IT sounded like a gory scene from a play, but it was no fiction. Men of the Ogun State police command on Sunday actually arrested the president of the Student Union Government of the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, Ogun State, Adegboye Olatunji, and one Olarewaju Taiwo during cult initiation. The command’s Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, who made this known in a statement on Monday, said the suspects were caught in the bush in full regalia of the dreaded black axe cult group. He said: “The duo were arrested following information received by the police at the Ilaro Division from members of the public that some groups of people suspected to be cultists were sighted in a bush at Gbogidi area of Ilaro where they were trying to initiate new members into their dreaded group. On receiving the information, the DPO Ilaro Division, CSP Olayemi Jacob, mobilised his patrol team and swiftly moved to the scene where the two suspects were arrested with the assistance of members of the public, while others escaped through the bush. The two arrested cultists who were in full regalia of the dreaded black axe cult group have been taken to custody at the Ilaro Divisional Headquarters, where they are being currently interrogated.” The PPRO added that the state Commissioner of Police, Kenneth Ebrimson, had ordered the immediate transfer of the suspects to the anti-cultists section of the state Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department for a discreet investigation.
Understandably, the polytechnic immediately suspended Adegboye for his alleged involvement in cultism. In a statement signed by its Deputy Registrar, Public Relations, Sola Abiala, the institution noted that Adegboye’s suspension was consequent upon the foiling of the meeting of some cult groups from the neighbouring community by the security architecture and network of the polytechnic, the Local Vigilante Group, in conjunction with Nigerian Police Force and the Directorate of State Security. According to Abiala, “The suspension of Adegboye is in line with the Act establishing the polytechnic and the provision of the Students Handbook coupled with the polytechnic’s zero tolerance for cultism, pending his appearance before the Students Disciplinary Committee to establish his culpability or otherwise. The management, therefore, uses this medium to re-emphasise its zero tolerance for cultism and other misdemeanours.” The disgraced students’ leader was subsequently impeached by the students’ legislative body in the institution.
However, while speaking at the Ogun State police command headquarters at Eleweran on Tuesday, Olatunji said he was charmed by cultists before being taken into the bush for initiation.
To say the least, Mr. Adegboye Olatunji’s case is pathetic. As president of the student union, he was expected to safeguard the interests of students of the institution and protect them against any actions taken by the management perceived to be against the principles of natural justice and students’ interests. However, unknown to his colleagues, he was a proverbial snake under the green grass, obtaining political power only in furtherance of criminal interests and proclivities. Still, the point must be stressed that the system which threw up such a devious candidate for the exalted office of student union president is mortally defective and therefore deserving of outright dissolution. It is certainly unfortunate that none of the thousands of students in the polytechnic was able to spotlight the issue of Olatunji’s involvement in cultism before, during and after the electioneering process that facilitated his emergence as SUG president. Given the fact that he was arrested while clad in the full regalia of the black axe cult group to which he allegedly belongs, it is inconceivable that none of his colleagues knew about his involvement in crime. In all probability, Olatunji is just one of the notable names among many influential students and staff of the polytechnic involved in cultism, and this is why members of the cult group who escaped arrest when he was tracked down must be arrested and made to disclose all they know about the group. If experience across the country is any indication, the fact that a ‘big fish’ like Olatunji is now in police net does not mean that students of the institution are now safe and can sleep with their two eyes closed. On the contrary, it is quite possible that the battle, as it were, has only just begun. Cultists in the institution may be planning a massive attack on all those students and/or members of the polytechnic community believed to have provided the information that led to his arrest.
Again, saddening as the Ilaro incident is, it is no more than a true reflection, albeit a painful one, of what goes on in the larger society where persons of questionable character populate political offices and decent individuals are precluded from political elevation because of their lean means and failure or refusal to join criminal gangs in the quest for power. Indeed, it can be said without any fear of contradiction that the arrested cultist is a perfect candidate for political office in the country, which corrupt and criminally-minded power brokers among the three arms of government have apparently conspired together to retain among themselves.
We salute the management of the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro and the Nigeria Police for their efforts to burst the cultism ring to which the arrested SUG president allegedly belongs. They must ensure that other members of cult groups within the institution, be they students or lecturers or even members of the school management, are exposed and handed over to the police for prosecution. Members of the school community cannot be safe with cultists still around, and waiting for an opportunity to strike