Human Right Lawyer, Abdul Mahmud says Nigeria should adopt a conscious policy of openness that will allow for the registration of confraternities in institutional.
Mahmud said this in a series of tweets on his twitter handle in reaction to cult-gang related killings and violence across the country.
He said, “Don’t get the Great Oracle wrong. Cultism has always been with us, at least since confraternities changed from their initial lofty and progressive ideas to killing machines. That change happened sometimes in 1983.”
“When changes in our larger society began to take roots in the campuses: the military took over and our society became heavily militarized; vice chancellors became like military commanders.”
The politicization of students relations which the 2nd Republic politics brought didn’t help. Our confraternities became fraternities- secret cults, armed, deadly, playing NPN/UPN/NPP politics in campuses
Perhaps one clear indication of all of this was when authorities of UI banned all confraternities that were previously registered as clubs in 1984. It was a mistake. They went underground and became deadlier.
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While all of this happened, vice chancellors like Chimere Ikoku (UNN) & Alele-Williams saw them as weapons against progressive students unionism. The military cashed on them. The dangerous spread began.
From Benin, Ekpoma, Abraka, Awka, PH, Nsukka and Owerri (Alvan Ikoku). Between 1988 and 1992, they were more pronounced in South-south/south eastern institutions, killing and maiming
During this period, a serving Minister was expelled from a south south varsity. A serving governor was rusticated as well.
During that period (1991), the Great Oracle was caught in deadly cross-fires in NAU-Awka and Alvan Ikoku- while mobilizing for students national protests against repressive economic conditions
He quietly pulled out of both campuses. The shootings were in broad daylight. The black Axes were proclaiming territories in the south east!
In Calabar, a strong students union culture masked their presences. In RSUT and Uniport, the Great Oracle walked on egg-shells, apprehensive of outbreak of cult attacks. UNN was a no-go campus. Ikoku and cultists were hand-in-glove
In UI, as we travelled late across the southwest from Benin, the Great Oracle and his team ran into Eiye sailing in the wee-hours. “Don’t reverse”, I told our aluta-driver
They ended up leading us to Zik Hall where I was to connect with the students leaders who had waited for us all day. A year later the UI student leader was rusticated for cult activities
Our country had entered a dangerous period. Students leaders increasingly became cultists themselves. The problem had taken a hydra-headed dimension.
Worsened by the fact that non-registration of these confraternities made it difficult to identify their leaders and members. Varsity administrators who were cultists in their days began to occupy high offices
The Dean of Students Affairs of Unilag during that period was publicly accused of being a cultist in his heydays in the same university.
Now, confraternities have moved from ivory tower to the town, linking up with deadly fraternities. The town has become recruitment and breeding ground. In Benin and Lagos, for instance, pupils are being recruited from primary schools
It is now a state security problem that our nation state must address, first: 1) by declassifying state security services files on its role in their expansion. Nigerians need to know what happened
2) Having a honest national conversation on confraternies and the related cult groups
3) Adopt a conscious policy of openness that will allow for the registration of confraternities in institutional. When we know their members and leaders, they can be made to account for their actions
We can’t pretend all is well, when deaths from cult attacks have taken over our towns and campuses.