Background of the studyCultism is defined as the activities or practices of a group of people with one common spiritual, religious or philosophical belief. The group of individuals involved in these practices is known as a cult. In general sociological studies, the term cult has been subjected to a whole lot of controversial and divergent definitions. But most cults are referred to as secret cults. They are called that because their activities and practices are hidden from the public and non-members.
Members of secret cults often swear an oath of allegiance or go into covenant with each other. They are meant to defend their beliefs and practices down to their very last breath(Olawale,2018)Cultism is a demeaning factor that has affected the progress of Nigerian universities. Their activities have gone pass secret mission to open activities in tertiary institutions in Nigeria. Tertiary institutions in Nigeria are faced with attacks by cult groups almost on every semester. The lives of about 5000 lecturers and students in 2003 went down the drain due to the attacks of cultists across Nigeria universities (Okwu, 2006).
Cultism is undeniably one of the social vices setting the hand of the developmental clock of Nigeria backwards. The unabated atrocities of secret cults in the Nigerian educational institutions and even in the wider Nigerian society continue to take tolls on the lives of young and old Nigerians. Many young people, politicians, academics and industrialists have been hacked down in their prime by the cultists. It could be in the execution of a contract to assassinate and waste the life of their mentor’s real or imagined often political enemy. Acting as hirelings, the cultists get their target in his residence or office or track him down on the way. In most cases, the murderers escape,’ not tracked down because they are serving the powers that be. They do not face the wrath of the law because the event is linked to a political godfather, a sacred cow.(Eneh,2008)More often than not, however, it is in a clash between two cult groups, the one trying to demonstrate its stronger devilish powers over the other. The cultists strike in one Nigerian educational institution today and a reprisal occurs the next day in another institution, claiming lives in both cases. Sometimes, a chain of reactions is sparked off in many other institutions of higher learning. This depicts their synergy and network of existence and activities in a country already ravaged by underdevelopment, poverty and misery (Onoh, 2006)Cultism in Nigeria can be traced as far back as 1952 when Prof. Wole Soyinka, winner of the 1986 Noble prize for literature, and a group of six friends formed the Pirates Confraternity Elite of the University College Ibadan, then part of the University of London . It was formed with the aim of producing future Nigeria leaders who should be very proud of their African heritage. We can, however, see that in recent times the aim of various cults has drastically shifted from its original aim. Widespread corruption in high places and endemic poverty in the society are precursors of cultism in the Nigerian educational institutions. Due to poor agricultural planning, leadership ineffectiveness and mismanagement, millions of Nigerians, many of them children, are starving to death. Only about 2% of Nigerians, many of them among the present and former ruling classes, control over 60% of the nation’s financial assets, while over 70% of the Nigerian population live below the poverty line (Encarta, 2005e and Umar, 2007). The cultists, mostly the youth, are merely responding to the societal contradictions in national socio-economic development. Nigeria, with the natural potentials to be among the richest countries in the world, a paradise on earth for all, is variously rated between the 13th and 21st poorest country and 1st or 2nd most corrupt nation in the whole wide world (Eneh, 1985 and Eneh, 2006)Over the years, cultism has held inexplicable attraction for the nation’s youth population. Since the 1990s, cult groups have had their roots largely in the universities and other tertiary institutions where they sprang up as fraternities. They kill, steal, destroy and tolerate no challenge or presence of rival groups. Cult wars are rampant on campuses and when they break out, turn the whole place into killing fields. Apart from students, lecturers and non-academic staff are often cut down. To get a kind of protection, other members of the academic community are forced to enlist in cult groups. Today, the Nigerian society is not just grappling with the menace of campus cultism but also the spread of it to secondary schools and the larger society. It is beginning to be worrisome as they have made cult in secondary schools, especially in the public sector, as unsafe as the tertiary institutions.In Rivers State, the House of Assembly had passed the Secret Cult and Similar Activities (Prohibition) Law, No. 6 of 2004. In the law no fewer than 101 cult groups that included the desperately deadly Deygbam and Deywell were listed as operational in the state. The presence of over 30 cult groups in Akwa Ibom State, this year, made Governor Udom Emmanuel to sign the Cultism and Other Violent Behaviour Prohibition Order in the state, which took effect from March 12, 2018. Nothing testifies more eloquently to the contagion of cultism in our society than the fact that more than half of the 36 states of the federation now have laws that prohibit cultism and cult activities. In some of these state laws, the penalty for culprits upon conviction is death sentence.In the Niger Delta of Nigeria, there have reportedly been over 1,000 deaths that have a link to or are as a result of cult violence and killings in the past 5 years. Shootings associated with warring gangs (popularly called cult groups) have become part of reality in Rivers State and other states in the Niger delta but some of the most alarming rates are in Rivers state . These groups have been linked with extortion, kidnapping, drug trafficking, intimidation, protection rackets, armed robberies and political assassinations.Cult groups in Nigeria have been involved in a lot of