Eleven key officials in Governor Adams Oshiomhole’s administration in Edo State are among 67 suspected cultists arrested by men of the special squad deployed in the state by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, to curb the growing killings and cult activities in the state.
The Force Headquarters in Abuja disclosed yesterday that highly placed persons were among those being quizzed by the squad over their roles in the killings and cult attacks which rocked the state since the conclusion of the last general elections.
The police team which carried out the operation, was led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police for Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, FEDSARS, Mr. Chris Ezike.
Nigerian Pilot learnt that the team stormed the hideout of the suspects and picked them as soon as it arrived in Benin City, the state capital
Police sources disclosed yesterday that some leaders of the various confraternity groups in the state were also arrested in connection with the killing of 10 residents of the state in the last one month.
Among the detained officials are Chairman, Edo State Committee on War Against Indiscipline, Engr. David Olukoga, 46; Senior Special Assistant on Youth Enhancement to the Governor, Osunde Aigbedo, 48; Executive Director, Special Duties, Government House, Dr. Salako Adebowale, 43; a staff of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, Benin City, Ernest Amadasun, 49; Managing Director, Pohien Investments and National Coordinator, Human Assistance Initiative, Adebo Ejuaoje, 46.
Others are Isabor Larry, 34, staff of Edo State House of Assembly; Totti Omonuwa, 42, of No. 97, Igun Street, Benin-City; Ahunwan Orlando, 39, of No. 2, Ighodalo Street, Benin-City; Josuah Ehiabhi, 36, of No. 11, Upper Mission Road, off Ewa Road, Benin-City; Felix Evbodi, 46, of No. 12, Aibelegbe Street, Benin-City and Uche Chukwuka, 36, the Private Secretary to the Chairman, Committee on Environment, Ministry of Environment.
The suspected cultists are believed to be members of the Eiye, Black Axe, Buccaneers, Aiye and Jurist confraternities.
Arase, who expressed worries over unending activities of cultists and other violent criminals in Edo, had on Wednesday dispatched a crack squad to the state to stem the menace. He had also directed the team to clampdown on kidnappers, armed robbers and other criminals in the state.
In a statement issued yesterday by Force Public Relations Officer, CP Emmanuel Ojukwu, he said the special crack squad designated for the assignment, through vigorous intelligence, arrested 11 highly placed persons from different locations of the state who are suspected ring leaders of cult groups linked to recent cult-related killings in the state.
Ojukwu also disclosed that a total of 56 suspected vicious cultists linked to the recent violence in Edo had been rounded up by the squad and are undergoing interrogation.
The statement said the IGP reiterated that no criminal will be spared, no matter how highly placed.
He said: “The Police High Command graciously appreciated the collaborative efforts of the members of the public, particularly in Edo State on the achievement made so far by the Special Crack Squad, and assures that adequate measures would continue to be put in place to ensure safety of life and property, nationwide.”
The special squad comprises units from Police Mobile Force, Explosives Ordinance Department, EOD, State Anti-Robbery Section, SARS, Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, CIID.
Members of the Squad were charged to employ professionalism, discipline and courage in carrying out the assignment.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Edo has described the active participation of top government officials in secret cult activities which recently saw the killing, some in broad daylight of 22 persons in parts of Benin City as disheartening and commended the police action.
In a statement it issued through its Publicity Secretary, Mr Chris Nehikhare, the party said: “The involvement of the governor’s aides and the recent statement credited to the Attorney- General of Edo State, Barr. Henry Idahagbon, that cult activities cannot be curbed in the state” is a bad omen for the state.
Nehikhare said the arrests had substantiated the Edo PDP assertion that the state government was infested with cultists, thugs and criminals holding vital positions having been patronised by Governor Oshiomhole and his All Progressives Congress, APC regime, “for sundry untoward hatchet duties.”
“It is not a coincidence that this war started after the last general election as the APC which contracted these thugs failed to meet the financial obligation promised hence each group believed they were short-changed by the other.”
The party called on Governor Oshiomhole to desist from reducing governance to cultism and state sponsorship of thuggery and related maladies simply because he is so disposed.
“Our children are dying in their scores thus reducing the productive and potential work force in the state. Parents of the brutally killed youths are suffering untold psychological trauma as a result of state-sponsorship of the evil and monster called cultism”.
The party called Olukoga, whose portfolio suggests he is responsible for recruitment of cults for EDSG, Gov. Oshiomhole and Edo APC to stop what it called, “the state protection of murderers by feigning helplessness.”
It argued that, “The deaths of our children are real! The traumas of these deaths to relations of the dead are real. The insecurity it creates within the polity is real. The social problems these create are real. The madness must stop.”

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