Deadly cultists' clash raises questions in Ilorin

Date: 2015-08-22

Suspected student cultists arrested by the police in the Kwara State Polytechnic cult clash The peace in Ilorin, the seemingly sleepy capital of Kwara State was last week disturbed by the activities of secret cults when the dreaded Aiye and Eiye confraternities clashed leaving 16 people dead at the time the dusts finally settled down.

In fact, the issue of cultism and killings in the state has taken a worrisome dimension recently with the rising number of cases. Many residents now more scared of attacks or reprisal attacks by these rival cult groups even more than they fear ritualists and kidnappers. These groups clash in an unprecedented dimension and cut short the lives of those who stand by their way to prevent them from their nefarious activities.

Indeed, only last week, the Kwara State Police Command arrested about 40 suspects in connection with a renewed clash among the Aiye and Eiye confraternities cult groups at the Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin triggering violence that led to the death of the 16 persons around the metropolis. Daily Trust on Saturday learnt that the violence started when aspirants were screened for the Students Union Government (SUG) elections with reports reaching the venue that someone was killed by members of the Eiye confraternity around Asa Dam road. This led to the clash between the Eiye and Aiye confraternities which spread to other parts of the town especially Baboko, Niger Road, Sabon Line, Irewolede, Agbooba areas.

But another aspect of the clash was that the two cult groups had earlier clashed and both were seeking vengeance and the SUG elections provided the platform for the clash.

The clash however spread to other parts of the town where about 14 people were killed. A victim residing at Agbooba was killed besides a bridge close to a fuel station at Oja Tuntun area and another killed in a hotel while a suspected cultist was murdered at Irewolede. The identity of other victims remain sketchy for fear of arrests by those who might know them.

However, the Kwara State Police Command Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Ajayi Okasanmi, told Daily Trust on Saturday that only two people died during the clash while authorities of the Kwara State Polytechnic said none of its students was killed in the crisis. The PPRO denied that more people were killed challenging those who say so to let the police know about it. But, it was learnt that one Azeez Lanre was killed inside the polytechnic, but it still unknown if he was a student of the institution alongside one Yusuf Sheriif Adekunle, believed to be a student of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) Ogbomoso, killed along Ajase Ipo Road. Nonetheless, the polytechnic has been closed indefinitely.

It was gathered that cult groups went beyond the confines of the school as rival gangs recruit followers from within the town and also from even primary and secondary schools within the state.

Though the authorities of the Polytechnic wanted to wave aside the present cult crisis, in the past the institution suspended four students for alleged involvement in "criminal activities." Then the Principal Assistant Registrar (Academic), Mr. Ahmed Yahaya, said in a statement that the suspension followed a report received from Oke-Oyi Divisional Police Headquarters. It said, one of the students, with registration number ND/12/PA/PT/610, was arrested for alleged unlawful possession of two live cartridges while two others with registration numbers ND/13/COM/FT/394 and ND/14/COM/FT/843 were nabbed by the police for alleged membership of an “unlawful society.” Also, according to the statement, a female student among the suspended students, with registration number ND13/PS/FT/903, was accused of unlawful possession of knife and charm.

Besides, some of the suspected cult members who were paraded by the police in Ilorin on Wednesday confessed to the violence but do not give concrete reason on why they acted so. The suspect, 18-year old Adeniyi Sijibomi was paraded alongside with 25-year old John Onucho for being a member of Eiye confraternity who were allegedly involved in the recent killings of the two persons in Ilorin. Infact, the police said based on a complaint made by one Bidemi Adewole of Sapati Ile area Ilorin last Monday, two suspects, Adeniyi Sijibomi and Tosin David of the same area and members of cult group conspired to kill the complaint using a poison-laden soft drink. Suspects confessed committing the act.

The police said of the 40 suspects arrested as a result of the cult groups clash have been released for lack of evidence against them. "After our investigations, those we discovered does not have anything to do with the crisis were released," the police spokesman said, noting that they have charged 26 suspects to court and have all been taken to Mandalla prison.

According to him, "after the random arrest we screened them, go into their history in our record of past criminal activities of most of these criminals. We then compare and those ones who are duly to be charged to court are charged immediately.

"All the densely populated areas are our black spots such as Akerebiata, Agbo Oba, Idi Ape, Oja, Agaka where they sell motor spare parts. There are different kinds of people there and these bad boys mix with those going about their legitimate businesses. We have bad boys in those areas and our searchlight is always on them," the PPRO said.

Besides, he said the operation is continuing and are not going to stop the trail and arrests of unscrupulous elements in the state. Also, Okasanmi said in the course of investigation, there are Kwara State polytechnic students among those they arrested. He said although some of them do not have identification cards but base on what they told the police during interrogations they are students of the institution. "We also went to their houses for further investigations and recovered documents that indicated that they are students of the Kwara State Polytechnic both continuing and graduated students," the PPRO noted.

According to the Police spokesman, the method the cultists adopted was that they brought their members from other places to unleash mayhem on their rival groups. The authority of the Polytechnic has also denied any death and clash of cult groups on campus of the institution. The Deputy Rector (Administration), Engineer Ahmed Aminu, who spoke on behalf of the Rector of the institution on the matter, said there was no cult clash on the campus. He explained that the polytechnic had finished its sessional examinations for 2014/2015 academic year but lecturers were still in the school marking manuscripts. He said since the exercise was a sensitive one, no student was allowed in the campus.

The deputy Rector also debunked any clash on the campus during the screening exercise of the election of the school's Students Union Government, saying that the exercise was witnessed by security operatives including the Police, Civil Defence and Department of State Security and that it was peaceful. Daily Trust on Saturday gathered that the school is however on the verge of installing CCTV cameras in the school for proper surveillance and monitoring of activities within the campus.

As a proactive measure, it was also learnt that the school management usually held meets with the heads of villages that surrounds them, the security agencies, school securities and that they have also started stop and search on everybody coming into the school premises. Some of the villagers also confirmed the activities of the cult groups but could not come out boldly to say that because of fear of been attacked.

Also the Deputy Rector of the school, Mrs Olubunmi Ajibade told Daily Trust on Saturday that the person they claimed was killed in the campus was a case of a hit and run which the police rescued but later died in the hospital. However, some of the school workers who preferred anonymity said even though cultism have been in the institution for a long time, no one has been killed unless the one that happened last week.

Also, some of the students who spoke with Daily Trust on Saturday also confirmed that they heard gunshots the day somebody was allegedly killed in the school adding that the activities of the cultists in their campus is more rampant in the last two Semesters than what it was in the past.

Worried about the situation, the Chairman, Kwara Youth Coalition Groups, Mallam Musa Aliyu blamed cultism on politicians in the state because it encouraged thuggery by providing them with ammunition. He called on the state government to mob up the arms from the hoodlums and embark on a serious social reorientation and mass campaign on the matter.

The Kwara State House of Assembly also took up the matter by directing its Committees on Ethics, Privileges, Judiciary and Education to summon Rector of the polytechnic and Ministry of Education over cult activities in the state. It equally directed the committees to liaise with security agencies, religious leaders and traditional rulers on how to curb the menace of cult activities in the state. The decision followed a motion on cult activities in some parts of llorin moved by Kamal Fagbemi, representing Oke-Ogun constituency.

Fagbemi, had under matter of urgent public importance, informed the House that cult activities perpetrated by suspected students of Kwara Polytechnic were causing havoc in the state stressing that the situation led to the death of 16 people at different parts of Ilorin.

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