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Obaseki bans activities of Okaigheles, declares war on cultism

…As Edo loses 150 persons to cult-related clashes in 5 months

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, has banned activities of Okaigheles (Youth Leader) in Edo South Senatorial District, in a renewed effort to tackle cultism in the state.

Obaseki announced this while speaking with journalists after a closed-door meeting with security chiefs in Benin City, the state capital.

Noting that at least 150 persons have been lost to cult-related activities and homicide since January 2024 till date, Obaseki declared a total war against cultism and set up a special task force of the Security Council headed by the Director of the Department of State Security (DSS) to review every cult related incident in the state.

“We have just finished the Security Council Meeting where we reviewed the security situation in Edo State since January 2024 with particular emphasis on the security activities in Edo in May 2024.

“From the security management report which was considered in our security meeting, we still have a nagging issue in Edo State which is cultism. The incidence of cultism is very high.

“What is particularly worrisome about cultism is the related homicide that goes with cult-related activities. From January to date, we have lost over 150 people to cult-related activities and homicide. We can’t tolerate and accept this situation anymore.

“The council among its decisions, has decided to go full blast against cultists and cultism in the state. We have now passed an anti-cultism law in Edo State and that law will be implemented to its fullest.”

Obaseki added, “We have set up a special task force of the security council headed by the Director of DSS that will from tonight review every cult related occurrence in the State. We will look at all the data, incidents, perpetrators, and those behind these activities, and will make all resources available and leave no stone unturned.

According to him, “Related to cult activities are activities of Okaigeles in Edo South. The council has prohibited forthwith activities of Okaigeles in Edo State. Anybody who claims he is an Okaigele, operating in any community will be dealt with strictly by the law.

“The outcome of our security council meeting today is that the state has declared full war on cultists and Okaigeles in Edo State.”

Funsho Adegboye, Edo State commissioner of police, assured that the security agencies would implement the decision of the state security council without fear or favour.

He said, “We are happy that the State has passed into law the anti-cultism bill as cultists had a field day in the State but this law has a stiff penalty for anybody involved in the act.

“His Excellency has equally directed that no matter how highly placed any individual is, they will be taken to court and such a person will face the penalty.

“On the issue of the Okaigheles, we have been having problems with them as you can’t even separate them from cultism and the council has agreed that they are banned. Anybody arrested will be prosecuted diligently. Council also agreed to have a taskforce headed by the director of the DSS.”

The police chied added, “This is to give members of the public assurances to carry on with their lawful activities. No time frame is given to the taskforce as long as the activities of these people persist. We will collaborate with the judiciary and correctional centres as they will help us with the new law and the time for free bail for cultists is over. We are happy about this law and confident that it would change the attitude of cultists.”