The Commissioner of Police in Akwa Ibom State, Imohimi Edgal, has dismissed a police constable, Mfon Esio, for being a member of a secret cult group.
A statement by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, N-Nudam Frederick, said the policeman was sacked after investigation revealed that he participated in the initiation rites of a secret cult, Junior Vikings Confraternity in May.
According to the statement, one Ubong William was abducted and taken to a bush along Marina Road in Eket Local Government Area where he was forcefully initiated into the cult group.
“The constable has been subjected to an orderly room trial where he was found guilty of the offence and has been dismissed immediately from the Force. This will serve as a deterrent to others of his like in the Force,” it said.
Frederick also disclosed that 12 persons suspected to be notorious cultists have been arrested in different locations in the state.
He disclosed that 10 locally made pistols, live cartridges, machetes, axes, charms, hard drugs, and other dangerous weapons were recovered from the suspects.
“The Commissioner of Police Akwa Ibom State, therefore, warns that any persons, no matter how highly placed, involved in cultism or other crimes will be promptly arrested and prosecuted accordingly,” the statement added.
The Lagos State Police Command has arrested 17 suspects for cultism and violence in the Ijora Badia and Ikorodu areas of the state.
A statement on Sunday by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Bala Elkana, revealed that the suspects were arrested in batches of five and 12.
Elkana explained that two rival cult groups armed with dangerous weapons engaged themselves in a battle for supremacy at Iso Isu in Ijora Badia and inflicted various degrees of injuries on each other on Friday last week.
He said the police got a distress call and mobilised police operatives from Ijora Badia Division and Special Strike Force on Social Miscreants from the Command Headquarters to the area where five suspects were arrested.
The police have arrested a 22-year-old suspect said to be the supreme leader of a cult group in the Itire area of Lagos State.
The spokesman for the Lagos State Police Command, Bala Elkana, confirmed the arrest of Maliki Bello and 11 other suspected cultists in a statement on Sunday.
“Maliki is the supreme leader of the notorious Berry Boys Secret Cult with operational base at Itire,” he said.
Elkana explained that the suspects were arrested on Tuesday last week following a sustained monitoring operation led by the Divisional Police Officer in Itire, Barkfur Kromkyes.
He added, “He is a native of Lalopun, Kwara State but resides at 23 Ayinla street, Idi Araba area of Lagos state. Maliki has been on the wanted list of the Police for violent crimes and gang clashes.
“The suspect confessed to be responsible for a series of violent attacks, murders and armed robbery incidents recorded in Idi Araba, Lawanson, Dosunmu, Ashimowo Bakare, Omo-Bola Mushin, and Itire.”
According to the command’s spokesman, the suspect told the police that he was initiated into the cult at age 12 when he was in Junior Secondary School (JSS) 1.
He was said to have risen to the number one position, mostly addressed as the supreme leader of the ‘Berry Boys’ confraternity.
“The gang has an official Facebook page (Bbl Baloteli) with 1,928 friends.
“According to Maliki, they use the Facebook page and other social media accounts to recruit new members, plan attacks and give updates to members. Investigation led to the arrest of 11 additional suspects,” Elkana noted.
He stressed that the Special Strike Force on Social Miscreants has successfully brought under control the activities of various cult groups in the state through well-coordinated and targeted operations.
The Lagos State Police Command says it has arrested 86 suspects for cultism and violent attacks in the Ikorodu area of the state.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Bala Elkana, stated in a statement that the arrests were made in two batches.
“On 25/1/2020 at about 0600hour, acting on credible intelligence, the Special Strike Force on Social Miscreants established by the Commissioner of Police Lagos State, CP Hakeem Odumosu psc arrested 21 cult suspects at Adamo community, Imota.
“The suspects who belong to two rival cult groups, Aiye and Eiye confraternity, mobilised from Emure and Adamo communities to unleash terror on residents of Adamo community and environs,” he said.
Elkana explained that the arrest was carried out in joint operations with operatives from Imota Police Station, Rapid Response Squad, Special Anti-Robbery Squad, and Area N Command.
