Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Secret Cult Menace in Nigeria within the Context of Social Structure and Political Economy: A Critical Analysis

Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Secret Cult Menace in Nigeria within the Context of Social Structure and Political Economy: A Critical Analysis

Article excerpt

Introduction

Secret cult is a socially constructed phenomenon; its definition is relative to time and place, and it depends on who is defining or stating the problem. This is where the crux of the matter lies and where experts have differing views on the subject matter. Onugha (1996), in Azoba (1999), defines cults as "groups or organisations characterised by the use of secret initiations or other rituals, oaths, grips (or hand-claps) or signs of recognition between members, stating that the existence, motives, membership, activities, plans and rituals of such societies are usually kept secret and not revealed to non-members". To some observers, however, a distinction needs to be made between fraternity, confraternity and cult, given that these concepts (to them) are not the same. Fraternity is a "social organisation of male college students while confraternity is an association of persons unified in a common purpose or profession, and cult is a system or community of religious worship or rituals generally considered to be extremist and bogus" (ThisDay, 11 October, 1997, P. 28 cited in Palu, 1999, p. 151).

A critical assessment of the preceding discordant opinions on secret cult reveals that the version of Palu/ThisDay Newspaper is a Pyrate and Buccaneer Confraternal sophistry, or perhaps expression of subjective observers while that of Onugha/Azoba largely addressed the core of the problem that will fill a void in the existing knowledge. The fight against cultism will remain elusive or end in futility except a broader technique that explores the pros and cons of this malaise are employed. Traditionally, two major perspectives have emerged to account for the intricacies of secret cults in human society: theological and sociological/anthropological. Within the purview of theology, cult is an open or secret religious body or socio-religious movement with an extreme ideological dogma. This type of cult can be found among 'houses or churches of idols', viz: Traditional Worshippers, Christian denominations, Muslims, and the like. The recent orgy of violence and killing spree by the 'Boko Haram' (Western education is evil) Islamic cult, the Okija Shrine sacrificial victims, the burning alive and encouraging of church members to commit suicide by Pastor Kings who is now on death row, and many more cases of religious cultmotivated killings in Nigeria, are some notable examples of theological cult menace in Nigeria. The doctrines of most religious cults are wreathed in metaphysics, mysticism, telepathy, esoteric, magical powers of influence, exorcism, hypnosis, channelling and necromancy.

From the Anthropological/Sociological point of view, cult in keeping with the common parlance, is a gender-specific (men only, or women only) or gendercombination (unisex) association characterised by extremism, regimentation, secrecy, bizarre hazing rituals, argots, undue spirit of camaraderie at the expense of non-members, inclination to treat non-members and opposing cult members with deep contempt and terrible attacks, and subjection of members to a military-like drilling before, during and after initiation. Fraternity, game, confraternity, family, system, brotherhood, culture, society, runs (current names for secret cult) or runs-man, game-man, rugged-man, systemman (current name for secret cult members), or whichever name secret cults and cultists have recently assumed in Nigeria, cultism is still a criminal subculture which deviates from the core values that guide and guard mainstream society. Arguably, secret cult is a major contemporary social problem plaguing the Nigerian educational system, and has virtually permeated the entire structure of the society. In our different schools, homes, places of work and worship, and neighbourhoods, secret cults and cultists dominate. It is against this backdrop that the study sets out to engage in a critical analysis of secret cult menace within the context of social structure and political economy of Nigeria. …

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