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Cult Killings Raise Fear On Campuses

Recent murder of some Nigerian students show the war against cultism has not been won, Charless Abah of The Punch writes.

Cult Killings Raise Fear On Campuses

Death, the Medieval playwright, William Shakespeare, says, “Is a necessary end, will come when it will come”. In other words, death is an inevitable act and comes whenever it wishes. No wonder, some people cloak up to 100 years before they die while others even ‘visit the land of the never return’ as early as they are born.

At whatever stage death comes, it is never palatable for the relatives or well-wishers of the deceased. Accompanying it are sorrow, unhappiness, discontent and despondency. It also attracts divergent interpretations, especially in the African setting. Agreed, it is unavoidable; many hold the view that the death of one at his prime, particularly in a controversial circumstance, is the most painful. In many cases, such deaths have resulted in unpleasant consequences.

It is therefore not surprising that students of the University of Ibadan on Saturday protested the death of one of their colleagues, Taiwo Shittu, who reportedly died in a controversial manner. Her assailant reportedly raped and murdered her.

Before Shittu’s death, there was also the killing of a student of the Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State, 17-year-old Opeyemi Odusanya, in a similar circumstance. Suspected cult members in Lagos on February 3, murdered the 300-level Biochemistry undergraduate for allegedly refusing their sexual advances.

As if the killings of Shittu and Odusanya are not enough, another Nigerian youngster, Godwin Ayogu, was on February 19, found dead in Ghana. Suspected gunmen murdered the youngster, a 300-level Social Sciences student, at the University of the Cape Coast.

Curiously, the killers of these youngsters have yet-to-be identified by the police in Nigeria or in Ghana. This has set tongues wagging. Indeed, it has again brought to the fore some fundamental questions on happenings on campuses. For instance, observers are beginning to raise some questions about the future of youths, security, cultism, as well as the many unresolved murder cases in the country. It has also thrown up other issues bordering on morality and conscience.

According to a university teacher, Prof. Ademola Onifade, the trend points to the decadence in the society, frustration and the incidence of cultism.

Onifade, an education psychologist at the Lagos State University, says, “It shows the decadence in the society. It also points to the fact that there is no regard for life in the country. We have lost our social values and this is affecting the way we behave.

“Beyond this, our youths are not constructively engaged. In fact, many of them are not busy and so they easily take out their frustration on others.”

But for the Executive Director, Civil Liberties Organisation, Mr. Ibuchukwu Ezike, who describes the killings as ‘an ominous trend’, adds that corruption, greed and the scramble for girlfriends are some of the causes of the violence.

He notes, “It is an agonising and worrisome tragedy and one that signals huge danger to our society because insecurity of lives and property of the students has become a big threat to the nation’s education sector.

“The ominous trend is already forcing some parents to send their children to private institutions and schools overseas rather than allowing them to attend to public tertiary institutions in the country. Apart from the impunities, lawlessness and violence unleashed on the citizens by the politicians and highly-placed persons in our land, cult activities, corruption, scramble for girlfriends and greed on campuses are some of the major causes of these calamities.”

A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Yomi Giwa, also frowns on the development. He, however, says that it is not peculiar to Nigeria. According to him, there are perverted minds in every society. He notes, “In the United States, cases of sexual abuses abound except that have stronger sanctions over there. Although, the act is condemnable, it is not peculiar to Nigeria.”

Beyond identifying the causes, Onifade posits that there is the need for tougher sanctions against the perpetrators. According to him, the Federal Government should initiate tougher punishment and sanctions in order to deter evil doers, especially cultists, from having a field day.

The education psychologist explains, “We need to be serious in enforcing the sanctions against cultism and cult-related cases. The police should be more decisive in dealing with cultists. If there are gaps in the law against the vice, it should be strengthened to enable the police to carry arrest and prosecute deviants.”

Urging parents and guardians also to be alive to their responsibilities, Onifade notes that the poverty level in the country is making many of them to shy away from their duties. He adds, “The general poverty in the society is making it difficult for parents and guardians to have proper control over their children. Since many parents are not providing for their children, they have little or no influence on their upbringing.”

Apart from police intervention, the CLO boss proffers a new dimension to resolving cult-related activities, especially in the universities. He declares that there is the need to legalise cult groups and their activities on campuses.

He notes, “The major ways to check this crime is for the university authorities to provide protection for their communities. They should also legalise cult groups in their communities to allow them to operate openly. This will enable the authorities to monitor their activities and hold perpetrators accountable for any crime.

“Lastly, law enforcement agencies and the society must rise against the menace before our country becomes a theatre of war and our tertiary institutions completely destroyed. It is a disheartening experience and calls for concerns.”

For the Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Superintendent of Police, Frank Mba, it is not only simplistic but defeatist for the citizens to lay the blame of violence on campuses and even the wider society on the police.

According to him, issues of violence border on the conscience of the society. He notes, “What are parents and guardians doing? What are the churches and the mosques doing to lead our youngsters on the path of decency? What messages are our television and other media platforms showing and airing every day? We all have a role to play in bringing sanity to the country.

“The police can only do the policing of the nation; it cannot do the parenting jobs for parents. Therefore, everybody – the police, parents, teachers, and politicians – must be ready to perform his responsibility.”

Like the police image-maker, an educationist, Mrs. Ify Nwobosi Anatune, urges all stakeholders to be involved in stopping the evil trend. She notes that there is the need for all to contribute positively in building a stronger and better Nigeria.

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