Lagos State set to impose 21 years jail sentence on cultists

Lagos set to impose a new 21 years jail sentence on cultists and secret society members
Ernest Sunday

In a bid to fight the war against cultism, Lagos state is set to pass a bill that will impose a 21 years jail sentence on anyone found guilty of cultism and other secret societies.

The new bill which is titled “A Bill For A Law To Provide For The Prohibition of Unlawful Societies And Cultism In Lagos State And Other Connected Purposes,” according to the State House of Assembly is to make sure that peace is maintained in Lagos State.

The Bill: 21 years sentence for Cultists

The bill was submitted at a public hearing held on Thursday 24th September 2020 at the Lagos State House of Assembly by the Deputy Registrar of the Lagos High Court, Mrs Ariyike Ipaye Nwachukwu, Deputy Rector & Admin, Yaba College of Technology, Dr Titilayo Ukaba.

Others include the representative of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Kayode Odumosu, ACP Oketunji Sola, Mr Emmanuel Oluwagbenga Bello from Alimosho area of the State.

According to the new bill, anyone who forces any person to join an unlawful society through intimidation, harassment, blackmail or threat of violence commits an offence and is subject to conviction to a term of 21 years.

It also states that anyone who in the act of violence causes damage that will endanger the life and properties of another person would be convicted with a lifetime jail sentence.

“Any person, who is a member of a cult or unlawful society sets fire to anything in an open or enclosed place or uses a firearm or an offensive weapon to be used or set fire to anything in such a manner as to endanger the health or property of any other person, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of life.

The Bill's implication for students

The bill states that students are not allowed to join any society that is not registered by schools or any educational authorities.

“Any student or member of any educational institution must not belong to any group or society that is not registered with the student affairs department of a university or any educational institution in the State,” the bill read.

Cultism is the rule of the day in Lagos State and in most other Nigerian states.

The role of the police towards the new bill

The new bill also stated that police are liable to arrest any individual who commits any offensive crime at the scene without a warrant, and the person arrested will be treated according to the law.

“A person arrested in accordance with subsection (1) of this section will as soon as practicable be arraigned before the Court having jurisdiction in the place where the offence was committed to be dealt with according to the provisions of the law,” it bill read.

The Chairman, House of Assembly Committee On Judiciary, Human Rights, Public Petitions and LASIEC, Hon. Victor Akande welcomed the new bill and said that the assembly included public participation on law-making through a public hearing.

“Public hearing is meant to assist the House to come up with better laws. The law is meant to criminalise cultism in our schools and guarantee peace in our societies,” he said.

Reactions & comments on the new bill

some of the notable men come out to air their views on the new bill including the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa and the Leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade.

Reaction from the Speaker of the House

The Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa who represented by his Deputy, Hon. Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni also welcomed the new bill and said that it is time for the state to take action.

“We are here today to discuss how to protect ourselves and our societies. We may have noticed the alarming rate of cultism and how our children are being indoctrinated.

"The issue has now extended to our primary and secondary schools. It is incumbent on us to act now to protect our societies. The House is also considering a law against drug abuse.

"The amendment to the criminal justice law will further increase the criminal justice system by removing all the bottlenecks,” the Speaker stated.

Reaction from the Leader of the House

The Leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, in a summary of the Bill, said that the bill would help to keep the society in a secured condition.

“The Lagos State Government has seen the need to work on the bill and review it. The bill has 19 sections, and it takes cultism issue beyond the campus.

“The cultists have left the campuses due to the way they are being dealt with and cultism has extended to primary and secondary schools.

"The Bill shows the serious desire of the government to keep society safe. It defines cult, firearms and others,” he said.

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