Imagine a university student who went in for his final year examination only to be shot dead as he was coming out of the examination hall to celebrate his entrance into the labour market.
This was the fate of Leo, a final year chemical engineering student [name of school withheld].
Leo was the second child and only boy in a family of three. He was a gifted child academically. He was brought up in a strict Christian family; he was also a member of various catholic organisations during his secondary school days. He was well loved and pampered by his parents and sisters.
He was a very humble and obedient child, who had respect for his parents and older people.
Leo had everything he asked for from his parents. During the first semester of his first year in the university, he was invited by a friend of his roommate to attend a party that was meant for a few selected people [as he was told.On getting to the venue of the party, he and a few other boys were taken to another house, close to the venue of the party.
There, they were told that they would be initiated into a cult. The initiation involved being beaten with sticks and iron bars. They were also kicked and given different marks and signs with hot metals on different parts of their bodies.
After the whole process, they were told that they were now new members of a particular cult group, after which they were taken back to the party venue and were welcomed by the people who were already at the party. As time went on, Leo rose through the ranks to become the leader of the cult group.
It was during his tenure as the head of the group that his cult group got into a fierce war with a rival cult group in the school, which culminated into the killing of some students. During his final examinations, Leo stepped down as the leader of the cult group, and that was the period he was massacred.
These days, students in secondary and mostly tertiary institutions join different cult groups for different reasons like seeking protection. Others join due to inferiority complex, they feel that by joining these cult groups, they will be respected and popular on the campus.
Cultism in Nigerian tertiary institutions was created initially to fight for the rights of students. It was founded in 1952 by the Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, and six others at the University College, and University of Ibadan.
These days, cultism has taken another dimension, different from the intentions of the founders. In our contemporary universities, cultism is used to perpetuate violence, killings, armed robbery, rape and other social vices that are detrimental to the society.
Sources disclosed that the Pyrates Confraternity was formed to fight against injustices meted out to students of the University College Ibadan at the time, by both lecturers and the school authorities.
Due to some reasons, the Pyrates Confraternity had a breakaway part which was known as the Buccaneers Association of Nigeria. After the Buccaneers Confraternity was formed, more cult groups started springing up across the country. Today, there are cult groups like; Black Axe, Viking, Black Beret, Trojan Horse, KKK, Mafians, Maphites and many others.
These secret cults have different ways of identifying themselves, through handshakes, eye contacts and other body languages. They also have different colours that are related to them.
The Buccaneers are associated with yellow, the Viking’s colour is red, the Black Axe’s is yellow and black, the KKK’s is white, the Trojan Horse’s is orange while the Maphites’ is green. These cult groups usually display their colours through wearing of berets, clothes, shoes etc.
It is unfortunate to note that some of these cult groups are sponsored by some state governments, who employ their members as thugs during elections. These government officials provide these youths with sophisticated arms that can be used to intimidate innocent citizens.
When these elections are over, these youths keep these arms for their private use, thereby increasing cases of armed robbery and kidnapping.
Government and school authorities should face this problem head on, making sure that all the resources available to combat it are deployed. The school authorities should provide security for the students, not only through the Anti-Cult Squads, but also making sure that the members of this squad are mainly force men, students can be used only as spies, so as to prevent intimidation of normal students by students of the Anti Cult Squad.
Also the university authorities should organise campaigns against cultism, whereby students will be educated on the dangers of cultism, teaching them how to identify cultists and how to say no to them whenever approached.
Parents should also be involved in creating solutions to cultism, parents should always bring up their wards in the best ways and also watch the behaviours of their children as they grow, especially when admitted into the university, they should always look out for strange behaviours in their kids.
Leo would have used his abilities to contribute immensely to the development, of Nigeria, in different sectors of the economy, especially technological developments if he had not been cut down by a rival cult group