known criminal activities and deaths. They have been involved in different kidnappings and beating of lecturers(for those in tertiary institutions) who crossed their paths. Some lecturers or other individuals have been dealt with by cult groups for stealing a cult member’s girlfriend or sugar daddy in the case of female cult groups. Some were involved in cyber crimes and armed robberies. Cult groups in Nigeria are also employed by politicians to scare or deal with their political rivals. Some of them are also involved in fighting and kidnappings in the Niger Delta regions. Statement of the problemOver time in tertiary institutions in Nigeria, a supposed learning environment that ought to be serene has been turned to a battle ground. Cases of clashes between cult groups disrupt the learning activities in school; it can put lectures on hold, stop students from going to school. Students who lodge in the school hostel are scared of going to the class at night to study due to cult activities.Due to clashes by cult groups, innocent lives are lost, property destroyed and disrupt of peace and orderliness in the school. In addition to these, cases of sexual harassment by mostly the female students are on the increase.However, students are equally made not to dress to their taste because they are scared of wearing some certain colours that are termed colours of these cult groups. By implication, students are made to study and learn in perpetual fear.All these are some of the problems associated with cultism in Nigeria’s tertiary institutions. Not to talk of the general society, where some cult groups have practically claimed over certain areas of a given society and any show or sign of objection or threat to their leadership’ will result in blood shed.Eradication of cultism in Nigeria especially among youths has been a major cause of concern for security agencies because there is an alarming rise in youth violence and death rates stemming from cult groups associations, thus making cultism a national security threat.Purpose of studyThe main purpose of this study is to find out the causes, effects and strategies to curtail and then eventually stop cultism in Rivers state and Nigeria by extension. The objectives of this study are: To define cultism as a national security threat To examine the reason why people join cult group Understand the reasons why it is more common among the youth Investigate its effects on Nigeria as a country Investigate its effects on the Nigerian youth population. To investigate and examine if there is a relationship between family background, primary socialisation and cultism Determine strategies for eradicating or minimizing it in tertiary institutions Research QuestionsThe study will attempt to find out answers to the following research questions.1. What are the causes of students involvement in cultism ?2. What effect has cultism on the student’s academic performance?3. What forms of behaviours do the cultism manifest that affects the societies?4. Can cultism be stopped in our tertiary institutions and the society at large?5. What should be done to curb cultism in our society?6. What are the roles of the government in the spread and growth of cultism?7. What is the role of the government in the fight and eventual eradication of cultism in tertiary institutions and the society at large?Significance of StudyThis study is meant to inform, educate, sensitize, and enlighten the general public, school administrators, government, and policy on cultism in Nigeria universities. General public here comprises parents and children. This study is meant to inform and educate parents to caution their children to desist from cultism. Also, children are warned not to indulge in cultism as there is more to loss than gain from their activities.School administrators need to mobilize the presence of security personnel to help ensure the security of students. also, a law like immediate expulsion should be meted on any student involve in cultism. The government has a role to play in curbing cultism; therefore, this study is coming to remind the government to put the right measures in place to eliminate cultism from tertiary institutions. Policy makers should enact laws kicking against cultism in Nigeria tertiary institutions.This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this topic and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other work or study is considered significance for the following reasons.Scope of the studyThis study is limited to the Rivers State University of Science and Technology. All though cultism is a national threat.Research MethodologyDesign of StudyThe type of design used in this study was descriptive survey. In this type of design, investigations were carried out in their natural setting without research manipulation of either the independent or dependent variable. In this present study a survey design is preferred since the study aims at sampling students, lectures and non academic staff, perception of the causes, effects and strategies for eradicating cultism in tertiary institutions in Nigeria.Area of studyThe study was carried out in tertiary institution of Rivers State University of Science and Technology. Virtually all the tertiary institutions in Nigeria are under the impact of cultism.Population of the studyThe population of this study was made up of 50students, 30 lectures and 20 non-academic staff of Rivers State University of Science and Technology.Limitations of study1. Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).2. Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.Definition of termsCult: A small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous.Cultism: The practices and devotions of a cult. It is a noun used to describe a cult, a religion, or a religious sect that is considered extreme or false and typically follows a charismatic leader.Tertiary Institutions: Tertiary education as including universities as well as institutions that teach specific capacities of higher learning such as colleges, technical training institutes, community colleges, nursing schools, research laboratories, centers of excellence, and distance learning centers.