•Say another was shot dead
•Town elders raise the alarm: Policemen are members of dreaded cult groups
By Dayo Johnson, Akure
AKURE turned into a theatre of war penultimate weekend as cult groups engaged in supremacy battle.
While some youth groups claimed over 10 persons were killed and over 25 others seriously injured in the free-for-all across the Ondo State capital, the police said only three persons were murdered.
However, a crackdown by the police led to the arrest of 36 suspected members of the dreaded groups. The crackdown, according to the state police command, would continue until the state is free of cult activities.
Residents said battleground included areas like Oke – Aro, Old Garage, Nepa Junction, Odi-Olowo, Arakale and Stadium Junction in Akure metropolis.
It was gathered that the killing of a member of the group by a rival group sparked reprisal attack which claimed lives on both sides
Security agents were alleged to have watched helplessly until the second day after no fewer than five persons had either been shot dead or dealt machete blows.
Tension gripped residents as members of the two cult groups, Eiye and Aiye, in broad daylight, killed, maimed and destroyed properties.
Worried by the poor response to the clash, the state police commissioner, Hilda Harrison, summoned top police officers in Ondo and read riot act to them.
Harrison said, “Enough is enough on the breakdown of law and order in the state capital, promising tough times for the hoodlums.
The police chief warned that the command would not fold its hands and allow miscreants continue to disturb peace in the state..
Meanwhile, over 30 suspected cultists arrested in connection with the disturbance have been charged to court for conspiracy, attempted murder and murder and ordered to be remanded in police custody by Chief Magistrate Victoria Bob- Manuel.
Police prosecutor Martins Olowofeso told the court that the suspects conspired and stabbed one Adebayo Samuel with broken bottle all over his body and also shot one Adetunji ldowu to death
Olowofeso added that one ldowu Adetoro and one Oluwafemi Yinka, fleeing from battleground, were hacked to death with machete.
Sources claimed the fighting lingered because some security operatives in the state belonged to the rival cult groups.
The claim was echoed by some community leaders in Akure who said some security agencies in the state were culpable as they aided and abetted those behind the disturbance.
The community leaders, who spoke through a former Ambassador to Greece and Australia, Prof. Olu Agbi, accused security operatives of complicity in the cult war.
The Asiwaju of Akureland asked the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to purge the force of cult members so that the war against cultism and other crimes in the state could be meaningful.
According to him, the purge had become imperative due to the allegation that the police could not deal with the situation because some policemen were members of the rival cults.
“Reports reaching us indicate that some law enforcement agents are members of these secret cults, a situation that has made the fight against cultism difficult for the top hierarchy of security agencies”, Agbi stated.
“Security sources told us that Eiye members in the force would release their members if arrested and brought to police station while Aiye members would do same for their members.
“We call on the Ondo State Police Command to monitor its men posted to the anti-cultism squad so that we will not have cultists masquerading as police officers.
“We urge the setting up of the anti-cultism squad in each of the Police Divisions in the state capital”.
The Asiwaju called on the IGP, the Director General of the State Security Service (SSS) and heads of other security agencies to step up their patrol of the streets of Akure in order to prevent further killing and the breakdown of law and order.
He lamented that apart from the killings by cult groups, there were reports of kidnapping, attacks, armed robbery and killing of farmers by herdsmen, among other heinous crimes in the Ondo State capital.
Agbi lamented that investigations had shown that perpetrators of the heinous crimes had abused the accommodating nature of Akure, noting that most of the crimes had been committed by non-indigenes.
“We welcome non-indigenes to reside without being discriminated against and this has made it possible for them to bag chieftaincy titles in our communities”, Agbi stressed.
“However, our accommodating nature has been taken for granted as members of the secret cults, most of whom are not indigenes of our community, have unleashed terror on residents with reckless abandon. Apart from the killing of hapless people, these secret cult members have made residents to live in fear of either being attacked or being caught in rival clashes. This, we insist, must stop”.
He called on landlords and land owners to screen those to be given their properties so that such properties would not be converted to kidnappers’ den or cultists’ hideouts.
The President of Akure Division Renewal Group, Chief Luyi Rotimi also described as barbaric, evil and inhuman the killings by cult groups in the state capital.
Rotimi appealed to the youths concerned not to turn Akure to a battleground.
“The Akure Division Renewal Group calls on government and security agencies to come to the rescue of the peace loving people of Akure as the primary purpose of government anywhere in the world is the protection of lives and property”, he said.
“The group will not hesitate to call for the instant sack of the leadership of any security agency that fails to help government carry out this primary and all-important responsibility of protecting lives and property”.
Meanwhile, the Deji-in-Council has set up a security committee, headed by Chief Elemo of Akure, High Chief Segun Adedipe, to liase with security agencies to monitor the perpetrators of criminal activities in the state capital and bring them to book.
Also, a youth group, the Akure Youth Organization, called on the state government and the state police command to stop the cult killings in the state capital.
Group President, Tuyi Adekanbi, said,”In the last 48 hours, no fewer than ten alleged cultists had been killed when rival groups engaged in battle.
“Another boy was shot dead at NEPA Roundabout. His remains have been deposited at the morgue. Imagine! Police are out of it this time around. Help us, our youths are dying”.
Another youth group, the Orange Youth Network, expressed concern over the “needless, worrisome and avoidable bloodshed in Akure”.
The Director General of the organisation, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, said the cult war was a “challenge to all as a matter of Urgent Public Importance, and imperative exigency”.
Ajulo called on stakeholders “to leave no stone unturned in putting a stop to this morally reprehensible act, where promising youths of our dear state get their lives wasted, on the basis of cult affiliation clashes.
He went on, “Not less than 11 youths have been wasted in cult clashes in 48 hours.
“Orange Youth Network has budgeted N100, 000 for whoever has, and is ready to give information to unmask the perpetrators of these killings.”
The state police image maker, Femi Joseph, said the cult fight arose from reprisal attack by a group whose member was earlier killed by a rival group.
On the allegation that some policemen belonged to secret cults, the police commissioner, Harrison, said the command was investigating.
Harrison vowed not to shield any of his men found to belong to cult groups.
Speaking on steps taken by the state government to stem crime, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, Segun Ajiboye, said his principal had met with top officials of security agencies in the state on how to flush criminals out of the state.
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