A development friendly Non-Governmental organization-HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has condemned the reported killing last week in Benin City, the Edo State capital of 20 persons allegedly by armed members of various secret cults.
The group blamed the resurgence of secret cults across Nigeria to weak legal framework and compromised constitutional provisions that failed spectacularly to criminalize membership of secret societies just as the group canvassed promulgation by the National Assembly in the ongoing Constitution amendment, of strong and enforceable provisions to spell out severe judicial sanctions for membership by any Nigerian in any secret society.
HURIWA has therefore urged students to engage in constructive extracurricular activities and desist from belonging to fraternities that will endanger the precious lives of themselves and their fellow students and members of the general public. The Rights group also blamed school authorities across the country of failing to administratively stamp out secret cults just as HURIWA raised alarm that top members of various management and governing councils of the tertiary institutions belonged to various secret cults.
In a statement jointly authorized by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs officer Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA lamented that there are no extant statutes or provisions in the nation’s constitution that stipulate punitive measures to be taken by the competent courts of law against citizens belonging to violent secret societies even as the Rights group raised alarm that there are no provisions protecting willing whistleblowers who may want to expose members of secret cults in Nigeria.
HURIWA charged the National Assembly to borrow a leaf from the Cross River State House of Assembly that has since assumption of office in May 2011, passed strict laws banning membership of secret cults by political office holders.
Alleging that several high profile political office holders rode on the back of the overwhelming violent influences of several armed secret cults to win their current offices, HURIWA stated that the time is urgent and ripe for concerted national effort to be galvanized both at the executive and legislative arms of government to stamp out cultism.
The Rights group said that in so far as high profile political elite belonging to secret cults are not named, shamed and a strong law passed to punish such illegal activities, the cases of students in post-primary and tertiary institutions belonging to armed secret societies will continue for a long time to come with adverse consequences to the peace of the nation.
Citing the 1999 Constitution in sections 66(1) (g); 137(i)(h) and 182(i) (h), which cumulatively bars aspirants to offices of President, governor and to state and federal legislature from belonging to secret society, HURIWA claimed that the framers of the 1999 constitution cleverly avoided specifying further punitive sanction for erring citizens even as it queried the rationale for this apparent lacuna committed by the framers of the extant constitution.
HURIWA which averred that the 1979 constitution went further in section 35(4) to define what secret society means, wondered why the extant constitution was evidently silent on the illegality and legal import of the concept of secret society just as it urged the National Assembly to remedy the situation for the sake of posterity.