As part of measures to reduce cultism in the society, the Lagos State House of Assembly has passed the amended Unlawful Societies and Cultism (Prohibition) Bill 2020 and proposed punishment for parents of convicted cultists.
The house, which passed the bill during the plenary session on Monday through a voice vote conducted by the Speaker, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, said the inclusion of punishment in the proposed law would further prohibit unlawful societies and cultism.
“Parents of cultists found guilty of cultism in the state ‘might be liable’ for punishment.
“The bill, if signed into law, will provide for the prohibition of unlawful societies and cultism in Lagos and for connected purposes.
“We will also differentiate between the types of cultism in the country so that we won’t solve one problem and create another,” he said.
The bill which has been sent to the governor for assent, however, omitted what type of punishment the parent would suffer.
Cultism in Lagos
In January, the Police Command in Lagos State reported several arrests of cultists terrorising the public within the state.
Two weeks ago, the police in Ikorodu Division engaged some suspected members of Aiye Confraternity in a gun duel after which they arrested two (Wali and Timileyin Omobolaji) and recovered some arms from them.
The incident which happened at 12.30 pm, in Igbelara area of Ikorodu followed a distress call from members of the public about suspected cultists who were seen in the area with dangerous weapons to foment troubles.
The command had also reported the arrest of 11 suspected cultists in Owode-Elede, Agilinti, Maidan and Afinjuomo all in Mile 12 and Ketu area of Lagos State.
The suspected cultists all males were Yusuf Abiodun, 22, Jamiu Salami, 30, Dare Taiwo, 27, Oluwatobiloba Aberaman, Balogun Taofeek,18, Samuel Owolabi, 16, Ejemina Godfrey, 39, Godwin Innocent, 22, Keneting Uduenga, 29, Ayeni Wales, 29 and Lekan Olajide, 22.
Reactions to Bill
The new bill has elicited mixed reactions, with many saying it would be unjust to punish parents for offences committed by their children.
“The bill cannot stand the test of validity. Arresting a person in lieu of another is an aberration under our criminal jurisprudence save for cases of ‘conspiracy,'” Festus Ogun, a lawyer, said.
Ayodele Akinlo, Publicity Secretary, ZLP Ondo State, said, “This is obnoxious. A child is responsible for his actions and inactions, so empowering law to punish parents for a child’s misbehaviour is unheard of and uncivilized.
“That law if passed will fail the constitution compatibility test. You cannot punish a person for a crime he did not commit. You cannot hold a parent culpable for the criminal acts of his child –be he a major or a minor,” Solomon Apenja, an activist, said.
But David Setonji, representing Badagry Constituency II, said, “The issue of cultism has been a major challenge to us in the state.
“There is nothing wrong in coming together, but when it has to do with devilish ideas, causing a commotion, that is what we are against.
“As a result, parents should learn to take care of their children to ensure they conform to societal norms and values.”