The Abia State Police has arrested suspected members of a secret cult group operating in Umuahia, the state capital, and its environs.
Our reporter reports that cultism and related crimes have been on the increase in the state, especially in Aba and Umuahia.
Underage children were reportedly recruited into the group in collaboration with students of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike; Abia State Polytechnic, among other higher institutions in the state.
A statement by police spokesman Geoffrey Ogbonna, a Superintendent of Police (SP), said the suspects were arrested by men of police commissioner’s Crack Squad.
Ogbonna said the squad, acting on a tip-off while on Operation Puff Adder, arrested 22 suspected members of NEO Black Movement of Africa (aka Aiye) in a bush at Umuhutte Ahiaeke Ibeku in Umuahia North.
The spokesman explained that the suspects consisted of university under-graduates, secondary school leavers/dropouts and artisans.
He added that the suspects confessed that they were carrying out the initiation of their new members into the cult group.
Items recovered from them include four red candles, 24 white candles, two native kola-nuts, some bitter kola-nuts, half-cut calabash, Samba drum and a 10-litre gallon containing mixed substances that resemble blood.
“Then, early in the morning while combing the scene, six expended cartridges and a damaged locally-made short gun were recovered.
“The suspects are giving a lead that would aid in the arrest of their fleeing members,” the statement added.