IMPACTS OF CULTISM IN ELEME

Impacts of Cultism in Eleme

Chief Osaro Ollorwi

Introduction

What are the marked effects or influences of cultism on Eleme and Eleme people? Are there any physical and nonphysical consequences of cultism in Eleme? How are Eleme people and residents coping with cult activities in the area? This article will attempt to examine the results, repercussions, or aftermath of cult activities in Eleme.

 

The ongoing cult activities have strong effects on every aspects of life of the average Eleme indigene and resident. These include impacts on Economic life; Education life; Religious life; Social life; Death, Burial and Other Ceremonies; Political life; Psychology of the people; and Development in Eleme.

Economic Life

The economic life of Eleme has been driven to a halt. Almost all businesses have been grounded as criminals waylay businesses on daily basis at gunpoint in broad daylight. Businessmen and their family members are made object of regular kidnap for ransom, armed robbery, rape and other violent crimes . These situations have forced many businesses to close shop or relocate.

 

Another worrisome aspect of this development is that the few people who choose to remain in Eleme have to spend more money by traveling to neighbouring communities to shop for their daily needs.

 

National and multinational companies in Eleme now spend more resources on security, compare to other cost units, to keep their operation going. With increasing cost of security and associated risks, many companies are now retrenching. Intels Services have sacked over 1,000 staffers. Daewoo Nigeria Limited has sent packing over 200 employees. Eleme-INDORAMA Petrochemicals Company Limited is not left out.

 

This situation is already having negative impacts on the already congested labour market in the area. It is also contributing to the already existing army of unemployed youths which are ready source of supply of personnel for cult groups.

 

Many other companies that have acquired landed properties and indicated interest to come to Eleme for their operations are now skeptical of coming down due to rising insecurity perpetrated by organized cult groups.

Education Life

The Rivers State University of Science and Technology Onne Campus has been relocated to Port Harcourt. Several private primary and secondary schools have followed the trend.

 

As parents relocate, they also carry their children and wards along and the population of Schools in Eleme continues to nose-dive.

 

It is equally disappointing to note that insecurity made JAMB to cancel its entire centers in Eleme during the recent 2017 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in the country. Parents have to spend huge amount of money to transport their children and wards to write JAMB in other towns. Some of these candidates arrived late and have to write their examinations under stress, limited time and tight condition. The outcome was poor performance or outright failure as revealed by the results released by JAMB.

Religious Life

The impacts of cult activities on religion in Eleme are more worrisome. Our young men and women now see nothing wrong in patronizing native doctors, medicine men, shrines and secret societies. These people who have charms given to them tie around their waists or have them cut into their chest and back also take front seats in the churches and lead processions in their various places of worship.

 

The ongoing cult activities in Eleme have lured many people to abandon God for worship of Satan in search for protection from gunshots and knife cut. As pastors testify, the number of worshippers who attend church services in Eleme today is daily on the decrease and the commitment of those who managed to attend is also doubtful. Eleme is visibly being drifted back into the prehistory era by cultism. This is not only disturbing but equally disheartening.

Social Life

The social life in Eleme has collapsed. Night activities are now things of the past. Hoteliers in Eleme are already counting their losses. Many operators of Night Clubs and Recreational Centers have been forced out of business by the activities of cultists. People now prefer to stay at home after work than go out for leisure and meet death.

 

While married women are happy because their husbands now spend more time at home, the unmarried ones, especially sex workers are complaining of poor patronage, loneliness and abandonment.

 

HRH Chief I. O. Agbara observed that hospitality business in Eleme is passing through hard times. In his words, “Night life in Eleme has deteriorated; people rarely go out for relaxation and leisure for fear of being attacked by hoodlums. Nothing is happening in hotels nowadays. Business has gone down. The night club section is no longer functioning. Our rooms that before now usually record fully booked capacity is today empty. The hospitality industry is suffering more than any other in Eleme. Few customers that managed to come to the hotel normally leave as early as 7pm, and this affects sale and return on investment. Cultism is killing the hospitality industry in Eleme.”

 

Ms. Nneka (not real name), a sex worker in one of the hotels have this to say, “We are feeling the pains of cultism more than any other group of people in Eleme. Customers are no longer forthcoming. When they show face, they hurriedly take one or two bottles of beer and rush back home immediately and we are left alone stranded. When we call, they neither answer our calls nor return them. Our business is at its lowest ebb now in Eleme. We are already finding it difficult to pay our house rent. Except something is done and urgently too many of us will soon be thrown out of business.”

 

Also speaking, an expert in the hospitality industry Chief A. A. Yanwi said, “Hotels rely on rooms to finance salary bills and operating costs. Where rooms are not subscribed or grossly undersubscribed as in the case in Eleme now, hotels find it very difficult to breakeven. Every hotel needs to operate optimally to be in business. Unfortunately, cultism, violence and other crimes have made the situation in Eleme unwise and very dangerous for people to lodge in hotels. And if people don’t lodge in hotel rooms, foods will not be sold, drinks will not be bought; there will be no service charge because no service is provided. Worse still the hotel is expected to maintain its staff, pay salary, settle electric bills, run generators, service vehicles and pay relevant local authority revenue bills and other charges.

 

This scenario was vividly captured by Chief Engr. Paul Obele, the former Managing Director of Warri Petrochemical and Refining Company Limited when he delivered a lecture titled, “Roadmap to Achieving the Eleme of Our Dreams” at the Eleme People’s Congress at Rivers State Golden Jubilee. He said, “Night life in Eleme is dead. People no longer go out after the day’s work for relaxation and leisure due to the activities of cultists”. He recollected when he used to walk alone from Ogale to Alesa by 2am without fear of molestation or attack of any kind. “These are good old days when cultism was unknown to Eleme. But, today, as early as 7pm you are not safe on the streets in Eleme. It is pathetic!” To him, cultism is not only destroying businesses in Eleme but also damaging the people’s once cherished culture.

 

The CTC Chairman of Eleme Local Government Area Chief Hon. Obarilomate Ollor was not left out as he added his voice to the condemnation of the negative impacts of cultism in Eleme stressing that cultism is dismantling the very pillars of Eleme society and advised parents to warn their children and wards as government is out to deal with the situation squarely.

Death, Burial and Other Ceremonies

Other worrisome aspects of these negative impacts of cult activity in Eleme are its influences on death, burial ceremonies, marriage ceremonies, naming ceremonies, birthday parties and so on. Cult-related dead in Eleme are buried within minutes or hours thereafter without any fanfare to evade law enforcement query.

 

Burial of non-cult related dead in Eleme today attracts extra costs as security agents have to be informed and engaged to provide security and maintain law and order during burial.

 

Marriage ceremonies are not left out. Marriage ceremonies require the presence of armed soldiers, police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps officers for people to attend thus adding extra cost to the overall expenses; a burden on both the groom and bridegroom.

 

Naming ceremonies, birthday parties and other ceremonies also attract expensive security bills except done at the family level and/or in an exclusive area.

Increased Stress-Related Sickness and Death

There is no doubt that the number of stress-related sicknesses and deaths in Eleme are on the rise. Stress occurs when the human body experiences a lack of equilibrium that is perceived as threatening by that individual. There is widespread fear in Eleme. Fear of the known and unknown. Fear of being robbed, fear of being raped, fear of being kidnapped, fear of being assaulted, fear of being murdered or killed, fear of being victimized. Fear! Fear all over the place. Parents of cultists have loss control over their children and wards. Their fates are unpredictable; a very serious threat to their ego; the situation remains ambiguous with increasing anticipation of negative consequences. The entire environment is perceived by the parents as threatening. And these have given rise to such illnesses like tension-related headaches and backaches, weakened immune system, missed period, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, low sex drive, increased depression, heartburn, fertility problem, heart attack. No week passes with Eleme recording one or more stress-related death; apart from deaths caused by inhalation of toxic and other deadly chemicals wickedly emitted by companies around Eleme.

The activities of cultists in Eleme are stressful not only to the parents of these cultists and their relations but also to every indigene and resident. Over 30% of women in their early 40s in Eleme are already suffering from missed period. Many parents have also died of heart attack and other stress-related illnesses.

