Personnel of the Nigerian Navy Ship Victory have arrested 42 suspected cultists in the Akpabuyo Local Government Area of Cross River State.
The suspects, who were handed over to officials of the state government on Tuesday, were allegedly attending an initiation when they were rounded up on Sunday.
The Commander of the NNSVS, Rear Admiral Vincent Okeke, who briefed journalists, said the suspects were arrested following a tip-off.
Okeke, who was represented by Captain Ibrahim Gwaska, said the navy standby team was informed that the suspects had gathered in Akpabuyo for an initiation and other activities.
He said intelligence gathered revealed that there was going to be a clash between members of the Klans and Black Axe confraternities.
Okeke stated, “We are here for a routine handover of 42 suspects to the Cross River State Government’s representative. Accordingly, the base responded to a tip-off and cordoned off the area in Akpabuyo. In that raid, we arrested 61 suspected cultists.
“On arrival, preliminary investigation was conducted and 42 out of the 61 persons were confirmed to be cultists.
“It is in this regard that we will be handing over the suspects to the state government and officials of the Anti-Cultism and Kidnapping Squad for onward investigation and prosecution.”
The suspected cultists were handed over to the State Security Adviser, Southern Senatorial District, Mr Ani Esin.
Esin commended the navy for acting swiftly on the tip-off it received.
He stated, “As a state government, we are doing our best in ensuring that the issue of cultism is dealt with squarely. We are going to hand over the suspects to the relevant security agency for investigation and prosecution.
“For a few days now, we have been carrying out operation with other security agencies to make sure that all suspected cultists are arrested and prosecuted accordingly.”
An official of the Anti-Cultism and Kidnapping Squad, Mr Ogini Chukwuma, took custody of the suspects for prosecution.