October 6, 2022

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Ogun communities decry deadly cult war, clashes claim lives, limbs

For over seven months, residents of Ogun State have been under the siege of cultists who carried out fatal attacks consistently in many areas in the state.

Despite the threat issued by the state governor, Dapo Abiodun that his government would demolish any building serving as a haven for cultists and prosecute the house owners, the deadly attacks by cultists have not abated.

Ogun State, divided into three senatorial districts, also has four divisions comprising Remo, Ijebu, Yewa and Egba.

Unfortunately, none of the four divisions escaped the bloody activities of the cultists who unleashed mayhem, leaving tales of sorrow, tears and blood in their wake. Saturday PUNCH gathered that the four divisions in the state have been under the siege of cultists who maimed, killed, raped and robbed. Findings have also shown that three out of the four divisions of the state; Remo, Ijebu and Egba were heavily affected by the attacks.

Lives and limbs have been lost by helpless residents and cultists in cult wars. From the beginning of this year till date, residents of the state are having sleepless nights over the incessant killings and attacks by the cultists. Residents of the state across ages and sex were not spared. The aged, youths, men, women, especially young ladies were victims of the attacks. This ugly development made some women in the Remo division to protest almost naked. A curfew was also imposed in the area.

Residents rue clashes

A trader at Itoku market, who is a resident of Fajol, Obantoko, Alhaja Ajoke Salami, said that her community in Fajol was now scary to the residents.

She said she and her family don’t sleep with both eyes closed due to the fear that cult clashes could ravage the area and rouse them from sleep anytime at night.

She explained that she trades in farm produce, adding that she travels a lot and sometimes gets back home at late hours.

 She said, “I travel to places to buy farm produce and I get back home around 3am sometimes. Whenever I get back, I can trek home from Fajol Junction to my house which is about 10 to 15 minutes’ walk without fear. It will be like I am going home during the daytime. But that is not the case now. The cultists can start their attacks at any time of the day. They even kill in broad daylight not to talk of midnight.

“In fact, when I close shop at Itoku around 7pm, I call my neighbours to confirm the situation before heading home because anything can happen. There was a day I got to Fajol Junction about a few minutes before 7pm and I was shocked at what I saw. All the shops have closed, everywhere was deserted and I was extremely scared to alight from the taxi. Immediately I saw the situation, I knew the cultists had unleashed terror. People can no longer move about freely.

“Our houses are no longer safe. The police always mount roadblock at the junction. The government should do something to curb the crisis because it’s taking a toll on us. I can say some people are now hypertensive because of the fear of the cultists. If there is any form of noise around here (Obantoko) now, we won’t even wait to verify what is responsible. The next thing is to run to a safe place. We now live in fear.”

A worker at Springwheelz Photo Studio at Alogi beside the Alogi Primary Health Centre, Bolajoko Ilori, lamented that she worked in fear.

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She claimed that the cult clashes had instilled fear in her and her colleagues, adding that the studio now closes earlier than usual.

She said, “As a studio, our office is always closed and most times, we hardly know what is going on out there. But by the time we close for work, it is always fearful for us going home.

“Sometimes, Alogi Junction that is always brimming with people returning home from work with motorcyclists and traders going about their daily means of livelihood can be like a graveyard.

“This is because cultists have killed somebody in the area. And to protect themselves, residents stay in their various homes and forfeit the sales they will make on such nights.

“So, for our work, people prefer to come for their photo shoot during evening time. But as a result of attacks, we hardly see people patronising us like before. And when they even come, we are always cautious of the time, so as not to be made a sacrificial lamb.

“We work in fear, and when we close for the day, it’s another prayer session because we don’t know what can happen at any time. One day, after the close of work, my colleagues and I trekked from Alogi to Somorin Junction and to our surprise, shops were closed. There were no motorcyclists around and when we inquired, we were told that cultists killed a guy there at the junction during a cult war. That was why everyone closed their shops immediately so as not to be the next victim.’’

Also speaking, a seller of foodstuff along Somorin road identified only as Mrs Uzoma, said she doesn’t display all her goods because no one could predict what could happen anytime.

She lamented the drop in sales, adding that she had little profit to take home at the end of each day unlike before.

She said, “Everything has changed. I can no longer display my goods the way I used to because of the bloody attacks by cultists. I do not open early because I have to ensure my safety and I close early. Even customers are always in a haste to purchase food and leave. Everyone now lives in fear. Somorin is no longer safe for us. Even at home because I live on the next street, we are always scared of the bad boys. They sometimes fight at night and we often hear gunshots. So, how can we sleep?  Can anyone with fire on his roof sleep?

“On the day they vowed to celebrate what they called 7/7, I didn’t let my children go to school and I didn’t open my shop because it’s better to be safe than sorry. Though being at home doesn’t ensure one’s safety, it is better than being outside. I pray for God’s intervention into the issue. We are afraid.”

Also in Sagamu, an Islamic cleric who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the clashes had become a source of worry to the people of the area.

He said the residents were so worried that some women protested against the cult clashes almost naked.

On his part, an artisan in Makun, Sagamu, Gbenga Osunkele, said that the people in the cult-prone areas and some other parts of Sagamu lived in fear.

He said, “We don’t know when another attack will happen. Everyone is extra careful. We can’t sleep with our two eyes closed. The boys are too dangerous. They can enter any house and wreak havoc. They operate in the broad daylight and at night.’’

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Youths in Sagamu not long ago protested against the rising cult-related killings in many parts of the local government areas in the state. The youths stormed the streets of Sagamu, demanding an end to the menace which they described as worrisome.

