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Nigeria's Cults And Their Role In The Niger Delta Insurgency - Crime - Nairaland

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Nigeria's Cults And Their Role In The Niger Delta Insurgency by NeoBlack(m): 2:30pm On Feb 19, 2008
[b]In Nigeria's delta region, various militant groups continue to attack multinational energy interests by blowing up infrastructure, iphoning oil and gas from pipelines and kidnapping expatriate energy staff. Additionally, these groups often attack Nigerian security services. The

origin of the militant groups in the delta today can partially be explained by the evolution of Nigeria's cult groups, more generally known as confraternities. Nigerian confraternities were largely the precursor to many of the militant groups in the delta. While confraternities began in the country's universities, these gangs eventually spread to the streets and creeks of the energy-rich delta region. Most reports claim that the first manifestation of a campus confraternity (or campus cult) was in 1952. At that time, Wole Soyinka, Olumyiwa Awe, Raph Okpara, Aig-Imokhuede, Ben Egbuchie, Nathaniel Oyelola and Pius Oleghe (who were known as the "Magnificent Seven"wink formed the Pyrates Confraternity at the University of Ibadan. The purpose of the confraternity was to combat societal ills and conformist degradation, which were being exhibited not only by students, but by society at large. According to the Pyrates, the first graduates of the University of Ibadan were elitist, as they were highly privileged since they were the first graduating class of Nigeria's first university [1]. Most of the university students adopted elitist behavior, imitating the dress of the colonialists and mimicking their culture. Wole Soyinka, who was code-named "Captain Blood," together with his colleagues felt that the pretenses should be stopped. A notable incident that further provoked the Pyrates occurred after many privileged students organized a demonstration against the construction of a rail-line that was to be built across a road leading to their campus. The students were afraid that improved transportation access to the university would educe its exclusivity. The Pyrates decided to fight what they believed to be elitist nonsense. They succeeded not only in ridiculing the students' argument, but also accomplished the construction of the rail-line [2].

Membership in the Pyrates Confraternity was offered to intellectually promising men with no discrimination as to race, color or tribe. The majority of those who applied to join the Pyrates were not accepted. The activity of members was rigidly controlled and the group promoted non-violent dispute resolution. From 1953 to 1972, the Pyrates was the only confraternity on Nigerian campuses [3].



The Emergence of Pseudo-Confraternities


In the early 1970s, several confraternities emerged. In 1972, a member of the Pyrates Confraternity, Dr. Bolaji Carew (code-named "Late Ahoy Rica Ricardo"wink, and other members were accused of not following the teachings of the confraternity and were unexpectedly expelled. As a result of this incident and other problems, the Pyrates pulled out of Nigeria's universities. They then registered themselves in Nigeria under the name of the National Association of Seadogs (NAS). Carew later founded the Buccaneers Confraternity (also called the National Associations of Sea Lords). In the formation of the new confraternity, Carew took with him many elements of the Pyrates, including similar attire and symbols of the cult as well as its highly regimented and hierarchical structure (The Midweek Telegraph, August 10-16, 2005). The origin of confraternity violence dates back to Carew's 1972 saga and the birth of the Buccaneers (The Midweek Telegraph, August 10-16, 2005).


After the Buccaneers, the Neo-Black Movement of Africa, also called , was founded at the University of Benin in Edo state. After its creation, another confraternity, called the Supreme Eiye Confraternity, also known as the National Association of Air Lords, broke away

from . During this time, the splintered cult groups introduced a new dimension into confraternity tradition: before carrying out any activities, they would practice voodoo rituals.


Several notorious cult groups also came into being under the military rule of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. In 1983, the Eternal Fraternal Order of the Legion Consortium, also called the Klansmen Konfraternity (KK), was started by five students at the University of Calabar in Cross River state. In 1984, the Supreme Vikings Confraternity (SVC), also called the Adventurers or the De Norsemen Club of Nigeria, was founded by a former member of the Buccaneers [4].


