•DSS unlocks secret code, reveals how to identify members
By Jet Stanley Madu
Few days ago, 40 students of the College of Health Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Unizik), Awka, Anambra State broke ties with darkness by renouncing their membership of different cult groups.
In the presence of the Vice Chancellor, Prof Joseph Ahaneku, Provost, College of Medicine, Prof A.M E Nwofor, the Registrar, Dr I.H Isidenu, and other dignitaries, the repentant students publicly denounced cultism during a prayer session on campus by a charismatic priest, Rev. Fr Paul Obayi, also known as Okunerere.
Although these 40 students decided to end their romance with the occult kingdom, findings indicate that countless cult groups still enjoy large membership across many tertiary institutions in the country.
The chilling incident where two students were beheaded at the Childoo Lodge in Abia State University, Uturu recently by rival cultists readily comes to mind. The victims, Chukwuebuka Nwaigbo, 300 level, Estate Management and Samuel, 300 level, Political Science, were chopped with cutlasses, their heads cut off and rolled in celebration by armed cultists, who left a warning message that more heads would roll in days to come.
A bloody attack was also reported at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, where four students were shot dead by suspected cultists.
Suspected cult members stormed Chamma Hostel and moved to Block D, room 2, where they requested to see one student, identified as Aye but the occupants of the room numbering four were said to have told the strange visitors that no one bears the name in the room.
A 400 level Electrical Electronics student, Denen, told reporters that while the gang leader was not convinced by the explanation of the students, he asked one of his members to clear all the four students in the room.
Similar violent attacks at the university town of Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, kept residents restless. Campus cult groups triggered inter-cult rivalry and clashes that turned the peaceful town to a field of blood.
The frequency and the intensity of the killings left the royal father, the Ebumawe of Ago-Iwoye, Oba Abdulrazaq Adesina Adenugba, dazed. The police swung into action and arrested 30 suspected cult members after a vicious war claimed no fewer than seven lives within one week. Arms and ammunition were reportedly recovered from the suspects.
More shocking revelation on the sinister activities of cultists was made at a seminar organised by the National Union of Lagos State Students (NULASS) on stemming the tide of campus cultism. One of the speakers, Mrs. Chizoba Ifeoma Etuka, Deputy Superintendent of Narcotics, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), said she learnt about all-female cult groups, and wondered what the ladies involved would be doing there.
“During our days in school, we were very reserved,” she recollected. “Education was very interesting. We were concerned on how to pass our exams and please our parents. We were pre-occupied with making our mothers proud because many of them had to sell their wrappers to send us to school,” she said.
Some people at the retreat were shocked by the roll call of cult groups thriving on campus, including Black Axe, Buccaneers, also, known as National Association of Seadogs, Vikings, Double (2,2), Eiye, Red Beret, Mafia, Black Cat, Pyrates, Vampires, who subject new members to unedifying bloody rituals. Also, ladies have their own groups like: Daughters of Jezebel, Daughters of Doom, Comic Queens, Black Bra, Pink Ladies, Orange Girls or Pottage Girls. Ladies pass through unimaginable rituals, which could involve sex with 20 or more men as initiation rite.
Mr. Maxwell John and Mr. Victor Olayinka, officials of the Directorate of State Security (DSS), who delivered lectures at the retreat, explained that these secret cults are guided by strict code of secrecy, such that their activities are often held at odd hours of the night.
Speaking at the seminar held at the Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka, Lagos, John revealed some characteristics of secret cultism and cultists, as he described their activities as a threat to national security.
The security expert warned that it could cost an individual his or her life during initiation. According to him, the recruits are often threatened never to divulge the dealings of the cults. Those who go contrary to this instruction suffer severe punishments in form of destruction of their property, mutilations like cutting of the limbs and in some cases, killing of such victims by beheading or gunshot.
He urged the students to always speak to the conscience of their peers who are converts of such groups. He advised other students further, saying, “If you’re always positive, I assure you, one way or the other, you find out something good will be craving your path. But if you identify yourself with doom, Jezebelic things, and secret things, you only make your life miserable, smoking, drinking and wasting away”.
The DSS official noted that even though secret cult activities cut across all strata of the society, rich people are guilty of complicity by sponsoring some of these cultists. Aside the handouts that come from these benefactors, he explained that many students and youths also join secret cults out of peer pressure.
Further investigation revealed that some students also join cult groups due to frustration, desire for vengeance, poor academic environment, such as poor accommodation, lack of recreational facilities like football pitches and other sports facilities.
John reasoned that if the environment is not conducive for learning, for instance, schools lacking sports and recreational facilities to engage the youths and students, such could breed societal ills and lead students to seek other ways to expend their bursting energies.
He explained that the corruption ravaging the society had gradually sneaked into campuses. He advised students to resist such temptations and channel their energies into reading or charity work.
“Charity doesn’t mean you will have to give out money. You can offer advice, get involved in anti-cult advocacy and so on”.
The security agent explained that any school that lacks a strong security system is highly vulnerable to infiltration and activities of cult groups. He called for 24-hour security to protect innocent students.
“Even in tertiary institutions, some people are still trying to find their purpose in life. Many youths and students who lack direction in life depend on others to govern and direct them. They are easily lured into cultism. So, in tertiary education level, they fall victims of cult membership because secret cult gives false sense of direction. That is why proper guidance is very important”.
On how to identify fellow students who are members of cult groups, the DSS official explained that members live like green snakes in green grasses. According to him, they have a peculiar way of life, with various unique images and inscriptions on their T-shirts, caps and tattoos on their bodies. Only members belonging to specific cult groups know what those signs symbolise. They often appear outlandish in dressing style.
