Why it’s difficult to prosecute suspected cultists in Edo, by A-General

By Adekunle Best

BENIN—Edo State Government, yesterday, expressed frustration in the prosecution of suspected cultists, saying that the lack of witnesses to testify against the suspects and the problem of law enforcement have been serious challenges militating against effective prosecution of suspects. Over 15 cult related killings had been recorded in the last one month in Benin City following renewed cult war between rival cult groups in the state.

The Attorney General of the state and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Henry Idahagbon, who was reacting to the call by some youths in the state for a law proscribing death sentence for cult offences, said the problem was not with the penalty but enforcing the law and effective prosecution.

He said: “We already have very stringent laws against cultism in our society, but the problem is that of law enforcement, problem of identifying who these cultists are, the problem of arresting them and subsequent prosecution. So, I do not think the issue is one that invites capital punishment. The issue is that of law enforcement. Section 4 sub section 1H of the Secret Cult Provision Law of 2000 in Edo State gives a maximum punishment of 21 years. “Anybody who belongs to a secret cult or is found in possession of the paraphernalia of a secret cult, for me that is a sufficient punishment.”