A long walk to checking cultism in Rivers community

It’s as if every attempt to checkmate cultism in Eleme community of Rivers state has defied every conceivable solution. GODWIN EGBA reports.

If there is any life-threatening human activity in the Eleme Oil and Gas industrial-rich area of Rivers state that is holding sway to the chagrin of all, it is cultism.

Prior to the storm of cult-related activities in the land, Eleme was known for its peaceful habitation attractive to all and sundry in commercial and industrial business operations. It is a land of 10 autonomous communities hosting Nigeria’s premier oil and gas dedicated free zone with over 200 multinationals in its Onne community with a world-class Indorama, Eleme Petro-chemical and two refineries, among others.

 Eleme people have not lost their peaceful and congenial disposition to non-indigenes living among them, but since the nation’s politics took the center stage over 15 years ago, insecurity became a hedge-hog or an albatross to the government of the state which Eleme Local Government is part and parcel of.

Cultism and other criminal activities such as kidnapping and brazen robbery are not peculiar to the Eleme area alone, but one wonders why all efforts being made by both the state, Eleme local government and security agencies remain a long bridge to cross by relevant authorities like security agencies, community chiefs and youth leaders in order to put the menace in check in the 10  communities of Eleme.

Activities of cultists

Available records has it that cult-related killings have become a recurrent decimal in Eleme where rival cult groups maim each other even to the point of killing some innocent ones that may be related to their cult brothers and cronies.

A record of some cult members and innocent ones who have been killed during their operations in different Eleme communities in the recent past is heart-sinking. For instance, a young man known as Daddy Oboh in Aleto Nchia Eleme was shot dead on Tuesday last week in his room by some unidentified cult members.

The unidentified rival cultists were said to have come for Oboh’s brother at about 9:00 pm but when they did not see their target, they poured their bullets on his brother, Oboh. An eye witnesses disclosed that late Oboh was with his girlfriend who also sustained a bullet wound on one of her hands but was lucky to be alive.

Another victim from Agbonchia Eleme community was also brought down by some cult groups when he ran into them around the Eleme ultra-modern market area.

Yet, another cult clash was reported last week in Ebubu-Nchia Eleme that led to the death of another young man.

A law maker’s appeal

 This prompted a member representing Eleme Constituency in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Aforji Igwe, to make a passionate peace appeal to Ebubu and Agbonchia youths to embrace peace.

The lawmaker said all efforts were being made to calm the situation, as he urged the young people there to shun violence and engage themselves in productive ventures.

Efforts of state assembly

Meanwhile, the penultimate   week, the state House of Assembly passed the Violence Against Persons (VAP) prohibition bill into law. It also conducted a public hearing for the state security Trust fund bill 2019.

 Blueprint could recall that the chairman, Adhoc committee on Rivers State Security Trust Fund Bill 2019, Hon Christian Ahiakwo, called on security agencies, government, public and private sectors to ensure the protection of lives and property of Rivers people.

Hon Ahiakwo gave the assurance during a one-day public hearing on the state Security Trust Fund Bill.

As a lawmaker representing Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Constituency, he said the bill would help to boost effective delivery in the security situation in the state.

Other stakeholders make presentations

 A representative of the Nigeria Police, DSP Desmond Madu, during his recommendation called on the House to include a provision that would cater for all injured police officers in the course of their duty.

The director-general, Rivers State Neighborhood Watch Safety Agency, Uche Chukwuma, said the bill when passed into law, would make the work of security operatives move on effectively to enhance a crime-free society.

Representatives from the 6 Division of the Nigeria army, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, office of the state attorney general, the Nigeria Bar association and the office of the secretary to the state government made their contributions during the public hearing.

The mindless killing of Oboh in Echaapere Aleto threw the family and the entire community members into a mourning mood such that the entire Aleto chiefs and youth leaders rose and summoned a meeting of all stakeholders last Saturday at the Aleto Primary School.

At the end of the meeting, they passed a law banning commercial motor-cycle operators otherwise known as Okada riders form operating in the community as from 6:00pm, saying that failure to observe the law would attract punitive measures.

How long this order would last or what positive result it would yield against cultism and other criminal activities in the area is a question that Eleme residents are asking.

The question is coming up against the back-drop of all previous failed measures taken by concerned authorities in the state and local government to stem the tide of cultism, kidnapping and robbery in Eleme and other communities in the state.

A cross section of concerned Eleme residents who spoke to Blueprint expressed doubt if the Okada ban would work. They pointed out that as long as criminal elements living in their comfort zones in the communities are not exposed but being shielded by their relations and cronies, any order placed to checkmate criminalities would remain a mere tall dream to be realised.

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