ORIGIN & HISTORY OF CULTISM IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES

Campus cults have contributed a major threat to academic program in our universities, and these cults encourage moral ruin, murder, terrorism, sexual harassment, rape, armed robbery, prostitution, etc. The campus which is supposed to be a centre for knowledge acquisition has become a devil’s nest for cultist operations. Cultists have turned some campuses into something entirely different, instead of justice, there is survival of the fittest! Instead of peace, we find tales of horror and brutality instead of love. There are intimidation, tortures and murders. Morality seems to have gone to zero degrees, and academic pursuit which is supposed to be of primary importance has been relegated to secondary priority. Naturally, the question people will tend to ask are what type of secret cult is unleashing terror of this kind in our campuses.


¤ What are the attractions of this cults that lure students into them?
¤ What are their mode of operation?
¤ And what can be done to check-mate their nefarious activities!

These cults are often saddled with different interests and conflicting ideas. These are some groups that are interested in maintaining the supremacy of the Capone and still there are others that are bent in undermining his power and such situations results to shooting and killings in the campus. The Capone’s power is often checked by the elders. If the Capone abuses his power, there is bound to be revolt by some of his officers and such things happen in campus where there might be coup against the Capone or mutiny in the rank and file of the soldiers.
The Capone survives his reign by using divide and rule tactics, where he uses one principal officer against another, and this can cause problem in the school.
The Capone has different officers manned by capable hands for the smooth running of his affairs. His powers are composite and are lodged in different offices; it is entirely difficult for the Capone to collect the annual dues from members. A Capone has the right to tax members and get tribute from them. He has corresponding obligations to dispense justice to them and to ensure their protection from rival cult groups. Supernatural control of events in the bedrock of cultism and this ritualistic attitude has always being associated to everything cultic!
The Mau-Mau cult of East and Central Africa is one of the oldest local cults in Africa. Their initiation is just like every other cults, but with some interesting differences just like every other cult. Oaths taken by Mau-Mau involves removal of shoes and shorts which is followed by the administration of oath of unity called Ndenwa Ihatu. They are often thoroughly to test their ability to absorb pain. This is followed by the passage of an Arch built by banana stems by intending initiates. The chief priest of this cult often hold the lung of a goat in his hand and as he circles the ground the heads of intending initiates are required to be facing the ground. He normally circles the different heads of this initiates seven times after which he gives the new members the same goat lung to have a bite. After this an oath is given as follow;
• I speak the truth and now before god, and this group, the movement of unity, the unity which is put to test, the unity which is mocked with the name Mau-Mau. That I shall go forward to fight for the land, and if I fail to do this, may this oath kill me, may this seven kill me, and may this meat kill me!
After this, the chief priest anoints the head of the new members with the blood saying that this is done to remind them of the fight ahead. After these, tiny marks of the Mau-Mau cults are scratched on the left wrist of members. The drops of blood from the wrists would drop into the meals in which is later eaten. The chief priest thus chants; "the act of eating this meat, with the blood of each one of you shows that you are now united one to the other and with us".
The oath gives cult members powers and strength and they have the belief of superiority above other non-cultist. The negative effect is that the cultists often regard their previous life as empty and new form life as fulfilling and the next thing is to trivialize their education. The invitation ceremony gives them feeling of being born again and opportunity for dangerous adventure.
The Zangbeto cult in Badagry Lagos is another cult that perform social and spiritual role. They help to maintain law and order, and in keeping the community clean. By using its symbol of banana leaves in areas it does not want refuse dumps, indigenes automatically stop littering the area. The activities of these cults have made it possible for Badagry to be relatively crime free at that period. The head of this cult is called Zanagan. He is the spiritual head. Secret cults in African societies are valuable as instrument of social control. There are other types like Ogboni, Oro, Egungun, Ekpe-Okpinon, Kamalu, Nfam, Eno-Orugbo, Oje, Gbara-Jike, Agemo, Awo-Opa, Igbe, Oghere-Uke and Ekpo.
The evil cult groups can be seen in the atrocities as they perpetrate in the campuses. Every cult group, be it local, foreign or in campuses is simply cultic and should be jettisoned from our socio-academic vicinity. Groups referred to as secret cult in campuses is often characterized by secret initiations, secret rituals, nocturnal meetings, horrifying and dreadful practices. These cults are often known for organizing and using individuals for revolutionary purposes, violent, social upheavals, and subversive conspiracies against constituted authorities and violation of the integrity of man (mental and physical tortures). They exact blind obedience from members and are geared towards their selfish ends, norms of academic environment and the normal life of a civilized society.
HISTORY OF DIFFERENT CULTS
There are many secret societies in our campuses. Campus cults are modification of the mother groups in the wider society like Ogboni, AMORC etc. The earliest form of these cults flourished in Egypt, Greece, Rome and China. These cults are there for purposes, like security of member by the performance of rituals. These campus cults differ in name but their activities are similar.
1. NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SEA DOGS (Pirates Confraternity)
The association was founded in the University of Ibadan in 1956. They have equally deviated and the outcome is unpalatable for the non initiates called “Jew men”. The flag of skull and cross bones is the authoritative symbol of this group. The term Jolly Barger was used first in 1700, though “Barger” is used today for Viking members. The black background is the true representative, but red is often used even these days, especially when pirates intend to give no quarter. Their colour is white and red. They are particular greeting form. The pirate confraternity is the oldest campus cult in our universities. It was established in 60’s in our first generation universities. This is an offshoot of the pirate of England. The history of the pirates is that full of intriguing beginning. The pirates in old English society of the 18th century sail on high seas with their flag of skull and cross bones searching for buried treasures. They capture helpless crew and vent out of their ruthlessness on them by stealing their cargoes. Privacy was at a time the most common hazards on the sea. In 1718, the activities of this group and the pirates were check-mated by the British men of war. Pirates leaders were offered pardon if they would surrender their ships and gave up their attacks. Just like the way Federal Government is calling upon the various groups to rest their arms and stop their cynic lifestyle. It was in the 19th century that combines team of English and American army to get rid of the coastal areas free of pirates. In Nigeria, it has been easy so that the better part of the 21st century would be pure.
