Resurgence of cult war in Benin ahead of Saturday polls …NUJ seeks govt. intervention

Resurgence of cult war in Benin ahead of Saturday polls …NUJ seeks govt. intervention

The resurgence of cult war in some parts of Benin, has heightened tension among residents of Edo State, ahead of the Presidential and national Assembly elections in Saturday in Edo State. Neither the government nor her agents are yet to adduce reasons whether the killings are politically motivated. But, as at Tuesday afternoon, no fewer

The resurgence of cult war in some parts of Benin, has heightened tension among residents of Edo State, ahead of the Presidential and national Assembly elections in Saturday in Edo State.

Neither the government nor her agents are yet to adduce reasons whether the killings are politically motivated.

But, as at Tuesday afternoon, no fewer than eight persons were feared dead in cult-related activities, with Aye and Eiye confraternity groups, turning Benin City into a theater of war.

Majority of the killings occurred at Upper Sokponba Area in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State where crooks operate with growing impunity.

Prominent among the victims, are two dark in complexion men, Mr. Osatohanmwen Okunkpolor and another, simply identified as “Mr. Africa”.

The tragedy that happened to Okunkpolor, a hotelier and husband of a Benin-based journalist, Anita Okunkpolor, in Erediauwa Street.

The 43-year-old man, was allegedly murdered by gunmen at the early hours of Monday, while “Mr. Africa”, was killed at a tavern on Tuesday morning at Uyiosa juncture both at Upper Sokponba Area.

The deaths, followed the gruesome murder of a prominent cult leader who was stoned to death last Saturday at 2nd juncture in Oredo Local Government Area of the State.

Spokesman of Edo State Police Command, DSP, Chidi Nwanbuzor, had on Monday, offered an alibi in response to the alleged killings.

He told our Correspondent in a telephone interview that: “Police are on top of the situation”.

He however declined to comment on the number of persons that have been arrested in connection with the killings.

The battle for supremacy among members of the brotherhood over alleged irreconcilable differences, had lingered on for the past four years.

The situation has set residents of the State in a panicky mood, while businesses in Benin City, recorded low patronage.

Besides, it has call to question Governor Godwin Obaseki security architecture; Codenamed “Wabizigan” (wipe away evil doers in Edo State) in which he claimed to have invested N2 billion tax payers money into.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Edo State Council, on Tuesday, decried the rising cases of cult war in Benin.

A statement jointly signed by the Chairman and Secretary of the Union, Comrade Roland Osakue and Titus Akhigbe, called on all the security agencies in Edo State to quickly nip it in the bud before it degenerates to a full blown battle between rival cult groups.

“We are calling on the State government to heed the cry of the people by working hand in hand with the security agencies to put a stop to the cult related killings, which is gradually becoming a daily occurrence in Benin City”.

Recall that Edo State house of Assembly, passed anti Cultism bill, prescribing 21 years imprisonment for any convicted Cultist.

But, taking position from knowledge and distance past, the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, at Media briefing, said 80 percent of crimes in Edo State are cult related.

In response to the killings four years ago, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase ad he then was, had ordered the arrest of leaders of leaders of cult groups, bringing sighs of relief to residents of the State.

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