Lawmakers at the Lagos State House of Assembly have proposed 21 years jail terms for persons belonging to unlawful and cult societies in the new bill targeted at eradicating cultism and other outlawed groups across the state.
The proposed jail term, they argued, become imperative after the rising incidence of cultists and cultism related activities across the state, a development they claimed, was making Lagos unliveable for law-abiding residents.
The Assembly Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, said that the bills were to protect law-abiding residents and innocents youth who are being forced into cultism and other unlawful societies daily in the state.
Speaking during a public hearing on the bill entitled; “A Bill For A Law For The Prohibition of Unlawful Societies And Cultism In Lagos State And For Other Connected Purposes,” on Thursday, Obasa who was represented by the Deputy Speaker, Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni, said that the bills were important to the development of the state.
“We are here today to discuss how to protect ourselves and our societies. We may have noticed the alarming rate of cultism and how our children are being indoctrinated. The issue has now extended to our primary and secondary schools. It is incumbent on us to act now to protect our societies. A law against drug abuse is also being considered by the House. The amendment to the criminal justice law will further increase criminal justice system by removing all the bottlenecks,” he said.
On his part, the House Leader, Sani Agunbiade, who gave an overview of the bill, said that the government was intervening after statistics emerged that the act of cultism has eaten deep into the fabrics of society.
“The Lagos State Government has seen the need to work on the bill and review it. The bill has 19 sections and it takes cultism issue beyond the campus. The cultists have left the campuses due to the way they are being dealt with and cultism has extended to primary and secondary schools. The Bill shows the serious desire of the government to keep society safe. It defines cult, firearms and others,” he said
Some of the bill provisions include 15 years jail term for any person who by any means of intimidation, harassment, blackmail, threat of violence, compels any person to join an unlawful society, and commits an offence.
The bill also prohibits people from forming, organising, belonging to any cult society, and states that once the activities of the society are inimical to the peace of the society it is a secret society.
It, however, added that any person who in order to compel a person to join an unlawful society, at or immediately after communicating to the person to join the unlawful society or any other person, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of twenty (21) years.
“Any person, who being a member of a cult or unlawful society sets fire to anything in an open or enclosed place, or uses a firearm or an offensive weapon or causes to be used any deadly object, acid or any potent chemical within premises in any location within the state or causes a firearm or an offensive weapon to be used or set fire to anything in such a manner as to endanger the health or property of any other person, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of life imprisonment.
“Any student or member of any educational institution must not belong to any group or society that is not registered with the student affairs department of a university or any educational institution in the State,” the bill read.
It added that any association or society of students on campus or any other educational institution whose activities are inconsistent with the promotion of learning, social development and citizenship behaviour shall not be registered.
On principal offenders, the bill states that any person who contravenes, aids, abets, protects, covers up or condones any other person who commits an offence under this law, or is an accessory before or after the fact of the contravention of any of the provisions of this law, commits an offence and will be regarded as a principal offender, who will be charged with doing the act or making the commission that the person that committed the offence made, and is liable on conviction to the same punishment that the person, who committed the offence is liable to.