Their colour is yellow.
2. THE CONFRATERNITY (Mafia confraternity)
This was founded in the University of Ife in 1972. Their colour is green, and their symbol is a casket with two staffs aligned to it.
3.NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF AIR LORDS (Five Confraternity)
This was founded in the University of Ibadan. Their colour is blue, with a carved wooden sculpture as their symbol.
4. NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ADVENTURES (The Vikings fraternity)
This was founded in the University of Portharcourt in 1982. Their colour is Black and Red. The Vikings are seafarers. The first Vikings raid was in the year A.D 787 when they used slim ships each with a single square sail and long oars to raid the south coast of England. They used various types of musical instruments like battle axe, edge sword to butcher their victims. Vikings is a Scandinavia cult, for 260 years the bold ruthless north men called Vikings penetrated all of England. They built cities in Ireland and gained a powerful province in France. They raided Spain, Italy and North Africa and established a kingdom in Russia. The north men who settled in Ireland founded a colony in Greenland and also discovered America. These north men are feared and hated as plunderer. In their home land they were honoured as sea adventures. When they left on voyages it was said that they went in Vikings. Experts think that the term may have come from the old Scandinavian word “Vik” meaning “bay or Greek”. The north men are scattered all over the world because of too many people and too little land. They often have good fighting tactics, and making peace with them is often difficult. The first democratic government since ancient Greece was established by two Viking brothers outlawed from Normandy because of murder, they are Leif Ericson. Eric the red was a murder too. Leif sailed to Greenland with 35 north men and reached a place they called Vinland. This is where we call America today. It was founded 500 years ago before Columbus discovered America. “Columbus discovered America, but it was first discovered about 500 years ago before, by Leif Ericson and named it Vinland.
5. NEO BLACK MOVEMENT (Black axe confraternity)
This was founded in <>University of Benin in 1984. This cult was formed as a result of the need to have pure black African group that is original and African. They believe in equality and individual freedom. They often display a great loyalty to one another, and it is often run in a typical African way of doing things. Along the line they deviated just like the foreign established ones, they started engaging in fights for supremacy and these fights started to bring chaos in schools. They are fetish oriented and believe in crude way of doing things that are Un-African. They have their headquarters in Benin, and they use dangerous weapons for their attack. This group often appeals to the toughest of the students who believes that black is power. Other groups include:
The Black beret (B.B)
Trojan horse
Temple of Eden
KKK
Osiris
, etc.
All their activities are virtually shredded in an oath-bound secrecy. Those cult groups use different colours for identification of their members. Each of these cults have specific name with which they operate in the bush. They are called bush names.
Example of these bush names are;
Obalende
Utake
Koko
, etc.
Only initiates call their fellow members these names, and it equally function as a guise to the person’s original names, and these bush names acts as a deep cover!
 INITIATION OF NEW MEMBERS
Igodo (2002:1) outlined the processes of cult members initiations. This is the most important stage in cult activity. This involves the indoctrination, orientation and teaching of the ethos of cult as well as the rituals and rites, which the initiate is obliged to undergo. This is mostly conducted undercover. Igodo, (2002) noted that it is prominent manifestation the administering of alien materials to the initiated. This can be in the form of drinking concoctions, blood oaths strange spiritual rite and rituals which climax in his willful surrender of his ego and consciousness to the spirit being that enter and control him. The initiate comes out of initiation in possession of secret signs, symbols and marks to be preserved and protected.
The indoctrination and orientation which entrants receive which in most cases is product of hallucinations and hypothesis makes them to accept and to carry out actions that have no moral justification such as killing, arson and rape.
Thereafter, after the candidate’s have been through this stage, they are taken for a level of initiation, which takes the form of physical drilling and brutalizing. After, the initiate is told some of the members who are regarded as role models either on campus or in the larger society. (Berger 2001:6). They tell the initiate he is about to join a prestigious organization that would change his life for the better. He is told that he is about to move from being a boy to a man” and from being “Blind to being wise”.
This session could be best described as a revelation’s and according to (Igodo 2002). Discovers several people one have suspected are members of the cult. At intervals, different drilling team comes to ‘take you up”. This is cults colloquial phrase to beating you up”. Initiates are subjected to several experiences, threats, scams fear and many other subterfuges. (Igodo 2001:41 are used. In this drilling sessions initiates are subjected to countless rules to which they are not even aware. After this, if the intended initiate is found worthy, the initiate thumb is pierced with a blade and he is told to tough the blood to a sheet of paper. It is some kind of signature and signifies your acceptance of being a member of the brother hood”. This document is kept jealously and even when you are being let off the hook, you are told that it could be used against you if you decide to reveal what has been seen. After this, the following rules are laid bare before the new initiate:
(i)       You are asked if you really decide to join the fraternity.
(ii)     You are told the creed and made to rule it.
(iii)   You are subjected to questioning sessions where your ability o think quickly and logically is tested.
(iv)   You are made to a cocktail, i.e. a mix of several drinks, which may be used to test your “staying power”.
