Forum blames weak legal system for thriving cultism

Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase

Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase

THE police on Tuesday blamed the weak legal system for failure to stem the menace of cult groups in Rivers State, eleven years after the enactment of the Secret Cult and similar activities prohibition law.

And as a panacea to curbing cultism, a university don, Dr. Lysiac Gilbert, has urged the government to investigate all vice chancellors of Nigerian universities for any possible affiliation with cult groups. And anyone found culpable should be dismissed.

The officer in charge of homicide in the State criminal investigation department of the Rivers State Command of the police, Superintendent, Rita Inoma-Abbey, observed that irrespective of the passage of the anti cultism law, residents of Rivers State have for several years, been living in perpetual fear following the wave of cultism and related nefarious activities.

Inoma-Abbey who represented the police at a workshop with the theme: “Cultism, criminality and insecurity,” organised by the University of Port Harcourt Centre for Ethnic and Conflict Studies, blamed weak legal system for the inability of the state to tame the menace of cultism.

To this end, she urged the judiciary to rise up to the timely dispensation of substantial cult related cases to serve as deterrence. “Rivers State House of Assembly under the speakership of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the House passed the Secret Cult and similar activities (prohibition) Law, No.6 of 2004. In the said law, no fewer than one hundred and one (101) cult groups were listed.

And the law says that anyone who gives any financial or material support or assistance to a secret cult or in any manner, sponsors the activities of a secret cult, commits an offence and if liable on conviction to imprisonment for ten years without option of fine.

Despite the stiff penalty spelt out in the secret cult and similar activities prohibition Law, eleven years after enactment, activities of cultism seems to grow on daily basis.

Thus the rate of insecurity in Rivers State is increasing astronomically day by day,” she said. Inoma-Abbey, observed that the society is gradually applying the act of cultism as synonymous to militancy.

This, she noted, is a sheer misconception of both ideas and acts. She argued that while militancy is a cause driven by extremism and arms bearing, cultism in its operational context is largely an aggregation of persons with common objective of crude violence without any actual perceivable cogent object.

According to her, this largely informs the routine resort to acts of criminality ranging from bodily assault, arson, affray, rape, kidnap, armed robbery and murder.

To cover cultism and insecurity in the state, the former Rivers State police spokesperson, said there is need for intelligence gathering and surveillance so that law enforcement agents could be proactive and reasonably predict potential crime with near perfect accuracy, rather than being reactive.

She said the business community can contribute towards enhancement of security and safety in the state and the country through long term strategy of creating and providing jobs especially for unemployed youths and cooperating with regulatory authorities and security agencies in the fight against crime.

She also urged the business community to be socially responsible and not to exploit the communities where they operate to avoid possible revolt. A teacher at the Ignatus Ajuru University of Education, Dr. Lysiac Gilbert, urged the government to ensure that any vice chancellor in Nigeria who is found to be conniving with a secret cult group which he probably shares affiliation, be arrested and prosecuted.

Gilbert appealed to political parties not to present anyone found to be a cult member for elective position, as this might serve an incentive for youths to engage in cult related activities.

He also advocated the reorientation of corrupt security officials, particularly the police, to stop collaborating with cult groups to pervert the cause of Justice. The Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ndowa Lale, who was represented by the Dean of faculty of Social sciences, Prof. Henry Alapiki, noted that the problem of cultism is not restricted to the universities, urged the society to support the security agencies to tackle the menace.

The acting director of the Centre for Ethnic and Conflict Studies, Fidelis Allen, urged government to take very serious its primary responsibility of protecting life and property by curbing the menace of cultism and other nefarious activities.

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