Political Life

The political life of Eleme can be described as nonexistence. Democracy was murdered in Eleme on arrival. Politicians of Eleme extraction have succeeded in truncating the political life of Eleme. They have divided Eleme youths into groups of cultists for their selfish political gains. They armed these young men and women and use them to:

  1. Assassinate political opponents and their strong supporters.
  2. Kidnap political rivals, their close associates or members of their immediate families.
  3. Disenfranchise the electorate by intimidating and terrorizing them with guns, knives and axes.
  4. Snatch ballot boxes.
  5. Snatch result sheets and other sensitive electoral materials.
  6. Adopt electoral officials and force them at gunpoint to allocate votes to candidates and announce concocted results.

 

The result of this is continues mismanagement, directionless, corruption and waste of Council resources. The impact of cultism on the political life of Eleme can be described as total disaster.

Psychological Life

Psychologically, the average Eleme man or woman lives in fear of being murdered, kidnapped, robbed, assaulted, etc. These conditions have forced many indigenes and residents alike to relocate to Elelenwo, Port Harcourt, Ogoni, Okrika, Oyigbo and other neighbouring communities. Others seek the help of armed soldiers, NSCDC officers and policemen to move around Eleme. Both ways money is leaving Eleme, development is also truncated.

 

The atmosphere into which one enters as you approach Eleme from outside is that of darkness and panic even in broad daylight. The ether of Eleme has been saturated with blood and cry of innocent people cut down in their prime.

In the spiritual realm, it is like Eleme is being driven by the demand for more bloodbath, crime and violence. Worse still, those who are supposed to harness resources and pull their efforts together to address the ugly situation have fled from Eleme leaving the area porous and more vulnerable.

 

On the other hand, the prevailing insecurity in Eleme has helped the people to abandon luxurious life for simple living. Wealth is no longer indiscriminately displayed. So many car owners now prefer using public vehicles and mtorcycles popularly known as “Okada” to move about; and expensive dressings are now giving way to simple wears. Flamboyant life is gradually becoming history in Eleme.

Development

One area that the impact of cultism has been felt greatly in Eleme is on development. Security propels development while insecurity retards it. As the former Permanent Secretary, F. N. Oguru rightly said, “Cultism has taken Ebubu over ten years back”. In other words, cult activities have taken Eleme ten years back. There cannot be development in an environment of insecurity and violence.

 

Cultism is decimating the population of Eleme and this has negatively affected Schools intake, tenants’ population, and small businesses. Many houses which hitherto provide sources of regular income to landlords/landladies are now vacant as residents’ pullout by the day. Those who still have one or two tenants in their houses do not have the will to demand for house-rents as tenants’ income continue to dwindle.

 

All public and private ongoing projects in the area have been halted due to cult activities. Movement of people is also restricted between the hours of 7pm and 6am without official curfew. It is worse in places like Ebubu, Eteo, and Alode where as early as 7pm no vehicle will agree to go in for fear of being victimized.

 

The worse is that Eleme is gradually becoming synonymous with senseless killing, kidnapping, armed robbery, rape, extortion, gun running, cultism, etc. The Eleme society is worst for it due to dwindling revenue, rising crime wave and fear of crime. This should border every well-meaning Eleme son and daughter irrespective of where you stay or reside. It is no gainsaying that indigenes and residents of Eleme are living in perpetual fear and many are being imprisoned in their own home or sent on exile by the ongoing cult activities in the area.

Conclusion

There must be concerted efforts and proper will on the part of indigenes and residents of Eleme to reverse the trend and put Eleme on the course of progress and development. This can only be achieved through value reorientation, equal rights and justice.

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HOW TO COMBAT CULTISM IN EBUBU

How to Combat Cultism in Ebubu

Ebubu was once regarded as the most stable and peaceful clan in Eleme. Several factors gave credence to this perception. As the traditional headquarters of Eleme, Ebubu remains both the ancient rally center and melting-pot of Eleme. In times of war and crisis Ebubu provides the necessary manpower, wherewithal and strategies for victory. Ebubu is known in Eleme as “Unmovable Community”. During the several wars (including the Nigerian-Biafra War of 1967 – 1970) that have one way or another impacted Ebubu, the community withstood them all and stayed unmoved. It is unfortunate that the peace that Ebubu enjoyed from inception is being shattered by our own children in connivance with the enemies of Ebubu. People of all ages and background have continued to wonder the rationale behind the recent upsurge in gang violence and cultism, which is questioning the genuine efforts of the traditional rulers, chiefs, elders, security agencies and the government to contain.

 

The efforts of youth leadership and security agencies in checking the activities of these hoodlums are appreciative. Especially when considered from the backdrop that as soon as normalcy returned, these cultists will resume their evil activities. Today new dimensions are being introduced in to the ugly situation – the use of dynamites, and killing and burning. These developments have increased the level of fear and worry among the residents.

 

The concerns of some of the chiefs and elders is that when some of these cultists are arrested and taken into custody by the police, they are quickly released on bail by the same police that is looking for them; a situation that makes the cultists to return home to boast and threaten those who are said to have masterminded their arrest. “This unending circle of search for the criminals, get them arrested and released them on bail is frustrating”, said one of the chiefs who pleaded anonymous.

 

Policing is a shared responsibility between the Police and the People. Chief Olukanke (not real name), observed that while the police bear guns, the cultists carry guns; the people (Youths, Chiefs and Elders) do not. Therefore, the police have more to do to check violent crimes in Ebubu in particular and Eleme in general, since the people who do not bear arms are not expected to confront well-armed criminals bear-handed”, he reiterated.

 

The general opinion is that the police to be more active in their duties without assuming that the citizens are avoiding their own responsibility which include the provision of vital information.

 

Chief Olonta (not real name) also lamented the attitude of some police officers who compromise security by fraternizing with these criminals; and pointed out that some of these law enforcement officials have over stayed their usefulness in Eleme and deserve to be transferred out.

 

Chief (Mrs.) Ada, Emere Owa, described a situation where the cultists strike from the bush and retreat into the bush, yet the law abiding Chiefs and youths are arrested and detained by the police for no reason; and appealed for cooperation in the fight against cultism and other violent crimes in Ebubu. She warned against antagonism among security agencies and between them and citizens if the war against crimes and criminality must be won.

 

Explaining the efforts that the Ebubu Council of Traditional Rulers, Chiefs and Elders has made to solve the security challenges facing Ebubu since 2013, the Oneh Eh (Paramount Ruler) of Ebubu Kingdom, HRH Emere Emmanuel Osaroeke Bebe pointed out that the Ebubu Council of Chiefs and Elders donated the Old Primary Health Center Building in Ebubu to the Nigeria Police Force to serve as temporary site for Ebubu Police Station but wondered why nothing has been done to put the place into use by the police since then. He observed that when the police in Eleme came to inspect the place and the then Rivers State Commissioner of Police directed the matter to the State Police Anti-Cultism Unit in Port Harcourt, the people’s hope were raised. But, the matter died a natural dead. The people continue to live at the mercy of God.

 

He lamented that no sooner has a cultist been arrested and handed over to the police than the police release him into the community to continue terrorizing the residents, then turn around to blame the Chiefs and youths who these criminals are also after.

 

The royal father pointed out that the cooperation between the police and the people has already unveiled the identity of these known cultists. But wonder why nothing has been done to keep them out of the community. He questioned why the police should assume that unarmed Chiefs and Elders should chase and catch cultists that are well-armed.

 

Another prominent chief who asked not to be named said it is unfortunate that Ebubu, a once peaceful community, is today in anarchy and crisis, saying to rout these cultists from Ebubu, thorough understanding, cooperation and united efforts are needed to be harnessed by all stakeholders in Ebubu security. He said that one of the major challenges facing our efforts to fight crimes in Ebubu and Eleme is incessant transfer of Heads of Security in the area.

 

In his words, “Before an incumbent can familiarize himself with the terrain and be conversant with the environment he will be transferred. This is not good for the security of the place”.

 

Another important factor is the presence of a nearby seaport. Chief Obo observed that wherever there is busy seaport there is always high crime rate. He gave example of Apapa Lagos and Onne Eleme but was quick to add that the high presence of security personnel in these areas helps to check the activities of criminals.

