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Our Society And Secret Cults

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Secret cult refers to all organizations whose activities are enshrouded in secrecy. It refers to associations where non-members are not allowed during their meetings, except for initiation. Secret cults hold meetings at night sometimes and at obscure and secluded places where their proceedings cannot be observed by the uninitiated.
They are not found on the campuses alone. As a matter of fact, they originated from the society. After man fell out of favour with his Creator, he lost his social and spiritual security. He could then be harassed by his fellow man and be oppressed by invisible forces. All these experiences cause anxieties that propel man to begin to seek for ways and means of protecting his life, property and rights. That is how man found himself consulting spirits, dabbling into philosophical organizations and other pseudo-religious groups.
The Federal Military Government in 1977 banned public officers from being members of secret societies thus: “ Those who were members before the ban were directed to renounce their membership or retire, or resign. The circular issued to that effect by the Secretary to the Military Government on the 1 8” of July 1977, defined secret societies thus:  “those societies by whatever other name called: whose membership is not known or made public, whose proceedings are kept secret and whose minutes are not kept. Whose list of officers is not published or made known: whose objectives etc. are not made public and whose members are under oath, obligations or other threats to promote the interest (legitimate or illegitimate) of one another and come to one another’s aid under all circumstances, without due regard to merit, fair play and justice to the detriment of the legitimate expectation of non-members”.
Similarly, the 1979 Constitution section 35 (4) defined a secret society as “a society or association, not being a solely cultural or religious body, that uses secret signs, oaths, rites or symbols:-
(a) Whose meeting or other activities are held in secret; and
(b) Whose members are under oath, obligation or other threat to promote the interest of its members or to aid one another under all circumstances without due regard to merit, fairly or justice.”
Delivering a judgment in the Court of Appeal Enugu, Justice Samson Odemwingie Uwaifo (JCA) had this to say on the subject:
“I do not think it will be right to say that because the Federal Military Government banned public officers from membership of any secret society it necessarily follows that, that particular society does not exist in fact, or is, without evidence in support, bad per se. it depends on what each secret society does as its functions and how it does them”
MEMBERSHIP
Membership of secret cults in our society today cuts across all classes, and different shades and pockets of them can be found almost everywhere. Secret cult members are human beings, they are not spirits. They eat, go to work, do business and go to school. Besides, they also die when their time is up’. Many prominent members of the society, respectable gentlemen and women, and students are members.
SECRET CULT AND GAND STERISM ON CAMPUS
The emergence of various associations, clubs and organizations in our institutions of higher learning dates back to first decade of university education in Nigeria. The founding fathers of these clubs never intended or planned to make them laws unto themselves. Members were among the most brilliant and most disciplined members of the academic communities. And they were accorded so much respect and adoration that even Vice-chancellors and other top functionaries of the institutions were members of the clubs either as senior fellows or advisers. But times have changed. Modern day students have turned what used to be fun and entertainment into a monster of dreadful disposition.
Sunday Times commented that whereas up to the independence period in 1960, there was only the University of Ibadan, the founding in the 60’s of more universities, has meant the establishment of more societies by the students, with varied purposes and objectives.
However between 1990 and about 2011, the nation witnessed unprecedented visitation of violence and gangsterism on the campuses by a new brand of students who had little regards for the law. Hardly any month passed without news of rape, kidnap and promotion of violence on campuses by members of the secret (campus) cults.
Be that as it may, it will be instructive to note that some of the students who engaged in these acts of lawlessness did not learn it on campus. There were indications that they carried it along to the university. And because their parents are prominent members of the society, this set of students grew up lawless and untamed. Some of them joined secret and violent cults in order to sustain their life-style of impunity
WHY STUDENTS JOIN SECRET CULTS
Records have it that Wole Soyinka and six of his friends had, in 1952 formed the Pirate Confraternity at the University College, Ibadan. The aim of the association, which was then made up of hard working students was to advocate for a just society and oppose some of the discriminatory policies of the colonial administration at the college. They were not violent.
Bola Oladejo in his studies found that students are not joining secret cults for protection, satisfaction of sexual urge, armour against poverty and insurance against examination failure. He explained that, following incessant operations of hit squads, students now quietly embrace cults to avoid harassment. Some join mainly for the licence it gives to command any girl of their choice. He added that prevailing economic situation is also driving students to cults; some of who even engage in armed robbery, even as he indicated that cults also offer assistance to all members to enable them pass examinations. Besides, it is said to also offer employment and other opportunities for members to network after graduation because of their wide connections in the society.
THE OBSTACLES TO CURBING THE MENACE OF SECRET
CULTS
Although reports of violent activities of cult groups on campuses appear to be progressively on the decline because of the democratic environment and creative tackling of the menace from different fronts-school authorities, government and public condemnation.
However, they still exist because of the following reasons.
1. There is no firm commitment to wipe out secret cults in the wider society. From all indications that day may never come because some of those who are supposed to do it are alleged to be members. What we therefore see on the campuses can be clearly described as a reflection of the ills in the larger society. Our society harbors and interminable number of secret cults, and some kill fellow human beings for rituals.
2. Many parents and guardians of Nigerian students belong to secret cults.
The sponsors and parents of many of the cult members are wealthy and respectable members of the society. The watch list on the campuses according to impeccable sources, include the children of big-time businessmen, ex-governors, former ministers, top civil servants, top military officers and lecturers.”
4. The indiscriminate manner in which occultic literature and violent films are allowed in this country expose and influence the youths to be lawless.
5. Some prominent members of the society, ex-members, and patrons encourage and patronize them. According to Ola Oladejo, “Some politicians allegedly patronized them regularly to settle scores with opponents”.
