By Sodiq Lawal
The alarming resurgence of violence associated with cult activities in the ancient city of Yoruba land in the last few weeks, calls for serious concern and demands for drastic action to combat this repulsive menace.
Increasing wave of cult violence in Ile Ife has assumed disturbing dimension. Menacing cult activities have become a daily occurrence that should be handled decisively.
In recent times, recurrent disturbances attributable to violent clashes between rival cult groups have resulted in horrendous loses in local communities in the ancient city. Cultism has become such a pervasive vocation amongst young people, including minors, in Ile Ife and across the country.
Majority of them are product of broken homes and they are far plying on the street of Iremo, Akarabata line 1, Orita Fogo, Ojoyin, Sabo-Obalufon and many others. And they include such deadly ones as Black Axe, Black Cats, Buccaneers, Pirates Confraternity, Maphites, Sea Dogs, Black Beret Fraternity, Green Beret Fraternity, Panama, The Dragons, The Frigates, The Walrus, The Baracudas, The Canary, The Himalayas, The Vikings, Neo Black Movement, Musketeers Fraternity, Trojan Horse Fraternity (Oasis of the Silhouette), Temple of Eden Fraternity, The Mafioso Fraternity, Osiri Fraternity, Ostrich Fraternity, Eiye or Airlords Fraternity, Burkina Faso Revolution Fraternity, The Scorpion Fraternity, Mgba Mgba Brothers Fraternity, Cappa Vendetto, KKK Confraternity, Third Eye Confraternity, The Black Brassieres, The Amazon and Daughters.
Hence, youth involvement in cult related associations, apart from heightening the scale of social vices unusually categorised as misdemeanour, has festered criminality in the form of wanton killings, maiming, raping and, as well, intensified robbery and kidnapping across the ancient city.
It is, therefore, imperative to unequivocally emphasize that prevailing nefarious activities by cult groups are reprehensible and untenable in a sane society.
The situation has become so worrisome and requiring urgent efforts by relevant stakeholders across communities in concert with security agencies, towards stemming the tide of a social affliction already in its giddying stage and gradually making peace elusive in the society.
Youth related cult activities have become a sort of neighbourhoods’ evil, threatening communal peace and permeating culture of fears in the society.
Recently, gunshots took over Sabo and Lagere area of the town by cultists who are on rampage as they vandalize vehicles and other properties.
It was gathered that the conflict occurred when a car belonging to a cultist got hit by a bus along Sabo Lagere area of the town.
The car owner who refused to allow a peaceful resolution was said to gave called some guys who were said to be members of his cultist group who came and destroyed the windscreen of the bus.
It however took the intervention of the Police to restore peace in the area.
Also, as at last week Monday, It was gathered that some cultists took over Ojoyin road at 11am, plying the road with bottles and destroying thousands of properties.
The cult group numbering about 10 shut down the road of the community with various harmful weapons.
The incident occurred when an aggrieved cult member harassed a barber of Ojoyin road and as a result, triggered a quick reaction of the barber to launch a reprisal attack.
In addition, a man, said to be in late twenties, was murdered on the campus of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, late on Thursday, following a face off he had with his suspected killers.
The deceased, Adewunmi, is said to be a child of a junior staff of the university.
The incident leading to his death happened at the New Bukka, an area on campus hosting bars and restaurants that serve a wide range of customers, including those who are neither students nor staff of OAU.
According to a witness who works at New Bukka as a security guard, Mr. Adewumi was struck with a diabolical ring and then stabbed in the neck by a man who left the scene, after the incident, with his friends in a Toyota Highlander Sport Utility Vehicle.
It is therefore evident that terrifying malaise of cultism comes with high potential of jeopardising the future of younger generations, who are now forced to live under morbid fear and coercion.
Cultism is destructive to the very fabric of Nigerian society and poses a drawback to efforts at entrenching sustainable development in the country. Cult groups have become willing tools in the hands of the political elite, who deploy them to settle scores with opponents.
It is therefore important to call on relevant stakeholders in the society to prioritise advocacy towards adequate sensitisation of elite; particularly the political class, on the need to shun selfish indulgence through sponsorship and patronage of cult activities that compromise and jeopardize the future of the youth.
The police and other security agencies must be encouraged and supported to provide adequate responses in tackling the menace of cultism in the ancient city and across the country.
Security agencies must develop the required capacities for investigative and crime preventive intelligence in the bid to provide appropriate response to the challenge pose by cultism and its negative throwbacks on the society.
Government must prioritise social empowerment programme to harness the energies of the youth and refocus their mind for productive engagement.
There is also the need for government to invest in sports development across the nooks and crannies of the country. Provision of adequate modern sports facilities with complementary reward system will get a large population of youth off the streets.
It has also become instructive to depoliticise job creation and social empowerment initiatives in the country, so as to bring youth from across political and sectarian divides on board for inclusive development.
Government should also be more decisive in addressing poverty alleviation in the country, as a way of reducing the passion for criminality amongst the youth.
Finally, institutions and agencies saddled with the responsibilities of mass mobilisation and orientation must take the issues of cultism and its negative tendencies more seriously.
Retooling institutional frameworks as well process-led networking amongst stakeholders within and across communities will be vital in arresting the debilitating vices of cultism.
From Sodiq Lawal, Ile Ife