Fifty-six suspected cultists have been arrested with human skulls in Calabar and Ogoja, Cross River State.
Fifty-one suspects, who were intercepted at the 8 Miles area of Calabar on their way to Akwa Ibom State, were paraded on Wednesday by the Cross River State Commissioner of Police, Abdulkadir Jimoh.
According to Jimoh, the suspects, comprising 46 males and five females, were arrested with three human skulls on Monday, August 17, 2020.
Jimoh said, “On Monday, I got information that suspected cultists were driving dangerously, hoisting the black and red flags, and disturbing the peace on the Goodluck Jonathan Road, and driving towards 8 Miles. They were seriously pursued and intercepted at 8 Miles.
“When they were arrested and brought to the headquarters, there were 51 of them. Forty-six are males and five are females. The suspects confessed to being cultists from the Akpabuyo Local Government Area and that they were on their way to Akwa Ibom State. And when they were searched, three fresh human skulls were recovered from their masquerade regalia.
“Two Hiace buses with number plates KAM 541 XA and XA 668 UGB, two motorcycles, five machetes, and three red flags with human skulls drawn on them were recovered from the suspects. They all confessed to being members of the Nnabor Confraternity and they are the people responsible for the series of kidnapping and other vices in the Akpabuyo Local Government Area, and by extension, some parts of Calabar municipality.
“The command will undertake a forensic analysis of the skulls to determine whether they belong to some of these people that have been declared missing or some of the victims they killed. The suspects have been profiled and they will face the full wrath of the law.”
One of the suspects, Mike Asuquo, described the items recovered from them as part masquerade regalia.
“I was born to see the regalia from our great-grandparents. I don’t know anything about the human skulls. We took this masquerade regalia from our community town hall. We rented it from the owner. The masquerade is a tradition of the Efik. We went for a burial at Obot Akara in Akwa Ibom State,” he stated.
The four suspected members of the Vikings Confraternity were arrested on Sunday and were identified as Peter Henry, Thomas Etta, Ekpo Felix and Ndifreke Obot.
In a related development, five suspected cultists were arrested with a human skull by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in Cross River State.
The state Commandant, NSCDC, Mr Danjuma Elisha, while parading the suspects on Wednesday in Calabar, said they were nabbed on Tuesday in the Ogoja Local Government Area of the state.
According to him, the suspects were arrested following a tip-off that suspected cultists from rival groups had a confrontation.
He stated, “On August 18, 2020, our attention was drawn to a cult confrontation at No. 50 Mission Road, Igoli, Ogoja.
“Upon arrival at the scene, our men found a human skull and other bones believed to be human bones. The team decided to swiftly pick the items and the persons found within the vicinity for scrutiny.
“Ten persons were picked up and after interrogation, five were identified as having questions to answer in relation to the items found.”
He identified the suspects as Ejesi Akwa, Ugbem Oloko, Francis Ogbeche, Thomas Ajaba and Gabriel Ogbeche, adding that they would be handed over to the police for further investigation and prosecution.
One of the suspects, Akwa, said they had a confrontation with some cultists, who came to attack them in the compound and in the process, the NSCDC officials found the human skull in their compound.
One Patience Effiong-Udo, 26, was also paraded by the commandant for allegedly trying to sell her nine-year-old daughter at the Bogobiri area of Calabar, while looking for a buyer.
Narrating what led to her arrest, Effiong-Udo said it was when she complained to a prophetess at a church in the Itu-Okon area of Calabar that she had no food to eat that she encouraged her to sell her child, whom she described as a witch.