YOUTHS INVOLVEMENT IN CULTISM IN NIGERIA 2020
NWAOZURU JOHNMAJOR CHINECHEREM
In recent times, reports of cult clashes in various parts of Nigeria has put fear in many innocent citizens, and this makes one to wonder if joining cult group is a sure way to make quick wealth or to be influential in the society. The high rate of youth involvement in cult related activities is worrisome, as this has led to incessant cult clashes leading to loss of lives, destruction of properties and chaos in the society. It is well known that youthful age is a time to be productive and resourceful, but many in this youthful age are not working towards being productive as they channel their energies and resources towards crimes such as cultism and many more. This is unhealthy to the future development of the nation. Contemporarily, cultism is one of the commonest crime youths associate themselves in as cult groups exist in nooks and crannies of the society. The existence of secret cult groups is not new in our society, as according to Nwaozuru (2020), in traditional Nigerian society, there were existence of secret societies mainly for adults and not for youths except few ones. These secret societies like Ogboni, Ndi Nze na Ozo, Okonko and Ekpe among others are for the good of the society as members were men of good repute and helped to enforce peace, harmony and sustainable development in the society. It is regrettable that today, however, the story is different because secret cult activities actively participated by youths has brought societal disharmony and not development oriented. Capturing the widening scope of the menace of cultism and its accompanying inimical effects, Adewale (2005) asserts that cultism with its attendant violence, torture, suppression and unwarranted intimidation perpetrated by cult groups, has spread beyond institutions of higher learning to secondary schools even in residential areas, market places and so on. It is well known that youths are leaders of tomorrow, but if they are not well prepared now it is doubtful if they can lead well tomorrow. Nwaozuru (2020) states that:
If the youths who are future leaders are not well positioned now for efficient and effective leadership as most of them engage in activities that hinders proper orientation and moral development like cultism. It then means that the future generation would be in shambles unless relevant institutions responsible for socialising the youths play pragmatic role to see that most youths are savaged from these way (criminal activities) that seem right in their eyes but the end is destruction.(p. 2).
So youths involvement in cultism and other crime related activities is not commendable for youths who want to be productive in the nearest future.
For a proper understanding of this paper. it is necessary to define the following terms; cultism and youth.
Saleh, Ademola and Damulup (2011) define cultism as a practice, membership, admission, policy and initiation which is secret and known only to its members.
According to National Youth Policy of Nigeria (2009), a youth is seen as a person between 18-35 years who is a citizen of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF CULTISM IN NIGERIA
Secret cult groups are not new in traditional society because of the checkmating roles they play to traditional authorities. It is worthy to know that the understanding of the term cult or secret society in traditional African setting is different from its understanding in this contemporary time. Nwaozuru (2020) views that cultism in traditional African society are members who share the same ideology whose secrecy is known to their members only yet aims at societal developments while contemporarily, cultism according to Okeke (2014) is unlawful acts of assembly of two or more people to cause or pursue unlawful acts (ideology) contrary to the law of the society. It starts from the campus and spread like a wide fire to the entire society as they form groups of terrorists that steal, rape, arson and currently attack with guns during cult rivals. Thus, cultism is akin to violent crime so contemporary secret cults are undesirable in the society.
Secret Cult in Traditional Nigerian Society
Prior to the advent of Arabic and Western cultures in Nigeria, the indigenous people have their own way of lives which regulated their daily activities one of which is secret cult groups (Otu nzuzo ). Ukandu (2011) traces the origin of secret cults and states that:
Historically, cults in Nigeria were for the adults in the communities and they were part of the traditional religious systems. Although their activities were enshrined in secrecy, the members were known and revered by everyone in the communities these secret associations still exist and are powerful in assisting their members gain political, social and economic recognition. (p. 67).
