Cult groups raze police headquarters in Bayelsa as 20-year-jail term awaits convicted cultists

Suspected armed cultists on Thursday attacked the divisional headquarter of the Nigerian police force in Oporoma, the headquarters of the Southern Ijaw local government area and set the station ablaze.

It was gathered that the attack on the police station was carried out after a suspected cultist involved in the rescue mission of another cult member from the police was shot dead.

According to Arch convener of a Non-governmental organization, Patriotism Advancement and Community Orientation Network (PACON), Comrade Aluzu Ebikebuna Augustine, the incident threw the community into chaos.

The Bayelsa state police command, in a preliminary report confirming the incident and signed by the spokesman, DSP Asinim Butwat, “report indicate that a suspected cultist who was on police wanted list for various heinous crimes such as kidnapping, sea robbery, armed robbery, and acts of pipeline vandalism, was arrested and detained at the Oporoma police division, Southern Ijaw LGA, preparatory to be transferred to the state criminal investigation intelligence department (SCIID), Yenagoa.

“The suspect on 21 March, 2018, attempted to escape from lawful custody and was shot by the police officer on duty. Other members of the suspected cult group mobilized and attacked officers on duty at the police division and set it ablaze. Additional policemen were deployed to restore normalcy in the community.

“There seems to be emergence of cases of cultism in Bayelsa state, we call on members of the public to volunteer useful information and to assist the police in curbing the ugly trend of cultism among our teeming youths”.

Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State House of Assembly has commenced the process to amend the secret cult bill to include a 20-year-jail term for any persons arrested and sentenced for cult violence and activities in the state.

The motion for amendment, which was moved on the floor of the State House of Assembly by the leader of the House, Hon. Peter Akpe (Sagbama 2), also included the legal backing to the Nigerian Police to search any vehicle suspected to carry illegal arms and ammunitions, arrest and the magistrate to remand any suspect arrested for cult related activities for 30days.

The amendment also empowers the state governor to revoke the certificate of occupancy of any property or premised used to hold meetings of suspected cult groups in the state.

Deliberating on the Secret Cult/Societies and Similar Activities prohibition (Amendment) Bill, 2018 on the floor of the House, the members of the State House of Assembly agreed that with the worrisome rise in cult activities and killings in the state, the amendment will provide the needed bite to the security personnel to deal decisively with suspected cultists with legal restraints.

Hon. Peter Akpe, who presented the first reading of the amendment and also sought the permission of the House for expeditious reading of the Bill at second reading, said the amendment is needed to strengthen the law against cultists in the state.

According to Akpe: “At inception in 2012, the present administration silenced secret cult activity with the passage of the Secret Cult prohibition Bill. But now, the Bill seems not have achieved the desired effect. The Bill is to be strengthened because the state government and the Assembly are interested in a peaceful society.”

The members that contributed the discussion on the proposed amendment, Hon. Gentle Emela (Yenagoa 3), Mrs. Koku Obiya (Yenagoa 2), Hon. Ben Ololo (Nembe 2) and Hon. Salo Adikumo (Sagbama), noted with concern the rising attacks and killings carried out by secret cult members and agreed that the amendment is apt and welcomed.

Hon. Ololo urged the State Assembly to also make provision to prosecute and arrest those involved in the sponsorship and hiring of the services of suspected cult members in the State, this will save Bayelsa youths from early deaths.”

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