 

Trailer Park in Ejamah Ebubu was also fingered as one of the depots and meeting points for all sorts of criminal elements in Ebubu. It is believed that “all the criminals that were dislodged from the various waterfronts in Port Harcourt are now in Trailer Park Ebubu from where they carry out their nefarious activities in collaboration with their local counterparts”.

 

Chief Obo also identified Dabor Swamp/Forest in Ebubu as one of the base of these cultists and queried why such places should not be dismantled and put into beneficial use. Also of concern are Eta Osaro and Okenwikoro villages in Egbalor that acts as possible hiding places for these criminals.

 

Our investigation revealed that releasing these cultists when arrested is the function of the police and this is due mostly to unavailability of concrete evidence to nail the criminal to the crime. Evidence is the foundation on which any criminal can be convicted and this is the working of the law. “If someone is arrested and taken into police custody, but there is no evidence for the law to take its proper course and the police are in one way or another induced with money to release the suspect on bail they will have no other choice because they cannot detail someone forever”, a concerned Elder narrated.

 

The parents are also accused of not paying proper parental attention to their children. “What are the parents doing to check their children between 12 and 15 years old that are being initiated into cultism?” queried CSC Joseph Gbarasung, DO, NSCDC, Eleme. He said if the parents say they are not aware, then they are being economical with the truth. They should check the chest and back of their children and they will be surprised how deep cultism has penetrated Eleme”, he instructed.

 

Fear of Personality was also identified as contributory factor to rising cases of cultism in Eleme. It was observed that while children of the poor are pointed out to the police or other law enforcement agents for arrest, children of the influential and well-to-do in society are covered and protected. This, it was observed, encourages crime and criminality.

 

The commander of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in the area advised the community leaders and youths to “Inform the law enforcement officials about these cultists, their movement, and ongoing attacks and we promise you that we are equal to the tasks,” he assured.

 

Speaking on behalf of the Eleme Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Eleme Division, SP Amos Olugbenga Taiwo, DSP Thompson Ebikeme, the Divisional Crime Officer 1, agreed that incessant transfer of Heads of Security Agencies in the area is a major problem as far as crime fighting is concerned; but observed that it doesn’t take too long for trained officers to adjust to their new environment. He promised that the police will continue to do their best to ensure a peaceful and stable Eleme. “I am aware that Ebubu is a volatile place, but the police are doing everything to reverse the situation, and return Ebubu to its original peaceful, stable and tranquilized state”.

 

Continuing, he said that the law must take its proper course, stressing that it won’t be business as usual. He further explained that police will sort out all black spots in Eleme and raid then to clear the area of criminals, and agreed that there is urgent need for greater police presence in Ebubu, saying the jobs of the police in the area are enormous and therefore require support and assistance to perform efficiently and effectively.

 

Our investigation discovered that lack of modern policing facilities, like communication gargets, vehicles; personnel and so on are some factors militating against effective police performance in Eleme.

 

The police boss solicited for regular information about crimes and criminals, and assured that any information made available to the police will be treated as secret, and the identity of the informant will be properly protected.

 

Security Challenge in Ebubu

The major security challenge facing Ebubu is cultism, which manifests in rival cult clashes with its accompanying violent crimes such as killing (mostly rival cultists), arson (burning of houses and properties belonging to rival cult group members), armed robbery, burglary, rape, kidnapping and extortion among others. This development has not only grounded the social and economic life of Ebubu but also led to the desertion of the area by residents – both indigenes and strangers.

The following salient challenges also emerged during the course of investigation, which we observed are very important that solutions are proffered for them if efforts to solve the security challenges in Ebubu are to be fruitful.

These issues require in-depth investigation by the various security agencies, especially the DSS. They include:

  1. Remote and immediate cause(s) of incessant violent crimes in Ebubu.
  2. Source(s) of their Funds.
  3. Source(s) of their Weapons.
  4. Source(s) of their Recruits.
  5. Means of their Transportation and Communication.
  6. Modus Operandi of each Cult Group.
  7. Their Base Before, During and After Operations.

1.      Remote and Immediate Causes of Violence in Ebubu

The collapse, destruction, and denial of those component elements that bind the people of the four autonomous communities of Ebubu namely: Ejamah, Egbalor, Agbeta and Obolo, together such as belief (common oracle, culture and dialect with which the communities halo and worship together no longer exists), is a major factor in rising cases of hatred among the youths and violence in Ebubu.

 

Closely related to the above as one of the remote causes of the violence in Ebubu, is the absence of the streams from where the four communities fetch their drinking water which are now history. Also connected are the people’s farmlands that have been decimated and forcefully acquired and the environment that is devastated by the activities of oil companies in the area.

 

In addition to the foregoing are festivals that used to bring the people together such as Ogbo Nja, Aken O’e, Agba Esaa, and Eso Mba among others which has been discarded due to the forces of Christianity, exploitative industrialization, and unorganized education, thus eroding the people’s age long ties, unity, cooperation, love, and communalism.

 

Other important remote causes of rival cult clashes in Ebubu include the struggle for supremacy, territorial lordship and control. Campaign for recognition as lord of the area, search for responsibility that will yield immediate financial benefits (such as being hired for a fee to terrorize electorates and political opponents during elections to create political advantage for the benefactor; or, during chieftaincy tussles, youth and CDC elections, etc.) and to satisfy their immediate financial and social needs and aspirations through the perpetuation of violence in society, are some of the causes of continues violence in the area.

 

The immediate causes are as diverse as there are events and human needs. The unprovoked murder of Emere on April 19, 2013 was said to be the immediate incident that triggered up the series of killings and violent crimes which has lingered until today. Since then, “you kill one of us, we will kill one of you” had been the order of the day.

 

Argument over girlfriend or boyfriend and other trivial issues also constitutes immediate causes of incessant rival cult clashes and violence in Ebubu.

 

However, the community is afraid that the crisis is gradually expanding and extending, and may eventually result to killing an innocent citizen thus bring more mayhem upon the community. “Our fears are that, if, mistakenly or otherwise, a non-cultist, an innocent person from any of these communities is killed, Ebubu will be plugged into total chaos and disarray. God forbid!” Chief Nsan, who asked that his real name not be used, said.

2.      Source of Funds

It is no gainsaying that cultist in Ebubu source for funds to purchase arms and ammunition, procure charms, and finance their operations through Kidnapping, Armed Robbery, Burglary, Theft of Motorcycles, and extortions from businesses in Ebubu and environs.

3.      Source of Weapons

The sources of weapons used by these cultists are diverse and shrouded in secrecy. However, during the course of study, it was disclosed that Trailer Park in Ejamah Ebubu is likely a ready market for arms for these cultists. Their counterparts in neighbouring communities are also suspected as possible source of supply of weapons. Some masquerading “do-or-die” politicians, chiefs and youth leaders, have also been accused of aiding and abetting the supply of arms to these cultists, perhaps to support their selfish pursue.

4.      Source of Recruits

Both rival cult groups scramble for recruits from the population of innocent children between the age bracket of 10 and 15 years old in the community. They lure these children with promise of protection, wealth, and fame. Where such enticement failed to convince the invitee, he or she is forced and initiated into cultism. After initiation, the neophyte is kept with threat of death or madness, thereby subjecting him or her to perpetual slavery, manipulation, control and life of crime.

Our investigation shown that these rival cult groups have seriously invaded and infiltrated all the secondary schools in Eleme – both public and private; and that most children between the ages of 10 and 15 are being initiated and used to perpetuate crimes in the neighbourhoods.

The situation is lamentable. Heads of Schools and Parents and guardians are advised to monitor their children, know the friends they keep, their acquaintances etc.; where they pass nights, and to regularly check the back and chest of their children for “marks” – signs of initiation in to cultism and report same to law enforcement agencies for proper investigation.

5.      Means of Transportation and Communication

These cultists are known to invade the community either in stolen cars or on captured motorcycles. During the course of our investigation, we discovered that the cultists usually abandon these cars when chased; while in most cases the motorcycles which they also stole at gun points and use for their operation are sold after the operation.

The GSM handsets remain the major means of communication among themselves and with their informants who are within the neighbourhoods and close to their targets. Girls between the ages of 12 and 16 are recruited and initiated; and they serve as road observers, spies, informants and arrowheads of these cultists as well as links between the cultists and the probable victim and the community. Underage boys also play these roles and in most cases security agents are not aware of this ugly development.