It could be said that the reason very little is known about secret societies is because people who join these societies take an oath of secrecy seriously. Secret societies in the traditional setting was development oriented with the following functions listed by Nwaozuru (2020) below:
It is a powerful institution for effective control in traditional societies.
ii. The masked figure are used as town police.
iii. Members organize community labour, collect fines from defaulters.
iv. The masked figure forced societal development, flog thieves, adulterers, wizards and witches, offenders of public morality until they confess and repent.
v. Some adjudicate in cases and make peace among disputants.
vi. Some serve as thrift societies which offer economic assistance contributing money to lend to members and so on.
vii. Some of the members serve as mouthpiece of oracles.
Despite these, secret societies have negative functions such as mystical killing members of rival group or non-members. Sometimes, there is discrimination and partiality in handling cases between a member and non-member. Some secret cults in traditional Nigerian society include: Ekpe, Ogboni, Okonko, Ndi Nze NOzo, Ohanjoku, Mmaji, Otu muonwu, Ekpo and many more. (pp.7-8).
History of Cultism in Nigeria
Nigeria the most populous nation in West Africa has been acquitted with traditional secret societies before the advent of contemporary cult groups. As stated above, the phenomenon of secret cult is not new in Nigeria as each ethnic group has her own secret societies for the good of the members and the society as well. For example the Yoruba has Ogboni, in Igboland are Okonko, Ekpe, Muonwu and so on. But cult groups operated by youths presently are different from secret cults in traditional society. According to Mediayanose (2016):
The history of cultism in Nigeria started from tertiary institutions which could be traced to the Pirates Confraternity founded by the Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka and others at the University College, Ibadan (now University of Ibadan), in 1953. The confraternity also known as National Association of Sea Dogs, with the skull and crossbones as its logo was non-violent and whose activities were not in secrecy had its main objectives as to fight non-violently but intellectually and effectively against the imposition of foreign conventions, revive the age of chivalry and engender lasting solution to the problems of tribalism and elitism. (p. 46).
At the initial stage cultism was more purposefully oriented but subsequent years saw pollution and corruption of this noble vision, subsequent secret societies came up with corrupt vision. Instead of fighting a good course the proceeding cult groups now saw the membership of a cult group as an avenue for revenge, espionage, secret clash and power tussle against each other (Okeke, 2014: 90). Thus, it has become destructive and violent therefore, no longer legally and socially accepted in Nigerian society.
Cult groups exist not only in high institutions but in secondary schools, residential areas, , market, workplace and so on. According to Mediayanose (2016), cult groups in Nigeria include: Air Lord, Black-Axe, Black Beret Fraternity, Black Bra, Black Cats, Black Mamba, Buccaneers, Cappa Vendetta, Daughters of Jezebel, Eiye Confraternity, Green Beret Fraternity, Hard Candies, Jurist, KKK Confraternity, Knight Cadet, King Cobra, Lucifer Knights, Mafians, Maphites, Mgba Mgba Brothers, Musketeers Fraternity, Neo-Black Movement, Oasis of the Silhouette; Ostrich Fraternity, Panama, Pirates Confraternity, Red Berets, Red Sea Horses, Royal Queens, Sea Dogs, Soko, Sun Men, Temple of Eden Fraternity, Ten Angels, The Amazons, The Apostles, The Barracudas, The Canary, The Dragons, The Frigates, The Himalayas, The Lynx, The Mafioso Fraternity, The Scorpion Fraternity, The Soires Fraternity, The Vikings, The Walrus, Third· Eye Confraternity, Trojan Horse, Vipers, Viqueens, West End, White Angels arid a host of others.
Although cult groups exist in many states in Nigeria especially states which have more of tertiary institutions, presently there are some states that witness high rate of cult clashes such as Anambra, Abia, Lagos, Edo, Rivers and Cross Rivers State. Lagos State as of 2019 became the battlefield of cult clashes as places like Ikorodu, Ajegunle, Dopemu, Agege, Ogba , Iyana Ipaja, Oworoshoki and so on experienced cult clashes. According to Urowayino (2019), record by the Lagos State Police Command shows that about 202 suspected members of different cult groups have been arrested in different parts of Lagos State.
