Editorial: The Emohua cult clashes – why the silence?

The protracted cult war in Emohua Local Government, particularly in Egbeda community needs urgent government attention and that of concerned stakeholders in the state.

Daily reports emanating from the local government paint a horrible picture. The silence that has clouded the ugly incidents of beheading in the area should equally force us into re-thinking our collective humanity.

The police look equally helpless and overwhelmed and only report to the scene when the hoodlums must have left.

In Okpoworo, the police issued an ultimatum to community elders to produce cultists that have been tormenting them. It could be likened to the police asking a robbery victim to produce the thieves that robbed him.

Community members in Emohua like in Ibaa, Elibrada, Egbeda and some other cluster communities often run away from their homes due to the fear of reprisal attacks from these rampaging cultists. Yet in their helplessness, authorities in the state have not seen their plight worthy of their attention.

Since the killings were amplified in January, over a hundred persons have died and the process has since continued unabated.

Perhaps a hundred more will die before the government and security agencies wake up to their responsibilities.

A few weeks ago, a paramount ruler was beheaded in Elibrada together with another unnamed middle-aged man. But while the police confirmed knowledge of the killing and promised to bring the perpetrators to book, it seems to have ended there.

These murders often take place in the open, in the glaring view of everyone. Yet, they carry on fearlessly, roaming from house to house, community to community looking for who to kill.

The killings in Emohua local government should not be treated with the kid gloves it is currently being handled with or else it will lead to another arm-struggle and a total break down of law and order. It requires a water-tight approach that will guarantee a peaceful resolution of the problems leading to a total disarmament process.

The same process should apply to Obele and Omerelu where cult members have garrisoned the communities, killing and rapping with reckless abandon.

At the centre of these killings is perhaps, lack opportunities for these youths. The onus lies on the state and local governments to find ways of engaging these young men in productive adventures to ensure that they think positively.

While the security architecture in the state is stretched as more attention is paid to the activities of oil thieves and other perpetrators of economic sabotage, kidnapping, especially along Omerelu-Owerri express road and those of sea pirates along Kula and Bonny waterways, the government should constitute a committee that will initiate a peace negotiation between these rival cult groups and bring to an end these killings.

The government should also sound the warning bell to show that it will not condone any other spike in cult-related killings in the area. Police should also be encouraged to rise up to their mandate and ensure that lives and property in the area are safe while villagers in Ibaa and Obele who ran away in a bid to escape these killing should be encouraged to return.

This is necessary bearing in mind that arms in the wrong hands as the state moves towards one of the most divisive and hotly contested elections will not only mar the process but lead to a state of anarchy.

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