6.      Modus Operandi

They adopt the hit and run guerrilla warfare type tactics. During operation, they normally split themselves into two or three groups of four or five boys armed with sophisticated weapons and machetes. Their tactics involves carjacking, drive into the community, attack a predetermined target and pull out at the speed of light. After some days, weeks or month, they will seize motorcycles at gun point and the scenario is repeated again and again. The same techniques are applied during kidnapping.

However, during house to house robbery or burglary, they attack in large numbers, at times, between 8 and 15 persons, well-armed with sophisticated weapons, slug hammers, iron cutters, and so on with which they break walls or cut protectors to gain access.

It was uncovered that the cultists do not undertake attack at random. Rather, they gather intelligence information about their selected victim, conduct surveillance and reconnaissance operations on him/her before finally attacking.

We found out that underage children both boys and girls are used by these cultists to carry out these deadly activities. And because they are insiders, usually very close relatives to the victim, (children, friends, brothers, sisters, or repentant cultists who are still sympathetic to their former cult group), the information they provide is mostly timely and current and these cultists utilize it very effectively.

However, there is need to balance the above with case of friends and relatives who make honest mistakes by ignorantly disclosing details of parents, friends, or neighbours’ movements or whereabouts. Security awareness is recommended which is at its lowest ebb in the area need to be boosted.

7.      Hiding Places

Their hiding places are probably, Trailer Park in Ejamah, Eta Osaro and Okenwikoro in Egbalor, and Dabor Swamp/Forest. It is also suspected that these cultists also hide in Okrika, Ogoni and Amadi-Ama; and retreat to these places after operations. Only well-coordinated investigation can unveil their very hiding place.

There is therefore urgent need for the authority to facilitate the establishment of a Police Station in Ebubu without further delay, since on their part; the community has donated a place for that purpose since 2013.

One of the issues pointed out by the residents during our interaction is widening gap among heads of security agencies in Eleme. It is suggested that the Heads of Security Agencies in Eleme promote cooperation and sharing of intelligence information among themselves, and treat information delve out to them by citizens as confidential to reinforce the people’s confidence and trust.

The Youth Council on their part must be more vigilant to check the types of vehicles and motorcycles that come into Ebubu all round the clock, and alert security agencies as soon as they identify or suspect any criminal movements or activities.

Since these criminals are known to be stealing cars or motorcycles for their operations and abandon same when pursued, the police are advised to introduce stop and search on vehicles, and persons carrying either backpacks or front-packs. The stop and search to be extended to persons wearing clothes that are extra big for their body size.

POLICE DECLARE ZERO TOLERANCE FOR CRIME IN ELEME

Police Declare Zero Tolerance for Crime in Eleme
The new police boss in charge of Eleme Divisional Police Headquarters SP Harrison Akpoguma has declared zero tolerance for those instigating insecurity and other societal ills in Ebubu.
The DPO made this known during his familiarization visit to Egbalor Ebubu on Wednesday, 4th November, 2015.
He called on the people to partner with him in achieving this goal, promising to promote synergy with the citizens and residents for the development of Ebubu in particular and Eleme in general.
According to Akpoguma, his office will partner with all stakeholders in providing security to Ebubu inhabitants by seeking the cooperation of all the stakeholders through provision of relevant and timely information.
The police boss is however not new to the security challenges in Eleme as he disclosed he faced similar situation in Port Harcourt and prevailed.
He therefore assured the citizens of Eleme of his resolve to stamp out criminals and social vices, and appeal to the public to provide the police with useful tips about hideouts of bandits and criminal elements.
He however emphasized on community policing as a duty call to all inhabitants of Ebubu, which he said the “citizens are major players”.
In achieving this aim, he emphasized the importance of citizens to always supply the police with valuable information on crime and criminals before they strike so as to enable the “police to check crimes in the bud. By so doing we will together prevent crimes by deterring criminals, thereby ensuring a safe and peaceful society”.
Earlier, the Secretary of Egbalor Council of Traditional Rulers, Chiefs and Elders, High Chief Julius Okereke thanked the DPO for the visit, especially for his efforts towards the maintenance of peace and protection of lives and properties within the short period of assumption of office in Eleme.
Okereke, while commending the police for their “rapid response to our distress calls”, called on the police boss to facilitate the provision of a police post in Egbalor.
He decried a situation where known criminal suspects are arrested and released almost immediately, allowing them to boastfully regrouped and visit more mayhem on the entire community.
Chief Okereke emphasized on the need for the police to protect both the informants and information given to them; and to ensure diligent prosecution of criminal suspects.
The visit which is the first by a DPO in Eleme in recent times was well attended by a cross section of Traditional Rulers, Chiefs, Elders, Opinion Leaders, Women and Youths of the community.

INSECURITY IN EBUBU: WIKE DEMOLISH TRAILER PARK NOW

Insecurity in Ebubu: Wike, Demolish Trailer Park Now

The Ebubu Trailer Park in Ejamah was originally conceived to serve as Motor Park for heavy trucks, especially trailers waiting for their turn to lift fertilizers from the National Fertilizer Company of Nigeria (NAFCON) and transport it to various retail distributors across the country.

With time, human presence in the area multiplied; and so did trailers and other vehicles, which caused a lot of jam on the roads. The Trailer Park soon gave rise to a shanty town around it, which can be described as a slum and is over populated.

If someone drives through the major roads, he will mistakenly assume the Trailer Park to be a decent and safe place. On the contrary, Trailer Park is worse than Ajegunle in Lagos touted as Nigeria’s foremost slum settlement. The only similarity between Ajegunle and Trailer Park is that both are built on the ground. Otherwise, Ajegunle is Paris; at least, there are well built houses with toilet facilities. There are roads and streets accessible to vehicles and some of the roads are tarred. Besides, Ajegunle is under the authority of the State and subject to the laws of the land.

Again, in comparing the Port Harcourt Waterfronts that were demolished and dismantled by Ex-Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi due to safety and security concerns, Trailer Park is worse, and therefore not fit to continue to exist.

The Trailer Park is connected with Okpako settlement n Ejamah through a pipeline, which is presently used as access way and contains a hand-dug earth drain flowing from the Park into Epene Stream through Okpako settlement.

The shanty structures inhabited by so many people who have no sanitary facilities, resulted to indiscriminate defecation all over the place. Some persons, due to the high population density of the area, put up insanitary commercial toilets and channel the waste into the earth drain that flows down through the slum along the pipeline, also making the place inaccessible.

The Trailer Park and the resulted slum are very filthy and dirty with heaps of refuse scattered all over. The residents of this slum also dispose their refuse along the East-West road directly opposite Daewoo Nigeria Limited, a Korea Company, constituting a serious menace to the public, moreso, polluting the Epene Stream which hitherto serves as source of drinking water for the people of Ebubu.

The houses are made mostly of corrugated iron sheets and timbers. A few are normal block houses, but they are invariably so tightly spaced together that even commercial motorcycles (popularly known as Okada) find it difficult to gain access. Vehicle owners in the settlement park their vehicles along East-West road, Onne road or Ebubu road and trek to their homes down in the hovels.

There is an awful stench that hangs in the air and those who spend some time there carry this odour around town, giving off a whiff of decay.  Trailer Park is deafening and disorderly. Even some corporate bodies are not left out in polluting the environment as they have turned the area into a junkyard for dumping of toxic wastes and other dangerous materials.

Lamenting the environmental degradation of the area, Senior Pastor with the Assemblies of God Church, Okpako, Rev. Eugene Osarobele said, “Last year they dumped something here and fire engulfed the whole area. People were burnt to death, and properties worth millions of Naira were destroyed. This year again, the same business people have come to dump Chemicals, and those mostly affected are women and children”.

A woman was killed last year by inhaling Chlorine fume that leaked into the atmosphere when the container exploded. Many children whose respiratory system were affected by the fume also died later in the hospital – an incident which forced Daewoo Nigeria Limited to shut down for two days.

It took the intervention of experts from NOTORE Chemicals Limited, Onne and INDORAMA Eleme Petrochemicals Company Limited to seal up the hazardous, destructive and killer toxic explosion and prevent further loss of lives.