In this ember months of 2020, Cross Rivers State has been on fire as incessant cult clashes occur frequently in broad day light.
Features of Cultism
Although the features of traditional secret societies are similar to contemporary cult groups yet there are differences.
Initiation of Members
This is the most important state in cult activity. The member who performs the initiation is called Bishop and the initiation venue is called House. Okeke (2014) asserts that initiation of members involves the indoctrination, orientation and teaching as well as rituals and rites which the initiate is obliged to undergo. This is mostly conducted under its prominent manifestation being the administering of alien materials to the initiates which could be in form of drinking concoctions, blood oaths, the marking of tattoo on the body of the initiated by the initiator and the partaking of the initiate in a meditative, strange spiritual rites and rituals which climaxed in his willful surrender of his ego and the total consciousness to the spirit beings that enter and control him. The spirit uses the initiator as medium to reach the new adherents. The initiated cultist comes out of initiation in possession of secret signs, symbols and marks to be preserved and protected. Ukandu (2011) observes that the educational systems serves as their recruiting ground and her members after they manage to graduate from our schools, turn to the larger society and wrath violence. The writer considers all the violent exposures at the educational level as the breeding ground for cultism. Ugorji (2011) reports about the initiation process of the Buccaneers, he said that the initiates are stripped to the pant. While a bonfire of tyres was on, the new initiates were being flogged with horse whip; none was placed on the fire until it became red. It was later used to give small marks at some parts of the bodies of the new intakes. The venue is usually at burial grounds or thick forest to avoid being caught by security agents.
Stages of Initiation
Okeke (2014) explains the stages of initiation below:
Most of the time becoming a member of a secret cult is not by choice. One is usually conscripted. The actual conscription comes in different forms but there are general rules. Someone you know approaches you, most times it is someone you trust. He may simply ask you, Do you want to belong? Most of the time the innocent youth do not really know what the question mean. When this happens, it means he has been marked out or chosen. Someone who has cultivated him continues to make friend with him eventually invites him to party or other social gatherings, where other members are present. This stage is completely harmless no amount of pressure or intimidation is employed except deceitful lies that are told to the hoodwink the unsuspected initiate into cult. This stage involves the picking of form, filling of form and submission. After the submission of forms interested ones will be informed to appear for the second stage of initiation.
Stage Two-Drilling and Selection
This is the major stage in the initiation of new members with cult groups. At this stage stringent drilling and harsh circumstances are improvised, thus making it impossible for many to scale through. Some even die in the process. In other cases some stern and stringent assignments are given to these new cult members to test their ability. Some of these assignments are suicidal that only dare-devil can carry out. At this stage no going back.
When the initiate get to a particular point, the first signal is mostly a whistle which alerts the others that this is an authentic emissary. The initiate hears a voice of command which orders him to stop whatever discussion he is engaged into with the old members . The old members become distant and unfriendly. Slaps come from left, right and centre. The initiate is thoroughly brutalized. The initiate is blindfolded and taken through a series of physically demanding cores. In this session the initiate is told about some of the cult members who are regarded as role model either in the campus (students, lecturer and professors) or in the larger society. The initiate is told that he is about to join a prestigious organization that would change his life to better. That he is about to move from being a Boy to a Man and from being BLIND to being WISE.
This section include a lot of revelations, the initiate suddenly discovers several people he did not suspect as members of the cult. At intervals different drilling teams come to beat him up. The Initiate is subjected to several experiences, threats, scams, fear and so on which results to broken limbs, bruised faces or even death.
At this stage creeds, rules, constitution, hierarchy, operations, signs and symbols, colours and so on are taught to the now new successful members. Some unique songs, dress codes, language and so on are made known to them.
