Dept: CRIMINOLOGY File: Word(doc) Chapters: 1-5 Views: 4


The existence of cultism in our tertiary institutions of learning is not in doubt. It has caused several problems to the students and parents in particular and the schools and nation in general. This study examined the prevalence of cultism, interrogated the determinants of cultism and identified the measures that can be put in place to control the menace of cultism in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. The Social learning theory, Differential Association theory and Labelling theory were reviewed in the study. However, Social learning theory by Bandura (1977) was adopted as the theoretical framework. This is a cross sectional survey design and a sample size of 204 respondents was chosen for the study. The multi stage sampling procedure was used for the collection of the quantitative data for the study. The questionnaire and the In-depth Interview (IDI) guide were the instruments for data collection. The quantitative data collected were processed and analyzed using Statistical Package fo



Background to the Study

Globally in every higher institution of learning, there are in existence different types of secret ritual groups which are manipulated in the articulation of group functions for a variety of social and political purposes (Opaluwah, 2009). To Opaluwah (2009), one positive thing about these societies is that they do not harm unless provoked and they could serve as an instrument for cleansing the society of any cultural debris. The secret cult phenomenon is not new in Africa. As Aguda (1997) has observed, activities of secret cults like Human Leopards and Human crocodiles, have been recorded in central Africa. In Nigeria, secret cults have always existed in many parts of the country (Adelola, 1997). Among the Yoruba people within the southwest region one can find the Ogboni secret Cult. Among the Efiks of the South eastern part of Nigeria can be found the Ekpe Secret Cult (Adelola, 1997). Also the Ekine Cult is to be found in the Delta region while the Edo of the mid west has the Owegbe cult (Adelola, 1997).

The emergence of cult activities in tertiary institutions in Nigeria can be traced back to early 1950s. According to Opaluwah (2000), what is known as campus cultism in tertiary institutions started at the University College, Ibadan (now called the University of Ibadan) Nigeria in 1952, when the institution was still a satellite campus of University of London. It was formed by Nigeria’s only Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, and six others who founded the Pirates Confraternity. The other six are Olumuyiwa Awe, Ralph Opara, Tunji Tubi, Aigimokhuede, Pius Olegbe and Olu Agunloye (Opaluwah, 2000). In the words of Udoh & Ikezu (2015), the pirates confraternity cult group which have the skulls and cross bones as logo was formed with the aim of producing future Nigeria leaders who should be very proud of their Africa heritage, revive the age of chivalry and end tribalism, elevate the social life of the university campus where orderliness and discipline could be planted in the mind of the students/youths who were expected to be future leaders in the Nigeria elitism. According to Rotimi (2005), the activities of pirates confraternity or National association of sea dogs was healthy, fun and harmless. Confraternity was seen as part of social life of the university that existed then. Also there was no form of   taking oath of secrecy, no binding of blood and the identities of members were known to both students and staff (Rotimi, 2005). In addition, Lasisi & Edun (1999) asserted that early confraternities commanded the respect and ration of many people until the graduation of the founding fathers after which internal wrangling and power tussle began to rent the organization which led to the formation of opposing groups such as buccaneers, Eiye confraternity etc.

In defining cultism, Azelama, Alude and Imhonda (2000), noted that cult is an assemblage of people united by certain ideas or symbols and whose rites and ceremonies of veneration are unique and shrouded in mysteries with a secrecy that cannot be broken.  According to Ogunade (2008), secret cult is an enclosed organized association of group devoted to the same cause.  It is an enclosed group having an exclusive sacred ideology and series of rites centred on their secret symbols. Cultism can be viewed as a ritual practice by a group of people whose membership, admission, policy and initiation formalities as well as their mode of operation are done in secret, with their activities having negative effects on both members and non-members alike (Ajayi, 2015). According to Oxford Concise Dictionary of Sociology (1996), cultism can be seen as a small group or religious activities whose beliefs are typically secret, esoteric and individualistic.

Before the mid-seventies, the offer of a university place in any Nigerian university to study for a degree was an honour (Itedjere, 2006). It was an achievement both for the prospective undergraduates and his parents; such feat was worthy of celebration as there were not many universities then, and it was only the best and the privileged few that were admitted into the few available places. That was in the days of the “ivory tower” concept of the universities when universities were repositories of high ideals and enviable academic traditions (Itedjere, 2006). However, today the story is different because cultism has invaded and has come to stay in tertiary institutions in Nigeria capturing the widening scope of the menace of cultism and its accompanying inimical effects (Osezua, 2016). The numerous and diverse activities of campus cult and confraternities which are paradoxical to the earlier vision of the founding fathers have gained undue and unwanted popularity in the institutions of higher learning and the society has borne the brunt of their existence as a result of the fact that lives of promising young men and women have been cut short by the bloody and murderous gangs on campuses (Ajayi, Haastrup,Ekunayo & Osalusi, 2010). In the tertiary institutions today in Nigeria such as Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka these cult groups are involved in activities that could destabilize the smooth running of academic work in the institution (Udoh and Ikezu, 2015). Also, there are reported cases of murder of students in clashes between rival cults, destruction of school properties, raping of female students who refuse to yield to the love advances from cult members, bringing down academic works to nothing, etc (Udoh and Ikezu, 2015).

Moreover, in Nigeria, according to Obamwoyi (2004), the number of secret cults in tertiary institutions and campuses is on the increase. According to Obamwoyi (2004), there are up to thirty-two (32) secret cult societies which exist in our educational institutions nationwide. They include: Buccaneers, Maplates, Blood suckers, Black cat, Mafia, Eiye confraternity, black axe, Red Devil, Black Berret, Green Berret, Trojan house, Neo black, Temple of Eden, raternity Mafiaso, Osiri, Burkina Faso, Mgbamagbu brother, Scorpion, Dragon, Panama, Pirates confraternity, Airwoods, Kuklux (kkk), Amazon, Barracudas, Vipers, Baggars, Ten Ten, etc.

Meanwhile, Olabisi (2003) maintained that despite Decree 47 0f 1989 which provides a five years jail term for anyone belonging to campus cults, cultism has continued to assumes a major social menace and a serious obstacle to peace and harmony in many tertiary institutions in Nigeria. To Arijesuyo and Olusanya (2011) notwithstanding also  the various efforts made by various societal institutions and agencies such as the media, legislation, churches, government and non-governmental organization, etc, to come out publicly and condemn the activities of cultism as a result of all manners of evil such as rape, robbery, murder, killing, intimidation of fellow students and lecturers for good grades has been attributed to it, yet a lot of factors or determinants still prevail its existence. According to Mgbekem (2004), the factors include; Poor parental background, Influence of peer groups, social and moral decadence, search for responsibility and protection among others.  It is therefore against this background that the study is focused on examining the prevalence, causes and implications of cultism in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.

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