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Edo youths face hard time as police go after suspected cultists

By Nelson Dafe, Benin City on 27/05/2015

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In the streets of Benin City, this is certainly a difficult time to be a youth. The recent inter-cult war between various confraternities which claimed several lives, including those of innocent parents, has been met by a swift and seemingly no-nonsense response by the Inspector General of Police Solomon Ariase who has drafted several crack detectives of the police force from Abuja to the Edo State capital to deal ruthlessly with cultists.

While the police have recorded an impressive number of arrests of some top men, who have allegedly been behind the deadly acts of the cults groups, the fear now is that the ongoing combing of the streets leaves innocent youths vulnerable to being harassed, arrested and extorted by the police.

In the past few days, since the police commenced serious anti-cultism operations in Benin City, a number of young men alleged to belong to cult groups have been picked up. The police are said to be using some arrested cultists to identify some others whom they (the police) then go and swoop on. Unfortunately, it is alleged that some innocent persons who don’t belong to cult groups have been picked up in the police raid.

Already, News Express has received unconfirmed reports of how the police identify their targets. Boys with rough looking high hair, dreadlocks, tattoos and ‘low waist’ trousers are said to be particularly susceptible to police harassment. The question of the police action has been raised by some, who spoke with News Express.

“I am too scared to move out during the day because of my ‘dreads’. I love my hair as it is and I don’t want to take it down. I am no cultist but I feel unsafe because of what might happen to me if the special police see me with the hair,” a young boy said.

Reports of what have happened to some persons held for their ‘wrong’ fashion choices have been grim. News Express heard of a case in one of the main roads of Benin of how the police used jagged-edged bottles to cut down a young man’s dreadlocks leaving him publicly embarrassed with blood streaming down his head, before whisking him away.

Another report says that broken bottles were used to erase some boys’ tattoos, while others with low-waist trousers are given public punishments before being taken away by the police.

News Express was also told that each fashion infringement carries its bail amount in the event that no cultism case can be established against a particular person held. “If you are with a rough hair, you pay a lower amount of money to bail yourself than when you are caught with a tattoo, for example,” another young man alleged.

News Express investigations revealed that an unofficial curfew is being observed by many youths in the city. As the day gives way to the evening, many usually busy streets, bars and other spots where youths hang out are deserted for fear of the special anti-cult police. 

While it is said that the price for freedom is eternal vigilance, for many youths in Benin City the price for respite from secret cult-induced bloodbath is now a fear of the police.

•Photo shows IGP Arase

 

Source News Express

Posted 27/05/2015 02:50:22 AM

 

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