Finally, the initiate is asked to identify and after the initiate does this, the cycle of initiation is considered completed.
CONSEQUENCES OF BEING A CULT MEMBER
(i)       Contamination of deadly diseases through blood oath: During initiation, old members and new initiates normally take blood oath from the mixture of blood of new initiates. This can certainly spread HIV/AIDS; hepatitis B and other deadly diseases.
(ii)     Killing and destruction: one can be a victim of intra-cult clash. A member is prone to heinous crimes, violence and killings.
(iii)   You can destroy your future career if you are expelled from school.
   SOLUTIONS TO CULT PROBLEMS
(A)     The government: our government has to be responsible. Corruption starts from the top and pollute the bottom. Our government should take serious interest in education and fund the universities more. It is due to poverty that some female students take to prostitute in order to meet the financial demands of the school. The government should resuscitate facilities like scholarships, bursaries, so that these young people concentrate in their studies and will have no opportunity to include of in cultism.
(B)     Parents: Parents have a very big part to play inculcating morality in their children because cultists exists in secondary school, successful parenting requires courage and parent should be close to their children.
(C)     Church: The churches also have their role to play. They should organize programmes to sensitize children about the evils of cultism. They should also preach about cultism from the pulpit.
(D)    The university Authorities: The University authorities should desist from various abuses through various inconsistent policies which often lead students to think of protecting their interest with what ever means at their disposal including cult activities.
(E)     The student: Students too should note that it is hard work before pleasure and face their studies with all concentration, let them preoccupy themselves in religious activities or programmes such as Christian Association on Campus where they can grow spiritually, so that they will not succumb to peer pressure.
 INITIATION OF NEW MEMBERS
Igodo (2002:1) outlined the processes of cult members initiations. This is the most important stage in cult activity. This involves the indoctrination, orientation and teaching of the ethos of cult as well as the rituals and rites, which the initiate is obliged to undergo. This is mostly conducted undercover. Igodo, (2002) noted that it is prominent manifestation the administering of alien materials to the initiated. This can be in the form of drinking concoctions, blood oaths strange spiritual rite and rituals which climax in his willful surrender of his ego and consciousness to the spirit being that enter and control him. The initiate comes out of initiation in possession of secret signs, symbols and marks to be preserved and protected.
The indoctrination and orientation which entrants receive which in most cases is product of hallucinations and hypothesis makes them to accept and to carry out actions that have no moral justification such as killing, arson and rape.
Thereafter, after the candidate’s have been through this stage, they are taken for a level of initiation, which takes the form of physical drilling and brutalizing. After, the initiate is told some of the members who are regarded as role models either on campus or in the larger society. (Berger 2001:6). They tell the initiate he is about to join a prestigious organization that would change his life for the better. He is told that he is about to move from being a boy to a man” and from being “Blind to being wise”.
This session could be best described as a revelation’s and according to (Igodo 2002). Discovers several people one have suspected are members of the cult. At intervals, different drilling team comes to ‘take you up”. This is cults colloquial phrase to beating you up”. Initiates are subjected to several experiences, threats, scams fear and many other subterfuges. (Igodo 2001:41 are used. In this drilling sessions initiates are subjected to countless rules to which they are not even aware. After this, if the intended initiate is found worthy, the initiate thumb is pierced with a blade and he is told to tough the blood to a sheet of paper. It is some kind of signature and signifies your acceptance of being a member of the brother hood”. This document is kept jealously and even when you are being let off the hook, you are told that it could be used against you if you decide to reveal what has been seen. After this, the following rules are laid bare before the new initiate:
(i)       You are asked if you really decide to join the fraternity.
(ii)     You are told the creed and made to rule it.
(iii)   You are subjected to questioning sessions where your ability o think quickly and logically is tested.
(iv)   You are made to a cocktail, i.e. a mix of several drinks, which may be used to test your “staying power”.
Finally, the initiate is asked to identify and after the initiate does this, the cycle of initiation is considered completed.
CONSEQUENCES OF BEING A CULT MEMBER
(i)       Contamination of deadly diseases through blood oath: During initiation, old members and new initiates normally take blood oath from the mixture of blood of new initiates. This can certainly spread HIV/AIDS; hepatitis B and other deadly diseases.
(ii)     Killing and destruction: one can be a victim of intra-cult clash. A member is prone to heinous crimes, violence and killings.
(iii)   You can destroy your future career if you are expelled from school.
   SOLUTIONS TO CULT PROBLEMS
(A)     The government: our government has to be responsible. Corruption starts from the top and pollute the bottom. Our government should take serious interest in education and fund the universities more. It is due to poverty that some female students take to prostitute in order to meet the financial demands of the school. The government should resuscitate facilities like scholarships, bursaries, so that these young people concentrate in their studies and will have no opportunity to include of in cultism.
(B)     Parents: Parents have a very big part to play inculcating morality in their children because cultists exists in secondary school, successful parenting requires courage and parent should be close to their children.
(C)     Church: The churches also have their role to play. They should organize programmes to sensitize children about the evils of cultism. They should also preach about cultism from the pulpit.
(D)    The university Authorities: The University authorities should desist from various abuses through various inconsistent policies which often lead students to think of protecting their interest with what ever means at their disposal including cult activities.
(E)     The student: Students too should note that it is hard work before pleasure and face their studies with all concentration, let them preoccupy themselves in religious activities or programmes such as Christian Association on Campus where they can grow spiritually, so that they will not succumb to peer pressure.
Who is Responsible?

