8 December 2000

Nigeria: Edo State Governor Signs Anti-cult Bill Into Law

Lagos — Governor Lucky Igbinedion of Edo state on Wednesday warned all students in educational institutions of learning in the state to expend their energies towards their academic pursuit, instead of dissipating such on unprofitable, anti-social activities of secret cults.

Similarly, the governor has advised public servants in the state who believe in avenues other than merit for their job elevation to have a rethink.

Igbinedion made this admonition in Benin-City while signing into law the Edo state "Secret Cult (Prohibition) Bill". He noted: "The law bans the existence, activities and membership of any secret cult in any educational institution and within the public service of Edo state."

Reiterating his administration's "strong stance" against the phenomenon of secret cults in the state, he said the law became inevitable to check such situations as witnessed in most higher institutions of learning whereby, he said, "many of our sons and daughters ... were being slaughtered and some others fleeing the campuses for their dear lives, due to secret cult rivalry."

He recalled that he had "personally handed over some secret cult members to the police", adding that the police had sweeping powers under the new law, including the power to "arrest without warrant any person reasonably suspected of having committed or about to commit an offence under the law."

Igbinedion spelt out the penalties awaiting convicted offenders as including 21 years for "a public officer who takes part in any initiations of members of secret cults" or associates with same in any manner whatsoever. The student similarly convicted also faces a 21-year jail term.

"The stiff penalty is to discourage the practice entirely," Igbinedion stressed, warning "any cult members who are still hiding to carry out their operations in any forms". He then encouraged members to come out from such evil groups before the long arm of the law caught up them.

"It is hoped that no student will any longer be found in possession of any dress, costume, regalia, ring, insignia, symbol, register, staff or article belonging or connected with any secret cult," he told the audience, which included many post-primary school students, who witnessed the signing ceremony.

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