Cultism in Awka Stakeholders, Police Move to Intervene

By Ikeugonna Eleke

The spate of killings occasioned by cult activities in Awka, the Anambra State capital has risen. This has also become a source of concern to stakeholders of the town, to the point of crippling the city’s growing night life.

Recently, there have been several killing of young people in Awka, and most of those killed have also been identified as cultists.

This is as the membership of cult groups in the city continues to rise. Though cultism is mostly associated with university undergraduates, and with some institutions of higher learning in Awka, it would not be a wonder that there are cultists in the city.

But an Awka resident, Mr Uche Okafor said beside undergraduate students who are members of various cult, the main pain of the city which has made cultism what it is today are tricycles riders, bus drivers, idle youths and other artisans.

Okafor said: “The main problem of cultism in Awka is not undergraduates, it is these unschooled boys, most of who are idle. The main membership of cult groups in Awka are people you won’t suspect. All these tricycle riders, shuttle bus drivers and other artisans are all members of one cult or the other.

‘It is like being a member of a cult of a status symbol, and announces you as a big boy. That is why you see all these brainwashed boys joining cult everyday, despite the frequent killings.

‘The main issue that has remained a problem, which is causing this killings is supremacy tussle, over ownership of loading pits and collection of revenue. Awka people know the sponsors of cult activities, but incidentally, these sponsors are also known big boys, who are benefactors to some people.’

In recent times, there have been several killings in the state capital, which have all been linked to cult activities, even though many go unreported.

Most surprising was the incident of July, where a man identified as, Mr Igwe Omeli, a known revenue collector was killed by suspected members of a rival cult at the popular Eke Awka Market, and his head severed off his body and made away with.

The deceased was said to have arrived at Eke Awka market, very early in the morning to resume his revenue collection job, when he sighted some boys, known to him as members of a rival cult and made to escape from them and also invite his cult members, but he was quickly gunned down, and in the midst of confusion that ensued, the assailants cut of his head and took it away, leaving behind his trunk which was later evacuated.

Just last week, a popular musician identified as Chinedu Alusi was also killed by suspected cultists from a rival group. He was shot dead in front of his residence as he ventured out of his compound on monday morning. He was accused of being an informant to a particular cult group, and said to have been leaking information to them, against another group.

A source who said he witnessed the killing said: ‘What is happening in Awka is not a joke. Once you’re a member of a cult group, they will kill you. The best thing is not to be a member at all.

‘I wonder why people are joining cult. There is no money to be made from being a cult member, and the problem in Awka is getting out of hand and people are killed everyday, yet some other people are still enlisting in cult.

‘This is a guy who was so talented in Ogene Music, but see how they just wasted him,” the source said.

Meanwhile stakeholders of the community have started seeking solution to the frequent killings. The member representing Awka South I State Constituency in the Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon Henry Mbachu during a recent meeting of leaders of Awka, Okpuno and Ifite, which make up Awka South I State Constituency called on them to join hands to tackle cult killings in Awka.

He said: “We have to come together to seek an end to the constant cult killings witnessed in Awka. Whether anyone likes it or not, we have our own blames in the things that are happening in Awka today.

“Everyday we wake up to news of cult killings. It is either by our action or inaction. Infiltration by outsiders is also a problem to us. We have a lot of outsiders, who have infiltrated us. These are the matters we must treat for us to end this killings.’

The stakeholders agreed to schedule a new date to set out ways to tackle the problem of cultism in the city.

On the other hand, Anambra State Police command had issued warning to cultists in the city, with the Commissioner of Police, CP Aderemi Adeoye vowing to arrest cultists in the state capital.

Adeoye said the command has launched a new operation, and that all cult members in the city would be arrested. The commissioner sounded worried about the high level of cult activities in the city, while  giving assurance that sanity would be restored in the city.

He described cultists as murderers who were not fit to live among decent human beings in the society, stating that they have sponsors, who always came to their aid anytime they were in trouble, but stated that the command would not listen to such person’s intervention for release of any arrested cultist.

“The Police Command will come down very hard on these heartless cultists who take pleasure in killing people. We warn that no one should call us for release of any cultist arrested in the coming clampdown, except they want to be disgraced.

‘There will be an all out operation against cultists and their sponsors in the State. We assure the good people of Anambra State that their peace and tranquility that was punctured by the recent cult-related killings in the capital will soon be restored. We solicit the cooperation of all law abiding citizens in ridding the society of the menace of cultism,’ Adeoye assured.