The Odofin of Sonyindo in Sagamu and member of the Sagamu Security Committee, Oba Gisanrin Lasisi, talks to OLUMIDE TAIWO about the recent cult clash that claimed eight lives in the area, the curfew imposed by the local government council and ways to curtail the problem
What is your role in Sagamu?
I am Oba Gisanrin Lasisi, the Odofin of Sonyindo, Sagamu, in the Sagamu Local Government Area of Ogun State. Next month will be my 16 years on the throne. I was on the principal cadre in one of the secondary schools in the state before I ascended the throne of my forefathers. I have been a member of the Sagamu Security Committee since my enthronement.
On Monday, the Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, via his X handle, stated that almost everyone young in Sagamu was a cultist. As a community leader in Sagamu, how true is this?
That’s not true. Yes, we have a problem to deal with but that does not mean we have to demonise an average young man in Sagamu. That type of sweeping generalisation is wrong. I know Muyiwa very well; he was with us here in Sagamu when I just became the king. We interacted a lot before (he) moved to the state command (headquarters), Abeokuta, where he became the Police Public Relations Officer and then moved to Lagos. After which he was moved to Abuja as the Force PRO. That generalisation is not the truth. In fact, through our investigation, we found out that many of the cultists were strangers. They are not from Sagamu. Many of those boys are from other states, like Osun, Oyo, and the like. When you hear them speaking, you can easily spot that they are strangers; they really don’t have anything at stake, so destroying a place that is not their root means nothing to them.
Talking about the fight against cultism in Sagamu, I want to say that as traditional rulers, we have not been folding our arms but it is unfortunate that our resolve to fight this menace to a standstill has yielded little result.
On Monday, the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alamutu, confirmed that eight people were killed during cult clashes in the Sagamu area of the state, though some residents claimed that no fewer than 20 people were killed in the clashes. What have traditional rulers been doing to address this problem?
Yes, there are some I may not divulge all but in the past, we brought out our deities like Oro and Eluku in the night to lay curses on those disturbing the peace of Sagamu and environs. We have also made some of the cultists swear to an oath before our deities that they will not disturb the peace of the town again. There are other things that we are doing that are not for public consumption but it appears as if we had all along been doing nothing about these shameful and horrible acts.
Following the violent cult clashes that left some people dead and others injured in Sagamu, the local government council declared a dusk-to-dawn curfew on commercial motorcycles and tricycles, citing their alleged role in facilitating the escape of the perpetrators involved in the killings. To your mind, what is responsible for the mindless killings?
Sometimes, you really can’t say this is why those young men are maiming and killing one another but many times too, money is involved. For instance, in the one we are just coming out from, we gathered that someone sold a property and gave a group some amount of money but the other group also wanted a share of the money and that was how the battle of supremacy and blood bath started. It is really disturbing and the politicians are also not helping matters.
What do you mean?
When you think you are being patriotic and assisting to strengthen the security architecture of your community and the state and maybe through your efforts, some of the cultists are arrested by the police, after two or three days, you will see them back in the town because one or two politicians have intervened. Another challenge in this fight against cultism is our law. After a cultist is arrested, the police would still demand that you come to the court to serve as a witness. Many people are really not willing to do this because it is quite risky. Or who does not value his precious life? At the end of the whole drama, the cultist would be left off the hook. Such a person (cultist) is back to town feeling so good that even after his arrest nothing could still be done. He would grow more wings and become more daring. It’s really a helpless situation.
Can you confirm that the incessant cult clashes are taking a toll on the socio-economic development of Sagamu?
That may not be incorrect because peace engenders development, so when there is no peace, there can never be development. Look at what happened in Sagamu during the cash crunch crisis early this year when almost all the banks in Sagamu were attacked. Up till today, some banks are still not operating in Sagamu and people have their little money in those banks. So many people have to go outside Sagamu to places like Abeokuta, Ijebu Ode, and NNPC before Ogijo to make banking transactions. If you say you want to do online banking, you will always have issues because unlike before the cash crunch crisis when many people were not used to online banking, many people are using this option now but the facilities have not been expanded to take care of the number of users. So, you will have issues that you will need to get to your bank to solve. Yes, one may safely say that the crisis is hurting our development.
Are you saying that the incident that happened early this year in Sagamu when most of the banks were vandalised was the handiwork of the cultists?
Yes, if a proper x-ray is done, about 60 per cent of those who perpetrated the destruction of properties of such magnitude and the looting of banks that we witnessed at that time were cultists. How can I have a son who lives under my roof, eats my food, and listens to me go join such destructive protests? How can people from good homes join such crazy and criminal protests? It should also be on record that cultism is not only peculiar to Sagamu, it’s a general insecurity challenge in Nigeria. And I also want to say that a broken home is one huge factor that is at the root of cultism. When some of them who were raised by single mothers or fathers get to a certain age, some of them are no longer comfortable living with their stepmothers or fathers or even the concubines that their parents are bringing home. So, they begin to associate with their friends who are providing food, clothes, and shoes for them. These children too want to make money, so they follow their friends who are already cultists and before they know it, they are initiated too.
