The Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Cross River State has said that visionless leadership was responsible for cult clashes in Calabar in which four persons were killed last week.
The gubernatorial candidate of the party in the 2019 elections, Barr Eyo Ekpo, made the remarks in Calabar while contributing to the debate on the socio-political happenings in the state in recent times.
He said upsurge in criminal activities was caused by the political class who he accused of arming thugs for political reasons and thereafter abandoning them with deadly weapons in their hands.
Describing cultism in the state as an industry which would continue to grow, Ekpo said leadership which always lay emphasis on materialism, but without moral character, would birth uncontrollable level of cultism and its related deadly activities.
“Until we open our eyes and look for leaders with moral courage and character, it is certain that cultism is one ‘industry’ in Cross River state that will continue to grow,” he stated.
He believed that one of the reasons for the renewed rivalry among cults groups is lack of cash flow after the elections and that politicians, having used and abandoned these groups, have allowed them to their fate.
His words: “It is not a coincidence that these events are happening after the elections. Politicians have used these young men and have now moved on. The flow of cash has been cut off and the various groups have turned inward and outwards to settle scores of all sorts.
“One can’t blame only these misguided young men. Ultimately, many of them are cannon fodder for politicians and society’s ‘Big Men’ who use them for their shortsighted selfish ambitions but forget that once you give an untrained person a weapon and fail to teach him to use that weapon ethically, and that person takes a life, you are culpable. And no one on earth, except one better armed, can take that weapon away.
“Membership of a cult group is one of the most difficult things to prove. Why? Members will almost invariably not inform outsiders. They have sponsors and members in very high places in government. Once upon a time, no one publicly justified this devilish deviant behaviour but today, we now have people emerging to defend and even justify it.
“It is safe to presume that anyone wielding a weapon in attack or in defence in a cultic battle on the streets of Cross River state (and we know when these things happen) is a cultist. No amount of legalistic or sentimental talk should shift our moral compass.
“People who indulge in this sub-human and most wicked activity have brothers, sisters, relatives and parents who all kept quiet for whatever reason. If you live by violence (and these people are extremely violent) and die by it, that is the fate you deliberately chose.”