Stage Five- Blood Oath
The initiates thumb is pierced with blade and the new member is told to touch the blood to a sheet of a paper. It is a kind of signature and signifies acceptance into the brotherhood. This document is kept jealously and even when one is being off the hook, one is told that it could be used against one when one decides to reveal their secret. At this stage too, blood of all members both old and new are mixed in hot drinks and other concoctions every member drinks and take oath of allegiance to submit to its authority and to keep all their activities secret.
Stage Six-Party and Celebration
This stage is used to celebrate with the newly initiated members it could be done in open place like bars, hotels and any other chosen place or choiced venue.
Uniformity of Belief
Every cult group is remarkable for its uniformity in accepting a particular belief, principle or ideology. The indoctrination and orientation which entrants receive which in most cases is a product of hallucinations and hypnosis makes them to accept and carry out bizarre exploits and actions that have no moral justification like killing, kidnapping , maiming of people, arson, cultism, arson, robbery witch craft, magical acts, rape and sorcery. This ideology or belief is the bedrock and motivating source of their strength and conviction in carrying out nefarious activities against others in the society
The activities of these cult groups are concealed from outsiders and made known only to their members. The shrouded nature of their activities is the major reason they are referred to as secret cult. It is the members ability to conceal their secrets that makes it difficult for security agents to easily discover them nor detect their nefarious activities.
Secret Signs, Oath, Rites and Symbols
All the cult groups recognize and use peculiar secret signs, conduct blood oaths and other forms of oath, administer secret rites, reverence secret symbols and slangs for communication among them. These are done during initiations. They have constitutions, procedures for operations, initiation responsibilities, cult-cult relations, and cult-societal relation. They have hierarchies which vary from one cult to another. It is these secrete signs and symbol that differentiate them from other rival cult groups.
All members are addicted to the belief of the cults. They are striped off their sense of judgment and reason through a continuous involvement in a line of thought, through meditations and involvement in administering rites. They willingly open up their mind to be taken over by the demon they worship. This is what hypnosis and channeling is all about-a situation where one opens his entire being to be subdued and controlled by external influence, in the case of cultists by demons. This view justifies the pre- theoretical explanation of crime causation. Explaining this theory, Vold (1998) holds that primitive and pre-literate people believed that spirits control individuals in ways beyond their comprehension in that they (the spirit) take victims, direct or push them to engage in outlaw conduct often against their will. We commend Vold for his idea on the influence of spirits on man which is a strong believe in most world religions, but rejecting the saying that it is only the primitive and pre-literate people that hold such belief. As Jews and Africans whose worldviews accept pre- theoretical explanation of crime causation are not primitive and pre-literate people. Nwaozuru (2018) affirms that this belief is strong in African Traditional Religion which makes adherents to offer prayers and sacrifices to the Supreme Being, spirits and ancestors to do good to them and not to use them to commit evil works but good works. Nwaozuru (2020) further confirm that even in Jewish worldview such believe is not exempted; for instance In 1Sam.19:9-10, shows how an evil spirit manipulated King Saul to kill David thus, Spirits could use humans to commit crime.
YOUTHS AND CULTISM IN NIGERIA
Reasons Youths Involve in Cult Related Activities
There are diverse root sources of motivation that propels youths to join cult groups.
Many youths join cult groups due to economic reason. This is because most cult groups have sophisticated weapons which they use not only to fight rival cult groups, but to carry out arm robbery to get money. It could be observed that people from poor background tend to join secret cult as a means to obtain forcefully what they cannot get in reality thus, they involve in crimes like armed robbery, kidnapping and cultism to get quick wealth. This. above idea supports economic theory of crime causation. Gibbons (cited by Nwaozuru, 2018) opines that crimes are of entirely low class phenomenon to people who want to meet the basic needs of life. Siegel (2005) quips that people at the lowest rungs of the social structure have the greatest incentive to commit crime. This does not mean that the rich is exempted from involving in crime. Cult members who have gone through series of training to perfect a violent culture and could venture into kidnapping as ransom is involved. Ransom collection is the fulcrum of kidnapping for economic reasons as a major source of livelihood and eke a living as it seems to be on the fast lane. It could be said that the some kidnappers are mostly youths who belonged to one cult group or the other and have some of their fellow cultists in high places in the government that even though they are caught by the security agents they could be released.
