Ekiti varsity’s unending cult wars
The authorities of Ekiti State University claim to have put up spirited efforts to rid the institution of cult activities. However, the murder, a fortnight ago, of a final year student in an inter-cult war casts doubt on the success of the efforts, reports FEMI MAKINDE
For some time now, cultism has remained one of the biggest problems confronting the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti. Although the new Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oladipo Aina, earlier this year, promised to stamp out cultism from the school, recent happenings have shown that the problem is fast becoming a difficult task for successive administrations to tackle in the 30 year-old university.
Obviously to tame the scourge and restore normalcy, the university offered amnesty to members of cult groups in 2009. It was basically meant to win over students who might have been intimidated, against their wish, to join the secret societies.
The amnesty recorded some level of success, as some students renounced their cult membership and surrendered their weapons. This made the university authorities to boast that cultism would soon become history in the beleaguered institution. However, the euphoria was short-lived; cultism has continued to thrive in the institution.
Many lives have been lost to cultism and more may still be cut down in their prime in the state’s premier university except drastic steps are taken to curb the crime.
The killing reached a crescendo early in 2010 when about 10 students of the university were killed in inter-cult clashes and subsequent reprisal attacks which made many to wonder when the harvest of deaths in the institution would end.
The killing of Mr. Sola Falade, a final year student at the Faculty of Education a fortnight ago threw the university community into mourning. The attack, which left many students injured, caused anxiety, especially among innocent students because they knew that the losing side would do everything to avenge the death of their members sooner than later.
Some students who spoke with our correspondent claimed that Falade was at home in his off-campus residence when he received a call summoning him to come to the school area. He heeded the call, which happened to be his last.
A source explained that a female student was celebrating her birthday and members of different cult groups and other students were at the party. The ceremony was said to have gone on without any problem until the effects of alcoholic drinks served started manifesting. One of those present, a member of Buccaneer was said to have uttered a statement which led to the crisis that consumed Falade. The statement led to an altercation and a free for all, during which Falade was stabbed by a Buccaneer confraternity member.
Although it was not clear if the aggressor really wanted to kill Falade or if he just wanted to ‘teach him’ a lesson, however, he was said to have stabbed Falade on the arm. But then, the broken bottle severed two veins at a hollow between the upper arm and the lower arm and blood started gushing.
His colleagues were said to have rushed him to a private clinic at Iworoko, but the dying young man reportedly uttered a statement which made the hospital to reject him. Falade was said to have been treated a week earlier at the same hospital when he was stabbed at the back of his neck.
According to a student, “When he was taken to the hospital at Iworoko, he reportedly said, ‘Ipadabo abija a le gan’ (meaning, he would exact revenge when he was okay). However, nobody can say why the hospital rejected him and asked those who brought him to take him to Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital. Maybe through his alleged statement, the hospital suspected that he was a cult guy and may not want the hospital to be invaded by any cult group after his treatment. They just gave an impression that they could not handle his injury. So he was taken to EKSUTH.”
Falade was said to be a leader of the KK, one of the cult groups operating in the institution. He was confirmed dead by the time he was brought to the hospital.
His parents who have been mourning his death were said to have tried their best to make him renounce cultism but they did not succeed. A family member confided that on many occasions, his parents pleaded with him to shun cultism, using Bible verses to admonish him to retrace his steps, but he was adamant.
A source close to the family said when his parents observed that he was unrepentant, they took his case to the reverend father in charge of their church. But despite the intervention of the cleric, Falade claimed that he was never a member of any cult group.
In the interim, two students of the institution have been arrested in relation to the killing. The Police Public Relations Officer in Ekiti State, Mr. Mohammed, confirmed this to our correspondent. He said the police were investigating the case and that anybody found culpable would be prosecuted.
He also said that the police had intensified surveillance in and around the school as well as in areas with a good number of student population.
During a visit to EKSU, it was observed that about six police vans with armed men patrolled the campus and later moved outside and parked opposite the school’s main gate.
A former vice-chancellor of the university, Prof. Dipo Kolawole, blamed law enforcement agencies, among others, for cultism in Nigerian higher institutions of learning. He said that law enforcement agencies always freed arrested cult members, saying this had emboldened those involved in the act to continue.
He recalled how a cult group stormed the university in 2006 and killed a final year student in daylight. Kolawole said he was surprised that those arrested in connection with the killing were promptly released and were seen days after, roaming the streets.
“I blame some parents, guardians and godfathers for the prevailing problem of cultism, because they are the ones who use their positions and money to secure the release of criminals. This will continue to make the country unsafe, because cultists will graduate to be assassins or armed robbers, Kolawole warned.
It has been observed that various cult groups in the university wait for rival group members who had inflicted injuries or loss of lives on them to get to their final year before launching a reprisal attack. Some of the victims of cultism, especially in the school, were murdered when they were in their final year.
“It’s perhaps meant to compound the agony of their survivors, especially their parents, who may have placed hopes on the children to cushion the effects of old age as they graduate,” Kolawole noted.
In March 2010, two students in 300 Level were killed early in the morning in the presence of their parents. The incident, which rocked Ado-Ekiti and which prompted the police to wage serious war against cult members, happened at Dallimore Street in Ado-Ekiti.
Two weeks before that incident, a fresh graduate who had come to the school to collect his call-up letter for the National Youths Service Corps was killed at Similoluwa area. The victim, who was said to have been responsible for deaths of some cult members from a rival group, was killed in a violent way.
His assailants, who were obviously from another group, had beaten him to a pulp and smashed his skull to make sure that he did not survive the attack.
Following the renewed killing in EKSU, some students, especially females who now live in fear, asked the school authorities and security agencies to eradicate cultism from the school.
Some students who spoke with our correspondent said members of cult groups in the school were not difficult to identify. According to them, these bad boys visit private hostels harassing and extorting money from innocent students, especially in the evenings.
Judging from the history of killings and reprisal attacks among cultists in EKSU, it is obvious that the last is yet to be heard about cult-related killings in the institution. Observers said the KK group which has lost their leader would do everything to regroup and launch a reprisal on the members of the group that killed Falade.
Those who know their modus operandi say cult groups believe so much in the law of “an eye for an eye.”
The Public Relations Officer of EKSU, Mr. Olubunmi Ajibade, said the management of the institution had taken some steps to eradicate cultism.
He said the security agents were around on the campus to ensure that the lives of students and staff were protected.
He added that the authorities were planning to make the university a residential one, with the aim of monitoring the activities of students and staff.
He said, “The vice-chancellor has introduced mentoring and counseling of students by lecturers to curb cultism. Students will be allocated to lecturers for counseling and with this, the university believes that cultism will be eradicated very soon.
“The vice-chancellor wants the institution to be a university in all aspects; that is why he wants to ensure that hostels are built so that the activities of the students could be monitored. The university abhors cultism and will do everything to ensure that it is eradicated.”