Calabar – Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade has declared that “cultism is an issue of concern in the state and there is now a shared relationship between politics and cultism. Politicians hire cultists to cause mayhem.”
Speaking when he received in audience, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Emmanuel Kabuk, who paid him a courtesy visit in Calabar, Governor Ayade challenged security agencies in the country to arrest and prosecute any person caught; including any member of his government that is involve or known to be aiding and abetting cultism.
He decried the extent to which cultism has become an issue of concern in the state particularly with the season of political activities, saying “It’s so bad that even in simple civil issues, you still find cultism rearing it head”.
The Governor listed boundary and communal conflicts alongside cultism as some of the security challenges facing the state.
He told the 82 Div. GOC that “Cultism is an issue I will draw your attention to and if there is anybody who is cultists in my government; supporting or aiding cultists, don’t hesitate, pick him up. We need to stamp out cultism in Cross River State.”
Governor Ayade acknowledged that “even though it falls under the duty of the Police; it is a welfare and a security issue as well, so if it’s a security issue you should not be limited.
“The Police today is not enough to guarantee the peace and security of every Cross Riverian. I plead that you allow the Brigade Commander some latitude for intervention in some of the social challenges that we have.”
His words, “I have read articles where people criticize the government for the deployment of Army in civil actions, but if government has a duty to ensure the welfare and security of the people, you can’t fold your arms and watch cultists take over Calabar South, Akpabuyo and Bakassi local government areas and you expect the Army to seat in the barracks. Some cultists, overwhelm the Police with their level of arms and sophistication.”
On border conflicts within the state, Governor Ayade said, “Cross River State is in perpetual conflicts; having over 22 maritime illegal boundaries and migration routes with the Cameroon.
“We have inter-states boundary conflicts as well as international boundary conflicts. The state government is over burden financially having to carter for refugees fleeing the conflicts in neighbouring Cameroon. We feed them and take care of other related challenges including security.”
He stressed that the interstates’ conflicts bring a lot of pressure on the finances of the state and “there is no money allocated or called security vote. That same allocation we all know, is what government set aside as security vote. If we attempt spending what some other states spend on security votes, salaries will not be paid and the system will collapse.”
“I want to send as a special message to the Federal Government that a special fund be set aside as security vote monthly for states, particularly states with international borders and crisis”.
Governor Ayade commended the cooperation his government has been receiving from the 82 Division and also declared that he “belongs to the school of thoughts that allow a selective deployment of the Nigerian Army, when the welfare, security and wellbeing of the people are highly threatened”.
In his address earlier, the GOC, 82 Division, Major Gen. Kabuk told the governor that his visit was part of the tour of his operation base following his recent posting to head the division with headquarters in Enugu.
He pledged that with the level of professionalism and discipline which the Chief of Army Staff has brought into the Nigerian Army, they will ensure that peace and security are maintained within the division and criminal elements who do not want the peace of others in the country will be dealt with.