The need to belong to the class of the so called big boys or wise men in the society has pushed many youths to join cult groups in the society. Many youths who want to become influential and well known by others in the society and do not have the needed good repute or wealth which could lead to this dream, join cult groups to command influence and boost their ego. Thus, youths now regard membership of secret cults as mark of pride, recognition, acceptance in the society and supremacy over their peers. This propels them to join cult groups.
Many youths join cult groups during election period. Here cultists owe their incentive and prime motivating factor on political end. By political end, it implies the struggle to power and state resource attainable through competition and strategic opposition. Nwaozuru (2020) is of the view that cultism could be politically motivated as some politicians would employ the services of some cultists to intimidate or eliminate their opponents while others who are not good at politicking and lacks the political skill of bargaining or bullying the voters, they result to using cultists to carry out political killings. They are paid huge sum of money by politicians to cart away ballot box and perpetrate other election malpractice. It could be said that the violence experienced in 2015 and 2019 general elections in Nigeria was perpetrated by cultists who were armed and sponsored by some politicians.
Many students become cultists due to academic reason. Nwaozuru (2020) elucidates that every student wants good grades which studying hard is a necessary prerequisite for it; those who cannot be studious choose to join cult group with the ideology that the cult they belong will intimidate the lecturers to award them marks whether they write very well in the exam or not. This strategy is mainly used to attract the newly admitted students into cult groups with catchy promises of better life, protection and good academic grades such would go a long way to get members mainly from new students in high institutions who aspire quality academic grade. Okeke (2014) observes that some students join cult group to make up for students academic weakness and to intimidate and put fear on the lecturers with a view to calming them down. Nsor, Ubong and Edu (2016) point to the falling standards in our educational system arising from corruption as a motivating factor for students membership of cultism. Most students gained admission into high institution through the back door and with questionable credentials. Due to the low self image of such students, they find solace in secret cults in order to survive in the new environment they find themselves. Thus, students admitted illegally resort to cultism and other social vices in order to survive and succeed (make good grade).
Root Causes of Cultism
The recent economic recession coupled with Covid-19 pandemic is a big blow to Nigeria's dwindling economy as many employees in the private sector have lost their jobs. Nwaozuru (2020) opines that high rate of corruption and looting of public funds by political leaders in Nigeria has compounded the issue currently, Nigeria has one of the highest rate of poverty globally. It is observed that when poverty is coupled with high levels of economic and social aspirations, the stage is set for criminal activities. Emeh (2011) avows that poverty is the harbinger of most crimes as the abject want, squalor and misery among many exacerbates crime rate with corruption, economic crises, unemployment and rural-urban imbalance aggravating the worse situation. Embezzlement of the nation's treasury for personal, family and political party benefits is an avenue to increase the cluster of relative and perpetual poor in the nation. This form and perhaps a cause of poverty in the Nigerian society. Nwaozuru (2020) observes that most youths from poor homes assume that joining a cult group as an opportunity to run out of the ambience of poverty since cultists perform other criminal activities like kidnapping, assassination, arm robbery which generate fast cash.
In some cases, past members who are gainfully employed or have substantial business or have migrated to foreign countries sometimes remit money to support their former cult groups thus youths from poor background may join cult groups to benefit from the cash donations from wealthy members and politicians who partner with them. Okeke (2014) affirms that indigent student need for financial assistance lead them to cultism. According to Nwaozuru (2020), it could be observed that cultists look for youths from poor homes who are intelligent, physically strong with good physic, assist them financially with the aim of convincing them to join their cult group.