Apart from sanitation, the most critical and worrisome attributes of the Trailer Park is the total lack of security and the reign of the laws of the jungle put in place by underworld mafia lords who made themselves immune to the laws of the land.

Until recently, the law enforcement agencies were unable to take control of crime in the area. Robberies were committed in broad day light. Women were regularly raped. Hardly does a week pass without people being murdered. There was an unwritten law which forbids victims of crime to report to the police, even with a police post in a Caravan along the East-West road. Those who break the law will pay with their lives or those of their dear ones.

Of a truth, some gang chiefs have erected permanent outposts where sentries are stationed to watch out for the presence of law enforcement agents. There are also landlords and caretakers who rule by the gun. There are gunrunners who feel free and fear no laws. There are drug dealers who fear no NDLEA operatives. There are also hired killers who laze about with sharp knives and tout for jobs. There are freelance assassins waiting for any odd jobs.

Of course, there are legions of sundry criminals who serve as recruits for political thuggery, oil bunkering, foot soldiers, prostitutes, armed group informants, and so on. Trailer Park appears to be on its own, having a government of its own. What harm has these hardened criminals and prostitutes at Trailer Park not caused to lives and property in Eleme as the area continue to offer them safe haven.

Another contributory factor is the demolition of waterfronts in Port Harcourt and its environs and the sacking of the residents which created hundreds of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Rivers State. This development resulted in mass movement of different types of people into Ebubu and contributed immensely to rising cases of crime in the area. The social decays which prompted the sacking of these waterfronts are known to all of us. These evils find their way into Ebubu and the result is increasing cult cases, armed robbery, rape and other sundry crimes.

 

The inability of the former Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to provide alternative settlements for these internally displaced persons coupled with the lack of adequate arrangements to mitigate the diverse negative impacts of unplanned mass movement of people into Ebubu is worrisome, and therefore calls for immediate attention by the present Rivers State Government under the able leadership of Chief Barr. Nyesom Ezenwo Wike to addressing the increasing security challenges arising therefrom in Ebubu.

In recent times Ebubu had recorded an increase in violence clashes between warring street gangs. The Trailer Park has become a strategic staging area for cultists and other criminals to kill, kidnap, rob and rape both indigenes and non-indigenes alike at random.

Many of the toughest secret cult groups have their operational centers in the shanty hiding village of Okpako – Trailer Park, because it provides excellent hiding place and escape outlets in an emergency.

The security threat posed by these illegal, lawless and irresponsible settlers at the Trailer Park is real. The Trailer Park is home to many hardened criminals and prostitutes. They have transformed the hitherto peaceful and orderly Ebubu towns and villages into violent and crime infected communities where cultists, armed robbers, rapists and other hoodlums operate freely day and night.

The roles being played by non- indigenes in the ongoing violence in Ebubu have revealed the danger posed by continues existence of Trailer Park.  Let Trailer Park go!

It is on record that during the Town Hall Meeting held with Eleme people at Ambassador Nne Furo Kurubo Modern Secondary School, Ebubu on August 19, 2010 the Ex-Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi directed the then Executive Chairman of Eleme Local Government Hon. Oji N. Ngofa to demolish the Trailer Park “to give way for the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone complex, and to arrest the health hazards and threats to lives and property posed by the illegal, lawless and irresponsible settlers at the Trailer Park”.

This directive, as loud and clear as it came, was not implemented. Today, all communities in Eleme are facing one security threat or another. Ekporo has been sacked; the very survival of Ebubu is severely threatened. There are reported cases of cult related kills in Ogale, Alesa, Aleto, Alode, Agbonchia, Onne, Eteo, etc.

The criminality, hostility, and lawlessness of the illegal settlers at Trailer Park grow by the day. There resistance to the law of the land and disregard for government authority and development is bothersome.

When on Wednesday 2nd April, 2014, the Eleme Local Government decided to take development to the illegal settlers at the Trailer Park by grading an access road hardly did the authority know that the exercise will be stiffly resisted and turned out to be bloody. Government officials led by the Supervisor for Environment, Chief Emmanuel Oluji and the Secretary of Ejamah Council of Chiefs and Elders, High Chief Augustus A. Yanwi were rough handled, attacked and assaulted by these hoodlums who ganged up into a mob. The grader’s windscreens were shattered, and the Operator beaten mercilessly, not minding the presence of the police.

The lack of security is a major problem in Ebubu in particular and Eleme in general. Trailer Park should be sanitized. Everything possible should be done to provide security of lives and properties in the area.

Towards this end, all law abiding citizens and residents of Ebubu are to support government’s determination to make Ebubu safe and secure, so that people can go about their legitimate businesses without fear.

The Trailer Park area is porous and poses a serious threat to peace and security within Ebubu and Eleme. Therefore, the calls for the destruction and dismantling of all houses around Trailer Park, and for the government to in turn provide an alternative accommodation for the residents are not out of place.

This is a call on the security agencies to beam their security lights on Trailer Park and possibly take over the place.

Instead of this vast portion of land to be left fallow or provide sanctuary for criminals, it can be used for other meaningful developmental projects such as a Housing Estate or a Standard Market or a Standard Motor Park to serve the Onne Oil and Gas free Zone and the Onne Ports Complex.

My investigation revealed that the owners of the land are willing to donate the land for any of such developmental project. These are all public revenue generating ventures that the government can exploit for the benefits of the citizens. Continue reading

Wike Government Should Not Tolerate Cultism

Wike Government Should Not Tolerate Cultism
This article originally titled “Cultism in Ebubu: The Way Forward” was first published on the website, http://www.ollorwi.com.ng on Monday 13 January, 2014. It is modified and reproduced here to move us to ask ourselves what we have done as a people since then to provide solutions to the lingering cult clashes in Ebubu.

Cultists are group of persons or illegal gang that operates underworld and without public recognition that may be violent in nature against nonmembers especially when a member or group inordinate needs and demands are not met. Cultism is a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of the Nigerian society and has shattered the once serene Ebubu clan. In recent times we have recorded over thirty painful cult related deaths. While some were shot dead; others were strangled to death, yet others died in cult associated fatal road mishap during the burial of a victim of cultists’ outburst.

Apart from the display of shame, the Ebubu Cult Crisis from August 8 to September 29, 2013 resulted in the dead of over 30 people; a hundred families and two hundred and twenty individuals were displaced; about 10 others were injured; properties worth over 1billion Naira were damaged and the socio-economic life of Ebubu completely paralyzed.

The recent clashes between two rival cult groups have killed more than 10 people and completely shut down Ebubu as the place has been totally evacuated by both indigenes and residents. All shops and businesses in Ebubu have been forced to close as the cultists adopt new strategy of robbing and raping, in addition to terrorizing law abiding citizens. All markets in Ebubu have been under lock and keys for the past two months. The doors of most schools in Ebubu have remained close since the resumption of schools in the state this term.

There have accusations and counter-accusations between the Chiefs and the Police. While the Police are accusing the chiefs of not giving them enough information and help in their fight against cultism, the Chiefs are pointing accusing fingers at the Police for aiding and abetting the crime of cultism in Ebubu. A Chief was recently quoted as saying, “… anytime we call them (the Police), the team of policemen will switch on their siren about two kilometers away informing the people (cultists) they were coming.

“Many of them bought lands from these boys and so any policeman that has served up to five years in Eleme needs transfer in order to bring peace in Eleme because they have been so used to these boys….”

The Ebubu Youth President, Comrade Atonseobari Ojinga, corroborated the allegations of complicity in the war against cultism in Ebubu leveled against the Eleme Police. He observed that “the time lag in responding to distress calls by police from Ogale or Onne provides opportunity for these criminals to operate and escape before the arrival of the police”. He went on to repeat the call on the Rivers State Government to provide a Police Station in Ebubu.

Severally, the Chiefs of Ebubu have been arrested and severally they have been released for lack of complicity in the cult clashes that has sacked the community. What next? Going back to the basis is suggested. We must understand what cultism is all about. The environmental and social factors that give rise to cultism, the foundations and nurturing processes; the motivations and perceived benefits that attract and sustain recruits, and give them the morale to commit atrocities.

