Abuja’s rising cult menace
Some neighboring communities around the nation’s capital are gradually becoming hubs for cultism, with cult activities and clashes threatening the peace of these areas.
Everyday young persons within the ages of 13 to 25 are being conscripted into deadly cult groups in towns around the FCT, with orders for them to maim and kill innocent residents of their communities.
Growing cult activities in border communities to Abuja seem to have fuelled the rising cases of cult activities in the nation’s capital. For instance in June last year, the FCT Police command arrested 12 persons suspected to be cult members terrorising the Apo area of Abuja and its environs.
Also in August, cult members went on rampage at the University of Abuja leading to the death of a 200level student of sociology department who was shot dead while having his bathe in a hostel in Gwagwalada.
Cultism is a major vice which is common in tertiary institution in Nigeria today. The first fraternity in the country was the Pirate fraternity started in 1950, by seven students at the then University College Ibadan.
The confraternity headed by the young Wole Soyinka, was set up solely with the aim of protecting the interest of the students, who at the time were subjected to all kinds of maltreatment by the school management.
Today, cultism in Nigeria has no doubt deviated from the initial purpose for which they were set up, as it has relocated from tertiary institutions campuses where it was originally form, and it now holds sway to the streets in various communities across the country.
The act has taken a dangerous dimension, entrenching fear in the minds of many as cultists unleash permanent loss, anguish, and pain on families and the society at large.
Though cult activities began from the nation tertiary institutions, there are said to be over 50 cult groups in and outside the campuses across the country, with most of them wreaking havoc on communities as against the initial purpose of their establishment.
From the 1990s when cultism blossomed with dangerous twist in their activities, several groups like the new black movement of Africa, also known as Black Axe, Air Lords, AKA, Ayie Confraternity, Supreme Vikings Confraternity, Brotherhood of Blood, Black Beret, among others have since come into existence.
Despite the several attempts made to eradicate this hydra headed scourge, there seems to be geometric progression in membership and number of cult groups, as the trend seems to on the increase unabated, especially among younger generation in the country.
Today almost every street in the country, particularly the suburbs, now has one form of cult groups or the other. More worrisome, is the rate at which pupil of primary school and secondary school age are getting involved in this deadly acts.
Recent media reports shows that the different cult groups have been on rampage in Masaka, one man village, Mararaba, all in Nasarawa state, a gateway to the nation’s capital Abuja.
Masaka, a suburb in Karu local government area of Nasarawa state, has witnessed series of attack of cult related crime. Reports from the area reveals that cultist in this area do not hide their identity while carrying out their operation on their victims.
The black axe in Masaka, especially Angwan Jaba, is known for carrying out their operation at any hour of the day without minding the presence of security personnel.
Investigation by METRO also revealed that cultism has becomes a trend in the Angwan Jaba area of Masaka, where young female members, between the age of 13- 22years are also initiated and asked to carry out all forms of crimes.
The major flash point of cultism in Masaka areas are Angwan Jaba, River side, Angwan Tiv, and Angwan Manama.
Cult groups in these slums now embarked in sustained recruitment of not only the students of the higher institutions, but also students in secondary and primary school irrespective of their age or gender. This is as the groups believe that the larger their membership base, the stronger the group becomes.
Residents of the area who spoke with our correspondents allege that most motorcycle riders, bus drivers, and motor park touts along that axis, have all pledged allegiance to one cult group or the other.
They say hardly a day passes without the incident of cult related crimes in Masaka. A resident revealed that last month, one Mark Adanu, was killed along Angwan Makama, on his way from work when he ran into the cult groups, who demanded for his laptop.
Another resident in Angwan Jaba, Mr. Gimba Aliyu, lamented over the rate of crimes in the area. He said the area is no longer safe or ideal for raising children as they run the risk of being initiated or killed by cultist.
"I don't know how to describe the situations, we are passing through in this area, while on the road, you are not safe, in your house is still the same. It is painful that most of these children in cults, are all living with their parent in this area, yet nothing is being done, to call them to order.”
It was learnt that no fewer than 29 persons were arrested after a cult clash in Masaka for their allege involvement with cult activities in the area. The groups had clashes following the death of a member believed to have been killed by another cult group.
Madam Felicia Thomas, a resident of Angwan Manama, lamented over what she described as decline in parental care. “As I speak with you, majority of the parents, guardians, have lost control over their children. The future of younger generation in this area is at great risk. Some of them don't go to school, they don't engage learning a trade, all you see them do, is roaming the street, smoking and taking hard drugs.”
Another resident of Angwan Tiv, Usman disclosed that rival cult groups had recently mobilised themselves for a reprisal attack to revenge the killings of their members in the area. He said that during the uproar, the residents in the area, made a distress call to Masaka police station and immediately, police men were dispatched to the area, but met stiff resistance from the cult members, numbering about 50.
Usman further revealed at the station that one Hassan, later reported at Masaka police station, that his cousin, named Abdul was hacked to death at Angwan Tive, during the clash.
The spoke man in the station, pleaded with members of the general public, to assist the police with useful information that would help to check the menace of cultism, and other criminal activities in Masaka area.
According to him, “there is concentration of organized cult group in Angwan Jaba, Angwan Tiv, in Karu, but we are on top of the situation. That is why we have launched operation fish out, and also created an anti-cultism unit in the state.”
The unpleasant trend seem to have crept into the FCT as some cases of cult clashes have been reported in satellite towns like Mpape, Gwagwalada and Apo.
In Mpape, investigation revealed that teenagers recruited into cult groups, are mostly young girls, between the ages of 14-23 years of age. The young girls believe that the best way to stay safe in the community by being a member of a cult group as no cultist dare touch a rival else he incurs the wrath of the rival group and attract reprisal attack on his or her own group.
Unfortunately, non-cult members are said to be the vulnerable ones in such communities. A member of JVC (female cult group) in Mpape who prefers anonymity said she had to join the group so she can walk freely in the area.
“I know cultism is not good. But honestly if you are not a member of any group in this Mpape then you are exposed to danger. As I move around, everyone knows i belong to JVC so they can’t touch me because if they try it then that is an open declaration of war.
“Because of me my siblings are also safe because the protection I enjoy is also extended to my family so that the benefit we get for being members.”