Secret Cults in Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria: An Appraisal

Article excerpt

Cultism has remained a problem for tertiary institutions in Nigeria and the Larger Nigerian society since the first decade of the existence of university education in Nigeria. It has been worrisome to have children on campuses and several measures had been adopted to curb cultism some of such measures were the expulsion of the cultists caught and out right ban of cultism on campuses. The problem here is not the killings in our campuses but why the measures employed to curb cultism have failed. This paper employs the analysis approach as its research method in explaining why previous measures failed and suggested the involvement of parents in the bid to curb cultism on our campuses in Nigeria among other measures.


Secret cult activities which started in tertiary institutions in Nigeria within the first decade of the existence of university education in Nigeria, has taken different dimensions and have different and dangerous faces: Secret cults and their activities started in Nigeria universities through the activities of a small group of "rascals" at the University of Ibadan. The first of such group was the Pirates. As "Pirates", they sailed to high seas to 'prosecute' evil doers, injustice, corruption and oppression which characterized the few universities at that time (Aluede, 2000 & Oroka, 1998). It should be noted that the purpose for the formation of the groups such as the Pirates, Buccaneers and the Dragons was to fight injustice and even project the ideals of nationalism. Thus, the pioneer secret cultists saw themselves as front-runners in the fight to liberate fellow students from the oppressive forces of some of their lecturers and government machinery (Akpan, 1997, Aluede, 1998 & Ngodo & Anuna 1996).

The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1979, section 35(4) defined a secret society as "... a society or association, not being solely cultural or religious body, that uses secret signs, oats, rites or symbols.

(a) Whose meeting or activities are held in secret; and

(b) Whose members are under oath, obligation or other threat to promote the interest of its members or to aid one another under circumstances without regard to merit, fair-play or justice". Secret cults can therefore be regarded as organizations whose activities are held secretly and are characterized by rituals. The secret organisations hold their meetings at night and at secluded places where they cannot be easily noticed and recognized (Wosu-Akpuh, 1995). These definitions describe vividly what secret cults are and their activities in tertiary institutions in Nigeria today.

The number of secret cults on campuses is on the increase. According to Kosemani (1997), we, now, know that, there are currently thirty two (32) secret societies/confraternities in our educational institutions nation-wide. Their names are as frightening as their operations. It should be noted that conflict within a group could lead to a break up. This perhaps accounts for why the number is always on the increase. The following are some of the popular ones on campuses.

Despite the fact that we have listed a number of secret cults on campuses, secret cults and their activities are not restricted to campuses. In fact, secret cults in Nigeria today cut across all classes, and different shades and pockets of them can be found almost everywhere. In the words of Oroka (1998), we can say that what we see on campuses is a microcosm of the Nigerian society, because our society harbours an interminable number of secret cults. The point being made here is that children are aware that their parents belong to traditional shrine worships such as Sango, Ogun, Obatala, Igwekala, Amadioha, Owegbe and Ogboni. In fact, children know that their parents are members of very powerful clubs and / or cults. They realize that most of their parents' income could not afford their flashy cars, the holidays abroad, the fantastic building and their ostentatious life style. …