By OKUNADE ADEKUNLE
Lagos state government has initiated moves to purnish parents of people found guilty of cultism in the state as members of the House of Assembly on Tuesday (Today) during plenary session debated a bill for a law to provide for the prohibition of unlawful societies and cultism in Lagos and for connected purposes sent to them by the State’s Attorney General, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN).
In his contribution, the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade (Ikorodu 1) said that sponsorship of cultism could not be captured under the bill, saying that some of the cult groups have their sponsors.
Agunbiade, who said that limit of the jurisdiction of the offences could not be limited, referred to Section 12 and said that there must be a prove before suspending any student found guilty of cultism. “suspension of students without proven guilty is already a punishment.
“There must be a prove before suspension. The suspected student should be investigated before suspension. Parents of students who engage in any cult group should also be liable,” he said.
Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu ( Eti-Osa 2) said that the Bill was presented as if it was a new bill, saying that it should be an amendment bill.
He added that the scope of the bill should be expanded, adding that it falls short of its own intention.
“Cultism is what we need to guide against with the information we are hearing on terrorism”, said Yishawu.
While commenting, Hon. Rotimi Olowo (Somolu 1) explained that cultism has gone beyond schools environment. “This should not be limited to schools but be expanded into the society”, he said.
He cited example of Aye confraternity 8 day celebration which always result to destruction of property.
Olowo added ” The bill will nip various cult groups in the state in the bud”.
Also, Hon. Kehinde Joseph ( Alimosho 2) posited that the bill was not comprehensive enough.
“If you see what is going on especially when this pandemic started, female beggars, who sat along the road were impregnated and they gave birth to children. Who are the people that impregnated them? Some of the guys did so. I will also support that proposition that parents of those found guilty of cultism must be punished,”he said.
Another lawmaker, Hon. Yinka Ogundimu (Agege 2) emphasised that cultism is very rampant in primary schools, saying that while looking into punishment of those found guilty, rehabilitation of the minors who belong to the group should be looked into.
He said that students in tertiary institutions, who found guilty must be prosecuted.
Desmond Elliot, (Surulere 1) opined that the bill was not robust to cater for the larger society.
“The bill looks childish to me. The bill supposed to take care of orientation for the children,” he said.
Hon. David Setonji ( Badagry 2), said that the issue of cultism remains a major challenge in the implementation of laws.
“We have laws and we need to empower the security agencies to implement the existing laws”, he added.
However, the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa said that there was need to differentiate among the various types of cultism in the country.
“There is need to differentiate amongst the types of cultism in the country so that we won’t solve one problem and create another. We need to look at the way and manner weapons are used. The existing law should be seriously looked into,” he said.
Obasa, therefore, committed the bill to the House committee on Judiciary, which was directed to report back to the House in three weeks.