We also have Yahoo boys, their activities are so much more pronounced in Sagamu than in any other place in the South-West and the majority of them are cultists. Sometimes when they get their fraudulent money, some elderly ones among them want to forcefully share the money with them hence they need a defence mechanism and the one they could readily hide under is cultism. As cultists, they are assured of protection from their colleagues.
Has it always been like this?
It is really worrisome. I think it is a function of the continued deterioration of our society. When we were in the university, cult-related activities were only limited to the campuses and they were not even these brutal. We didn’t see people fighting one another because they belonged to different groups. However, these days, artisans like roadside mechanics, tire technicians, tailors, barbers, and what have you are present-day cultists.
How does substance abuse play a role?
Well, I am not speaking about the general insecurity in the country but from what we are witnessing in Sagamu, we have discovered that there is so much abuse of substances and drugs in the community and that this is one of the things fuelling the cult clashes because some of those boys may not be able to slaughter a fowl if they were not acting under the influence of drugs. We, however, thank the governor because he has promised to look into this and come so hard on these recalcitrant elements. So, I want to say that broken homes, drugs, and the activities of these Yahoo boys are fuelling cultism in Sagamu
How can the police intervene?
They need to be more trustworthy, serve with integrity, and be more reliable. The public should feel safe confiding in them and once they are willing to do this job as the law requires, then we will have made great leaps in dealing with the criminals.
How many cult clashes have been recorded in Sagamu this year?
The clashes have happened three or four times but the recent one was too brutal because of the reprisal.
Were the casualties recorded in the recent one up to 20 as claimed by some residents?
No, it was not up to 20. I think the police said eight or nine but even if it is one soul, it is a terrible loss because you can’t bring that soul back.
It was said that the clash lasted for four days. Why was it allowed to persist for that long?
The police and the community are at fault here because it was like guerrilla warfare. When you hear about the activities of the cultists in one place today, you do not know where the next one will happen.
What is the situation of things now?
The situation is now under control. The Commissioner of Police and the governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, have been here and marching orders have been given to the security outfits to deal decisively with any troublemaker. So, we are all at peace now.
Within the given situation I think the police should be ready to synergise and work hand in hand with traditional rulers like never before. Cooperation is more needed now than ever before because of the increase in criminal activities.
Ritual killing has also been a concern for residents in Ogun State. Do you think there is a connection with cultism?
I strongly believe that there is a connection between the two evils of ritual killings and cultism. Let’s take a look at this. Ritual killings are associated with Yahoo boys – internet fraudsters – and they are also associated with cultism. So, there is a strong connection between the two. Sometimes, cultists cut off the wrists of their victims and go away with them and I usually ask: What for? What are they doing with those parts of the body?
The governor said he might be forced to enact laws that will make cultism attract the death sentence. What is your take on this?
Yes, I am in support of any moves to end the mindless killings, though I have my reservations because of our present criminal procedure which centres on having a witness who will stand in the court and point to a cultist as the murderer. Who is ready to bell the cat? Let’s be hopeful anyway.
Sometimes, when I see able-bodied men clustering around doing nothing early in the morning, I am not always happy. I tell them about the importance of being gainfully engaged. That’s another area we must look at to address this problem of cultism. Many of the youths have nothing to do. They don’t have skills, what they only want is easy money, and many don’t want to work. It is really sad the kind of children we have these days and that is why as parents, we must be more committed to Godly parenting. We were also brought up in Sagamu and we are adding value to the community
Coups: Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso alliance won’t weaken ECOWAS resolve for democracy — Tinubu
President Bola Tinubu on Sunday said the Sahel Alliance by Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso which are under military dictatorship would not lessen the resolve of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, to uphold its primary objective.
President Tinubu also said that the regional bloc will re-engage member countries under military rule based on realistic and short transition plans that would deliver democracy and good governance.
He said the new approach will help to achieve a quicker return to constitutional democracy in some of the West African Countries.
Speaking in his opening address at the 64th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government at the Old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Nigerian President, who said that there is no place for military rule in Africa, explained that the objective of the ECOWAS in insisting for democracy is to prioritise good governance for West Africans, as it catalyzes socioeconomic transformation and development.
He told heads of state that, “It is important that we also review some development in our sub-region, including the move by some of our members under Military rule to float an Alliance of Sahel States.
