It was past noon on Friday. Euba Senior Secondary School, Mushin, Lagos, was conducting a valedictory ceremony for its graduating class. Oju Eko, Ebony and Lege (not real names) manned the gate, collecting money from their fellow students and visitors who had come to grace the event.
“Who are these boys?” This reporter asked a student of the school after observing them for a while. “They are the powerful students,” he said.
The toll they were collecting would be used to buy dry gin, Kolos (a hard drug) and the likes, and then they would gather behind a classroom to gamble and drink, ‘the powerful students’ told this reporter after engaging them like a cult member from one of the tertiary institutions in the country.
“We owe allegiance to the Eiye Confraternity,” one of them said. Eiye is a popular cult group in Nigeria, and that gave them dominance in the school.
CULTISM IN LAGOS SCHOOLS
Facts and figures suggest that cult activities may be on the rise in Lagos elementary and secondary schools, especially those owned by government. Seven pupils were arraigned before an Ebute Meta magistrate court in May 2017, for instance. Four months later, police brought 12 junior high school students before a trial court in Ikeja for a similar offence.
In May 2019, 12 public school students, between ages eight and 16, were caught during initiation into the AWAWA cult group. And recently, the family of late Sylvester Oromoni, a student of Dowen College, Lekki, who died after experiencing serious pain from body injuries, said he was attacked by cultists in the school.
“Last week, we led a supremacy fight to Idi-Araba High School, and one of our members was stabbed,” said Oju Eko.”But the fight was against our protocols.”
One of such protocols is Brother Delivers Brother (BDB). “Why were brothers fighting brothers?” he asked. The Idi-Araba boys they fought last week were also members of Eiye. Oju Eko could not see the reason he had to partake in such a fight.
The trio had realised up to N3,000 from the toll they were collecting. Any students that passed there gave them some money.
Oju Eko, Ebony and Lege said they were the gang leaders in the school. Ebony, however, lamented a mass failure that reduced the number of their members.
“We were close to 50 in SS1, but when we wrote a promotional examination to SS2, many of us failed,” Ebony told FIJ. “Since then, they have stopped coming to the school, except on certain occasions like inter-house sports.”
INITIATION BY TERTIARY INSTITUTION STUDENTS
They told this reporter that many of them were initiated by students of tertiary institutions, who held strong positions in their various schools.
Lege was brutally initiated at Yaba College of Technology. Ebony underwent the same process at the Lagos State Polytechnic, Isolo, while Oju Eko was initiated in a hotel in Lagos.
“On Sundays, we converge for meetings at various suburbs of Lagos, like Mushin and Agege,” Lege told FIJ. “During these meetings, we redefine our focus and pay dues to advance the course of our association.”He said everything discussed in the meeting remains a secret. “Secrecy is one of our protocols,” he said.
From Euba, Idi-Araba High School, Obele and Atunrase Secondary School, cult groups operate strong networks. Often, they end the week with brutal fights.
TEACHERS ABETTING CULTISTS
In Euba, the school principal and some teachers preach to the hardened students to change their ways.
“The principal assemble them every morning, advising them to shun social vices,”said a student at the school.
But that was not the case at Atunrase. Students who spoke with FIJ said some teachers, who had now retired, abetted students who participated in violent activities.
“The three teachers would often teach the wayward students how to fight their counterparts in other schools, and would protect them when security officers came,” a student said.