Idea of get Rich Quick Syndrome
Acceptance of Western culture has resulted to the breakdown of indigenous values. African values such as hard work has been jeopardized as the trend of get rich quick syndrome is dominant in the mind of youths who are willing to make quick money whether by crook or by means. Nwaozuru (2020) states that the idea of get rich quick syndrome or the phenomenon of ego mbute (quick cash) among youths and the tendency with which the society worship wealth without recourse to its source has made youths to use all means to pursue wealth of which cultism is among. As earlier stated cultists are being paid by some politicians to carry out electoral violence such offer could make some immoral youths to conceive joining cult as short cut to wealth hence they patronize it. Therefore, the idea of get rich quick syndrome has fueled crime in Nigeria such as cultism, internet fraud popularly called Yahoo Yahoo, kidnapping among others.
Corruption and Weakness in the Security Sector
It could be said that the reason cultism and other violent crimes thrive in our society is that the security agents are not doing enough to counter their activities. This could be due to lack of modern sophisticated weapons by security agencies in Nigeria. It could be observed that the security sector is eroded with corruption as Adega (2009) attests that even members of the Nigeria Police Force whose morale and professionalism have been devastated by low pay, outdated equipment and poor working conditions to the extent that they have become accomplices of armed robbers kidnappers and cultists. To support this view, Enogholase (2018) claims that a police personnel of the Edo State Command was killed, after investigation it was found out that the slain police personnel was a cultist who join his cult group to attack another rival group and was killed during the process. Also the security agents instead of arresting and prosecuting cult members rather prefer to collect bribe and release them. So such immoral acts by the security agents will encourage people to join criminal gangs without fear of being prosecuted by the law.
Many youths join cult groups due to influence of their peers. Gupta and Derevensky (1998) observe that adolescent may engage in more risky behaviour in the presence of peers that is peer to peer learning. Nwaozuru (2020) asserts that when a youth who is not a cultist befriends another who is a cultist, he may end up becoming a cultist, it is just a matter of time. This can be justifying based on the fact that an individual who failed to conform to group norms may face social rejection and finally been evicted from the group or join such group (if you cannot beat them you join them). Some people are also easily been influenced by others while some can easily influence others. Today some youths who involve in cult activities were been introduced into it by their friends. Hence, the social learning theory upholds this above thought since one could become a cult member by socialization.
Wilson (2000) further highlights these as likely causes of students membership of cult groups; drugs, sexual relationship, lack of counselling, poor accommodation, wrong choice of programme, social mal-adjustment, lack of effective and prompt disciplinary mechanism in schools.
EFFECTS OF CULTISM IN NIGERIAN SOCIETY
Involving in cult activities is a deadly end as there are no benefits at all but the magnitude of havocs they bring is enormous.
Destruction of Lives and Properties
Cultism leads to loss of lives and properties especially during cult clashes or rivals between cult groups. During these clashes both cultists and innocent citizens fall victim. . There has been many cases of brutal killings by cult groups in many states in Nigeria in recent times as they are in constant conflict which they think could be resolved by arms fight. Urowayino (2019) states that the menace of cultism is gradually assuming an alarming trend, following the orgy of killings and wanton destruction of both public and private properties, associated with rival cult clashes. Nwaozuru (2020) points to cult clashes between cult groups in Awka Anambra State during the ember months of 2018 claimed many lives which some were innocent victims who were killed by stray bullets during gun battle between rival cult groups as others were butchered. Ugwu (2017) affirms that two cultists were beheaded by another rival cult group, the victims were students of Abia State University. Ekpimah and Lambo (2019) states that four persons reportedly died in clashes between Aiye and Eiye confraternities in the Odogunyan area of Ikorodu and Itire in Lagos State.. Uchechukwu (2019) attests that a 500-Level student of Electrical Engineering of Cross River University of Technology, CRUTECH, identified as James was shot dead on July 15 2019 by suspected cultists, while writing his first semester examination in Calabar. Royal (2019) confirms that a student of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) was reportedly shot dead on November 1 2019 during the Faculty of Social Sciences Final Year Jean Carnival, a part of the schools final year celebration. It was gathered that the deceased was murdered by a rival cult group. Johnson (2019) reports that a 19-year-old student of a polytechnic in Ondo State from the Department of Public Administration, Ajibade Rahaam was shot dead by suspected members of cult group over supremacy battle in the institution.
