The Lagos State House of Assembly has passed an anti-cultism bill that includes punishment for parents of convicted cultists.
The bill titled The Unlawful Societies and Cultism (Prohibition) Bill 2020 prescribes “punishment” for parents of convicted cultists, has been passed by the Lagos state House of Assembly.
The bill which will be sent to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu for his assent, was passed during plenary session on Monday February 1.
Though it is unclear the punishment parents of convicted cultists will be subjected to, however the speaker of the assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, said it prohibits unlawful societies and cultism in Lagos and for connected purposes.
Figures have shown an increasing rise in cases of cultism among schoolchildren in Nigeria in the last seven years with statistics showing more cases in urban cities like Lagos.
In 2013, 18 schoolchildren were arrested for being cult members in Abeokuta, Ogun State. Later that year, another set of 11 students were arrested. In 2014, the Ondo State Police Command arrested four secondary school pupils for cultism.
Similarly, the police in Delta State arrested 28 primary and secondary pupils aged between 13 and 16, in 2016, for cultism.
In May 2017, seven pupils from four public secondary schools in Lagos were arrested and arraigned before an Ebute Meta magistrate court in Lagos. In September of the same year, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), Ikeja, arraigned 12 pupils of another public Junior Secondary School, in Lagos before an Ikeja chief magistrate court, for belonging to a cult. That same month, 17 pupils were arrested by the police and the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC) for cult-related activities. The same year, the Ministry of education in Bayelsa expelled seven pupils, found to be cult members, from a community school in the State.
In 2018, police authorities in a bid to control to growing menace asked the Lagos State government to declare a state of emergency on cultism in its primary and secondary schools. In May 2019, 12 elementary and secondary school pupils of another public school in Lagos were caught being initiated into the AWAWA confraternity group. They were between the ages of eight and 16 years.
Undoubtedly, parents and guardians play an important role in molding their children and wards to becoming responsible members of society but shouldn’t the burden of ensuring a peaceful and organized society rests on government?