By George Odok
Calabar – The Cross River House of Assembly has commenced activities to amend the Anti-Cultism Act which was passed into law in April 2002 during the administration of a former governor of the state, Mr Donald Duke.
The bill, christened ‘Cross River State Public Order Prohibition of Secret Cult And Offensive Weapons Bill 2019′ was sponsored by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Mr Joseph Bassey, on Thursday in Calabar.
Bassey told the House that the bill which seeks to, not just define who is a member of a secret cult, but to actually explain who is a cultist.
He added that the bill is expected to stop the countless killings of young people of Cross River on campuses by cultists.
“Cultism has become a top killer factor in the state, even more deadly than some diseases. The killing of young Crossriverians on campuses is alarming and we must take steps to address it.
“This bill seeks to outline stiffer punishment for any individual who is arrested for involvement in cultism to set as a deterrent to others,” he said.
Contributing to the bill, Mr Elvert Ayambem, who represents Ikom II State Constituency, argued that it was not enough for the bill to sentence cult culprits to few years imprisonment.
Ayambem added that a death penalty on one or two persons would deter the rest from the crime.
According to him, the crimes of kidnapping, robbery and cultism have the same endpoint of taking human life, hence the house should resolve on death penalty for offenders.
“When kidnappers seize a victim and a ransom is not paid, they often result to killing the victim. Likewise armed robbers; when they break into a home and there is nothing to rob, they kill the victims.
“Accordingly, same is applicable to cultists who by the end of the day, also kill. So, I maintain that death penalty be spelled out for any offender,” he said.
On his part, Mr Nelson Ofem, who represents Yakurr 1 State Constituency, advised that the new bill should also create an anti-cultism orientation unit where young people would, on regular basis be spoken to, on why not to subscribe to joining secret cult.
In his reaction, Speaker of the Assembly, Mr Eteng Jonah-Williams, said the bill, if successfully amended would be another milestone for the 9th Assembly.
He assured that all necessary efforts would be put in to ensuring that the law is successfully amended.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the bill, after its second reading, was sent to the House Committee on Security, to be reported back to the House in three weeks.