Osaretin owned a large electronics retail shop along Aguebor Street, off Siluko Road, Benin City. He established his shop about four years ago, and the business grew in leaps and bounds.
During the 2016 Christmas season, he bought and sold many goods, and in the process made huge profit. And having gotten enough money, he planned to wed his fiancée this Easter season.
But tragedy struck shortly after. The time was 7.30 pm of January 8, 2017. As he sat with his fiancée and another friend of his in front of his shop – sipping from a bottle of cold beer – some boys identified as members of a cult group – stormed his shop.
They shot and killed his friend. The armed cultists shot Osaretin on the hand. As he tried to run, the gunmen pursued him – firing their deadly guns and in the process shot him dead. But his fiancée escaped unharmed.
The police came later that night and took the two dead bodies away, apparently to the mortuary.
Reports that later filtered in was that Osaretin had since been on the wanted list of the dreaded Aye Fraternity Cult group, which is said to be at war with another dangerous cult group known as Eiye Fraternity,
Osaretin, a member of the Eiye, was alleged to have also killed some members of the rival cult group some years back, before he “repented, and decided to begin a new life.
He was killed just when he thought he was out of danger.
On February 10, 2017, Sochima Nweke, was murdered by heavily armed men suspected to be cultists along Siluko Road, Benin City, while driving his family home in a white Hilux van.
According to an eye witness account, the killers came in a Toyota Highlander – accompanied by an undisclosed number of girls – who sat in the boot of the jeep.
Also, in the same month of February, a young man was reportedly shot dead in Benin city in the dead of the night, by some boys identified as members of a secret cult.
The family was still wondering what to do with the dead body when the killers returned the next morning and began shooting sporadically in the house of the deceased.
After scaring away those living in the neighborhood, the killers went into the house and used a cutlass to separate the deceased head from the neck, and latter took away the head as booty
Okpebolo Osazuwa (not his real names) reportedly ‘disappeared to save his head’ from the hands of cultists.
According to his mother, Osazuwa’s disappearance followed several threats to his life by cultists.
She said that two weeks ago, armed cultists’ who went in pursuit of Ozazuwa in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers state capital, attacked Izuma, Osazuwa’s younger brother, when they couldn’t locate the older Osazuwa.
“Everyday, they will come and knock on our gates and ask if Osazuwa was around. Two weeks ago, they shot Izuma while in the house. Three bullets were removed from his body,” cried Osazuwa’s mother.
Osazuwa narrated to our Correspondent on the telephone how he became a cultist while he was a student of University of Port Harcourt.
He said: “During my undergraduate days at the University of Port Harcourt, I met a group of bad friends … my life in their company was rosy, but that was for a short while.
“One day, I was tricked alongside other unsuspecting students into joining a social club that will help protect one against oppression, intimidation and exploitation, and also provide financial assistance and other type of assistance.
“We were ferried into a jungle where we were introduced into cultism in 2008.
“We were introduced into a group known as Supreme Vikings Confraternity, also known as De Norsemen.
“Memberships of this group include people from every sector in Nigeria ranging from politicians, traditional rulers, law enforcement agents, and so we are widely connected.
“The supreme Vikings Confraternity is divided into three (3) levels- these include platoon, submarine and deck. The platoon also known as Junior Vikings Confraternity (JVC) is meant for undergraduates, so as an undergraduate, I started as a JVC.
“This level is the most deadly as one must prove himself worthy to be promoted to the next level by the number of deadly missions one can accomplish.
“Joining the group was rosy in the beginning as I enjoyed some level of protection, assistance and had opportunity to meet people of great repute in the society.
“But as time went on, I began to see the true horror of what I had gotten myself into. I was introduced to drugs, thuggery, armed robbery, ritual killings and rape. We had godfathers in high places such as politicians, traditional rulers, law enforcement agents who often use us to perpetuate evil in the society.
“During elections we were used as thugs by politicians to commit election violence such as rigging, intimidating opponents and sometimes killing of such opponents and also manipulating election results.
“The community leaders also use us to cause trouble in the society, including vandalizing oil pipelines. Security agents often supply us with weapons and intelligence whenever we go on a mission.
“Many times, we clash with other rival cult groups which often lead to torture and killing of both innocent people and cult members within and outside campuses.
“After some years of joining the confraternity, I started regretting joining them as I was introduced to a life that was against my belief as a Christian and a Catholic from cradle.
“Life became unreasonable to me; my psychology was affected as I have witnessed so many killings and rituals.
“So in 2014, I decided to renounce my initiation. I returned the group’s materials in my possession to them, but they were not pleased with my decision and they gave me an opportunity to go back and have a rethink and change my decision.
When they saw that I was adamant on not returning to the group, they feared that I may expose the group’s secrets and all the evils perpetrated by the politicians, community leaders, law enforcement agents etc, since am no longer a member, as the group’s strength lies on secrecy, which members are to keep till death, and anyone who reveals such secrets is eliminated, so as to preserve the group’s secrets.
“So they started sending threat messages to either return or they kill me and anyone connected to me. In 2015, I was attacked in my house by the cult group.
“They came with all sorts of weapons including guns and machetes. They tortured members of my family who were around. I was able to escape through the back door of my house.
“I ran straight to the police station to report the case but before the police got to the scene, they had gone. After two days of investigation the police arrested three of them and they were asked to produce their accomplices. But they were released without proper investigation after few days.
“The police asked me not to pursue the case further because the order for the release of the boys came from above. I became terrified for my life and that of my family since it’s clear the security agents cannot protect us.”
Against this backdrop, Osazuwa abandoned his master’s degree programme at the University of Benin. And after some months of hiding in several cities in the country, he realized he couldn’t hide any longer without being killed. He then travelled abroad.
This is not an isolated case. Three young men who simply gave their names as Kenneth, Ibuzor and Ogbe also left the country in a hurry between September 2016 and February this year.
They reportedly ran away because of cult-related threats to their lives.
Between January 2017 and February 28, about 50 young men were murdered in Benin by youths suspected to be cultists.
According to Frankly Edohoho, a senior pastor of a new generation church in Benin City, ten persons were killed in his area alone within the above period.
“Those people are ruthless, and they kill without mercy. Before my eyes, they shot and killed a pastor. I was later to discover that the pastor was a killer when he was a cultist. He renounced the cult and became a pastor, not knowing that they won’t forgive him”.
He also revealed that from his experience as a pastor, the cultists only go for their members who have infringed on their laws.
“They will not kill you if you have no business with them”, he said.
Findings reveal that although cultism as it is known today began in the universities, the menace quickly infiltrated into local communities across the country.
In Rivers state for instance, street quarrels of the early 90s degenerated into killings of ‘enemies’, and consequently, blood oaths, and thus, cult fights replaced street fights.
When finally politicians made guns available to their thugs to rig elections, the guns easily became revenge weapons for cult boys, and thereby, completed the cycle of what today has become killer cults.
As the cult war rages, bolder young men like Osazuwa renounce their membership of the cult, and subsequently bolt away from the country.
But those who cannot afford to leave the country simply disappear into nearby states, hoping that no one would trace them, and afterward kill them.
The best thing to do, according to one Benin-based pastor, who does not want his name in print, is to resist the temptation to join any cult group.