Lagos metropolis is now officially a hotbed for cult activities and a battleground for rivalry clashes. In a report compiled by the Lagos State Police Command, no fewer than 80 person have been killed between January and June, 2015. Communities such as Ikorodu, Mushin, Somolu, Onipanu, Bariga, Ketu and Igando witnessed most cult clashes and consequently recorded most deaths.
A senior police officer believes the figure could be higher than 80 because not all cases were reported to the Police. According to the Police officer, “we have had so many cult killings within the past six months. Most of the cases involved former university students who left school and decided to carry on with their cult related activities after school in their areas.
A breakdown of the monthly deaths shows that 16 people were killed in January; 17 people in February; March recorded four (4) deaths. In April, eight (8) persons were killed; while seven (7) deaths were reported in May. However, the number almost doubled in June as 13 people were killed.
A security expert, Dr. Ona Ekhomu, explained that cultism is caused by various factors among which are unemployment, lack of parental training and breakdown of societal values. He said the scourge was on the rise in Lagos State due to turf battles between cult groups who always seek to avenge the death of their members in the hand of rival gangs.
He said, “The youth population go into it because they are not well engaged; for others, it’s about peer pressure and acceptance. It is also caused by poor parental supervision and breakdown in social values.
Ekhomu, who is the President of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria, warned that if cultism was not quickly addressed, it could aggravate the problem of insecurity in the country. He said cult groups usually form kidnap and robbery gangs because of the bond they share.
The security expert urged the police and other stakeholders to create amenities and recreational centers that would help youths channel their exuberance toward productive ventures.
Interestingly, a legal practitioner, Spurgeon Ataene, said prosecuting cases of death involving cultists had been difficult because politicians were involved. He said, “We should not shy away from the fact that most of those in government were cult members when they were in the higher institution and they had godfathers. So, when they left the tertiary institution, these godfathers became their business partners and political allies, making it difficult to tackle cultism.
The recent cult clashes in Lagos is shift from the post high-school cultism Lagosians were used to. Their activities and mayhem were limited to school campuses. The recent growth of community cultism meant that residents are caught in cross-fires, while most of the cultists actually loot, maim and rob residents and passersby during their raids.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Kenneth Nwosu, told our correspondent that the police was doing its best to curb the menace of cultists in the state. “The command has never relented in its resolve to curb the menace of cultism in our communities. The crackdown on their activities is still ongoing. It is progressively yielding results as quite an appreciable number of arrests have been made in a bid to curb the menace,” Nwosu said.