We all are. Let us briefly review the hierarchy of responsibility.

The Government

Violence has for a long time been part of our political culture since independence starting with the crisis in the West. Also, since independence, we have never had good governance. Even during the democratic government in the second republic, the image of the Kill and Go police was overwhelming. The military came and seriously dented civil conduct and deeply implanted in our psyche the culture of violence. The most significant imprint of violence on our psyche took place in October 1986 when Dele Giwa was issued the letter bomb.

We all know what followed; the unbridled breach of rights accompanied by torture and murder sponsored by the state which all contributed to the pervasive culture of violence that enveloped the land. No institution was spared.

Military governance also gave rise to extreme moral decadence in the society. Honour and integrity were no longer virtues to be respected.

The economic decay largely engendered by corrupt governance led to job insecurity, poor pay and general job dissatisfaction. The result was massive brain drain from the academic community at a time there was an explosion in University enrolment. This affected student/staff ratio with severe impact on the quality and intensity of learning.

Alongside all these was failure to invest appropriately in the educational system leading to collapse of facilities and decay of the academic environment.

Far more significant than all the above was the unwholesome infiltration of the groups and the large scale impersonation that occurred. Under military sponsorship, a lot of crimes were committed which were attributed to the fraternities. Armed robbers claimed to be cultists when arrested. The military sponsored a lot of killings and other forms of violence and blamed it on the cultists in their well known art of disinformation. Before long, this truth will be exposed.

The Institutions

They too contributed. University administrators became autocratic as they had to obey orders from the powers that be made up of people who themselves did not have the benefit of higher education. The impact of a General becoming the Vice Chancellor of a university with sole powers through military fiat should not be lost. Regrettably, no Professor got appointed even a Brigade Commander, not to talk of GOC. This major assault on the academia was not enough to trigger an ASUU strike in protest against a clear debasement of their sphere of influence and control.

