Lagos State Police Commissioner, Imohimi Edgal, on Thursday appealed to the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to declare a state of emergency on cultism.
He also said the state House of Assembly should be prevailed upon to propose stiffer punishment for cultism, decrying the recruitment of primary school children into various cult groups in the state.
Edgal spoke at Badagry while receiving 139 youths, who renounced their membership of various cult groups and surrendered arms, ammunition in their possessions.
According to Edgal, the police will adopt the carrot and stick approach in tackling cultism, describing the vice as an instigator to other violent crimes.
While those who voluntarily relinquished arms, ammunition and denounced cultism would be rehabilitated and taken through vocational trainings and offered employments, Edgal said those caught by law enforcement agents would get maximum punishment for the offence.
The police commissioner also called for more surveillance of the borders to prevent arms smuggling into the state.
He said: “I want to use this opportunity to call on the government to declare a state of emergency on cultism. The House of Assembly needs to also award stiffer punishment for cultists because the practice of initiating our children in primary schools is worrisome.
“We will use the carrot and stick approach in fighting cultism in Lagos. The carrot aspect involved encouraging youths in all communities in the state to voluntarily relinquish cultism and surrender arms and ammunition in their possessions.
“We are also calling on local government chairmen and others who have the capacity to take these youths and give them vocational training so that they can come back and be reintegrated into the society and earn decent living.
“From the list handed over to me, I have seen that some of these repentant cultists are university graduates. Some have higher diplomas. Some are teachers and artisans. These are people who should be contributing meaningfully to the growth of society.
“I am happy as CP in Lagos to receive them back to the fold of responsible, decent and law abiding citizens of Badagry. Before us are weapons of mass destruction voluntarily surrendered. We have AK47 rifles, pump action rifles, several locally made pistols, axes, cutlasses, AK47 and pump action ammunition, among others.
“The weapons would be taken to public armoury and would be well documented. All those who have renounced membership of different cult groups would be profiled, their biometrics taken and files opened for them so that we can track their progress.
“The local government chairman has assured me he would do everything within his power to ensure those without skills and qualifications are trained and have means of livelihood. Those with degrees would be offered some forms of employment.
“I am happy my colleagues from other security agencies are here. I call on us to join hands to police our borders seriously and prevent arms and ammunition from entering into our communities because they would be sold to our youths and criminal gangs, who would use them to commit crimes.
“I thank the traditional leaders and all those who made this possible. I call on other parts of the state to emulate Ikorodu and Badagry. It would be my pride to be invited by other communities especially Mushin, Oshodi, Ajegunle, Isolo, Ijora-Badia for similar purpose. The war against cultism and drug peddling should not be left for the police because the police alone cannot win it.”