Of the five categories of cults in Nigeria namely: classical confraternities, mafia cults, female cults, godfathers’ cults and terrorists’ cults, two are present and operational in Ebubu. These are godfather’s cults and terrorist’s cults. Godfatherism is fast growing secret cult in Eleme, that s usually prominent before, during and after elections. The godfathers lure these innocent youths with drugs and monetary inducement and further promises to shield them, give them political appointments and huge monetary rewards which usually turn out to be ruse. And for fear of reprisal these guns and ammunitions are never withdrawn but left in the hands of these criminals and bandits with which they perpetuate violence in the community.

The cultists in Ebubu concern themselves with perpetuating crimes and fear of crimes by constantly terrorizing law abiding citizens, disposing them of their properties, rape and killing. The ancient city became deserted when the cultists introduced robbing and rape into their operating formula.

The chiefs and elders’ attempt to use “Ogbe” to control arms bearing and other violent crimes failed due to high level of insincerity displaced by the traditional rulers, Chiefs and Elders. The fear by some of these chiefs that their family may be victimized due to their complicity in the cult crisis necessitated the quick removal of the “Ogbe”. And the secret revocation of the “Ogbe”, brought about the collapsed of traditional authority as things felled apart.

However, during the 2013 cult clashes, efforts marshaled by few traditional rulers who were at home with the assistant of the then Executive Chairman of Eleme Local Government Council, Hon. Oji N. Ngofa to use intelligence and law enforcement resources to control these youths yielded positive results and provided the platform for the majority of the Traditional Rulers, Chiefs, Elders, citizens and residents on self-exile to return home.

It is clear that the Ebubu Youth Council Caretaker Committee have failed to address the Ebubu Cult crisis, the major problem it was created to solve. This failure is a clear manifestation of the rot in our system and the danger in politicizing youth leadership.

I predicted thus in 2013, ‘As peace is gradually returning, it will be disservice to the Eleme nation, if we wait until these young boys and girls get further loose, relocate to “Ɔpε” or into the creeks and consolidate to unleash greater havoc on the masses before we act. The invocation of “Ete Ɔpᴐᴐ” (Traditional Mace) and “Nkpᴐrᴐ” (Traditional Staff) are but temporary measures likely to fail as did “Ogbe”’.

CAUSES OF CULTISM IN EBUBU
The problems of rising cases of cultism and insecurity in Ebubu in particular and Eleme in general can be traced to so many factors. Some of these factors are:

1. Intermittent Communal Crises between Eleme and Okrika

These crises encouraged the procurement of guns and knives proof charms for majority of the youths to protect them during these wars. The cessation of hostilities did not terminate the potency or otherwise of the charms. Majority of these youths still believe that they are invisible, that they are guns and matches resistant. The crises also exposed the youths to places where they can procure these charms.

The police and other law enforcement agencies should step up their intelligence mechanism and expand their investigative tentacles to uncover these native doctors/medicine men as part of the processes of containing the menace of cultism in Eleme. The traditional rulers can be helpful in this regard.

2. Chieftaincy Tussle and Acrimony among the Chiefs

Chieftaincy tussle and acrimony among the chiefs of Ebubu have assumed an alarming state. It is a cold war that many do not know it exist yet its impact is being fetched in the activities of these young boys and girls who are being misled for their sponsors’ selfish goal. Government must address the emerging time bomb in Ebubu and in other clans and communities of Eleme before it explodes and consume us all.

Government must step in to solve the problems of acrimony among the chiefs in Ebubu to avoid total breakdown of law and order. The rising fire can be felt by careful observers, especially security experts who cannot claim ignorance of the danger posed by increasing chieftaincy tussle and acrimony in Ebubu.

3. Rivalry Among Youths’ Bodies

The way and manner most of the youth’s bodies in Ebubu were elected and inaugurated left much to be desired. In most communities that constitute Ebubu due processes were not followed. Besides, political considerations and personal interests took prominence over transparency, common sense, and community interests. The results are rising cult related killings, crimes and general fear of crimes. The government owes it a duty to check undue rivalry among the youths by ensuring that where due processes were not followed to elect and constitute a youth body, something is done to address the shortcomings so as to carry everybody along and promote the spirit of comradeship and brotherhood among the youths.

The politicians should reconsider their present stand of seeing youths and youth bodies as standing armies with which to win elections; and therefore must manipulate youth elections’ processes so as to install cronies and empower them in preparations for elections. This mindset has robbed Elemeland of peace and purposeful leadership. Community leadership, at all levels, is the purview of Council of Chiefs and Elders. The earlier we understand this the better it will be for Eleme.

Also, towards this end, the traditional rulers should wake up from their slumber or sleep and invoke appropriate traditional instruments in exercise of their powers. Traditional stool is not met for those alienated from what makes the people unique in their own way.

This trend, if left unchecked, the politicians will soon usurp the powers of Ogbo Nkpᴐrᴐ in the selection and installation of traditional rulers; they will decide who becomes a Land Priest/Traditional Prime Minister); and they will also choose who leads Egbara Eta and Mba Eta. Developments that will further provoke our ancestors, split our generation, and retard our civilization.

4. Social Decay

The general collapse of the value system, disregard for human life, lack of respect for elders and constituted authorities, absence of the once cherished spirit of communal love and peaceful coexistence, and total alienation of the youth from customs and tradition of the people of Eleme due to rapid industrialization and shameless display of ill-gotten wealth are major contributory factors to the uncontrollable incidents of cult induced killings and wide spread terrorism in Ebubu that needed urgent remedy through reorientation and reawakening.

5. Unemployment
An idle mind is the devil’s workshop says a popular adage. The rate of unemployment in Ebubu is alarming. You need to take a walk around the community any afternoon and see for yourself the number of youths idling away doing nothing. Something need to be done and quickly too to address the problem of unemployment in Ebubu.

6. Illiteracy

The level of illiteracy in Ebubu is very high compare to other clans of Eleme. This may sound embarrassing and unacceptable to some of us, but, we must tell ourselves the truth for once. There is urgent need for the government to device ways of getting our youths back to school. An educated mind cannot be easily convinced into carrying weapons to terminate the life of a fellow human being or destroy properties maliciously. Government should look in this direction as part of long term solutions to insecurity in Ebubu and Eleme generally.

7. Desperate Politicians

It may seem myopic or even unspeakable, but the fact is that some desperate politicians are behind the cult crises in Ebubu either during the preparation for the launch of their political ambition or to propagate their popularity or to wrestle political mandate from opponents, or to keep stolen mandate. Whatever way, ignorantly, though, they should be told in clear terms that what they are doing tantamount to building terrorists cell and is against the law of this country especially the provisions of the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011.

8. Laxity on the Parts of Law Enforcement

The laxity on the part of law enforcement arises from the failure of intelligence security and the gap existing between the Police, Neighborhood Guards and the citizens. The State Security Service (SSS) as plain clothes force should as a matter of priority sit up to its responsibility by gathering real time intelligence that will help check these cultists and criminals. They can create a local ruse force to conduct pseudo operations among these youths. There is urgent need for greater presence and interactions in the communities, use of non-law enforcement resources that breaks cultural, language and information barriers and promotes trust and common goal.

Besides, the animosity and struggle for supremacy between the SSS and the Police in Eleme which is visible and which has robbed them the sharing of intelligence and other information over the years, must be resolved now if the security agencies must deliver on their mandates.

9. Drug Abuse and Addiction

A walk along any street in Ebubu in particular and Eleme in general will reveal immediately the harm hard drugs has done to our young boys and girls. There is virtually no street in Ebubu without at least three to five drinking joints and a hard drugs dispensing closet. Most cult related violence is traceable to effects of hard drugs. Security agencies must brace up to the fight against drug abuse in the area. Identification and rehabilitation of addicts is not out of place as part of immediate solution.

10. Arms Proliferations

The proliferation of small arms in Eleme is of great concern to security practitioners. While many of these arms can be traced to the Eleme and Okrika/Ogu communal conflicts as pointed out earlier, others are linked to the recent Niger Delta “militants for negotiation for development” operations. Still others were purchased by the criminally minded to terrorized innocent citizens and residents and dispose them of their belongings. There is therefore urgent need for the government to put all necessary machinery into motion to mop-up these arms. Arm for money strategy is recommended here propelled by the spirit of conditional amnesty.

