Ede-Ma backs Edumoga Youths battle to eliminate cultism in Benue State
A group under the auspice of Ede-Ma Development Association has backed Edumoga Youth Association (EYA) and Edumoga Youth Movement (EYM) to put an end to cultism in Ugbokolo Town and surrounding communities of Amejo and Okonobo wards in Edumoga District of Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State
The National President of the association Michael Agbam and Secretary Mathew Oboyi disclosed this in a joint statement issued to journalists on Friday.
The statement noted that, as a result of the unwholesome cult rivalry, at least 10 youths were reported to have been brutally murdered while commercial activities in the axis were brought to a halt especially in Ugbokolo, Effoyo and Ichakwu, which remain the major economic hubs in Edumoga District.
Explaining reasons why the group has kept mute due to lingering crisis in that environment, the group commended EYA and EYM for their intervention that ended the daily cult killings.
The association further commended them for the strategic initiative to end the malaise of cultism in Edumoga land by enjoining the youth, community and traditional leaders in Amejo, Okonobo and Ugbokolo wards to take oath not to belong to any cult group.
The statement reads in part”While the initiative or strategy of oath-taking to renounce cultism may not be fool proof, it is however a traditional method with proven capacity to eliminate or appreciably reduce the menace of cultism and other forms of criminality from Edumoga.
” In this regard, we enjoin especially the traditional rulers in Edumoga District to give their support and ensure that the exercise is conducted with utmost decorum and civility in line with our culture and tradition.
“As a law-abiding and development-conscious organisation, Ede-ma Development Association (EDA) is worried that the police who are on ground in Ugbokolo and Okpokwu LGA, and who were helpless in the face of the rampant cult killings in Ugbokolo for over two weeks without making a single arrest suddenly leapt to action on the basis of a mere petition by no other person but an alleged cult leader, John Okwori, against Agboji John Audu and some EYA and EYM leaders.
“While we do not, and will never, support a resort to self-help, jungle justice or any form of criminality, we are surprised that the police responded to Mr Okwori’s petition in the manner they did when they failed to, on their own, undertake any preliminary investigation of the matter, including background checks on the character of the petitioner, the killing of about 10 youths within a space of two or three weeks and the series of protests in Ugbokolo township following the bloodbath”.
The statement, however called on the Benue State Police Command to immediately release Agboji John Audu whose arrest and remand, from information available to them and as contained in the Police First Information Report (FIR), are on the basis of frivolous and unsubstantiated allegations of “criminal conspiracy, armed robbery, acts of terrorism, mischief by fire and attempt to commit culpable homicide.
”We are appalled that the police seem to have ignored about 10 homicide incidents and prioritised a petition written on the basis of sheer allegations cooked in the chambers of the petitioner’s lawyer. We call on the Police Command to therefore retrace its steps and commence a thorough investigation of the killings to unravel the killers, as well as the cult groups and their members.No doubt, this is an organised criminality which demands careful and dedicated professional investigative approach and not a hurried arrest and prosecution inspired by a character who is himself a prime suspect.
“We also call on the Benue State Government under Governor Hyacinth Alia to set up a probe panel to investigate and proffer solutions to the increasing cases of cultism, which we gathered, is very much alive in virtually all communities across the state.Ede-ma as a progressive civil society organisation believes that cultism, and indeed all forms of criminality and violence, in any part of the state constitute danger to the security of lives and property, peace and prosperity everywhere”.