From Campuses to Communities: Community-Based Cultism and Local Responses in the Niger Delta Region, Nigeria
Campus cultism which began in Nigeria in the 50s has dispersed into residential communities. This paper examined the infiltration of cultism from campuses to residential communities in the Niger Delta region (NDR) of Nigeria. It traced the origin of cultism in the NDR, investigated the diffusion of cultism to residential communities, examined community response to it and implications of community response for peace and security of the region. Using both primary and secondary sources of data collection, the paper traced campus cultism in the NDR to the establishment of universities in the region in the 70s and 80s. Cultism dispersed into residential communities through establishment of affiliate groups in communities by major cult groups and expulsion of students from campuses for belonging to cult groups during the federal government anti-cultism campaigns in 1999. Due to the criminal activities of the cult groups in the NDR and ineptitude of the police, communities have responded by creating vigilante groups but this has only promoted cycle of violence. The paper recommended that government should tackle community-based cultism and also strengthen the Nigeria Police Force to be responsive to insecurity.