Nigeria's Confraternities Spread to the Streets and Creeks

During the early 1990s, Nigeria experienced an explosion of confraternity activities in Nigerian schools, colleges, streets and creeks in the energy-rich delta region. The extreme hooliganism, violence and bloody struggle for supremacy among rival confraternities peaked round this time. The Family Confraternity, also known as the Campus Mafia or the Mafia, came into existence during this period. Today, they maintain a presence in numerous schools throughout Nigeria. Maintaining a low profile, they operate as an imitation of the Italian mafia. Shortly after their dramatic appearance, several students were expelled from Abia State University for cheating on exams and for cultism. This started a shift in the activities of the confraternity group from the university community to the streets and environs of the state.


Another notorious campus confraternity was formed at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUST) named the Brotherhood of the Blood, or Two-Two (Black Beret). Countless other groups appeared, including the following: Second Son of Satan (SSS), Night Cadet, Sonmen, Mgba Mgba Brothers, Temple of Eden, Trojan Horse, Jurists, White Bishops, Gentlemen Clubs, Fame, Executioners, Dreaded Friend of Friends, Eagle Club, Black Scorpion, Red Sea Horse, Fraternity of Friends and Victor Charlie Boys — the last of which was formed by Professor Augustine Ahiazu during his tenure as vice-chancellor of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology [5].

During the same era, campus-based confraternities such as the SVC and the KK extended their influence by creating street and creek wings. For example, the KK established a street/creek arm called Deebam in order to fight for supremacy and territory through organized violence, banditry and criminality. In response, the SVC created Deewell; however, when Deewell was ineffective and could not match violence for violence with its rival Deebam, the Icelanders (German) was additionally formed. Well-known cult and militia leader Ateke Tom would later become the leader of the Icelanders (German). The Outlaws, another brutal street and creek confraternity, broke away from Icelanders (German). Other groups, such as the Big Five and the Mbacho, still exist in Rivers state.

There are even female confraternities in Nigeria. During the late 1990s, female confraternities such as the Black Brazier (also known as Bra Bra), the Viqueens, Daughters of Jezebel, and the Damsel, among others, acted as spies for the male confraternities and operated as prostitution syndicates.

Confraternities and their Role in Delta Violence When discussing confraternities in Nigeria, the gangs referred to exist either in universities, colleges and polytechnics or in the streets and creeks. Almost all of the violent confraternities originated, splintered or derived inspiration from the various university confraternities, as evidenced by similar initiation rites, slogans, symbols and gang-type behavior.

The outpouring of cult activities in the 1980s and 1990s heightened tensions within campuses and led to fierce struggles for supremacy among the groups. Those that were normally peaceful became engaged in acts of violence in order to survive. New members were lured into the confraternity by various spurious means and empty promises. Recruits were enticed by the prospect of having access to money and increased employment opportunities. Confraternities claimed that they could grant new members the powers to defend themselves and loved ones, improve their reputation and social standing and facilitate contact with influential people and those of the opposite sex. These promises were often never realized, but disengaging oneself from the confraternity group after being initiated was extremely difficult — when it did occur, defectors were often killed so that they could not reveal cult secrets.

When a new recruit joins a cult group, he is inculcated with respect for spiritual fortification and trained in common tactics of physical combat, such as hand-to-hand combat and the use of firearms. Violent cult groups acquire their weapons from several sources, including wealthy patrons and politicians and chiefs who hire them for specific purposes. Other sources include friendly governments at the state and local levels, captured weapons from rival groups, attacks on security forces and exchanging stolen oil for arms [6].

In order to sustain their activities, confraternities frequently swing their loyalty and actions in the direction of sources of money. Most of the confraternities have been blamed for taking hostage foreign oil workers and collecting ransom in the Niger Delta. Numerous militant

groups such as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) employ confraternity members as combatants. For example, the head of the cult group The Outlaws, Soboma George, doubles as a MEND commander (The Midweek Telegraph, February 7-13).

