Police declare war on cultism in Benue

The quest to belong to the circle of ‘big boys’ who are feared on tertiary institution campuses as they wield negative influence to pursue their inordinate desires was what lured Frederick Azege Aondofa, a mass communication student of Fidel Polytechnic, Gboko in Benue State, to join a secret cult.
Aondofa was paraded as the gang leader alongside seven other young males from his school by the Benue State Police Command in Makurdi last Thursday for armed robbery and unlawful possession of arms and ammunition recovered from them.
Now in police net, Aondofa, also known as ‘bullet proof’ following the spiritual power vested in a black singlet which he wears to enable him resist gunshots from either security agencies or rival cult groups, is sorry for his misdeeds.
He told Daily Trust in an interview at the police headquarters in Makurdi that he belonged to the ‘Supreme Vikengs’ cult which has between 30 and 50 members in his school basically because he wanted to be reckoned with as one of those boys who cannot be toyed with on campus.
“I wanted power to control things around me when I saw how those boys who belonged to cults were maltreating other students. I didn’t want to be molested so I joined the Supreme Vikengs but now I’m very sorry for what I have done,” he said.
According to Aondofa, who was dressed in his black ‘bullet proof’ singlet with stitched charms at the middle, he was arrested in his friend’s house in Gboko where he had gone to relax even though he denied being part of the operation for which the police came after him and his colleagues in crime.
Consequent upon his arrest, the supposed potency of his bullet proof was rendered ineffective after it was exposed to rain such that he confessed, “it can’t work again because rain has touched it.”
Like Aondofa, some of the suspects were remorseful while the others blamed one another for the operation which led them to shoot a police officer despite the fact that their common interest was meant to manipulate people in their environment at their caprices.
The state Commissioner of Police, Hyacinth Dagala, who paraded the eight suspected undergraduate cultists – Aondofa, Kator Lange, Ferchira Moses, Jimin Emmanuel, Atuma Pascal, Peter Dyege, Samuel Moudu and Ajida David, all of them males said his men were on duty at a hotel in Gboko when six unidentified gunmen came and shot a police sergeant at his abdomen which caused the victim to sustain injury.
Dagala further stated that the suspects were apprehended during investigation and that three locally made pistols, two 9mm live ammunition, one machete and a black singlet attached with charms were recovered from them.
The commissioner, who also paraded another set of 11 suspected cultists  nabbed from different locations of Makurdi metropolis for criminal conspiracy, culpable homicide and belonging to an unlawful society, decried the upsurge of cult activities in the state and the preparedness of the command to deal decisively with those caught in the act.
“In recent times for instance, there has been upsurge in cult related activities in the state which resulted in the killing and maiming of innocent citizens and the command in a swift reaction launched several attacks on the undesirable elements and a lot of successes were recorded which you see here,” Dagala noted.
He added that the successful onslaught  against some cultists who were on rampage at Abgoughul village behind Modern Market in Makurdi led to the arrest of the 11 who would soon be charged to court when police investigations are concluded.
Our correspondent gathered that vigilante groups assisted by youths had joined forces to chase away suspected cultists from their various communities around the Modern Market ward in Makurdi LGA.
The forceful ejection of those suspected to be involved in cult activities caused a mild stir around Abgoughul village when one of the cultists arrested by a member of the vigilante started struggling with the vigilante in an attempt to dispossess him of his gun.
It was further learnt that the gun exploded in the process, injuring the vigilante whose name was given as Aondofa Anongo and two others, a development which alerted the police to the scene and arrested the suspects.
The victims were thereafter rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, Makurdi for treatment but the injured Anongo later died while those arrested, Tersee Aadziego, Ushahumba Chiafo, Uawaa Ukoh, Tersee Iorbee, Boniface Koko, Tersoo Nguswean, Tervershima Shagbauou, Terzungwu Orsuur, Emmanuel Geri, David Aper and Moses Eche, are now in police custody.
Vigilante chairman for Community Unit 2, Stafanus Tor, told journalists that the resolve to rid the area of suspicious characters was arrived at a meeting with the 16 chiefs who made up the ward.

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