Time to understand they already are ‘proscribed’
Cultism is spreading like wild fire in our schools with its attendant consequences.
In the past, cultism was apparently limited to higher institutions of learning, involving undergraduates.
But now, these activities have spread to secondary and primary schools, where rival groups attack one another in an endless battle for supremacy, causing the deaths of many, members and non-members inclusive.
The scourge, as being seen today, has become a smear on the proper development of the Nigerian youth. There are a number of students that have abandoned schooling and many were either maimed or killed due to this vice.
The activities of these groups range from torture, making painful inscriptions on the bodies of new members, voodoo ritual practice, murder, drinking of human blood and urine, and taking of hard drugs. They also hold nocturnal meetings and in unconventional places including cemeteries, forests and river sides. Members are also known for indecent dressing, intimidation, political thuggery, armed robbery, assassinations, sexual assault and, lately, kidnapping.
The initiation process of secret cult groups are extremely dangerous and life threatening. The males are made to go through different forms of torture where they are severely beaten with sticks and machetes to test their endurance. The female intending members are usually raped by several young men. On survival of the above, both males and females are made to drink alcoholic substances mixed with blood as a form of oath taking to pledge their allegiance to the group among other odious practices.
In some cases, some youths are forced to join these groups due to intimidation, peer pressure and some to actualize their desire for vengeance from past hurts.
The first cult group in Nigeria dates back to 1952, and precisely in University College, Ibadan, now University of Ibadan, when the now Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and a group of six friends formed the Pyrate Confraternity. The group was formed to advocate against the discrimination and oppression of poor and disadvantaged members of the society.
But in spite of what they stood for, their activities were not violent. They were brilliant students who respected the rights of others. But unfortunately, unscrupulous elements found their way into the group and thus the purpose of fighting for the right of all was jettisoned by the group. This led to the break-up of the group into various confraternities and the introduction of violence into the activities of cultism.
In 1972 the Buccanneers Association of Nigeria was founded by former members of the Pyrate Confraternity, and by the 1980s, there was an explosion of cult groups and their activities in higher institutions throughout the country.
The pluralisation of these groups led to rivalry and disunity, leading to violence and supremacy battles.
They carry out revenge killings on rival groups, intimidate other students and teachers into doing their bidding. There have been incidences where cult members attack their victims in broad daylight with dangerous weapons much to the dismay of onlookers. And while the attacks were restricted to members in the past, these days family members have been caught in the crossfire in some cases.
This newspaper recalls that, in May 2017, the only child of a pastor was reportedly killed in a cult clash while many others were wounded at the gate of the Benson Idahosa University, Benin.
Also in June 2017, a student of the Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) and other unidentified persons were reportedly killed in a cult clash between the Vikings and KKK confraternity in Ogoja Local Government Area of Cross River State.
Similarly, on March 14, 2016, two students of Abia State University were beheaded as rival cult groups clashed on campus. Also on April, 2014, one student was shot dead during a clash at the Ambrose Alli University. The list very long. In fact, this has become a recurring occurrence, leaving sorrow, tears and blood in many homes and schools.
All these point to how disastrous cultism has become and why urgent steps need to be taken to curb the menace.
Cultism has consequences on both the individual and society as lives and careers of many of our youths are wasted needlessly.
The young ones who are killed may otherwise have become valuable members of the society. In the same vein, cultism has led to increase in crime rate. They are the breeding ground for all kinds of crime as members usually carry over their nefarious activities on campus to the larger society.
As a newspaper, we urge the government to wield the big stick in cultism. All cult groups should be proscribed henceforth and stiff penalties stipulated. Those caught in cult related activities should no longer be treated with kid gloves but as enemies of the state.