Expulsion and Poor Academic Performance
The law guiding Nigerian educational system is that any student caught in cult related activities should be expelled so, students who involve in cultism are at risk of expulsion. It is crystal clear that students who engage in cultism hardly devote time to academic pursuit since they cannot serve two masters at a time. Nsor, Ubong , and Edu (2016) elucidate that students who join the cult, begin to stay away from lectures and are then tempted to engage in examination malpractice. This is because they are distracted from pursuing the main aim that brought them to school. They no longer study but are occupied with one cult activity or the other thus, during examination period, examination malpractice and sorting seem to be best option to pass the examination or intimidating and forcing lecturers to award unmerited marks to them. Nwaozuru (2020), asserts that many students who are cultists are addicted to hard drugs and alcohol as they are thought that excessive intake of hard drugs will boost their morale, energy and strength to fight and withstand their enemies as well as increase their acumen to be tactical in combat. The educational consequences of drug abuse are obvious. It retards the mental capabilities of the abuser which could lead to madness implying that the full academic potentials of cultists cannot be realized.
High Rate of Crime
The prevalence of cultism in any society would pave way for other violent crimes like kidnapping, rape, assault arm robbery and so on. Nsor, Ubong , and Edu (2016) observe that a cultist is simply a criminal, he becomes notorious rather than being popular. When a crime is committed anywhere they are the prime suspects as cultist. This is because the activities of a cultist are similar to those of an armed robber. In support of the above view, Okeke (2014) affirms that it is on record that about 90% of armed robberies are committed by cult groups. Members are imposed to pay heavy taxes and those who could not pay it resort to arm robbery and kidnapping to make money to pay it. Sometimes, female students are raped, disfigured for refusing to yield to love advance from cult members. Therefore, cultism in no doubt leads to high rate of violent crimes in the society.
Cultists when arrested by security agents and prosecuted by a law of competent jurisdiction will be sentenced to prison for years as stipulated by the criminal code of Nigerian Constitution. Mediayanose (2016) points to Decree 47 of 1989 which provides for a five-year jail term for anyone belonging to campus cults. Nwaozuru (2020) concludes that any youth or student who is imprisoned due to crimes like cultism has automatically lost his vision for a better future even after release from prison people would not like to associate with such person.
The Possibility of Contracting Infectious Diseases
At the fifth stage of initiation of new members Okeke (2014) narrates that the initiates thumbs are pierced with blade as blood of all members both old and new are mixed in hot drinks and other concoctions which every member drinks. Nwaozuru (2020) opines that this could be an avenue of contacting communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and so on which affects human health and could lead to untimely death.
Cultism affects social life and social relation of many people who are held hostages in their homes from dust to dawn, for fear of being hit by cultists or become victims of cult clash. As a result of cult clashes returning from distant places at night has become a high risk. It could be observed that in some states in Nigeria residents no longer attend social ceremonies and vigils programmes witness low attendance. It could be observed that in places where cult clashes occur frequently, once it is 9 p.m. it is rare to see commuters on the road as people are in their residents for fear of cult attacks. It could be that the menace of violent crime of cultism has imposed curfew on citizens.
The exploits of cultism and its effects has made the political economy stand to suffer from a continuous collapse on the economic structure. Nwaozuru (2020) enunciates that:
Cultists are used to obstruct peaceful elections, to destroy equipment used for election which worth millions of Naira and to assassinate election officials who refuse to grant them access to election materials. Some National Youth Service Corps members who participate in elections are victims of political assassination. In the November 2019 gubernatorial election in Kogi State a Corps member was killed. It could be said that the high level of violent crimes in Nigeria manifested in the just concluded 2019 General Elections marked by electoral violence, could have been perpetrated by cultists.(p. 36).
