UMAR BAYO ABDULWAHAB writes on the resurgence of cultism and incessant killings among rival cult groups in Ilorin, the capital city of Kwara, the State of Harmony.
THERE is anxiety amongst parents and guardians in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital following incessant killings arising from violent clash among members of rival cult groups in the city.
In the last three weeks or so, uneasy calm had enveloped the atmosphere in some communities in the ancient Islamic city, a town reputed for peace and harmony.
Sounds of gunshots in residential areas ,leaving behind gory sights of brutally murdered victims of warring cult groups have become a common scenario in the town in recent times.
In a commando style, deadly rival cult groups sniffed lives out of their targets in the wake of series of attacks and reprisals almost coming in quick succession.
Ilorin, the city of the ulamas(Islamic scholars) is gradually being tainted with the dastardly acts being perpetrated by members of the cult groups.
What was initially a ritual in higher institutions of learning seems to have crept into many communities with even artisans now being initiated as members of secret cult groups. For instance, penultimate Sunday, suspected cultists struck at Ikokoro/Sakamo area of Ilorin, killing one person simply identified as Wasiu.
Another incident occurred at Baboko, Ita-Amodu and Agbo-Oba areas of Ilorin metropolis between Saturday night and 4 a.m on Sunday morning.
Tension was also heightened in Ilorin last weekend when two persons were allegedly killed at Baboko and Olulande respectively by members of rival cult groups. The development, according to sources created tension in the affected areas while residents scampered for safety.
It is therefore not out of place to say that the Ilorin city is gradually being turned into theatre of cult war , a scourge which had claimed many lives.
Although, the Kwara state Commissioner of Police, Sam Okaula confirmed the death of only three persons so far in the wake of the killings, there appears to be no end in sight as the vice is fast becoming recurring decimal in the state.
And in a move to check renewed hostility among the outlawed rival groups ,the Kwara state police command launched a man-hunt for the killer blood tasty elements leading to the arrest of 14 suspects.
Parading the suspects at the state police headquarters in Ilorin, the state Commissioner of Police ,Mr Sam Okaula, said they were arrested following a man-hunt his men launched for suspected members of rival cult groups in the state.
Okaula, who also confirmed the death of three persons in the ongoing cult war, said the command will “apply the most stringent and relevant aspects of the law to ensure that they are prosecuted.”
“We will invade their hideout, we will use everything possible within our disposal to prosecute them. The days of easy in and easy out is over, enough is enough for these boys,” he said.
Okaula said cultists in the state “are devising new means of attacking their victims. They use motorcycles, they also lure them through phone calls(victims) to a corner where they were attacked”.
He, however directed Divisional Police Officers (DPOs) to check the activities of commercial motorcycles in the state to curb the menace.
The CP said most of the suspects arrested were students of higher institutions staying off campuses which made it easy for them to perpetrate their criminal acts.
The paraded suspects were; Atoyesi Babatunde, Bolakale Mogaji, Abioye Sanya, Lateef Atoti, Segun Bamidele, Aliu Mustapha and Abdullahi Olanrewaju.
Others were; Taiwo Akeem, Ajayi Olamilekan, Mustapha Fatai, Jimoh Ahmed, Suleiman Rilwan, Amusa Sodiq and Abdulrahman Olayinka.
While urging members of the public to provide useful information that could lead to the arrest of suspected cultists, the police boss said “they are not spirit but human beings living in the midst of people
The police boss said the best way to win the battle against cultists is to gain cooperation of members of the public including landlords, community heads, religious leaders, pointing out that “the war is a wind that blows no one any good.”
But the state government is talking tough , warning that the law would catch up with criminal elements who take delight in constituting themselves into security threat to law abiding residents.
Handing down the warning in Ilorin on Wednesday, the state governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed said cultists and others criminal elements would have no safe haven in the state.
The governor, who gave this warning in an interview with journalists in Ilorin, said everything would be done to ensure that the enduring peace in the state is not truncated by hoodlums.
He advised parents and guardians to take proper care of their wards as the state government would ensure that those found culpable of disrupting peace and harmony for which the state is known, would be made to face the law.
“The law is very clear on crime. Anybody who is caught under any guise will face the wrath of the law as cultism is unacceptable in Kwara state,” thundered Ahmed.
Beyond these threats, residents believe there must be a serious action. While commending the security agents for moving against perpetrators of this heinous crime, they asked that this should be on a sustainable basis and must not be compromised.
Besides, they also posited that the religious organisations and civil society groups should go on consistent advocacy, saying this will compliment the efforts of the security agents.