“This phantom, push back-alliance appears intended to divert attention from our mutual quest for democracy and good governance that will impact the life of our people.
“We refuse to be detracted from pursuing the collective dreams, aspirations and the noble path of ECOWAS integration as laid out in our institutional and legal frameworks.”
Recall that in September 2023, Mali’s Assimi Goita, who seized power in a military coup in 2020, explained that the “Liptako-Gourma Charter” forms the building block for an “Alliance of Sahel States to establish a collective defence and mutual assistance framework for our populations.”
This is coming on the heels of months of diplomatic row in the wake of the coup d’état in Niger that overthrew the Mohamed Bazoum-led government in Republic of Niger that attracted anger, sanctions and even the threat of military intervention from the ECOWAS.
But in his address at the Extraordinary Session in Abuja, the regional body Chairman maintained that the sanctions on the countries that overthrew the democratically elected leaders were meant to protect the fundamental liberties of the citizens.
According to him, “While the imposition of punitive sanctions may pose challenges, it is important to underscore that the struggle to protect the fundamental liberties of our Community Citizens must be upheld and respected.
“To this end, I would like to reiterate the imperative of re-engaging with the countries under military rule on the basis of realistic and short transition plans that can deliver democracy and good governance.
“On our part, we should be prepared to provide them with technical and material support to ensure the achievement of these strategic goals.
“We must pay attention to protect the institution and protect democracy I wish to underscore the fact that we stand against the unconstitutional change of government in our sub-region and we will continue to do so.”
He reiterated that Military rule is an aberration that subverts the popular will of the people hence it no longer has a place in Africa.
He said, “The message must go out loud and clear military rule has become an aberration that subverts the popular will of the people. It no longer has any place in Africa.
“Our people must be allowed to exercise their freedom of choice without let or hindrance. For democracy to endure in our sub-region, we must improve on good government and respect human rights and the rule of law.”
However, he said member states must “improve on good government and respect human rights and the rule of law” for democracy to endure in the sub-region.
Tinubu also commended his Liberian counterpart, George Weah, for conceding defeat at the just-concluded presidential elections and laying the groundwork for a smooth transition of power.
“By conceding defeat and congratulating his opponent, President Weah has left a legacy to be emulated by politicians in our region and beyond.
“On behalf of Members of the Authority, I express gratitude for his significant contributions to the Organization and wish him the very best in all his future endeavours,” said the President.
He assured the Sierra Leonean President, Julius Bio and Guinea Bissau’s Umaro Embalo of the bloc’s support in preserving democracy.
Tinubu said, “On the recent disturbances in Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau, let me express my solidarity with the People and Government of Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau.
“I wish also to underscore our unequivocal stance against any form of unconstitutional change of government in our sub-region.
“I therefore urge all of us to stand strong and united in solidarity with the People and Governments of Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau in the face of these unfortunate incidents.”
On his part, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray, lamented that while the Niger Junta continues to hold Bazoum and his family hostage, they are also interfering with the flow of humanitarian support to vulnerable populations.
“The military authorities have unfortunately shown little remorse as they hold onto their untenable positions, holding not only Mohamed Bazoum, his family and members of his government hostage but also the people of Niger.
“And in line with the provisions of our community texts, they granted humanitarian access to medical and humanitarian goods for the sake of the people
2024 Budget: Group asks FG to increase budget to education sector
The Executive Director of the FlexiSAF, Amina Abubakar, has called on the federal government and the National Assembly to increase the budgetary allocation to the education sector and implement it’s policy of free basic education for all.
She made the call after embarking on a walk tagged “Walk for Education 3.0” to draw the attention of critical stakeholders to the need to improve education in the country.
According to her, despite the United Nations’ goal for education, Nigeria remains one of the countries with the highest number of out-of-school children in the world, adding that Nigeria still has more than 10 million children out there who can’t afford education.
” We have more than 10 million children out of school which is one of the highest in the world and UNESCO recommended at least 23% of the budget be set aside for education but right now only 8.2 percent is been set aside and even with that no proper implementation, no teachers in school, poor learning environment.
” If the government promises free and quality education let it be so because in the communities, parents are asked to bring a lot of money they can’t afford so they keep the children out of school the objective is to raise resources to send these children back to school. We want to empower young people.
“We are pushing for the National Assembly to increase the budget for education. Right now the state of education in Nigeria is nothing to write home about, it is a state of emergency, and 2030 is seven years away we have spent 8 years since the declaration by the United Nations in 2015 globally we only made 15% progress so we want the National Assembly to increase so we can achieve the set goal. The federal government must increase the budget.
“So today our target is that we want the government to implement free education for all. The government says education is free, basic education is free. But a lot of children are not in school because it is not free,” she said.
She further stated that the target of the organization was to ensure that at least 600 children get back to school.
