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166 killed in cult clashes in 2022

A compilation of media reports independently done by Daily Trust Saturday showed that cultist clashes occurred 57 times in 2022. Alex Andrew used to reside…

A compilation of media reports independently done by Daily Trust Saturday showed that cultist clashes occurred 57 times in 2022.

Alex Andrew used to reside in Wumba, an Abuja suburb. The sprawling community is a 27-minute drive from Garki, in Abuja city centre, making it a choice settlement for low-income earners in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Alex, who got to know about the community through a friend that resides at Apo Resettlement, said rent was also affordable compared to other locations near the city centre.

“I felt at home in the community though I had to contend with bad roads but because I do not have a car, it was not a major challenge. All I needed to do was get a motorcycle to take me to Lokogoma Express and from there to Area 1 is tarred road,” he said.

He said few months into his stay, he started to rethink his continued stay in the community due to cultists’ attacks. He said there were cases where people were killed by rival cult groups in the community.

“It is more frustrating knowing that these people are young. I have never experienced cultism like this since I left the university. The moment my rent expired, I had to leave,” Alex said, adding that he now stays in one of the private housing estates in Lokogoma though he had to spend more on house rent.

Wumba is one the FCT communities notorious for cultism, just like Kubwa, Gwagwa and other communities in the territory. Though some recent killings have been linked to cultism in the city centre, most cases were never reported to security agencies.

A compilation of media reports independently done by Daily Trust Saturday showed that cultist clashes occurred 57 times in 2022. In these incidences, 166 people were killed. In the Daily Trust collated data, Aiye and Eiye confraternity are prominent among the groups responsible for the attacks. Of the 166 people killed were some individuals who were not cultists but were caught up in their fights unknowingly. The number could however be more than what was collated as most cult cases were not reported to the police while several cases were also not reported in the media.  

A Tunga Maje resident, Abdullahi Yusuf, said the community hitherto known for cult clashes has been relatively peaceful but feared that the low number of cult activities could have led to the high number of burglaries in the community.   

“There used to be cult clashes but recently it has stopped. I do not know what to attribute it to though. The end of the clashes has now led to an increase in robbery. One could just wake up and discover that his electric cables have been stolen,” he said.

While reacting to the number of people killed in the cult-related cases in the country, he said the bulk of the work lies with families and community leaders, adding that the cultists are known to their families and close associates within the communities.

He said though cultism has been in the country for a long time, regardless of the intention of the founding fathers, he described the deadly approach as callous and concerning.

“Cultism in tertiary institutions is not as deadlier as what we have in some communities, that is my observation from events around me,” he said.  

The data compiled showed that Lagos had the highest number of cases with 10 incidences with Kwara having eight reported cases. Ogun had six cases while Osun, Delta and Edo states had four cases each.

Of the cases reported in Edo State was the killing of two men believed to be members of a disbanded vigilante group in the Ompovan Ibaa, Emouha Local Government Area of the state. Also, a short video that went viral in the state had shown two people – allegedly cultists, killed in the state among recent cult cases in the state.

Three incidents happened in Imo and Rivers states while two cases were reported in Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Benue, and Kogi States while one case was reported in Cross Rivers.

Of the 166 victims, Ogun recorded 29 deaths, the most of the 14 states with reported cases of cultism in 2022. Cultists unleashed untold mayhem in several communities in Ogun State, prompting the state government to enact a law to demolish buildings serving as their hideout, while the house owner would also be prosecuted.

“It is very simple. We want our landlords to do what we call KYC, which means that you should know your tenants before you give them your house. This is because if we should catch anyone who is involved in cultism and lives in your house, we will demolish such house,” Dapo Abiodun, Ogun State governor said.

Operatives of the Ogun Police Command have arrested an alleged member of a cult group (Eiye confraternity), Olamide Olabode, while on his way to launch an attack.

The Police Spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said the “notorious” suspect was in the company of other members of the group who escaped arrest. He said the suspect was arrested at the Oke-Iganmu area of Ilaro/Papalanto road when members of a patrol team from the Ilaro division sighted the suspect and two others on a Bajaj motorcycle. 

“He was chased and arrested, while the other two sped off on the motorcycle,” Oyeyemi said, adding that two locally made short guns, four live cartridges, one knife and weeds suspected to be Indian hemp, were recovered from the suspect.

“On interrogation, the suspect confessed being a leading member of the Eiye cult group, and that they were heading to Agodo village for an operation,” he added. The arrest was one of over 20 people arrested by police in the state.

The collated data also showed that Anambra State accounted for 22 reported cult killings in 2022. Sixteen people were killed in Delta State. Kwara and Edo states had 13 people killed while 12 people died in Lagos. 11 people were affected in Osun State while 10 people were killed in Bayelsa State. Nine people were killed in Imo State and eight in Rivers. Seven people died in Kogi and six each in Cross Rivers and Benue states. Akwa Ibom had the least reported cases with four deaths.

Reacting to the death figures, Beatrice Andrew, another Abuja resident, said while there are more male violent cases, women are not exempted from cultism.

“The number is higher than what you are reporting. Cultism is common, I can assure you that most Nigerian states are affected. And it is not only known with men, women are also affected though they’re not as violent as the men,” she said.

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