Education stakeholder advocate ‘Obasanjo formula’ to eradicate cultism from campuses

Abuja – Mr Ike Onyechere, the Chairman, Exam Ethics Marshal International (EEMI), has expressed the readiness of education stakeholders to launch fresh initiatives to eradicate cult activities from campuses.

Onyechere, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja, said that re-enacting the 1999 `Obasanjo Formula’ was also being considered.

He recalled that there was an explosion of cult violence and killings in educational institutions in May 1999 with many Vice Chancellors being kidnapped and students killed in universities across the country.

He said that the 1999 Riot Act of former President Olusegun Obasanjo designed to eradicate cultism in schools must be re-introduced to ensure peace on campuses.

He recalled that cultists then made campuses, hostels and off-campus student residents high risk areas as students and staff were being routinely assassinated and executed in broad daylight.

“On 20th July 1999, President Olusegun Obasanjo read the riot act to heads of tertiary institutions to the effect that they have 90 days to eradicate cultism in their various institutions or lose their jobs.

“In response to this directive, institutions and stakeholders joined forces to launch various initiatives such as Joint Anti-cult Renunciation Rallies, deployment of carrot and stick techniques that combined threat of expulsion for unrepentant cultists with offer of amnesty to repentant cultists.’’

He also noted the introduction of financial inducements for the return of cult weapons and regalia; Operation Flush of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma; and the re-training of security officers, among others.

He said that the number of students killed, injured, expelled or suspended on account of cultism declined drastically as a result of the measures.

According to him, campus cultism has resurfaced and must not be tolerated.

“Campus Cultism is here again as the number one safety and security risk factor in tertiary institutions with the added danger of cultists launching bold and successful catch-them-young initiatives in primary and secondary schools.

“There have been reports of cult wars and chilling executions in many tertiary institutions including Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benson Idahosa University Benin, Abia State University Uturu, among others.’’

Onyechere said that a ‘Safe School Summit’ would be organised later in the month to strategise action plans for re-enacting the success of the 1999 anti-cult initiatives.

He told NAN that education leaders and ministers of relevant ministries, Chief Executive Officers of agencies, institutions, unions and associations were expected to be in attendance.