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Cultism: IEDPU, Police seek solution to a festering sore. By AHMED 'LATEEF

Date: 2017-08-11


Ilorin, the Kwara State capital ensnared in an usual tension following the resurgence of cult mayhem and attendant maiming and brutal killings perpetrated by the agents of death. Miffed by the ugly trend in the city revered for relative peace and tranquility, Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU) few days ago, convened an emergency security meeting to appraise the situation. AHMED 'LATEEF writes on issues discussed at the meeting.

The relative peace that has become synonymous with the Ilorin city, which in turn caused upsurge in the number of people migrating to the town, is fast crumbling like a pack of cards. The ancient city of scholars known to be most sought after in terms of Islamic education, is assuming a town where those qualities known with it are elusive. Guns, clubs, machetes and other related harmful objects are now on the prowl.

In the last few weeks, the city has been literally held hostage by members of the dreaded cult groups, maiming and killing gruesomely at will. The mode of killing victims, in recent time, could be likened to the height of callousness.

Although the heinous act is believed to be at the instance of rival cult groups, leaving behind it sorrow, tears and blood. In the wake of the mayhem, places such as Edun/Opo-Malu, Amilegbe, Aduralere, Ita-Ogunbo, Unity Road, Stadium and the likes practically turned to theatre of war.

The victims were brutally hacked to death in some of the scenarios played out before the killings. For instance at Amilegbe, one Owolabi popularly known as "Owo" was murdered and left in his own pool of blood early last month. The victim, a staff of Museum outfit in Osun State, reportedly came to Ilorin on his routine visits to his family. He was said to have been trailed by the assailants from where he was coming from until they allegedly opened fire on him at a close ranger.

Not done with the blood campaign, the agents of death, apparently more daring, set aside 07/07/2017 as a day to send others that had been penciled down on a journey of no return. Major areas in Ilorin became deserted on the night of the fateful day.

Acting on the information that the rival cult groups would make good their plans, security agencies moved swiftly and dispatched their men to places and spots known for their notoriety in order to halt the planned attack. Gun wielding policemen in siren blaring hilux vehicles moved from one point to another, especially areas known as flash points, sending a note of warning to the hoodlums.

While that was ongoing, police detectives also launched an intense manhunt for the blood thirsty miscreants following which many of them were rounded up. Findings revealed that while many of them had already been prosecuted, others are still undergoing interrogation in police custody.

The hoodlums, who appeared undeterred with the declaration of war on them by security agencies, renewed their mode of operation and their nefarious activities are yet to abate.

In some of the places where the killing of suspected rival cult members were perpetrated, there were fears that what was witnessed, might just be a tip of the iceberg. The fears have become heightened owing to the inability of relevant security agencies to permanently put a stop to the activities of the outlawed occultic associations.

Another issue that has elicited concern among residents of the city is the insatiable quest of many youths to join cult groups despite the havoc wreaked on victims. To observers, the day in which cultism is restricted to students of higher institutions of learning has long gone. These days, cultism has turned to be an affair for all comers where both students of secondary schools and higher institutions, artisans and unemployed are joining in droves.

It was against this background that the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive (IEDPU) last Sunday summoned an emergency security meeting at its National Secretariat along Geri-Alimi Area of Ilorin whereby latest incidences on threat to security of the city were incisively discussed.

At the meeting attended by some divisional heads of police within the city, the IEDPU President, Alhaji Abdulhamid Adi, reminisced on the killing spree by suspected groups in the last six months, saying that over 30 people had been sent to their early grave. The spate of crime and criminality in the town, Adi said, is worrisome for the union, residents and other concerned stakeholders and required urgent measure to rein in the fiendish groups.

Areas such as Agbo-Oba, Gada, Edun, Gambari and Ajikobi have turned to haven for the outlawed cult groups, the IEDPU boss said.

Adi recalled that rival groups renewed their hostility recently in areas like Okesuna and Stadium Road where some people were callously killed.

The IEDPU boss challenged organizers of the neighbourhood committees in some communities in Ilorin to redouble their efforts in minimizing the growth of cultism in the city, adding that they must also work out modality to put an end to drug use, which he believed, had triggered the ugly trend.

He said it behooves the committees to meet with leaders of various communities to help expose the questionable characters in their domains in order to put a stop to their nefarious activities.

Decrying the influx of strangers into the town, the IEDPU President said the current wave of crime was being perpetrated by them and called on security personnel to be on the look out for the criminal elements.

Adi, who noted that insecurity is antithetical to development, however, applauded the efforts of security agencies in the state at combating crimes.

"It is important to stress that peace and security are panacea of development and growth. We should expend more energy on healthy rivalry rather than competition on the growth/rise of bad boys that an area can produce.

"We appreciate the efforts of security agencies; police, operation harmony and DSS in combating these crimes. We recognize the cooperation enjoyed so far and urge that it continues", Adi said.

Also speaking, the Chairman, Security Committee of IEDPU, Ambassador Usman Abdulazeez, said the level of crimes in Ilorin in recent times called for growing concern, especially as it continues to dent the revered image of the city.

He said the unwholesome development had validated the essence of neighbourhood security committee and community policing in order to checkmate the excesses of the hoodlums.

While urging various community security committees to be up and doing, Abdulazeez warned them against jungle justice and act of taking laws into own hand.

"There is hardly any household or compound that you visit now in our city that you will not find a cult member. They are everywhere today. It is not what it used to be in the past where cultsim was restricted to students in schools. But today, it has assumed a dangerous dimension. Students, artisans, apprentices and even commercial motorcycle riders are among them now.

"It is therefore puzzling that Ilorin that is known for absolute peace and harmonious is being overtaken by hoodlums. There are places in this town now where they are selling hard drugs like indian hemp, codeine and the rest of them. We know these people, let us expose them. If we don't, then our problem will continue mounting and we will all bear the consequence.

"That we are asking you to expose and apprehend suspected criminals in your areas does not amount to jungle justice or act of taking law into your own hand. No, we are not asking you do such. Two wrongs cannot make a right. If you arrest any suspect, follow the lawful procedure by handing them over security agencies for necessary action. They know what to do, but try to communicate us at IEDPU level too so that we can assist in linking you with the relevant security agencies", Abdulazeez said.

In his address, the Divisional Police Officer ('B' Division) of Kwara State Police Command, Mukaila Yusuf, a Superintendent, called for greater synergy between various communities in Ilorin and the Nigerian Police Force in the bid to reduce level of crime.

He expressed concern that the use of hard drugs has permeated all segments of the society, adding that the menace is not only common among students of higher institutions but primary schools.

Yusuf stated that some pharmaceutical stores are aiding and abetting the use of hard drugs by selling roachie, tramadol and codeine among others.

The police chief, however, said various attempts had been made in the past decades to deal with cultism, but noted that no measure was taken to address and find solution to cultism in the society.

He said the menace was not peculiar to students alone, pointing out that artisans remain major culprits of cult activities and urged leadership of artisan group to tutor their apprentices on the danger inherent in cultism.

Yusuf also enjoined the political class to discourage the sponsorship of cult to silent or deal with perceived enemy or opposition.

He lauded the activities of the Ilorin Peace and Security Initiative, saying the formation of which he took part, has been working assiduously to rid the city of criminals.

Representatives of various communities in Ilorin, who also spoke at the meeting, expressed displeasure over rising insecurity in their areas in spite of communal efforts and urged the police authorities to support them.

Apparently, the security meeting was an avenue to evaluate, assess and appraise the security situation in the city of Ilorin, observers hoped that it would provide a new workable strategy to nip activities of criminals in the revered city in the bud.

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