According to him, this is a follow up to the operations carried out at Ijede where 65 cult suspects were arrested.
The command’s spokesman said 11 assorted pistols of different types with a large quantity of ammunition were recovered from the suspects.
“The suspects confessed to be responsible for series of violent attacks, murder and armed robbery incidents recorded in Ikorodu area of Lagos State,” he added.
Elkana stated that the suspects would be charged to court and the police commissioner has reaffirmed the commitment of the Command to addressing the menace of cultism and youth gangsterism in the state.
The Police in Lagos State have arrested two people and are investigating twelve other persons in connection with cultism in Igando-Egan area people state.
While briefing journalist on Monday, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Imohimi Edgal, stated that the counsellor of a school (name withheld) noticed a mark on one of the students and raised an alarm making it possible to identify other members.
“She noticed a mark on the jaw of one of the students. She then asked questions. She debriefed the students who mentioned other kids with similar marks and they stated that it was the eldest among them (a 16-year-old girl) who took them for the initiation rites,” he said.
According to the CP, the students who are between the ages of 8 and 16, gave information leading to the arrest of two suspects.
Edgal appealed to schools across the state to be more vigilant and report suspected cases of cultism in their environment.
“The symbol on their jaw is the symbol of the notorious Awawa cult group. Two adult suspects have been arrested in connection with this crime.
“Let me also use this opportunity to call on the management of other schools. It is not enough to teach these students, they also must monitor the conduct of the students. We are going to take the investigation of this case very seriously because it involves children,” he stated.
He also promised to charge to court all those involved in the act on conclusion of the police investigation into the matter.
The Lagos State Government says it is determined to rid the state of cultists’ activities following the arraignment of 70 suspects on Thursday.
A statement from the state Ministry of Justice revealed that the suspected cultists were arraigned before Chief Magistrate Olufunke Sule-Amzat of the Ogudu Magistrate Court, for conspiracy to commit a felony and for holding a meeting of an unlawful society suspected to be AIYE Confraternity.
The 70 suspects cultists, with ages ranging between 19 and 40 years, were charged with three counts by the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) in the ministry.
They were earlier arrested by officers of the State Police command who acted promptly on a tipoff given by members of the public on Friday last week, where the suspects were caught holding a meeting at Elemoro area in Ajah axis of the state.
In count one, the defendants were accused of conspiring to commit felony contrary to and punishable under Section 411 of the Criminal Law, Cap CH. C17 Vol.3, Laws of Lagos State, 2015.
In count two, they were alleged to belong to an unlawful society suspected to be AIYE confraternity, an offence contrary to Section 42(a) and punishable under Section 42 (b) of the Criminal Law, Cap. CH.17 Vol.3, Laws of Lagos State, 2015, while they were said to have attended the meeting of the said unlawful group, contrary to the laws of the state in the third count.
After the charges were read to them, the 70 defendants pleaded not guilty, while their lawyer urged the court to grant his clients bail on the ground that the offence for which they were charged are bailable.
In response, the prosecution team led by a director at the DPP, Mr Yakub Oshoala, did not oppose the bail application but urged the court to remand the defendants in prison pending the satisfaction of their bail conditions.
In her ruling, Chief Magistrate Sule-Amzat granted bail to the defendants in the sum of N100,000 each and two sureties in like sum.
The sureties, according to the Magistrate, must be responsible residents, in gainful employment with evidence of paying tax for three years in the state, and one of which must be a blood relation of each of the defendants.
The matter was adjourned for trial on dates starting from April 11.
Reacting to the development, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, said the state government would not relent until cultism and other social vices are stamped out in the State.
“To this end, the arraignment of the 70 suspects will serve as a deterrent to those who may want to engage in the act of cultism,” he said.
In the wake of clashes between rival cult groups at the Ekiti State University (EKSU) in Ado Ekiti, Governor Ayodele Fayose says his administration is set to sponsor a bill to the Ekiti State House Of Assembly to punish convicted cultist with a death penalty.
