Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Cultists Risk 20-year jail term in Bayelsa
As part of efforts to stem the menace of cultism in Bayelsa, Gov Seriake Dickson, on Monday signed the Secret Cult, Societies and Similar Activities Prohibition Amendment Law 2018.
The new law makes it mandatory for offenders to be jailed upon conviction, for not less than 20 years, without any option of fine.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Bayelsa House of Assembly had passed the amended bill into law, following increase rate of cultism in the state, especially among secondary and primary school students.
Signing the amended law, Dickson noted with serious concern, the rise in cultism and other related activities in the state, especially in Yenagoa and its environs.
He said with the amendment, law enforcement agencies have been empowered to deal decisively with suspected cultists and their sponsors.
Dickson explained that the amendment to the law was necessitated by the urgent need to check the rise in cult activities among youths.
He said the amendment was necessary to give the law enforcement agencies more powers to pro-actively protect lives and property as well as safeguard the future of the state.
“As a government, we cannot allow this ugly trend of events to continue unabated.
“A situation where children below 15, 16, 17 and majority of our youth population are members of one dangerous cult group or society, where they carry guns and other dangerous weapons and shoot, maim, kill and create insecurity in parts of the state is totally unacceptable.
“As a responsible government, we must put an end to this and it has to be now,’’ he said.
The governor called on landlords and property owners not to allow criminals and cultists to turn their property into a centre of crime and criminality.
The law stipulates that police can arrest any person suspected to be involved in cultism and other related activities, without a warrant.
It also empowers the police to conduct stop and search on motor vehicles, tricycle, boat or any place suspected to be used for cult and other related activities.
Under the law, police and other law enforcement agencies are also empowered to conduct a search on the homes of suspected cultists and sponsors, even without a warrant.
It provides for buildings and premises used for cult activities, initiations as well as the storage of arms and dangerous weapons to be forfeited to the government.
The law equally empowers the government to destroy such buildings and premises, without any compensation to its owners.
Speaking after the signing, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Don Awunah, said with the amendments the police now have the comprehensive powers to confront crime and criminality head-on.