135 people were murdered in reported internecine strife by cultists and communal clashes across the State within the past six months in 2023.
Governor Godwin Obaseki said the victims were among the reported 500 homicide cases, noting that 24 deaths were recorded from the the month of December 2023 alone.
He stated this the first Security Council Meeting for 2024 with heads of Security agencies in the State in Government House, Benin City, Edo State Capital.
The Governor explained that the Council reviewed data on crime from July to December 2023, noting that homicide recorded the highest numbers of incidents which can be linked to cult-rated activities.
He said, “From the month of December alone, out of the 83 incidents reported, 24 are related to homicide. For the last six months in 2023, for instance, out of 500 incidents reported, 135 had to do with homicide and we lost 135 people from mostly cult-related activities and community clashes.
“This is an issue of concern to the State and the Council took a decision to delve deeper into the data to understand the specific situation and reasons driving this high level of homicide in the State”, he said.
Continuing, Obaseki said, “We have just concluded the maiden Security Council Meeting for the year and reviewed crime indices, not only for December but for the last six months of 2023.
“We reviewed the data from July to December and noticed that the biggest security challenge we have in Edo State today is homicide, arising largely from cult-related activities and probably community clashes.
The Governor further noted that the Security Council mandated the Commissioner of Public Safety, Kingsley Uwagbale to work with security agencies to tackle cultism in the State.
Obaseki noted that “Cultism will be addressed from two distinct approaches which include ensuring diligent investigation and prosecution of cult related crimes and ensuring high publicity to the crime through the prosecution process. Secondly, we need to get to the root cause of this high incidence of cultism.”
The Governor assured that “The Commissioner for Public Safety, working with security agencies and institutions of higher learning in Edo State will be carrying out some activities including sensitization at different public fora and perhaps a conference within the next few weeks to make sure we sensitize parents and members of the Community more on the issue of cultism.
“As it relates to the possibility of increased incidence during political activities, we got assurance from various security agencies that action will be stepped up to make sure that venues are adequately protected during such activities and encourage political parties to inform security agencies when carrying out such political activities”, he said.
The Governor also received the newly deployed Commander, 4 Brigade Nigerian Army, Brig Gen Ebenezer O. Oduyebo and Commissioner of Police, Edo State, Funso Adegboye on the sidelines of the Security Council meeting.