The River State gubernatorial elections of 2015 and 2019 were filled with electoral violence probably perpetrated by cult groups that exist in the state. Thus, cult members are sometimes used by politicians for revenge and to settle political scores which negativity affects the political process of the nation.
Cultism affects the pace of economic growth in the society where it is prevalent. It is well known that the survival of an economic system is based largely on the mutual interaction of peace, law and order. In an environment where law and order which guarantees peace and security is lacking it will severe economic activities. Cult rivalry disrupts peace and harmony and also has serious negative impact on the efforts to bring about economic development as it brings about loss of human and material resources. It is well known that in states where cult clashes occur frequently many business will be hampered as investment will reduce due to fear of economic loss. Even in high institutions war between cult groups will lead to the destruction of school facilities and properties. Therefore, cult activities lead to gross economic waste which is inimical to economic growth and development of Nigeria's economy which is struggling with economic recession.
Cultism Exposes the Weakness of Security Agents
It could be observed that cultists are not easily apprehended by law enforcement agents. The incessant rate of cultism and other violent crimes in Nigeria have exposed the weakness of the security agencies for their inability to curtail fully criminality in the country as the security sector has been eroded by corruption. Sometimes security agents assist criminal activity as they take bribe and allow criminals or law offenders to have their way and perpetrate more crime.
STEPS TO FIGHT AGAINST CULTISM
If the future will be better than today, there has to be adequate preparations by the youths who will steer the helm of affairs tomorrow. Active participation in violent crimes is not an option for any responsible youths who want to lead tomorrow, therefore government, law enforcement agencies, religious bodies and other relevant institutions have to join hands together to initiate programmes that will better the youths which could inoculate them from crime.
Provision of Sophisticated Crime Prevention Gadgets to the Security Sector
It has been observed that some of these cult gangs and other violent crime perpetrators such as kidnappers, militants, terrorists among others use sophisticated weapons and are well trained to carry out their operations against all odds. Nwaozuru (2020) is of the opinion that this is the reason such groups are sponsored by some wealthy citizens like politicians who use them during election periods. The government should equip the security sector with modern sophisticated weapons and other modern gadgets to detect and prevent crime.
Government-Church Collaboration in Fighting Cultism
In the society, religion and the government are the institutions which stipulate and guide the activities of the people. They make sure that lives and properties are secured and that the citizens obey the rules and regulations of the society for the existence of peace and harmony. Religious bodies and the government should venture more into the area of social welfare, they should create more jobs for a teaming population of the unemployed and even the underemployed. They should establish infrastructural developmental projects and skill acquisition centers where youths could be employed or acquire skills for self employment.
Cult Renunciation Programme
This is a programme organized with an aim to grant pardon to cultists who will willingly and publicly renounce and withdraw their allegiance to any cult group they belong to with a promise not to join cultism again. According to Nwaozuru (2020), a good example of such programme was jointly done by the management of Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Unizik) and Joint Christian Campus Fellowship in 2015 this was fruitful as many Unizik students renounced cultism and embraced Christ. Hence, the Church and government should organize cult renunciation programmess once or twice a year especially in areas where cult clashes with are prevalent and youths who actively participate should be gainfully employed. This is a veritable tool which will help to reduce youth involvement in cult related activities in the nation.
Cult clashes seems to be on the increase as frequently such ugly incidences are reported on print and online media in Nigeria. The rate at which most youths join cult groups raises concern whether the youths are really preparing for future leadership or are preparing to become future terrorists. The dangers associated with cultism is inimical to the productivity of youths and hinders societal development. Thus, relevant stakeholders should make efforts to fight against cultism in the society.
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