Despite a ban on cultism, constant clashes between outlawed Debam and Iceland confraternities have burgeoned into an alleged killing of at least15 members of the groups in Ukanafun Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Straightnews investigation has shown.
The fight for supremacy between the two dreaded cult groups in the area has stirred up the members to have secretly killed rival cultists between October and November this year.
Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State had in March 2020 proscribed 65 cult groups, and prohibited them from carrying out either secret or public activities in the state.
The new order revoked the 2018 Cultism and other Violent Behaviour Order which placed a ban on the activities of 31 cult groups in the state, which is under the Cultism and Other Violent Behaviour Prohibition Order 2020 in pursuant to section 70 of the Criminal Code, Laws of Akwa Ibom State.
An anonymous source in Ukanafun confided in Straightnews “For the past two months, they have been fighting among themselves. They are on revenge mission. Once a member of a particular cult group is killed, members of a rival group must retaliate. This is what has been happening in the area.
“Most of these boys lived and eked a living from low-income ventures in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital while others living in the villages who could not go further in their education due to dearth of money. So, unemployment is a major source of challenge forcing some of them to be enlisted into the cults.
“Again, the spill-over effects of cult war and violence-related activities in some neighbouring villages in Oruk Anam Local Government Area, bordering some Ukanafun villages, help to ignite the crisis. For example, some villages in Ward 11 of Ukanafun are the hotbed of the crisis.
“So far, no fewer than 15 members have been killed. Members who bore such pet names as ‘Easy Boy’, ‘Scent Leaf,’ ‘Emma,’ ‘Kufre,’ ‘Blackky,’ and ‘Landlord,’ among others, were the victims. The one who was nicknamed ‘Landlord’ and hailed from Ikot Effiong was said to have been beheaded in October by rival cultists. When they kill themselves, they will secretly conduct funeral service for the departed,” the source recounted.
Before September 2018, suspected cultists had turned their guns against residents of and visitors to Ukanafun Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
Some engaged in senseless killings, rapes, arson and kidnapping of residents in the area, forcing many to have relocated to neighbouring local government areas for safety.
In a telephone an interview with Straightnews on Friday, SP Odiko MacDon, Akwa Ibom Police Public and Relations Officer, responded “I do not know how you carried out your investigation or how you arrived at the number of deaths which I can’t confirm because I strongly believe is incorrect.
“I agree there had been rival clashes, some arrests have been made while there are ongoing operations to root out perpetrators of these heinous crimes.”