New Facts Emerge

Innocent Atabo

There are indications that the fire disaster which claimed the lives of 24 students of Government Secondary School, Gindiri in Plateau State was caused by cult members in the school. An awful fact is now emerging over the mysterious fire incident where 24 female students of the Government Secondary School in Bwalbwang, Gindiri in Mangu Local Council of Plateau State were roasted to death two weeks ago.

The new facts indicate that the girls school had been labelled in the past as a "Cultism Centre" where only students with "four eyes" could withstand hostel rigours. In 1998, the state's Military Administrator, Colonel Musa Shehu, set up a Social Welfare Committee to look into the menace of cultism and drug abuse among secondary schools in the state. During investigations, a girl from the GSS Bwalbwang confessed at a Christian revival to Rev. Nyam that most of her colleagues in the school were possessed. Her confession was allegedly corroborated by another girl named Chundung Musa, who listed all the cultists, and those suspected to be involved in witchcraft.

TheNEWS gathered further that on interrogation, most of the girls said to be members of the secret cult confessed of constant nightmares as a result of evil machinations from their colleagues. Most students experience pains and aches every morning. Although efforts to get the report of the four-man committee headed by the former vice-principal (names withheld) that looked into cultism in the school proved abortive, TheNEWS reliably gathered that about 11 girls were expelled following their 'true' confessions on cult activities in the school.

Sources confided that one Happiness Solomon and Nanko Shirdan were among those recently expelled from the school for cultism. The former vice-principal of the school now a principal elsewhere in the state was said to have recommended the leader of the cultists for prosecution. But because of her parents' high connections, the panel had no option than to set her free. She was, however, later expelled from the school. The Bwalbwang ex-cult leader whose cult name was 'Queen' now operates a restaurant in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. She was said to have been expelled from another school for the same offence. "Queen, initiated all of us into the secret cult," one of the suspected cult members was said to have confessed before the panel.

The 20-year-old 'Queen', said some teachers who refused to give their names for fear of attack, had subjected some of them to one form of nightmare or the other. "In fact, we have seen so many wonderful things in this school. My fear now is that so many innocent people may have been initiated into her secret cult world at Abuja," one of the teachers said. Mrs. Hudung Gyang Mara, acting principal of the school, confirmed that a committee was set up by government to look into cultism and drug abuse in the school.

"But I was not here that time," she said. The principal then, she explained, was one Mrs. Ladi Bulus Ndong who was retired in the rationalisation exercise carried out in the state recently. Although the report of the panel was not among the documents handed over to her, Mrs. Mara noted that since her assumption of duty in the school in 1999, cult activities have been prevalent. Her words: "It is true that we have been having cases of cultism since I came, I have had complaints from students coming to say some people come to press them and ask them to join the cults in the night. They said, some even threatened them that if they failed to do so, they will be killed.

At times, in the morning, some girls come to me to complain and even point out some girls who they claim are bewitching or harassing them to force them into cults at night." Mrs. Mara revealed that a particular girl had been identified by many of the students as trying to recruit them into a cult. "What I did was to invite her mother to the school and advised her to take the girl to a day school. I made sure the girl was transferred," she narrated.