11. Influx of Displaced Waterfronts’ Residents

The demolition of waterfronts in Port Harcourt and its environs and the sacking of the residents created hundreds of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Rivers State. This development resulted in mass movement of different types of people into Ebubu and contributed immensely to rising cases crimes in the area. The social decays which prompted the sacking of these waterfronts are known to all of us. These evils find their way into Ebubu and the result is increasing cult cases, armed robbery, rapping and other crimes.

The inability of the Rivers State Government to provide alternative settlements for these internally displaced persons coupled with the lack of adequate arrangement to mitigate the diverse negative impacts of unplanned mass movement of people into Ebubu is worrisome, and therefore calls for immediate attention to addressing the increasing security challenges arising therefrom.

It is therefore not out of place to call on the authorities of Eleme Local Government to do something about “Trailer Park” in Ejamah Ebubu which has become the den of criminals in the area. Attention should also be focused on the security red spots in Alesa, Agbonchia, Akpajo, and Onne that are fast emerging as criminals breeding centers in Eleme.

Conclusion

Cultism is a thorn in the flesh of the people and a clog in the wheel of progress of Ebubu Clan. To eradicate this monster, the family, school and church must accept their responsibilities of providing good basic home training, moral and spiritual orientation to the children. The government must eradicate those issues that give rise to crimes and social decay, while law enforcement agencies should ensure that any person who falls short of the law faces the rod of the law. This will create and sustain sanity in our society.

It is now the duty of the various stakeholders in Ebubu Clan to avoid a repetition of the ugly experience of the past which led to breakdown of law and order, and work towards ensuring lasting peace in the area. This, they could do by constantly and continuously monitoring the youth bodies in the area and calling them to order whenever they are derailing.
The chiefs on their part are also advised to institute an effective and efficient peer review mechanism to prevent what might be detrimental to the fragile peace in the area.

The Rivers State Government should also consider the request of the traditional rulers, chiefs, elders and opinion leaders of Ebubu Clan concerning establishing a Police Post in the area. Considering the rapid industrialization that is taking place in the area and uncontrollable influx of people from various parts of the world and the country into Ebubu the request for a police station in the area is not out of place but a priority. Police presence is a good deterrent.

Let it be pointed out here that a place have been donated by the people, it has been inspected and confirmed suitable by the police authority in Eleme. What is delaying the approval and take off of the Police Post in Ebubu?

While appreciating the efforts of the Council Chairman and Chiefs and Elders of Ebubu to checkmate the menace of cultism, it is pertinent to call on all concerned stakeholders to ensure that the passion and zeal demonstrated in the course of searching for workable solutions to the problems of cultism is not abandoned midway as that will be more disastrous.

It is also important to call on the Federal Government to consider addressing those long term factors that gave rise to cultism in the areas such as illiteracy, unemployment, and frustration in addition to the short term solutions being implemented.

The Wike government should not tolerate cultism in any part of Rivers State. The government should as a matter of priority encourage the communities to implement zero tolerance to cultism and other vices. The government can only do this by ensuring that anybody caught, no matter from which home he comes, gets an appropriate punishment. Community leadership needs the support of government, law enforcement agencies, and parents to ride the villages of cultists and other bandits. That is, to solve social decay, all stakeholders must cooperate with community leaders so that they can maintain the required discipline.

If parents monitor their children well, they will be under their control. Besides, the government should improve on deliverance of the much talk about dividends of democracy by ensuring that security and welfare of the people are given prominence. Rivers Youths deserve quality education and employment, uninterrupted electricity supply, water and roads, quality health facilities, clean environment and other social infrastructures that guarantee acceptable standards of living for all.
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Cultism in Eleme: The Way Forward

ImageCULTISM IN ELEME: THE WAY FORWARD

  

INTRODUCTION

Cultists are group of persons or illegal gang that operates underworld and without public recognition that may be violent in nature against nonmembers especially when a member or group inordinate needs and demands are not met. Cultism is a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of the Nigerian society and has shattered the once serene Ebubu clan.  In recent times we have recorded over thirty painful cult related deaths. While some were shot dead; others were strangled to death, yet others died in cult associated fatal road mishap during the burial of a victim of cultists’ outburst.

 

Apart from the display of shame, the Ebubu Cult Crisis from August 8 to September 29, 2013 resulted in the dead of over 30 people; a hundred families and two hundred and twenty individuals were displaced; about 10 others were injured; properties worth over 1billion Naira were damaged and the socio-economic life of Ebubu completely paralyzed.

 

Of the five categories of cults in Nigeria namely: classical confraternities, mafia cults, female cults, godfathers’ cults and terrorists’ cults, two are present and operational in Ebubu. These are godfather’s cults and terrorist’s cults. Godfatherism is fast growing secret cult in Eleme, especially with the approach of elections. The godfathers lure these innocent youths with drugs and monetary inducement and further promises to shield them, give them political appointments and huge monetary rewards which usually turn out to be ruse.

 

The cultists in Ebubu concern themselves with perpetuating crimes and fear of crimes by constantly terrorizing law abiding citizens, disposing them of their properties, rapping and killing. The ancient city became deserted when the cultists introduced robbing and rapping into their operating formula.    

 

The chiefs and elders’ attempt to use “Ogbe” to control arms bearing and other violent crimes failed due to high level of insincerity displaced by the traditional rulers, Chiefs and Elders. The fear by some of these chiefs that their family may be victimized due to their complexity in the cult crisis necessitated the quick removal of the “Ogbe”. And the secret revocation of the “Ogbe”, brought about the collapsed of traditional authority as things felled apart. However, efforts were marshaled by few traditional rulers who were at home with the assistant of the Executive Chairman of Eleme Local Government Council, Hon. Oji N. Ngofa to use intelligence and law enforcement resources to control these youths, which yielded positive results and provided the platform for the majority of the Traditional Rulers, Chiefs and Elders on self-exile to return home.

 

It is clear that the Ebubu Youth Council Caretaker Committee have failed to address the Ebubu Cult crisis, the major problem it was created to solve. This failure is a clear manifestation of the rot in our system and the danger in politicizing youth leadership.

 

As peace is gradually returning, it will be disservice to the Eleme nation, if we wait until these young boys and girls get further loose, relocate to “Ɔpε” or into the creeks and consolidate to unleash greater havoc on the masses before we act.  The invocation of “Ete Ɔpᴐᴐ” (Traditional Mace) and “Nkpᴐrᴐ” (Traditional Staff) are but temporary measures likely to fail as did “Ogbe”.  

 

CAUSES OF CULTISM IN EBUBU

The problems of rising cases of cultism and insecurity in Ebubu in particular and Eleme in general can be traced to so many factors. Some of these factors are:

 

1.      Intermittent Communal Crises between Eleme and Okrika

These crises encouraged the procurement of gun and knife proof charms for majority of the youths to protect them during these wars. The cessation of hostilities did not terminate the potency or otherwise of the charms. Majority of these youths still believe that they are invisible, that they are guns and matches resistant. The crises also exposed the youths to places where they can procure these charms.

 

2.      Chieftaincy Tussle and Acrimony among the Chiefs

Chieftaincy tussle and acrimony among the chiefs of Ebubu have assumed an alarming state. It is a cold war that many do not know it exist yet its impact is being fetched in the activities of these young boys and girls who are being misled for their sponsors’ selfish goal. Government must address the emerging time bomb in Ebubu and in other clans and communities of Eleme before it explodes and consume us all.

 

Government must step in to solve the problems of acrimony among the chiefs in Ebubu to avoid total breakdown of law and order. The rising fire can be felt by careful observers, especially security experts who cannot claim ignorance of the danger posed by increasing chieftaincy tussle and acrimony in Ebubu.

 

3.      Rivalry among Youths’ Body

The way and manner most of the youth’s bodies in Ebubu were elected and inaugurated left much to be desired. In most communities that constitute Ebubu due processes were not followed. Besides, political considerations and personal interests took prominence over transparency, common sense, and community interests. The results are rising cult related killings, crimes and general fear of crimes. The government owes it a duty to check undue rivalry among the youths by ensuring that where due processes were not followed to elect and constitute a youth body, something is done to address the shortcomings so as to carry everybody along and promote the spirit of comradeship and brotherhood among the youths.    