He also revealed that cultists drink heavily and smoke too. They bear scary nicknames and live in constant fear. Most of them have no fixed address for fear of attack by rival cult members. Also, they’re highly secretive, uncommunicative, stonehearted, desperate and arm themselves with charms. They believe in superstition and have particular words, phrases that are unique to individual groups.
Cultists are always ready to fight. They are mostly involved in armed robbery activities to raise money for clubs and parties. Often, they move, operate and strike in groups. They cheat in examinations. They disrespect authorities and have no regard for elders. In schools, they bear illegal firearms and are often responsible for the killings of students and staff. They involve themselves in alcohol, hard drugs and rape of female students.
John explained that cultism enthrones a regime of fear and insecurity on campus, which could disrupt the school calendar in the face of any violent attack. Furthermore, clash by rival cult groups leads to destruction of school facilities. Cultists delight in unwholesome activities, intimidation of fellow students and lecturers, disruption of school calendars because they have no future plan unlike serious students, who are eager to get out of school to pursue their life goal.
Above all, the tragic deaths of several students in cult related activities in various tertiary institutions in the country have become a source of concern.
Often, cultists are rusticated or expelled from school because their activities are at variance with societal norms. On health grounds, they’re always at risk of being infected with various diseases like HIV (Human Immune Virus), Hepatitis, Ebola, Lassa fever and other contagious diseases transmitted through body contact, blood, body fluid from sharp objects used for initiation rites.
He also explained how cultism poses a threat to national security, saying, “The activities of cult gangs have attained dangerous dimension, therefore the urgent need to crack down on this societal ill cannot be overemphasized. Any nation or institution plagued by cultism will keep retrogressing.”
The security expert also suggested effective ways of weeding out cultism from academic institutions in the country. The general public, he said, should be sensitized on the inherent dangers of secret cults. Equally, religious bodies should supplement the efforts of educational institutions through their sermon. In addition, he called on the mass media to stop exaggeration and sensational reporting of cult-related activities, so as not to give their members a false sense of importance.
He also called for the strengthening of security department in various tertiary institutions in the country, noting that personnel and equipment to fight the menace of cultism in schools and campuses should be provided.
The DSS official suggested that recreational facilities should be provided in schools to engage students during their leisure time. He recommended periodic search of students on campus to possibly identify body signs and other items associated with secret cult.
“Known secret cult members within the larger society should be exposed and deprived of certain privileges, such as appointment into sensitive positions,” he advised.
John pleaded with the students to shun cultism, and encouraged them to report signs and threats by suspected cultists. “Anybody that is threatening you in whatever guise, feel free to report through this number 0803 334 1571. Call or send SMS and everything will be treated with utmost confidentiality. But, due to our very busy schedule, I advise you to send SMS”, he pleaded.
Further investigation revealed that there is no possibility of separating drugs, from cultism. In her lecture on drug and cultism, Etuka agreed that secret cult as practised in Nigeria today has become a social menace to other law-abiding students, school administrators and society at large. This is because activities of such cult groups have physically, emotionally and psychologically maimed and rendered most students and youths useless.
Speaking on the implications of drug abuse among students and youths, Etuka warned that it could lead to damage in the Central Nervous System (brain damage), as well as the liver.
“It also affects the heart. At all times, you find your heart beating without a cause. Every little thing will make your mind skip. Others are psychological effects. And they include sleepless nights, anxiety, and depression”, she said.
Etuka advised mothers to watch their children closely to identify at early stage behaviours associated with drugs and cultism. Her words: “I blame every mother whose young children are involved in these vices because there’s no way you will live with your child and fail to discover that your child has derailed”.
With the availability of drugs in the society and easy access, Etuka stressed the need for collaboration by all concerned to mop up drugs in schools and campuses. Her words: “There is need for drug sensitization.”
She advised Student Affairs of all educational institutions to get involved in the drug-free campaign. “In tertiary institutions, we have a lot of faculties and they always have their week and forums. When they meet, they’re free to write to my agency, and we will assist them. We advise schools to set up drug-free clubs. We have initiated that in one of the universities,” she said.
Miss Noibioluwa Damilola, 300 level student of Computer Science and Mathematics, was among NULASS members in attendance. Like a host of other students, she expressed satisfaction on the initiative but expressed joy that FCE (Tech) has always been a safe place to study.
Also speaking, the National President, NULASS, Damiju Sultan, said the retreat was necessitated by recent happenings in the country. “Two months ago, there was an issue reported in one of the print media where some cultists beheaded two students in ABSU and they used the heads of the students as goalposts. This was a disturbing image. It tells us there’s something wrong with the Nigerian youths as it were now”.
“Even, last week, it was reported in another national daily that the Lagos State Police arrested some 13, 14 year-old cult boys on the Island. That means a lot of things have gone wrong. Some 10 years back, when I was in secondary school, I knew what my dreams and aspirations were”.
He explained that the younger ones look up to those in the tertiary institutions, noting that the actions of the older ones influence those in primary and secondary schools.
“So, that’s why we’re trying to sensitise these youngsters. Even when we get home, we can also sensitise and correct the younger ones. This way, we can eradicate cultism in our institutions and the society at large”, he continued.
Sultan said the union was working with the Student Affairs units of tertiary institutions in an effort to rid Nigerian campuses of drugs. “We hope to make this seminar an annual event. It is our hope that students who participated in this event would go out there and at home and pass on the message. They should talk to others about the dangers of cultism and drugs, in our dormitories, in our campuses, lecture halls and in our homes”.