The governor, speaking on Tuesday in Ado Ekiti, the state capital said that anyone involved in the act of cultism should be ready to face the consequences which will be a death sentence.
“If you are involved in cultism, it is death, we will treat you like terrorists. Enough is enough. How can you kill somebody, you cut his hands and his head! If you are caught involved in cultism, we will give you death sentence.
“If you use your house to accommodate cult members, either as students or as a visitor, we will give you life imprisonment. If you rape women, it is life imprisonment. Enough is enough, I will not under my watch allow anybody to hold Ekiti state to ransom.”
Fayose also urged residents of the state to give government and police the relevant information to rid the state of cultism activities.
The military through its Operation Crocodile Smile II has said that it has recorded huge success in ridding the Niger Delta of crime.
The operational activities within 6 Division Area of Responsibility (AOR) has since its commencement made the arrest of many suspects for various criminal offences including kidnap, armed robbery, cultism, illegal oil bunkering among other crimes.
Deputy Director Army Public Relations 6 Division Nigerian Army, Colonel Aminu Iliyasu in a statement on Monday said those arrested during its operation in Akwa Ibom include one Bishop Uwah Akpan believed to be the financier of criminals.
He was arrested at Ikot Ibekwe community of Ukanafun Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom.
“The suspect is volunteering information about gangs of kidnappers and cultists linked to him,” the statement added.
The 2 Brigade AOR which covers Akwa Ibom State, vigilant troops also arrested one Udeme Nnah a suspected notorious cultist who has allegedly been terrorising the community. The troops of 2 Brigade Garrison also arrested the duo of Saviour Markus and Nsika Udoh for cult-related activities.
He said further that, “a group of vandals at Itu Paper Mill in Uruan Local Government Area of the state were also arrested for cutting armoured cables belonging to the company.
“Two other suspects, simply identified as Ekom and Ndefrike were arrested with three rolls of vandalised cables and two motorcycles.
“A suspected arms supplier, one Friday Silas Udoh at Ikot Odiong community of Ukanafun LGA where he was arrested.”
Various items including live cartridges, locally made gunpowder, damaged single barrel guns and gun making accessories were recovered from the suspects.
In a bid to pay more attention to security in the state, the Imo State government says it is establishing a Security Trust Fund (STF) to enable the government and security operatives carry out its functions effectively.
The Governor disclosed this at the end of a Security Council Meeting with heads of the security operatives in the state at the Ndubuisi Kanu Executive Chambers, Government House in Owerri the Imo state capital.
The Governor said funding of the security operatives should not be left in the hands of the government, while expressing dismay over the increase in cult related activities in the state especially in tertiary institutions and secondary schools.
He also complained about the present location of the Nigeria Prisons in the state, calling on the Federal Government to urgently intervene to ensure it is relocated to a new site.
“The Council is calling on the Federal Government to do something as quickly as possible to relocate the Owerri Prison from where it is now, to a suitable place for the purpose of ensuring that we don’t have a jail break in the State.
The Judiciary also requires a lot of renovations and personnel to dispense justice speedily. This will equally help in decongesting the prisons. The government has therefore declared a state of emergency on judicial infrastructure”.
“We have noticed with dismay the rising spate of cultism which is among university students and secondary Schools. We have taken a decision to review the laws in this regard and make it more punitive for offenders. The House of Assembly will take this up to make the appropriate laws to check the menace of cultism in our State”.
“We have also noticed few cases of kidnapping suspects coming from Ngor-Okpala area. The security agencies are carefully watching the development in those places with a view to making sure that it does not rear its ugly head again”.
“The Imo State government has approved the establishment of Security Trust Fund and security public relations department. This will enable us ensure proper funding of the security sector because the government alone can no longer handle the burden of funding the security agencies. With this, we are calling on all stakeholders and all good spirited individuals to key into this laudable programme of the government, which the deputy governor will chair”.
