In recent times, the police have beamed their searchlight on cult activities across the country. This has led to several raids that have yielded results in Lagos, Anambra and Rivers states, as cultists were rounded up in their hundreds.
Among those arrested was a 16-year-old girl, Ifechukwu Atunanya, who claimed that she was forced to sleep with every male member of the cult during her initiation. Recovered from them were guns, matchet and several wraps of Indian hemp.
Ifechukwu was among 75 suspected cult members who were rounded up by Anambra State Police command on July 3, 2015. All the suspects were alleged to be members of the Supreme Vikings Confraternity and were all arrested in a bush in Awka during the initiation of new members.
According to the state Commissioner of Police, Hosea Karma, the police acted on an intelligence report that the cult members and their new entrants were in a bush performing some rituals. The raid was conducted by the Anti-Cultism Squad led by Supol Dickson Osamuonyi.
Part of their ritual, he explained, includes sleeping with female intending members. He said they do that in order to secure their oath of secrecy. It was during the raid that 16-year-old Ifechukwu was arrested.
At the police station, Ifechukwu, a secondary school dropout and member, claimed that she had to travel to Anambra from Abuja just to witness the initiation of new members. “I joined them three months ago and during my initiation, I was forced to have sex with every registered member of the cult present that night. I was given a sedative so as not to feel what they were doing. It was not easy, but I bore the pain,” she said.
Her parents, who are from Anambra State, are still alive. However, Ifechukwu said that they were not aware of her secret cult activities. “I got to know about the cult activity through a friend. She assured me that all the connection that I needed in this life will be made if I joined the group. I am from a poor family and I wanted to be the light that will change the situation in my family.
“She never told me that I will be raped till the day of initiation. The day we were initiated, I was the only girl in their midst. Although, I have not started reaping the gains, I was determined to be a successful member. I was further convinced to stay because I discovered that they are more honourable than the others. I am sorry and would love to be given the opportunity to go back to school. I never knew that it is crime to be a member. I am sorry,” Ifechukwu pleaded.
Another member, Ugochukwu Agbazuo, who also spoke with Saturday Sun, said that they are all undergraduates of various institutions in Anambra. “Apart from some of our national leaders, we are all students. I was initiated into the cult while I was still in my first year. I had no choice but to join them because of the harassment in school. I discovered that most of the Engineering students in my school were members of different cult groups.
“Again, if you identify with a known cult in school, the lecturers will respect you. You don’t have to buy handouts or offer bribe to get credit in a course. This was why I joined them,” he said.
Ugochukwu insisted that they did not steal or harass innocent people. “The guns that were found with us were bought in case there was a clash in school. It is our leaders who are all graduates and working across the country that normally assist us to secure the arms. It is strictly for defence and one of the rules of our group is that you must read and pass your exams on merit.”
On the issue of rape, Ugochukwu said it only happened with female members. A female intending member cannot undergo the rigorous process during the initiation. So, our leaders suggested that the best way to get them under oath is for every registered member to have sex with her during initiation. She would be semi-conscious during the process so that she will not physically feel the pain. Ifechukwu’s case was better because we were only 20 registered men present on her day of initiation. All of our female members were raped,” he further said.
In Rivers, 201 arrested
Also in Rivers State, detectives attached to the Anti-Robbery and kidnapping squad arrested over 127 suspected cultists while the Anti-cultism section rounded up over 74 others base in Port Harcourt. The state Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike who confirmed their arrest, explained that the command was embarrassed by the high wave of kidnapping and armed robbery incident in the state. “We launched Operation Keep Moving which was flagged off by Rivers State Governor, Barrister Nyesom Wike on July 2, 2015. The Operation Keep Moving is proving to be a success. We will not stop or be complacent, the march is on and we must deliver on our promise to make Rivers State peaceful, secure and safe. Investigation revealed that most of them were also notorious armed robber and kidnappers who had unleashed terror in the state in the past.
“We recovered several AK 47 rifles, locally made guns, locally made revolver pistols; several pump action and 12 motorcycles. Meanwhile, they have different cult groups known as Dey-Gbam, Dey-well, Iceland and Vikings. The suspects will be charged to court at the end of investigation,” CP Ezike said.
In Lagos, 38 were arrested
In Lagos, policemen attached to the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) arrested 38 suspects who were alleged to be members of cult groups in Somolu area of the state. The team had responded to distress calls from concerned citizens about criminal activities and other unlawful engagements in the area. According to the tip-off, the suspected cult members had announced that they were going to initiate new members of public who were interested. The team of RRS operatives, headed by Supol Olabode Aroge, immediately moved to scene. Those arrested were 29 male and nine females. They were immediately conveyed to the squad’s headquarters in Alausa, for further interrogation.
Following police’s investigation, the suspects were said to among cultists and social miscreants disturbing the area. “The suspects are terrorizing law abiding citizens in the area while some of them are specialists in bag and handsets snatching, pick-pocketing and such other nefarious activities both in the and day and at night.