Nigeria and burden of cultism in primary, secondary schools
Some secondary school students arrested over cult-related issues Inset: Items recovered from them
In gangland movie fashion, some primary and secondary school pupils have become living horrors to their colleagues and even in their neighbourhoods. Head, Education Desk, IYABO LAWAL explores the underbelly of rising cultism and violence among Nigerian youths
They pushed him to the ground. He landed on his face. One of the boys grabbed him by the scruff of his neck. “Kneel down, there!” the pupils barked at their teacher. As the hesitant teacher contemplated whether to obey the order of his pupils, he got a smashing slap from behind. He needed no reminder that he should obey the order.
“In the classroom, you think you’re the master,” one of the gang members said. “We’ll show you who the master is.“You can beat students anyhow? You can talk to us anyhow!” another one bellowed.The teacher was released, not after being given some strokes of the cane. He was warned not to reveal their identity or else he would be dealt with further. The teacher resigned from the school, reported the case to the school authorities and the police. Fortunately, the pupils involved in the matter were later dismissed from the school.
When the news broke in 2013 that 18 schoolchildren in Abeokuta, Ogun State, were arrested for being cult members many did not pay attention to the monster feeding on inattention in Nigeria’s elementary and post-secondary schools.The Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Kareem Olanrewaju, had said of the arrests: “These seven students of Nazareth were arrested at the school premises while they were initiating new members into cultism by making incisions on their bodies.
“We also arrested 11 students of Lisabi High School for conducting themselves in a way that breached the peace in the school. We will not charge them to court because of their age. They are underage and cannot be prosecuted. The command will meet with the Ministry of Education in the state to decide what to do to the students.”
“We observed that they have been misguided. Now that they have been caught, there is the need to guide them; we will give them right knowledge. We want the government to introduce civic education in secondary schools so as to reduce the level of this immorality amongst our children,” the NSCDC spokesman pointed out.
In March 2018, the then police commissioner in Lagos, Imohimi Edgal, urged Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to declare a state of emergency on cultism as he called on the state House of Assembly to come up with stiffer penalties for cultism, against the backdrop of primary school children being recruited into cult groups.The police, however, admitted that it would adopt the carrot and stick approach in dealing with the child cultists’ phenomenon.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on the government to declare a state of emergency on cultism. The House of Assembly needs to also award stiffer punishment for cultists because the practice of initiating our children in primary schools is worrisome,” Edgal had said.
Well, that appeared to have fallen on deaf ears as this year’s February incident revealed with the police apprehending two individuals for initiating 12 elementary and secondary school pupils (of Egan Primary and Secondary Schools, Igando) into cultism. The police said the kids were initiated into the AWAWA confraternity group in Lagos – they were aged between eight and 16 years old.
The eldest and only female, a Junior Secondary School III student was the first to be initiated into the cult group and was allegedly instrumental in luring others in elementary one, two, three, four, five and six to be part of the group.Today, Nigerian pupils in primary and secondary schools have become more involved in cultism and violent activities than ever before in the history of the country.
Last year, the police said four teenagers, said to be cultists launched a violent onslaught on a scho