REVISION OF ANTI-CULTISM BILL FOR STIFFER PENALTIES ENTERS 2ND READING

An amendment proposed to give the state’s 17-year old anti-cultism law stronger teeth to cow offenders into submission has entered the second reading in the legislature. Titled, “Cross River State Public Order Prohibition of Secret Cult and Offensive Weapon Amendment Bill, 2019, it is sponsored by the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Joseph Bassey who also represents Calabar South II State Constituency. Bassey’s rationale for the revised version of the law is that cultrelated violence and killings especially in Calabar, has continued to thrive because, according to him, the extant law of 2002 that provides for a jail term of one and two years respectively for first and second offenders, was
not strong enough to discourage involvement in cultism.

He thus proposed an amendment that prescribes five and 10 years for first and second offenders respectively as jail
terms to serve as deterrent to wouldbe cultists. The Deputy Speaker also proposed that the Police be given reasonable period to detain cult suspects for proper investigation and prosecution. Contributing to the motion for the amendment, the Chief Whip and member for Calabar South I, Rt. Hon. Okon Ephraim described cultism as a serious problem that could negate the industrialization drive of government if not curtailed since no investor would
be willing to invest in an insecure environment. According to Ephraim, cultism in the state can only be nipped in the bud if offenders are sufficiently punished after being prosecuted and sentenced.

The Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Eteng J. Williams thereafter committed the amendment bill which received members’ overwhelming support to the House Committee on Security for stakeholders’ engagement. Similarly, the Cross River State Food Safety Bill, 2019 has been read the second time in the House.>>

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