“If not tackled properly, it will continue to rise.
According to him, `Cultism is a criminal activity which encourages the use of intimidation and violence by cultists against their victims.
He said that cultism which was formerly found in higher institutions, had expanded its membership to include thugs, touts and robbers.
“These groups make society unsafe, as they attack and kill innocent citizens, destroy property, engage in armed robbery, drug abuse and kidnapping,” he said.
He alleged that some cult groups were sponsored by desperate people to achieve their goals.
According to him, this is one of the reasons why several efforts to curb the menace had proved unsuccessful.
He stated that many cultists were from broken homes while some were from families that could not control them.
He identified factors that led youths into joining secret groups to include: peers influence, parental background, and the quest for power, fame, protection, superiority and revenge.
Ode said that cultism could result in the arrest, detention, and imprisonment of those found guilty.
“The Judiciary should not shy away from handling out maximum punishment to offenders when the occasion demands, to deter others,’’ he added.
To build a cultist-free society, Ode urged different organisations to promote awareness which would help in curbing its spread.
“Eradicating cultism can save youths from wasting their destinies either in prison or as victims of rival cult clashes.
“Parents should train their children in morals and try to meet their needs, monitor their activities, check the company they keep and counsel them regularly.
“Religious bodies should establish strong youth forums to give youths the opportunity to vent out their angers on any issues troubling them.
“Government and schools, including primary and secondary, should create awareness programmes, seminars and workshops to discuss the dangers of cultism,” he said. (NAN)