 The leader of the group, Kayode Segun-Okeowo, said that the cult war had claimed many lives and affected the socio-economic activities in the areas. He lamented that the cult war had defied reconciliatory moves in the community “as if there is no solution to the menace.”

Segun-Okeowo urged the government and the traditional institution to immediately wade into the crisis and resolve it.

He said “It is disheartening that Sagamu has become a centre field for cult-related activities and killings. Many stakeholders and community leaders have come up with different ideas and way forward to end this menace but it’s unfortunate that efforts on the sensitisation, peace and reconciliation processes have proven abortive and seems as if there is no solution to the menace.’’

 The development forced the state to visit the area and later warned against further killings by cultists.

Besides, the Akarigbo and paramount ruler of Remoland, Oba Babatunde Ajayi, intervened to stem the rising spate of cult killings in Sagamu.

The monarch announced that some parts of Sagamu would witness traditional rites to stop the clashes in the area.

A statement from the palace on Wednesday indicated that the monarch said the popular Akarigbo Road, from Cinema Road Junction/Total Petrol Station up to RSS Roundabout, would be closed to all vehicular and human movements from 4pm on Thursday, July 7.

It noted, “This is for the purpose of traditional rites in view of the recent security situation in Sagamu.”

Lawmakers’ react

Worried by the development, some lawmakers in the state assembly had condemned the incessant cultists’ attacks.

Members of the state’s House of Assembly in March passed a resolution calling on the state governor to constitute a special task force on anti-cultism.

The lawmakers, who expressed concern over the rising spate of cult-related killings in some parts of the state since the beginning of the year, sought more help from the executive to curb the deadly attacks.

Some of the lawmakers who raised the alarm included; the Majority Leader, Sheriff Yusuf, a member representing Ijebu North I state constituency, Sylvester Abiodun, and a member representing Abeokuta South 2 state constituency, Ademuyiwa Adeyemi.

Adeyemi stated that the cult clashes in some parts of the state had resulted in killings and apprehension by residents of communities in the state who had to close their business premises and shops during such attacks.

Speaking with our correspondent, the lawmaker representing Odeda comprising Obantoko, Asero, and parts of Elega and Imala, Oludaisi Elemide, noted that many residents had lost sleep over the clashes.

Elemide said, “In our last plenary, it was discussed on the floor of the house via personal explanation. And I said it. I made a clarion call to all necessary security networks and the government to come to our aid.

“The speakers and members spoke a lot about it. It’s a thing of concern. It is a hydra-headed issue. It concerns the cultists, the government, parents, and security. If all hands are on deck, it shouldn’t have been like this. But the bottom line is that we need peace and we have contacted all concerned subjects.”

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On whether there is a plan to make use of local guards to tackle the menace, Elemide said, “We’ve talked to the Amotekun which is the local security. The communities and the people will make arrangements for vigilantes. Cultists hide in some houses, they are not spirits. People know them and if they are not exposed, there is little the government can do.

 “If a cult member is in a house, the landlord is aware of it and he has not done anything. If people around are aware and they have not done anything, how are we going to identify the cultist? “When cult members are arrested, influential people go to secure their bail. What do we say to that?”

Past cultists’ attacks 

There had been deadly cult attacks in the state in the past. Hundreds of people had been killed in the space of two years as a result of cult clashes.

 This year witnessed another round of terror, pandemonium and bloodbath in some parts of the state following the supremacy battle between members of rival cult groups.

The cult clashes which started in Abeokuta, the state capital and later spread to Sagamu, Sango-Ota, Ilaro and Ijebuland had claimed many lives.

In just one week, the clashes claimed seven lives in Abeokuta while eight other people were killed within two days in Sagamu.

On Thursday, March 24, a popular area boy, Tomiwa Adeliyi, popularly known as “Tommy Boy,” was hacked to death at Panseke area of Abeokuta by suspected members of the Aiye cult group.

The victim, a suspected leader of the Eiye confraternity group, was known to many people in Panseke, Onikolobo, Oluwo, Adigbe and Onikoko communities, mostly populated by students of the Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Abeokuta.

In February this year, some cult leaders, known as Scatter, School Boy, Alakanni, Azeez, Olaosebikan and Babajide, were also consumed in the clashes.

The killings took place at seven places; a relaxation centre at Asero, Kugba, Ikereku, Panseke, Adigbe, Oke Ijeun and Isale Abetu, all in Abeokuta.

In Sagamu, one Akeem, an electrician was killed at Ajegunle area around 7am on a Sunday.

Many others were killed and dismembered after they were attacked in places such as Soyindo, Ijagba, Ajegunle and Sabo; all in Sagamu.

In June, the lingering cult clashes claimed 10 lives in Sagamu. Also, a woman and her daughter, riding in a commercial tricycle, popularly called keke marwa, were shot dead during a clash.

 It was gathered that members of the rival cult group targeted the tricycle rider believed to belong to another cult group. The hoodlums engaged in daylight shootings of their rival cult group members and in the process, stray bullets hit and killed some innocent persons in the affected areas.

Another scary incident occurred in Kuto in broad daylight when some suspected cultists grabbed their victim at the Kuto Junction while he was navigating the motor park route and macheted him on the head, leading to pandemonium in the area.

 The police in state said they didn’t watch as cultists unleashed mayhem in the areas, adding that the state police command had arrested and successfully prosecuted 93 members of different cult groups in the state between March and July this year.

The state police spokesperson, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said that the command was resolute to flush out “unwanted elements to ensure that law abiding citizens could sleep with their two eyes closed.”