"Blocking", a system of grade purchase became rampant. A student need not go to class as long as he is well connected, preferably if he is a cult member, or if she is beautiful and is willing to deal. Otherwise, if he or she can pay the price, the grade is assured.

The absence of virile student unionism resulting from the Akanbi Panel recommendation that student unionism be banned or at most be made voluntary contributed significantly to this problem. Although five students died following the ABU crisis that gave birth to the Justice Akanbi panel, the adoption of that recommendation enabled most Vice Chancellors to move in the direction of outright destruction of student unionism. This created a vacuum that was exploited by the cultists over the years.

Right under the watchful eyes of the University authorities, students sold bed and floor spaces to fellow students with the connivance of Students Affairs Officers and Hall Wardens. In some cases, a 90 per session bed space was sold for as high as 20,000 to 30,000.

We have it on good authority that these so-called cultists were used to settle personal scores on many occasions. We had student versus student, lecturer versus lecturer, student versus lecturer. After all, a Vice Chancellor once used them to harass and/or sack lecturers and student union executives.

When in those days, Professors and Lecturers were rushing to take government appointments, some of us warned on the long-term danger of this unwholesome collaboration with the military and the danger of erosion of the cherished autonomy of the institutions. Defending their autonomy and integrity clearly became subordinate to the opportunity for personal enrichment that government appointments offered.

Some Professors recruited these cultists in their campaign to become Vice Chancellors while others used them to fight students unions. They were not so recruited because they were the best in intellect. Rather, their disposition towards thuggery was the qualification required to make them suitable for those assignments. Banning and un-banning students unions and ASUU became very much a fashion for the military. The instability in student unionism promoted by the administrators on the orders of their military masters clearly provided fertile ground for the growth of cultism and its attendant violence.

Given the large number of Psychologists, Sociologists and Social Scientists in the academic community, it is significant to note that no major scientific study was carried out on the cult phenomenon. There was no authoritative study and proposals on how to achieve modification in the behaviour of the cultists and wean them from drug and violence throughout the fifteen-year reign of terror on our campuses. Elsewhere, books would have been written, journals would have been awash with papers and articles giving us all an insight into the psychometric profile of the student cultist.

As an aside, many of us still look forward for that Professor that will provide this nation an insight into the mind and personality of Abacha (really the principal cultist) and the motivation for his voracious appetite for wealth, women, power, and control.
{mospagebreak}

The Students Unions

Many of them lost focus and assumed the very dictatorial and anarchist character of the military regimes they claimed to be fighting. They became contemptible of all laws of the land. Operationally, it became difficult to distinguish student union officers from the cultists. Whenever a student leader wanted to "chop", he creates a crisis that sends the rest of the students out of campus. While managing those artificial crises, they also managed their pockets. We know of Union Executive members who collaborated with university administrators to trade bed spaces in the hostels.

Although it must be acknowledged that many students played significant roles in the struggle against the military domination, they also contributed equally significantly to the moral decay that became the lot of our higher institutions and the society at large.

Others

The media, the general public, parents, etc. also contributed their quota to the degeneration. We all inadvertently massaged the ego of the criminals in the schools each time we called them cult members and painted a picture of them as the ultimate in machismo. As if murder committed by a so-called cultist is of a different category as that committed by any other citizen and therefore requires different judicial approach, we failed to show the necessary resolve that would have put those murderers behind bars.

Up till now, I do not think we have learnt the lessons. Otherwise why would those arrested in connection with the OAU incidence be charged before a Magistrate court which we all know lacks jurisdiction over murder cases? Some say there is no law under which to try the murderous cultists. Sounds more like an escape from responsibility.

References:

Makanjuola, O. A Psychologist, A Parent and A University Teacher Takes a Look at Cultism in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions Paper delivered at NAS Annual Converge on 21.8.99
Oguntuase, Ben Violence and Cultism in Tertiary Institutions: The Way Out Paper delivered at NAS Annual Converge on 21.8.99
Oguntuase, Ben Open Letter to Nigerian Students on Campus Banditry 13.7.99
Baird, William R. 1920 Manual of American College Fraternities Menasha, Wisconsin: Banta, 1968
Robson, J. The College Fraternity and Its Modern Role. Menasha, Wisconsin: Banta, 1966
Ritchie, Jean The Secret World of Cults Angus & Robertson, 1991. urder regardless of who the perpetrator is.
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