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• 10 suspected cult members killed • Residents, youth groups decry rising death toll
• Police parade FUTO students, 30 others for alleged armed robbery, kidnapping
More than 10 lives have been lost since Sunday in Akure, the capital of Ondo State, over recurrent clashes and reprisal attacks by suspected cult groups. The latest of the attacks was the gruesome murder of a young man, suspected to be a cult member at NEPA area around 10p.m. on Monday, increasing the death toll to 10.
The Guardian gathered that the clashes had been between the notorious Eiye Confraternity and Aiye Confraternity members, who were bent on reprisal attacks to settle scores among themselves.
An eyewitness, who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said he heard a salvo of gunshots and everybody scampered to safety. It was when they returned to the scene they met the victim in his pool of blood.
“This is becoming too rampant. A guy was killed at Obanla few days ago, while another one met his untimely death yesterday (Monday) at Roadblock Area,” he said. Other people, who spoke with our correspondent expressed fears over the resurgence of cult-related killings.
Another resident said: “What the police are doing is to wait for the killings to happen and they start raiding. In the last two days, they have arrested more than 100 people.
“They were at Odopetu and Tipper Garage. I think they are using the development to make money for themselves, running after Yahoo boys to extort money from them,” he said.
President of Akure Youth Coalition (AYC), Mr. Tuyi Adekambi, lamented that community leaders and police authorities had turned deaf ears to their warnings concerning the menace.
“The activities of these cult rivalries have now graduated from night attacks and killings to broad daylight operation. There is pandemonium in every part of Akure. They not only kill and maim their targets, but dispossess citizens of their belonging whenever they struck.”
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Similarly, the coordinator of Youth Assembly of Nigeria (YAN), Ondo State chapter, Mr. Adeyelu Oluwadamilare, decried the unabated cult activities. He urged the governor to step up measures at nipping the killings and cult-related activities in the bud.
Meanwhile, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Femi Joseph, who confirmed the incident, noted that the command had mobilised a contingent of its personnel to curtail the crisis.
According to him, the police promptly kicked off investigations into the unrest, which had led to the arrest of more than 20 suspects nabbed mainly for cultism, robbery, burglary, kidnapping and other related crimes.
Joseph assured Akure residents to remain calm and continue with their day-to-day activities without panicking, adding that the culprits would be prosecuted according to the law.
The Imo State Commissioner of Police, Chris Okey Ezike, has paraded three students of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), for alleged armed robbery and cult-related offences.
No fewer than 30 others were also paraded for alleged cases ranging from kidnapping, stealing and armed robbery at the command’s headquarters in Owerri, capital city of Imo State, on Tuesday. Six cars and several arms and ammunition were recovered from the suspects.
He gave the names of the FUTO students as Igboerika Ifeanyi Paul, 23; Obodo John Ifeanyi, 23; and Agumadu Tochukwu, 19, alleging that they robbed one, O. N. Felix, of the same institution, at Eziobodo hostel, of a laptop and other electrical accessories, after attacking him with an axe and other dangerous weapons.
Items recovered from them included laptop, one axe, 20 SIM cards from different networks, two hammers and four black axes. Ezike said the effort of the anti-cult unit of his command yielded results in apprehending the suspects, disclosing that the new approach adopted by his command such as ‘operation identification, arrest, detention and prosecution of suspected armed robbers, kidnappers, cultists and other notorious criminals; and profiling of communities, organizations/hotels, have yielded fruits.
He also disclosed that other measures, such as forensic technology in investigation and detection had been helpful in tracking suspected criminals in the 27 local councils of the state.
Exike said Akachukwu Agu, China Agujuo, Tochukwu China and Desmond Aka were among the suspects who recently abducted Rev. Fr. Charles Nwachukwu in the state. He regretted that some of the abducted victims were killed and others yet to be seen.
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