Conclusion

Today, the majority of cult groups in the delta are involved in organized crime, ranging from armed robbery to hostage taking. Some of the groups have aligned themselves with the well-known militant groups of the delta, such as MEND, and have undertaken attacks in their name.
The history of confraternities in Nigeria demonstrates that the current unrest affecting the Niger Delta region has its roots in Nigeria's recent history, as the fighters attacking multinational energy interests are primarily youths with a history of cultism. The existence of

these campus and street/creek gangs constitutes a serious threat to Nigerian society.

Notes

1. Allwell Ndubuaku, "Secret cults in Nigerian University; Amazing facts and Revelations," Owerri, Imo state, 2001.
2. Ibid.
3. Author interview with a capon (leader) of the Pyrates Confraternity, Abuja, Nigeria, August 2001.
4. Author interview with a senior officer of the Supreme Vikings Confraternity (SVC), Port Harcourt, Rivers state, Nigeria, 1999.
5. "Citadel of Violence" (1999), a publication of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), Lagos, Nigeria.
6. According to an unpublished research report conducted by the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), Ogale-Nchia, Eleme, Rivers state, Nigeria, April 2006. kiss[/b]

Re: Nigeria's Cults And Their Role In The Niger Delta Insurgency by elvis1: 9:29am On Apr 11, 2009
i don't think that these boys that doing all this in the niger delta, are doing these things on their own, they are been backed up by big boys. to you how far this stuff have spread, it is you can find them any where in the world.
Re: Nigeria's Cults And Their Role In The Niger Delta Insurgency by Njobuenwo: 4:39pm On Oct 16, 2012
My attention has been drawn to the article on "Nigeria's cults and their role in the Niger Delta Insurgency", particularly lines 6-9, paragraph 9, page 3 of 5 which hitherto; described the cult groups in Rivers State University of Science and Technology and in particular a reflection of the former University's Vice Chancellor, Prof. A.I Ahiauzu to have formed a cult group called "Victor Charlie Boys" and I wish to respond as the University's Alumni National President.

There is no doubt that there were cult groups in the University, but there was/is no cult group called 'Victor Charlie boys'. This is evident as can be seen in the list of secret cults on page 10 of Rivers State Kidnap(Prohibition)Law captioned "A law to Prohibit the Act of Kidnapping in Rivers State and doing of any act as an explicit or implicit No. 3 of 2009", and "Secret Cult and Similar Activities Prohibition Law No.6 of 2004". This prohibition law, listed a total of 103 (One hundred and three) different cult groups operating in both the University and the entire parts of the State. There was no mention of a cult called "Victor Charlie Boys".

For the avoidance of doubts and for the purpose of clarity, it is important to educate the public on the name "Victor Charlie Boys". You will recall that mobile phone devise or the GSM, came into Nigeria in year 2000. As at the period Professor Ahiauzu served as the University's two-term Vice Chancellor from 1st October, 1989 to 30th September, 1996, there was no GSM in Nigeria. However, one of the means of communication at that period, particularly, in a work environment was the 'wacky-talkie'. Users will attest that this communication tool did not maintain any form of secret. However, users of this tool in a work environment used identified signal codes to enable the others to know who the caller was directing information to. In the case of my alma-mater, the following signal codes were used among the principal officers of the University:


1 Vice Chancellor - Victor Charlie
2 Deputy Vice Chancellor - Delta Victor Charlie
3 Registrar - Romeo
4 Librarian - Lima
5 Bursar - Bravo
6 Director of works - Delta Oscar Wisky
7 Chief Security Officer - Charlie Seria Oscar
8 Dean Students Affairs - Delta Seria Alfa.

These were call signals among the University's Principal Officers, not in any way a cult group.

Dr. N.Gladson Nwokah
National President
Rivers State University of Science and Technology
Alumni Association

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