While many of us appreciate the highly revered Benin Monarch for his stance against human trafficking and prostitution especially as it concerns the Edo ethnic nationality for which a vast majority of our girls between 15 and 35 were traded for sexual gratification by MADAMS, it has however been mixed feelings on why the traditional ban and pronouncement of Oba of Benin against cultism does not seem to have any effect on the unholy venture (cultism); a journalist friend asked me “I thought your King swore against cultism and its perpetrators, why the continuous cult wars/killings right under his nose?
Whereas there has been a corresponding reduction since the Omo n’Oba’s traditional pronouncement against human trafficking and prostitution of Edo girls by MADAMS, in this context, we are able to identify the root cause(es), the villain(s) and the victim(s) of international prostitution; a situation where underaged girls were compelled by their MADAMS to swear to oath of allegiance to continue to be loyal and faithful with their payment plan suggests there is a chain of interests as it concerns human trafficking and prostitution; where the cause(es) can be traced to poverty and pursuit of the good life, the villain(s) has been the MADAM and the victim(s) the girl who is been exchanged for sex
Hence, when our Great Oba placed a curse, he targeted the villain (MADAM), condemned the action (human trafficking and prostitution) and rescued the victim (girl) from systemic sex slavery and unending financial indebtedness; whereas some persons felt guilty to have been responsible for the promotion and propagation of an illicit trade that continually destroyed and cut short the future of young bright girls, so they gradually began to withdraw from such acts, called their syndicates in other Countries to call it quit afterall, they have made enough money, the Oba of Benin has pronounced and it will be at your own risk to rebuff the traditional pronouncements of the god-King, Oba Ewuare II N’Ogidigan; so much so that the Edo ethnic nationality no longer occupy an unpopular position on the chart of the highest human trafficking and prostituting ethnic groups in Nigeria and MADAMS have all been sent to compulsory retirements while the girls now do descent jobs and they are able to save their earnings; many thanks to Omo n’Oba
However, it has been a different narrative on the context of cultism and its perpetrators; there seem to have been a sporadic increase in cult killings and the system or practice tend to have taken a new and fearsome twist in Edo State, particularly Benin City, since the Omo n’Oba placed a curse on the system; the murmurings on the lips of observers is “how come Omo n’Oba’s anti-cult declaration does not seem to be effective as against human trafficking and prostitution”?
Now let us look at it from the angle of cultism and secret society; in Nigeria, one may be right to say that cultism is for boys and secret society for men; while cultism seem to have been favourably disposed to students of various shades, mechanics, bus drivers/conductors, employed and unemployed youths; secret society tend to have embraced politicians, business men, traditional rulers and other top guns
Secret society could be classified as a club or an organization whose activities, events, inner functioning, or membership are concealed from non-members; the society may or may not attempt to conceal its existence; the term usually excludes covert groups, such as intelligence agencies or guerrilla insurgencies, that hide their activities and memberships but maintain a public presence; the exact qualifications for labeling a group as a secret society are disputed, but definitions generally rely on the degree to which the organization insists on secrecy, and might involve the retention and transmission of secret knowledge, the denial about membership or knowledge of the group, the creation of personal bonds between members of the organization, and the use of secret rites or rituals which solidify members of the group
Whereas cult can be defined as a group or sect of people with a religious, philosophical or cultural identity, often existing on the margins of society or exploitative towards its members; it can also be referred to as a social group defined by its religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs, or its common interest in a particular personality, object or goal
Considering the spirituality and philosophical ideas behind cultism, which has got nothing to do with poverty and pursuit of the good life, it requires beyond a traditional pronouncement to actually curtail cultism or secret society; there is hardly a home in Edo in particular and Nigeria in general where you will not find one or two members belonging to cult; even in the Palace, where the Oba’s curse emanated from, members of cult and secret society abounds; how then will Oba’s pronounciament take full effect when the forces who are supposed to transmit his declaration to the spiritual realm are members of the same cult or society the King speaks against? This is an almost impossible objective
It is tantamount to conflict of ideas for our highly revered King to make traditional declarations against cultism, reducing his declarations to Benin City/Edo State whereas similar practice thrive in other parts of the Country; attempting to stop cultism in Benin without attempting to stop same in Port-Harcourt, Delta, Lagos, Kogi and Kaduna may be an inconclusive action; if cultism and its perpetrators has reduced our values and the sanctity of human lives in Edo, it must have also done same in other areas so we must look at it from a holistic point if view rather than attempting to narrow it to our Benin enclave; it may not work
Police, Army, DSS, Air Force, NSCDC, Road Safety, Immigration, Customs, NDLEA, public and private academic institutions, Church, Mosque, Palaces, Government circles, banks, insurance companies, hospitals, hotels, area boys, agberos, mechanics, barbers, welders, electricians, plumbers, technicians, employed and unemployed etc are all members of various cult groups; if we must genuinely end cultism, a firm and decisive action is required and all cult members irrespective of age, tribe, religion, background and profession from the President down to the least citizen must participate in the renouncement exercise
Suggestively, the Oba of Benin can use his good office to rally other First Class Kings, the Civil Society and other pro-people institutions to prevail on the Government to proscribe cultism; while a dateline of Ninety (90) days is given for public and private, formal and informal renouncements afterwhich anyone caught in the practice is labelled a criminal and made to face the full wrath of the law; government can also employ renowned behavioural and developmental Psychologists who will be able to detect members of cult groups whether they are perpetrators of cult wars or not; there should also be an increased platforms for youth engagement 85% of whom have been victims of cult initiations and killings; our religious institutions must also go back to their roots to propagate the gospel of values, culture and morality; successive administrations must continually engage the services of the media, the National Orientation Agency, the Ministry of Information and other relevant agencies to sing-song the anti-cult gospel and encourage individuals to drop the cloak of cultism
Not until this is done in a dispassionate manner, we will continue to lose young, promising minds within and outside our academic campuses as we have lost in the last weeks in Ekpoma, 3rd Junction, Upper Sakponba Road, Ugbogbo Street, 2nd East Circular Road etc, and will continue to wonder why the Omo n’Oba’s anti-cult declaration has been seemingly inefficacious unlike the anti-human trafficking and prostitution declarations that took effect even before it became official
Oba gha t’okpere, ise