IS LAGOS ANTI-CULTISM BILL A SHAM?

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Earlier this year, the Lagos State House of Assembly (LSHA) passed the Anti-cultism Bill.

Interestingly, the bill, among its other salient issues, stipulates a 15-year jail term for anyone found guilty of abetting cultists, and residents who willfully allow their property to be used as meeting points by cultists. Some weeks later, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu assented to the bill, which also stipulates a 21-year jail term for convicted cultists in the state.

All these happened within the space of February and March, 2021.

But the ‘incredulous’ was only yet to happen. Just within 48 hours after Sanwo-Olu, assented to the anti-cultism bill, it was reported that a bloody clash between rival cult groups had erupted somewhere in Ikosi-Ketu. It involved the Eye and Aiye confraternities.

Though 15 suspects were apprehended by the police and paraded at the State Police Command headquarters, spokesperson for the Police in the State, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said the attack was connected to disputes concerning revenue generation at the Ketu fruits market.

Such a development does not bode well for a government committed to restoring normalcy in the state and ensuring civil rights and social justice. The Ikosi-Ketu incident should have been a perfect opportunity to put the bill to test, by placing the full wrath of the law on offenders. They should have, before saying Jack, been arraigned in court and prosecuted.

There have been a series of reported cases of police arresting cultists, robbers, and hoodlums since the Ikosi-Ketu incident. One of the most disturbing areas is Ikorodu. According to media reports, over 500 persons have been arrested by the Police between July 2020 and March, 2021, on offenses related to cultism, and robbery.

Recent findings have also revealed that 1,592 hoodlums had been arrested and linked with the crimes of rape, gangsterism and assault. While there were 127 reported cases of domestic violence, 82 vehicles were impounded for driving against traffic.

A recent police report also confirmed that the majority of the robbery cases were from the Ikorodu area, even as the police also recovered no fewer than 35 firearms.

With these long lists of arrests, I still wonder why the courts are not preoccupied with prosecuting and sentencing these ‘beasts’ to the dungeons, for the rest of their lives.

It is time the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration began to take action and do the needful as Lagos State is gradually becoming the hub of cultism in Nigeria. If the unknown happens, I don’t think the Lagos State government will survive the ‘apocalypse’.

Segun Michael Adeyemi, Lagos