6. “As of now, it is not easy to identify a secret cult member. Their list is not available and they keep changing meeting venues”
CASES OF VIOLENT CULT ATTACKS AND POSSIBLE REMEDIES
Although secret cults have always existed in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria, but from the late 80’s into the 90’s and beyond, they turned themselves into a nuisance in the society, visiting unprecedented violence on fellow students and others. Their members, according to reports, raped, maimed, killed and harassed members of the university community. Some of them engaged in armed robbery. There had also been some reported cases of cults engaging each other in bloody clashes. “At the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State, no fewer than six students lost their lives in cult related violence between June and August 1992. The cult members used knives, pistols, acid and other dangerous weapons to make life on campus unsafe for the students and other members of the community.
On July 18, 1994, a violent clash between two opposing camps of the secret cults operating at the Federal University of Technology Owerrri (FUTO), led to the death of two students. Over fifty others were injured on that day. Daily Champion reported that trouble began following sharp disagreement between members of two opposing secret cults resulting in afree-for-all fight.
In March, 1994, there was a violent confrontation between suspected secret cult members and the leadership of the students union of the University of Lagos. The school authority dissociated itself from the action of the students’ leaders blaming them for resorting to uncivilized and unconstitutional means to fight the cause. The lingering disagreement, accusations and counter accusations between the students union led by Mr. Sowore Omoyel and the school authorities frustrated attempts to try the suspected cut members.
The menace of secret cults and violent gangs on campuses has been a source of great concern to Nigerians, with some analysts seeing it as a manifestation of moral and national decadence. In addition to the societal influence, a school of thought links the upsurge in secret cults from the very late 80’s into the 90’s and beyond to the ban on student unionism by the military. Until recently, some school administrators had also argued that the problem has its roots in the University admission process. They believe that the indirect system where students gain admission into universities through the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) does not give the institutions the opportunity to determine who is qualified for admission. Well, this aspect is being addressed with the introduction of tests by universities for candidates who meet specified cut off points in the Joint Matriculation Examination.
It is also argued that the quota system allows some unqualified students to be admitted into the universities. Because they cannot cope with the rigors of academic work, this group of students resort to campus terrorism to distract others and dislocate school programmes. Similarly, there have also been questions over the age at which young ones should be exposed to the liberty of an academic environment, with some arguing that some very young students may be ignorant of the implications of membership of secret cults.
Meanwhile, at a seminar organized by the National Forum for Alumni of Higher Educational Institutions of Nigeria, Ogun State Branch on June 2nd’, 1994 in Abeokuta, the participants made some useful contributions. National Concord reported that the Ogun State Administrator, Lt. Col. Daniel Akintonde suggested the incorporation of character and civic education in the school curriculum, to curb the menace of cults. Two other participants at the forum recommended formal recognition of confraternities and democratization of University administration as possible remedies.
As good as these suggestions appear to be, much success may not be achieved if the proper upbringing of children is not given a priority by their parents. Unfortunately, for economic and other reasons, more and more parents are abdicating their responsibilities to their house helps and children’s teachers. The result is that, at school, the kids join bad gangs, cheat in examinations and with the connection of their parents find their way into universities where they become easy prey for the secret cults.
Also contributing in an NTA 5 program’ in 1994, the outgoing Rector of Yaba College of Technology, Dr. R O. Adegbite took time to explain the approach he used to deal with secret cults. Direct confrontation on tip-off was his method. He also explained that such personal contact will make it impossible for any culprit to deny any involvement, and that arrested cult members should be taken to their parents to see them in their cult attires. During his tenure, Yaba College of Technology expelled 13 identified cult members.
In fighting against the menace of cultism among students, the emphasis should be on identifying ways and means of encouraging them to willingly distance themselves from such groups. This can be achieved with seminars and sustained campaigns by government agencies and religious organizations as well as counseling from parents and lecturers.
The following testimony aptly shows what the society stands to gain if everyone plays his part. In a confession titled you will never Escape, Pepe, a Mexican has this to say.
“Three members of the gang jumped on my body as I lay on the ground. Then suddenly they stopped doing this. They lifted me off the ground and they began to shake my hand in a friendly way “You are now a member of our gang” they told me. But as they did this I realized something. I realized I would never get out of their gang alive. Now I was only twelve years old when the desire for drugs and much strong drink controlled my life. Then when I was fourteen years old’ I said “1 must get my body painted with tattoo marks “. You see, I did much of this hoping one day I might be accepted into our Mexican Mafia.”
THE JUDGE SAID
“But one day when I was stealing a car the police caught me. The judge said “We are sending you to a place that we hope will help you change your way of living”. Now it was in this place I heard for the first time the truth about myself “A wrong spirit makes you act in the way you have done”, they told me. “This self-for- self spirit is the cause of all your problems in life “.
“So I decided, “I will speak to God.” Now, when I did this the angry voice inside me stopped. Do you know, that was how my life was changed? God gave me His Spirit to control my life”.
It is sad to note that secret cults are growing at an incredible rate in our society. This is the mystery of lawlessness and we may not be able to take back the hand of the clock. Writing on Black Mass and Human Sacrifice, Dr. Rebecca Brown’ revealed that most powerful and wealthy organizations serve Satan, even as she added that the uninitiated, the new entrants, others at the lower cadre do not know this, but those at the top know. Well, all hope is not lost. If only there could be deliberate and genuine efforts to enlighten the public on the implications of membership of such groups, some people could be discouraged from joining them.

Solomon-Arase
Solomon-Arase
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