The Ogun State Police Command says it has arrested 10 suspects who allegedly engaged in cult related activities which led to public disturbance in Mowe area of the state.
According to the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Abimbola Oyeyemi, the suspects were arrested at various locations in Mowe following the violent cult clash between two rival groups.
He said that the suspects came to Mowe and unleashed mayhem in the area, vandalized vehicles and made life uncomfortable for innocent residents of the area before a distress call was made to the Area Commander, Sagamu and Divisional Police Officer, Mowe by residents of the area
Consequently, Policemen were swiftly deployed to the scene and repelled their activity and in the process 10 among the hoodlums were arrested, including a female member who investigation revealed is the person whose house they gathered to hold meetings and strategize on how to carry out the attack.
According to the PPRO, the Commissioner of Police, CP Ahmed Iliyasu, has ordered the immediate transfer of the suspects to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department.
He has also warned that violent crimes will not have a place in the state.
He appealed to parents to warn their children to desist from any criminal act as the Police command is out to deal decisively with anybody caught perpetrating acts of criminality
He advised residents to go about their normal businesses as the Police would deploy everything in its arsenal to ensure their safety all the time.
Deputy Director of Army Public Relations of 82 Division, Enugu, Colonel Sagir Musa and the Commandant of the 302 Artillery Regiment, Onitsha, Colonel Isa Abdullahi, have commenced inspection of activities at different check points of the ‘Exercise Python Dance’.
This is to further strengthen the commitment of the Nigerian Army to the mandate of the latest security operations in the five Southeast states.
It is also aimed at ensuring the various teams are operating within the premise of mandate, as well as ensuring that the exercise yields the desired results.
According to Mr Musa, the effect of the exercise was already manifesting, especially in the area of traffic congestion, as it had been minimized greatly at the Bridge Head axis as well as other border points where the check points of the exercise were planted.
At the boundary between Anambra and Enugu state at Amansea community on the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, vehicular movement was equally said to be smooth and uninterrupted.
The check points were well manned by vigilant eyed soldiers who passed the vehicles as they came and at the same time maintained security in the area.
On the arrival of Mr Musa and Mr Abdullahi, to inspect the mode of operation at the point, they expressed satisfaction with the level of compliance of road users.
The mandate of the exercise included but was not limited to checkmating rising waves of crime usually prevalent during the yuletide period, traffic decongestion of major highways, patrol raids, cordon and search, planting of check point and road blocks, show of force and anti-kidnapping drills among other serious violent crimes including herdsmen-farmers clashes.
At the second boundary between Anambra and Enugu state, the soldiers, properly positioned, were seen passing vehicles calmly, while motorists complied with the new set up maximally.
Moving out of the area, the next port of call was the Bridge Head axis where initially complaints were laid over sudden traffic congestion occasioned by the new check points.
Reacting to that, the Deputy Director of Army Public Relations, maintained that the interest of the Nigerian Army was the peace and stability of the country, and in the present exercise, it would be to ensure that the targeted challenges were reduced to barest minimum.
Musa said, “the Nigerian Army has no other interest except one – to ensure peace, security and stability in all parts of Nigeria.
“Here like we have explained, issues of kidnapping, abduction, herdsmen-farmers clashes, cultism, and even traffic gridlock are the issues and our interest here is to ensure that these security challenges are reduced to the barest minimum.
“You can see vehicles moving left and right, so there is no congestion. In any case, there is not much stop and search operation on the road.
“Soldiers are just by the side of the road watching in case of any need for them to act. They will act professionally and decisively,” he said.
While many commended the efforts of the Nigerian army in the area of security and maintenance of orderliness on the highways brought about by their presence, others still complained of traffic congestion.
In the words of some of the citizens, “police and army are doing well, there is no problem.”
Another commuter said, “it is a welcome development because when the military men are on the road, it makes people feel safe that no thieves will attack them.
“So for me, I think it is a welcome development but I will also want to advise them to be courteous of not causing hold up.”
Musa however noted the complaints and assured citizens of necessary intervention.