacking one another with weapons and charms.
A week ago, many students were stabbed during a violent clash that ensued between two schools at the back of the skating ground in Panseke, Abeokuta.
The clash happened shortly after the school hour as some students of notable schools around the area, who were in uniforms, threw caution to the wind.
One of the students was reported to have been badly injured and is on admission in an undisclosed hospital and on the verge of losing his sight.
Folayinka disclosed that pupils of two prominent schools in Abeokuta, who had been at daggers drawn in the Ita-Eko area of Abeokuta had a serious fight that attracted ‘allied forces’ from neighbouring schools to support one of the schools.
The fight left a tale of woes, bloodletting and maiming as weapons such as daggers, axes and charms were recovered.
A notorious gang of students reportedly invaded a particular school on motorcycles, ordered a female teacher they met on the ground to go on her knees, after which they allegedly removed the school’s signpost.
It took the intervention of the crime prevention outfit corps, who went after them, to recover the signpost.
It was further gathered that during one of the clashes, a student had one of his ears nearly chopped off and he was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Chronicling the menace of cultism in secondary schools in the state, Folayinka said no fewer than 2,500 students had been arrested for cultism.
He added that over 250 schools in the state had been visited for enlightenment.
He explained that many secondary school students, who are cultists, had been arrested for various offences, including possession of firearms, attacking teachers with charms, setting school buildings ablaze and smoking of weed, among others.
Folayinka stated, “A teacher was attacked with a charm by a student, which led to loss of memory. We have arrested students with AK-47 live bullets, knives, axes and swords.
“In fact, we arrested a student, who is a cultist and attempted to kill his teacher with a charmed ring. We were called by the principal of the school that one of the students wanted to kill a teacher with a charm. We interviewed all the students and fortunately, we got the student and he confessed to the plan.
“A student double-crossed his teacher, because he almost used her car to knock him down. A student in the Oke-Ilewo area wanted to burn down a school. Another 12 students were arrested for attempting to burn down their school.”
On the efforts made so far to prevent and curb the menace of cultism in schools, Folayinka said the NSCPC, which began operation nine years ago, did not have the power to arrest and prosecute, adding that what the corps was doing was to arrest the student cultists and rehabilitate them.
He stated, “We go after them and after we arrest them, we take them to their principals, who will identify them, and we take them to our office for two weeks’ rehabilitation programme.
“But, we do it after we have invited their parents and they agree that we should go ahead with the rehabilitation. We release them after our clinical psychologist has certify them. They sign an affidavit and we release them.”
Giving the statistics of the cultists the command has arrested, the state police command disclosed that it had arrested over 500 members of various cults between 2019 and 2020.
The state Commissioner of Police, Edward Ajogun, attributed cultism to kidnapping, armed robbery, murder and other violent crimes.
Ajogun added that the command arrested no fewer than 432 cultists in various locations in the state in 2019, while over 100 had been arrested in 2020.
The commissioner said some of the arrested cultists, who repented, were given amnesty and reintegrated into the society.
He stated, “No fewer than 432 cultists were arrested and prosecuted in 2019. We screened those of them, who were found guilty of cult-related activities, and they were then sent to courts for prosecution.
“Without a doubt, a country that entrusts its future in the hands of youths imbued with the very essence and orientation of cultism, is one without the right compass leading to growth and development.
“At this stage of our national life today, we need youths with the right values and orientation to take the country to greater heights of competitiveness, recognition and respect in the comity of nations.
A few weeks ago, men of the state police command arrested five suspected members of a dreaded cult with the corpse of a young man suspected to be a cultist too.
The suspects, Babatunde Shittu, 25; Ayobami Morenikeji, 15; Fidelis John, 23; Abdullah Adegbenro, 17; and Oyeyemi Bakare, 20, were arrested at Ilo Awela in Sango, Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of the state.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi, said they were arrested following a distress call received at the Sango Area Command headquarters.
He said the police were told that a group of cultists were seen with a male corpse in a tricycle heading towards Ota with all of them holding weapons like cutlasses, cudgels and sticks.
According to him, upon the distress call, the Area Commander, Sango Ota, ACP Monday Agbonnika, quickly mobilised patrol team to the area, where the hoodlums were met on rampage destroying people’s property and stealing from innocent members of the public on the Ilo Awela Road.
The PPRO added that the hoodlums had, before the arrival of the police, damaged a Highlander SUV with number plate KJA 275GD belonging to one Emmanuel Adekoya.
Oyeyemi said the corpse had been recovered from them and deposited at Ifo General Hospital’s mortuary.
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