Appending his signature on the amended law in Government House today, Governor Dickson noted with serious concern, the rise in cult and other related activities in the state, especially in Yenagoa and its environs, stressing that, with the amendment, the law enforcement agencies have been empowered to deal decisively with suspected cultists and their sponsors.
It also empowers the Police and other law enforcement agencies to conduct search on the homes of suspected cultists and sponsors, even without warrant, while buildings and premises used for cult initiations as well as the storage of arms and dangerous weapons will be forfeited to the Government.
The law equally empowers the State Government to destroy such buildings and premises, without any compensation to its owners, while calling on landlords and property owners to cooperate with the Government and the law enforcement agencies by reporting and exposing such activities to the appropriate authorities.
According to a press statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Francis Ottah Agbo, the Secret Cult/Societies and similar Activities Prohibition Amendment Law 2018, among other provisions stipulates that, the Police can arrest any person it suspects of involvement in cult and other related activities, without a warrant, conduct stop and search on motor vehicles, tricycle, boat or any place suspected to be used for cult and its related activities.
It also allows for the arrest of the occupier of the house or any place, where cult activities are suspected to have taken place or about to be held.
Governor Dickson explained that, the amendment to the law, which had existed since May, 2012, was necessitated by the urgent need to check astronomical rise and the involvement of children and youths in cult activities, stressing that, the situation calls for proactive measures on the part of the Government to not only protect lives and property, but also to safeguard the future of the State.
He said: “As a government we cannot allow this ugly trend of events to continue unabated. Where children below 15, 16, 17 and majority of our youth population are members of one dangerous cult group or society, where they carry guns and other dangerous weapons and shot, kill and maim each other at will and create insecurity in parts of the State is totally unacceptable. As a responsible government, we must put an end to this and it has to be now.
“I want use this opportunity to call community leaders across the State, especially within our State capital and its environs, parents and guardians to call their children and wards to order now, because, the law I have just signed is for all and nobody will be allowed to hide under any guise in this regard”