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General News of Tuesday, 16 March 2021


Cultists now risk 21-year imprisonment in Lagos

Babajide Sanwo-Olu signed into effect the state anti-cultism law Babajide Sanwo-Olu signed into effect the state anti-cultism law

Cultists in Lagos State risk been sentenced to 21 years imprisonment after Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu signed into effect the state anti-cultism law.

Cult activities remain one of the major challenges confronting Lagos, as different cult groups frequently clash in the state. The clashes often result in deaths, destruction of properties and disruption of public peace, Business Day reports.

The daring cult groups are believed to be more active in areas like Shomolu, Alimosho, Ajero-Ifelodun, Ikorodu and the Lagos Island, and are said to be infiltration primary and secondary schools in the state, targeting thousands of youngsters to initiate as members.

But in a commendable move believed would deter their deadly and destructive activities and rescue the future of innocent children in the state, Governor Sanwo-Olu, on Monday, assented to a Bill for the Prohibition of Unlawful Societies and Cultism of 2021, thus making it an enforceable law. The law provides for 21 years imprisonment for a convicted cultist.

The state House of Assembly, in February, passed the anti-cultism bill, which also stipulates a 15-year jail term for anyone found guilty of abetting cultists and residents who wilfully allow their properties to be used as meeting points by cultists.

Sanwo-Olu assented to the bill at the swearing-in event for newly appointed members of the state public procurement agency governing board and two permanent secretaries, which held at State House banquet hall, Ikeja.

The governor also signed three other bills into law. They are Lagos State Audit Service Commission (Amendment) Law of 2019, Lagos State Public Procurement Bill of 2021 and Coronavirus Pandemic Emergency Law of 2021.

The anti-cultism law repeals the Cultism (Prohibition) Law of 2007 (now Cap. C18, Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2015) and provides for more stringent punitive measures, as well as makes its application all-encompassing and applicable to the general public, as against the restriction of the previous law to students of tertiary institutions.

Sanwo-Olu said the state had suffered the negative effects of unlawful societies and cultism, stressing that the new law seeks to make parents more responsible and show more interest in the up-bringing of their children and wards to ensure that they do not become a burden to the society.

On the appointment of the procurement agency’s governing board members and the permanent secretaries, governor said their selection was predicated on their track record of integrity, experience and professional competence.

He noted that the board’s duty was to oversee the procurement process, by ensuring that public funds are judiciously utilised to promote accountability, transparency and value for money.

“I challenge you to utilise your wealth of knowledge and experience for the expedited and seamless delivery of works and infrastructure projects; you must ensure that we achieve our purpose for restructuring the two offices,” Sanwo-Olu charged the new permanent secretaries and the board members.