This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Cults, Evil With No Redeeming Features -Don

Regrets being part of the formation of the Pyrates Confraternity

Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Ibadan,Professor Muyiwa Awe, has described campus cults as evil with no redeeming features.

Awe,who made the remark in Lagos recently at the launching of a book, "Help for Cultists" by a Pastor Barnabas Otoibhi, reflected on their formation of the Pyrates Confraternity (PC) in the early 1950s and regretted that he was ever part of the formation.

According to him,recent events have shown that they were guided by ignorance in the formation of the body that has today turned out to be one of the most dreaded secret cults in the nation's campuses.

"Sometime during the 1953/54 session at the University college, Ibadan, now University of Ibadan, seven of us, idealistic young students started the Pyrates Confraternity (PC). At its inception, the confraternity was not a secret society, but you had to be invited to join. We did not swear to any oath of secrecy nor did we bind ourselves with blood convenants, we held public outings in which we paraded the streets of the campus in broad day light. Our identities were known by members of the University College, both staff and students, and no one felt threatened by the existence of the confraternity.

"Some of the aims and objectives of the PC as we set them out were: (i) to abolish convention (ii) to revive the age of chivalry and (iii) to end tribalism and elitism. "... Certainly, we espoused noble aims and good intentions but there is an English saying that the way to hell is paved with good intentions",Awe remarked.

He denied that his wife was ever one of those who formed the PC as being claimed in certain quarters just as he dismissed such other claims that they formed it out of frustration.

"It is necessary to make it clear that we did not form it because we were frustrated. For instance, Wole Soyinka only did a session at UI after the formation. He left for Leeds to complete his studies because his area of specialisation was not available at UI then. And by the Grace of God, he made a Second Class Upper (2:1) at Leeds. In my own case, I made a First Class at UI".

The President, Fullness of Christ Evangelical Ministry (FOCEM), who said he fully embraced Christ and became a Born Again Christian at the age of 59, said not withstanding the fact that the PC has always resisted attempts to classify it with campus cults, "many of the cults insist on a connection, even if only by inspiration".

Besides, he said many across the nation regard the pyrates as the fountain-head of campus cults. He pointed out, however, that when the PC was the only students' club of its type in existence, it acquitted itself creditably.

"At one stage, there was a directory of the confraternity, showing the names of members, their fields of study in the University and their addresses. It also published a campus paper, the "Scorpion", Professor Awe said.

Pointing out that whatever were their intentions when it was formed,recent events have shown that they were essentially evil with no redeeming features,Awe said the groups recruit new members by enticement, inducement and intimidation, explaining that membership were kept secret and those initiated cannot withdraw upon pain of death.

Realising that secret societies are not only illegal but unconstitutional, the Professor of Physics said the fact that they still thrives is an indication of flaws in the society.

He said six reasons among others accounted for the derailment of the PC's train. These, according to him, were uncontrolled proliferation of cult, emasculation of Students Unionism, lack of facilities for teaching and learning in the educational institutions, overcrowding and environmental degradation, poor quality of some students who gained admission into tertiary institutions by questionable means and the culture of violence that has gradually enveloped the nation.

PC, according to him, was the only fraternity in existence in the campuses for the first 20 years or thereabouts until 1972 when the Buccaneers and Eiye Confraternities came to public notice.

"Before 1972, a group, which started as a social club, was infiltrated by erring pyrates, who were disciplined in their confraternity and found the discipline too irksome to bear. The social club eventually metamorphosed into the Eiye confraternity at a date which is uncertain.

"In 1972, the then Captain of the PC fell foul of the norms of the society and was to be disciplined. Instead of submitting to discipline, he started a rival organisation, the Buccaneers. Into this new body, many, who applied to join the PC and failed at interview stage, found a ready haven as well as in Eiye. Such drop-outs and rejects harboured feelings of bitterness and envy against the PC. Feelings of superiority also pervaded the decks of the pyrates at this time, so that the seed of unhealthy rivalry and bitterness was planted from their inception", Awe noted.

To worsen matters, he said while the earlier confraternities tried to compete with and rival the pyrates, later cults, which did not pretend to have any laudable objectives, sprang up across the campuses.

He lampooned the decision of government to make membership of students' unions in Universities voluntary, saying that it not only left student unionism in the hands of student activists, in many Universities and other higher institutions, student union governments were hijacked by the most prominent cults on the campuses.

Professor Awe noted with regret that attempts at solving the problem of violence by cults had not achieved appreciable result. For instance, he said in an attempt to stay above the fray and distance itself from the violence by cults, the PC formally registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission under the name National Association of Seadogs (NAS) with a central co-ordinating body in 1980, after which it banned the establishment of the PC on University campuses, but the ban, according to him, has been unsuccessful as the confraternity was still on the campuses.

Also, he said Decree 47 of 1989 gave Universities' governing councils the power to proscribe any unlawful society as well as prescribed a jail term not exceeding five years and/or a fine not exceeding N50,000.00 for anyone convicted under the law. The decree, he pointed out, has not recorded much success because of the requirement of proving a case beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law, especially in situations where witnesses were hard to come by.

Added to that, he said old cult members, who graduated years ago were now holding positions of responsibility in society and in various arms of government through out the federation, stressing that loyalties within the cults die hard.

Another dimension to the problem, he explained, was the fact that the menace of campus cultism was basically a spiritual problem.

In his view: "What we set up in 1953 had no spiritual foundation and it has been easy for Satan and his agents to hijack campus cultism and make it what it has now become.

"In addition, the names, symbols and slogans of the earliest confraternities confirm the absence of a spiritual foundation or the presence of a negative one. For instance, pyrate is a corruption of the world pirate, which means a robber on the high seas. He is also a person who appropriates without right the work of another.

The symbol of the PC is a skull with two cross bones, which is normally used as a symbol of death or as a warning label on poisons

"Buccaneer is a synonym for pirate; he is also a robber, seeking to obtain another person's property by force or intimidation. The slogan of the Eiye Confraternity is: Eiye o ni 'sasun, eiye Mbuta. This implies reaping where one has not sown, which is the normal activity of a thief and a robber.

"The Bible says: Death and life are in the power of the tongue. After three decades of confessing negative things into themselves, the negative things began to manifest in the cults so that they are now essentially evil.

"Speaking now as a spiritual person, we know that the spiritual realm is divided into two opposing kingdoms - the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. The kingdoms are constantly at war. The war will end with God's final victory when Satan and his angels, together with his spiritual and human agents and followers, would be cast into the lake of fire".

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