Recently, 14 junior secondary school students were arrested by the Police in Edo State for their alleged involvement in cult-related activities. They were said to have been arrested when a police team stormed a school at Saint Saviour’s in Ikpoba Okha local government area of the state. Eight of them were arrested at ‘flash points’ in the school, prompting the police to conduct a search on students in their classrooms, during which items believed to be emblems of cult groups were recovered. Also, in 2014, police in Edo State paraded 15 suspected cultists believed to be between the ages of 13 and 15. The suspects were said to have been arrested at Unewa Village near Uromi and Ologbo towns.
The situation in Edo is not isolated. Across the country, there have been reports of an increase in cult-related activity by young people. Earlier this week, two persons were killed in a cult clash in the Welfare Quarters area of Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
The rise in cult activities, more than anything else, is evidence of the collapse of the family structure; a decline in family values, lack of adequate parental control and a decline in value for life.
Some of the fundamental reasons why young, impressionable minds bow to negative pressure to be part of cult activities is the desire to ‘belong’ and the promise of power and protection. The rise in crime, especially theft, can also be attributed to the recruitment of youngsters into these cult groups, as the cultists need finances to acquire weapons and successfully run the groups.
The problem affects all. Cultism in the society has its implications. When cultists clash and it results in a crisis, businesses are affected and ultimately, the economy. It hampers the educational progress of students and affects their relationship with other members of the society.
That cultism has taken precedence in the lives of our youths, who are fondly referred to as the leaders of tomorrow, should give any right-minded person serious cause for concern. We, therefore, urge that urgent steps should be taken to address this problem, which is becoming a fad among the youth. Many brilliant but misguided youths have sadly lost their lives to this menace, but despite the inherent dangers, many more youths still find it attractive. The reason for this has been traced to the fact that some politicians make use of them. For the youths, the craze for quick money has been the attraction.
Parents have a role to play in protecting their children and ensuring that they are educated on the ills of this deviant behaviour and its impact on their lives and the society. Law enforcement agencies must also fulfil their duties of arresting those found to be cult members regardless of who they are and ensuring they are made to face the law.