Cultism, Confraternities, Bane To Nigerian Communities

Cultism, Confraternities, Bane To Nigerian Communities

Editor’s note: Countless Nigerians have suffered at the hands of secret cult groups that in most cases shape up in Nigerian institutions of higher learning. Writing for, Eustace Dunn says cultism, if not curbed, can and will grow into a large-scale menace, much like terrorism has.

If the incessant media reports on cult activities are anything to go by, the recent beastly attacks and killings in Ashaka community located at Ndokwa East local government area of Delta state is one of such cataclysms that should attract condemnation by all and sundry.

They call the community "London" in Delta state, a peaceful community and the land of great people who had progressed in oneness and absolute hospitality over the years, until most tragic news filtered in like a mocking thunder on Saturday, January 2.

In my own small world, I could sense the fear which has enveloped the small community popularly known for its serenity following the killing of four promising young men in a cult clash. The question that continually begged for an answer the moment I got a wind of the tragedy was, how big is Ashaka to warrant the activities of cult members, not to talk of leading to a clash among rival cult groups?

For so many years that I've been in my little journey into journalism, I have always tried not to write about cultists mostly in the days of university studies. Unapologetically this time, I defy that avoidance on the basis that these guys are the real menace Nigeria faces.

You must agree with me that with the existence of these cult groups in any part of the society, things will definitely be no longer at ease, and it’s pathetic. Universities have tried for years to place out this particular problem plaguing the school environment, yet, it has been to no avail owing to the transfer of cult activities to various suburbs.

To make matters worse, people of forms, including the ones supposedly brought up by most revered moralistic men of God, are the proponents of these secret cults. Those who lack moral background and school dropouts are some of the members who inflict pains and fear upon the members of the society.

None of these guys can ever think of how to better the lots of the society. Some of the members are still roaming the streets with no job looking for who to extort from. How many got a job from the cult groups? How many can freely walk on the streets or go back freely to their alma mater?

Instead of teaming together, not as cultists but to confront that politician who diverts the money meant for the ordinary people, they turn themselves into tools for societal destruction. Come to think of it, would some of these politicians have been able to pass a job interview supposing they were not politicians? These are the people that young graduates waste their lives for in the name of being "a tough guy". Later on, they cry foul that they have no job while the political thief cannot grant them one. It's a shame.

Secondary school pupils are recruited

To make the matters worse, secondary school chaps are now at the top of their game in cult activities. You might want to ask how they got into this. It’s simple: those so-called university undergraduates who drop out as a result of cultism and unseriousness in school go back home, lure little children into their various groups and take cash from them.

The ones who mostly fall victim are the ones being bullied in schools. They join the "tough guys" in order to reign revenge and instill fear into those who had bullied them.

In those days, what was known was that cultists were all over in the universities. The first piece of advice parents would ring into ears was “Beware of cultists, don't join them!" and that went on into heads, especially for those who listened and were conscious of their homes. In truth, the road to cultism is a road to self-destruction and the land of no return. When one comes up some day to denounce participation, they are lying. Once a cultist, always a cultist. They would always feel the inclination to get involved in this sort of activities once more.


Why I think Wole Soyinka is wrong

I read recently an interview of the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, with Zero Tolerance, a periodic publication by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), where Soyinka was explaining the difference between a confraternity and a cult. He said that belonging to confraternities is a normal culture in colleges and not an evil cult, as wrongly portrayed by ignorant persons in Nigeria.

With due respect to the prof who co-founded the Seadog Confraternity, popularly known as Pyrates in Nigeria, I disagree with the submission that there is a difference. True, there may be a difference in the meaning of both words, but they are never different in ideologies and activities. As far as their purposes and activities are clandestine in nature, they are the same set of people. There is no such thing as an evil cult and a non-evil cult.

Although the prof and his six other friends may have founded Pirates, which was the nation's first campus fraternity with the motto of anti-tribalism, anti-elitism, non-conformism, chivalry upon an uncommon mission as it were, there were still some elements of rivalry and violence among its members as time went on.

No doubt, this same Pirates confraternity is said to be existing in villages and secondary schools in Nigeria. The members carry out violence. Based on this violent and secret nature, I would not be convinced that there is a difference between a confraternity and a cult. Confraternities are still secret cults and they are evil. I only blame parents and teachers for inadequate orientation where students are cautioned. This is why a junior secondary school student would brag among his friends that he is "a strongman".

Where cultists existed majorly and may still exist

If you did not know, at a point in time past, Enugu, Awka, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Nekede etc. became a hub for cultists. Universities became hostages to this evil. Government officials gave the propelling force to the very existence of cult groups. Cultism heated up in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital, during the governorship administration of Chief Peter Odili.

At Nnamdi Azikiwe University, for instance, I remember how tough it was before and during the tenure of Professor Ilochi Okafor who was the then-vice chancellor. The school was said to have devised a means to quell the pronounced activities by allegedly paying the heads and other members of the various cult members, although an anti-cult group was set up to combat the perpetrators of evil in the school environment.

These people of various cult groups, or call it confraternities, fight over supremacy on campuses. They establish competitive reigns of terror, engage in activities that occasionally spill over into the towns. They extort, rape, kill rivals, employ acid to disfigure women who have spurned them, and serve as enforcers and thugs to politicians. At the moment, it is no longer only those cities or universities, it is now villages.

One of the reasons why most parents now make a resolve to send their children to secondary schools and universities owned and managed by religious organisations is to evade cultism. They believe that in such environment, their children are taught morals and religious steps where the parents had lacked.

In a nutshell, you will not disagree with me on the fact that cultism is gradually becoming a major concern, like terrorism has become. The attention of various security agents and the parents in particular is needed to help curb this current school, social and community terrorism to avoid its escalation and to help save people from failing to actualize their ambitions and dreams in schools. Efforts to stem the tide of cultism should be totally collaborative. Adopting the most proactive measures to prevent any possible infiltration would definitely go a long way to make the society a better place to live in.

Eustace Dunn is a public relations professional with a major focus on print and new media.

This article expresses the authors’ opinion only. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of or its editors.

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Khadijah Thabit (Copyeditor) Khadijah Thabit is an editor with over 3 years of experience editing and managing contents such as articles, blogs, newsletters and social leads. She has a BA in English and Literary Studies from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Khadijah joined in September 2020 as a copyeditor and proofreader for the Human Interest, Current Affairs, Business, Sports and PR desks. As a grammar police, she develops her skills by reading novels and dictionaries. Email:

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