                                                

 

 

4.       Social Decay

The general collapse of the value system, disregard for human life, lack of respect for elders and constituted authorities, absence of the once cherished spirit of communal love and peaceful coexistence, and total alienation of the youth from customs and tradition of the people of Eleme due to rapid industrialization and shameless display of ill-gotten wealth are major contributory factors to the uncontrollable incidents of cult induced killings and wide spread terrorism in Ebubu that needed urgent remedy through reorientation and reawakening.

 

5.      Unemployment

An idle mind is the devil’s workshop says a popular adage. The rate of unemployment in Ebubu is alarming. You need to take a walk around the community any afternoon and see for yourself the number of youths idling away doing nothing. Something need to be done and quickly too to address the problem of unemployment in Ebubu.

 

6.      Illiteracy

The level of illiteracy in Ebubu is very high compare to other clans of Eleme. This may sound embarrassing and unacceptable to some of us, but, we must tell ourselves the truth for once. There is urgent need for the government to device ways of getting our youths back to school. An educated mind cannot be easily convinced into carrying weapons to terminate the life of a fellow human being or destroy properties maliciously. Government should look in this direction as part of long term solutions to insecurity in Ebubu and Eleme generally.

 

7.      Desperate Politicians

It may seem myopic or even unspeakable, but the fact is that some desperate politicians are behind the cult crises in Ebubu either in preparation for the launch of their political ambition or to propagate their popularity. Either way, ignorantly, though, they should be told in clear terms that what they are doing tantamount to building terrorists cell and is against the law of this country especially the provisions of the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011. 

 

8.      Laxity on the Parts of Law Enforcement

The laxity on the part of law enforcement arises from the failure of intelligence security and the gap existing between the Police, Neighborhood Guards and the citizens.  The State Security Service (SSS) as plain clothes force should as a matter of priority sit up to its responsibility by gathering real time intelligence that will help check these cultists and criminals. They can create a local ruse force to conduct pseudo operations among these youths. There is urgent need for greater presence and interactions in the communities, use of non-law enforcement resources that breaks cultural, language and information barriers and promotes trust and common goal.

 

Besides, the animosity and struggle for supremacy between the SSS and the Police in Eleme which is visible and which has robbed them the sharing of intelligence and other information over the years, must be resolved now if the security agencies must deliver on their mandates.

 

9.      Drug Abuse and Addiction

A walk along any street in Ebubu in particalr and Eleme in general will reveal immediately the harm hard drugs has done to our young boys and girls. There is virtually no street in Ebubu without at least three to five drinking joints and a hard drugs dispensing closet. Most cult related violence is traceable to effects of hard drugs. Security agencies must brace up to the fight against drug abuse in the area. Identification and rehabilitation of addicts is not out of place as part of immediate solution.

 

10.       Arms Proliferations

The proliferation of small arms in Eleme is of great concern to security practitioners. While many of these arms can be traced to the Eleme and Okrika communal conflicts as pointed out earlier, others are linked to the recent Niger Delta “militants for negotiation for development” operations. Still others were purchased by the criminally minded to terrorized innocent citizens and residents and dispose them of their belongings. There is therefore urgent need for the government to put all necessary machinery into motion to mop-up these arms. Arm for money strategy is recommended here propelled by the spirit of conditional amnesty.

 

 

11. Influx of Displaced Waterfronts’ Residents

The demolition of waterfronts in Port Harcourt and its environs and the sacking of the residents created hundreds of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Rivers State. This development resulted in mass movement of different types of people into Ebubu and contributed immensely to rising cases crimes in the area. The social decays which prompted the sacking of these waterfronts are known to all of us. These evils find their way into Ebubu and the result is increasing cult cases, armed robbery, rapping and other crimes.

 

The inability of the Rivers State Government to provide alternative settlements for these internally displaced persons coupled with the lack of adequate arrangement to mitigate the diverse negative impacts of unplanned mass movement of people into Ebubu is worrisome, and therefore calls for immediate attention to addressing the increasing security challenges arising therefrom.  

 

It is therefore not out of place to call on the authorities of Eleme Local Government to do something about “Trailer Park” in Ejamah Ebubu which has become the den of criminals in the area. Attention should also be focused on the security red spots in Alesa, Agbonchia, Akpajo, and Onne that are fast emerging as criminals breeding centers in Eleme.

 

Conclusion

Cultism is a thorn in the flesh of the people and a clog in the wheel of progress of Ebubu Clan.  To eradicate this monster, the family, school and church must accept their responsibilities of providing good basic home training, moral and spiritual orientation to the children. The government must eradicate those issues that give rise to crimes and social decay, while law enforcement should ensure that any person who falls short of the law faces the rod of the law. This will create and sustain sanity in our society.

 

It is now the duty of the various stakeholders in Ebubu Clan to avoid a repetition of the ugly experience of the past which led to breakdown of law and order, and work towards ensuring lasting peace in the area. This, they could do by constantly and continuously monitoring the youth bodies in the area and calling them to order whenever they are derailing. The chiefs on their part are also advised to institute an effective and efficient peer review mechanism to prevent what might be detrimental to the fragile peace in the area.

 

The Rivers State Government should also consider the request of the traditional rulers, chiefs, elders and opinion leaders of Ebubu Clan concerning establishing a Police Post in the area. Considering the rapid industrialization that is taking place in the area and uncontrollable influx of people from various parts of the world and the country into Ebubu the request for a police station in the area is not out of place but a priority. Police presence is a good deterrent. 

 

Let it be pointed out here that a place have been donated by the people, it has been inspected and confirmed suitable by the police authority in Eleme. What is delaying the approval and take off of the Police Post in Ebubu?   

 

While appreciating the efforts of the Council Chairman and Chiefs and Elders of Ebubu to checkmate the menace of cultism, it is pertinent to call on all concerned stakeholders to ensure that the passion and zeal demonstrated in the course of searching for workable solutions to the problems of cultism is not abandoned midway as that will be more disastrous.

 

It is also important to call on the Federal Government to consider addressing those long term factors that gave rise to cultism in the areas such as illiteracy, unemployment, and frustration in addition to the short term solutions being implemented.

Ebubu Requests for Police Post

The people of Ebubu in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State of Nigeria have called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to establish a Police Post to check rising cases of cultism, armed robbery, rapping and other crimes in the area. In a letter to the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, the Traditional Rulers, Chiefs, and Elders pointed to the recent rival cult clashes in the area which left several people dead and disrupted the socio-economic life of Ebubu for almost two months.  

The letter reads in part, “The Traditional Rulers, Chiefs and Elders of Ebubu met yesterday over the cult crisis that left many people dead and the social and economic life of Ebubu disrupted and resolved to request for permanent Police presence in the area”.

They noted that the ad-hoc arrangements of drafting in the police during emergencies have failed to check emerging security challenges in the area, stressing that the distance between the Eleme Divisional Police Headquarters in Ogale Nchia and the Nonwa Police Station in Tai Local Government Area “is so much that these criminals capitalized on it to perpetuating their crimes”. The presence of security’s red spot like the Trailer Park in Ejamah Ebubu, its proximity to other emerging criminals breeding centers like Onne Port (FOT Junction), Eleme New Town in Ogale, and AP in Alesa, combined to put so much pressure on the existing security resources in Ebubu thus the urgent need for permanent police post in the area.

“We also wish to point out that the former Ebubu Health Center is vacant. The Center has also been inspected and found suitable by the former Eleme Police DPO, Mr. Fienyobo Sinclair earlier this year and was donated for use by the force”, the letter explained.

It is also evident that the traditional rulers, chiefs, elders, and elites of Ebubu have made former physical presentation of their demands to the Rivers State Deputy Commissioner of Police in Port Harcourt yet nothing positive have come out.

It is very unfortunate that such an important request that bears on the peace and security of a people has received no attention. The continue delay, silence and inaction of the Rivers State Police authority on this issue calls for concern by all well-meaning people of Ebubu and Eleme.

The provision of security is the sole responsibility of the Government and not traditional rulers that are neither recognized nor paid nor empowered through whatever means by the Government to execute security functions.

Having provided adequate accommodation and agreed to cooperate with law enforcement authorities, it is the opinion of the custodians of the people’s culture and tradition that if their request is granted the rising cases of insecurity in Ebubu will be checked and lasting peace will return to the area.