Nigeria's NHRC Urges Strict Legislation to Combat DeadlyCultism in Schools

Nigeria's National Human Rights Commission calls for strict legislation to ban cultism in schools after 20 cult-related deaths in three states in April. The commission urges governments and security agencies to take action to protect human life and prevent further violence.

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Nitish Verma
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Nigeria's NHRC Urges Strict Legislation to Combat DeadlyCultism in Schools

Nigeria's NHRC Urges Strict Legislation to Combat DeadlyCultism in Schools

Nigeria's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called for the enactment of strict legislation to ban cultism in all institutions of learning across the country. The urgent plea comes in the wake of a staggering 20 cult-related deaths recorded in just three states—Anambra, Edo, and Enugu—in April alone.

The alarming figures, revealed in the NHRC's fourth edition of its monthly dashboard data, paint a grim picture of the human rights landscape in Nigeria. In addition to the cult-related fatalities, the report documented a total of 2,011 killings and 99 kidnapping cases nationwide in April, with the North-West region bearing the brunt of the abductions at 74 incidents.

Why this matters: The rise of cultism in Nigerian schools has far-reaching implications for the country's future, as it not only claims lives but also undermines the education system and erodes trust in institutions. If left unchecked, the problem could lead to a surge in violence, instability, and human rights abuses, ultimately affecting the nation's social and economic development.

Hilary Ogbonna, senior human rights adviser to the NHRC executive secretary, emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, "The right to life and security which should be protected by the state faces significant threats in a society plagued by cultism. Cult-related violence leads to loss of innocent lives, shattered families and devastated communities as cultists operate with impunity." The NHRC's call for action extends beyond just legislation, urging governments at all levels to rise to their responsibility of safeguarding the lives and properties of citizens. The commission has also implored security agencies to intensify efforts in protecting human life, as mandated by Section 4(2)(b) of the Constitution. Relevant authorities are being tasked with ensuring the safety of schools and streets for the populace.

Cultism has long plagued Nigeria's educational institutions, with clashes between rival groups often escalating into deadly violence. The menace has not only claimed countless lives but has also disrupted academic activities and instilled fear in students and staff alike. Despite previous attempts to curb the scourge, the problem has persisted, prompting the NHRC's renewed push for decisive action.

The commission's executive secretary, Anthony Ojukwu SAN, underscored the importance of the monthly dashboard in providing policymakers and stakeholders with crucial insights into the evolving human rights situation in the country. The NHRC remains committed to collaborating with the government, civil society, media, and international partners to promote, protect, and enforce human rights in Nigeria.

As Ogbonna poignantly remarked,"The cycle of violence perpetuated by cultism erodes trust and undermines the right to a secure and peaceful society. "The NHRC's impassioned appeal for stringent legislation and concerted efforts from all stakeholders underscores the urgency of addressing the cult menace head-on. The lives and futures of Nigeria's youth hang in the balance, and the nation's human rights record depends on swift and decisive action.