“After we achieve that, part of our future plans is to make this work bigger, even more strategic. The more we get embedded into the space, build our capacity, we would make it more and more big,” she said.
She called for support from the government and other relevant stakeholders to achieve their objective.
“I want to reiterate the theme for this year, which is “2030 and the horizon. We are trying to better each and every year. Kindly come to our tables to make a commitment to help children go back to school. As you can see the children you have seen here are from our accelerated learning program. It is a non formal learning programme that helps kids in the community.
“The children don’t have to go to school everyday for long hours so we have community acceptability. Instead of learning for nine years, these over aged children they learn in three years. So you may be wondering what kind of expertise does this FlexiSAF Foundation have that they are giving education meant for nine years in three years. What kind of madness is that? I am telling you, it is not madness. It true. In fact it is a nationally approved accelerated education curriculum. It is also called accelrated basic education. Instead of learning in nine years these children learn in three years.
“What you saw here they learnt in less than 12 months and this girl is speaking English to you and everything. So please do well to encourage FlexiSAF foundation. The Foundation was established in 2018 and so far we have supported more than 5000 children and with your support we can do more.
We even feed this children as you can see them. We don’t believe we can do this work alone. Everybody has to come together. We have together to speak with one voice.
Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr Kashifu Inuwa, said digital infrastructure was necessary to get quality education.
“So at NITDA we have part of our strategic roadmap and action plan. We have a pillar to include inclusive access to digital infrastructure and services. And for the past four years we have implemented more than 1200 projects in unserved and underserved communities mostly in the education system; secondary schools and higher institutions.
“So we will do more and also we have a target of implementing the national literacy framework to achieve 95% digital literacy by 2030. So, we want to work with foundations like to define our initiative for quality and inclusive access to education through digital infrastructure. From next year we are coming up with the new initiative; learning centres will be deployed three per state. Our target is public schools where they don’t have infrastructure,” he said.
The Special Adviser to the Minister of State for Education Mrs. Claris Ojani urged the legislative arm of Government to and implement that will enable children leave the streets and acquire basic education.
She pledged the support of the Federal Government to the initial by FlexiSAF
Kwara Gov receives VP Kashim Shettima in Ilorin hails peace harmony in Kwara
Kwara State Governor and Chairman Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on Saturday received Vice President Kashim Shettima (GCON) in Ilorin, the state capital, amid a rousing welcome by several APC leaders and people of the state.
Vice President Shettima was received by the Governor at the Tunde Idiagbon Airport, joined by Deputy Governor Kayode Alabi; Speaker Kwara House of Assembly Rt Hon Yakubu Salihu Danladi; Sen Salihu Mustapha (Kwara Central); Sen. Sadiq Umar (North); some members of the state executive council; and CEO KAM Holdings Nigeria Alhaji Kamaru Yusuf.
The Vice President touched down at the airport at exactly 3p.m., accompanied by his Special Assistant on Political Matters Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed; and top APC chieftain Dr. Isia’q Modibbo Kawu; among others.
Shettima headed to the Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, where he commissioned the institution’s Nursing Science Complex, which has been named after him.
The Vice President then delivered the university’s 13th convocation lecture that was themed ‘Addressing Nigeria’s Food Security Challenges Through Hi-Tech Approach: The Role of Nigerian Universities’.
Other dignitaries at the occasion included the Inspector General of Police IGP Kayode Egbetokun, who has just received his doctoral degree from the institution; founder of the University Chief AbdulRaheem Oladimeji (OFR); and Vice Chancellor of the University Prof. Noah Yusuf.
Shettima, in his lecture, said Nigeria’s reliance on oil since the early 70s and the neglect of the agricultural sector are responsible for what has today become a national security challenge in the form of food insecurity.
He said the challenge assumed a disturbing proportion as a result of policy inconsistencies, mismanagement of resources, corruption, climate change, insurgencies, and natural disasters, among others.
He said President Bola Ahmed Tinubu understands the nexus between food production and national security, and has declared a state of emergency on food security alongside a policy commitment to improve productivity by injecting more funds in the sector.
Tertiary institutions are playing critical roles in assisting the Federal Government to promote food security in Nigeria through research and the integration of agricultural study in their curriculum, the vice president said.
He said no appreciable progress can be made in agricultural production without mechanization, calling for increased and efficient use of modern technology to maximise yield.
The Vice President described Governor AbdulRazaq as a prudent leader and commended him for various agricultural initiatives the administration has introduced to boost food production in the state.
Speaking about the cultural composition of Ilorin, which he said exemplifies a spirit of brotherhood, Shettima said Nigeria has a lot to learn from the ancient city, calling on all indigenes of Ilorin to continue to be tolerant and supportive of one another.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor
December 9, 2023
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