My Journey Into Cultism And How I Lost 34 Of My Colleagues- A Repented Ex-Cult Leader

29- year- old Levi Imoter was a notorious cultist
for over 10 years. He engaged in the worst crimes
imaginable, including armed robbery, and
operated from Benue, through Bauchi to Borno.
In this encounter, he recounts how he led many
university undergraduates into cultism and armed
robbery; his waterloo during a robbery operation
in Maiduguri; life in prison and how his death
sentence was reversed through divine
intervention.
He says he would spend the rest of
his life preaching the mercy and love of God
through Jesus Christ who delivered him from the
jaws of death.
He is the brain behind Renewed Mind Foundation
International.
Excerpts:
How did you begin the journey into cultism?
I was in JS.S 3 in 2002 at the Federal Government
College, Vandeikya, Benue State. At the time I was
initiated, I never knew that I was entering into
cultism.
Those days, we used to break bounds. We would
scale the school fence. I was actually initiated
during the period known as “mock extension”,
where JSS 3 and SSS 3 students would stay back in
school. I was initiated by my seniors. They loved
me, always took me out and bought me drinks and
cigarettes. I was introduced to partying. On one
occasion, they took me to a party and, from the
venue, somewhere in the bush.
What happened thereafter?
I was taken there alongside 14 other students for
the initiation rites and I met 14 other students. The
initiators stripped me to my boxers. The initiation
held between 9:30pm and 4am. we went through a
series of torture. In fact, one of my friends
became deaf while the other had a broken leg due
to the manner in which they dealt with us.
Subsequently, we began to meet within the school
premises for lessons on the cult codes and
language. Our meeting point could be in the hostel
and sometimes in the orchard.
We had supervisors who our were not students;
they came from higher institutions. There were
times they even slept in our hostels.
Were you ever caught?
On several occasions I was caught. In fact, after I
was caught with arms, I was expelled in SSS 2.
That was the fourth time I would be caught and
what happened in this case was that I was fighting
some members of a rival cult group because of a
girl. Our own cult was named Black Skull. I should
have been expelled after my second suspension
but, because of my academic brilliance, the school
would normally give me another chance and, at a
point, even made me a prefect with the hope that I
would change from my evil ways.
After I was expelled, I went to the College of
Advanced and Professional Studies in Makurdi,
Benue State for my Interim Joint Matriculation
Board IJMB. It was here that I decided to join the
cult group having been a member of Black Skull
way back in secondary school.
My initiation into the was not done in Benue
because they had done theirs before I got
admission into the school. So, since I earnestly
wanted to join, I had to be taken to the Abubakar
Tafawa Balewa University ATBU, Bauchi where the
men were having their initiation.
At ATBU, we had brutal and hardened criminals as
members. The initiation process was more
tedious.
What is the essence of the torture during
initiation rites?
It was done in such a way so as to make us
develop a thick skin so that when you are caught
by the police, no matter the level of torture, you
would still be able to keep the cult’s code.
I got so wild that I rose through the ranks rapidly
and even became the leader of those who initiated
me.
What was the motivation? Why were you
attracted to cultism?
Love of supremacy over others. Then there was
the spirit of camaraderie. Although, I came from a
very loving family with a Christian background, I
just wanted independence.
Even politicians came to be initiated. I was one of those who initiated a former governor of one of the states. We also had a lot of members among
security agencies. Once, I was to be arrested, and
a policeman called to alert me and that was how I escaped arrest that day.
Were your members always by your side?
To some extent yes, but there was a day they
abandoned me. I came under fierce attack in
Makurdi during a counter attack by another cult
group and they fled. My attackers were arguing as
to whether to burn me or throw me into River
Benue.
I was saved because my elder brother came to the
scene and I discovered that he also joined them in
beating me. I passed out. However, the beating
only got me hardened. I felt I could do better than
what I was doing before I was attacked. I felt I
could do better as a cultist, and so, I took to
armed robbery. We robbed even on campus.
How were you getting your arms?
We were getting our weapons from ghettos where
Indian hemp and other banned substances were
on sale.
Back to your studies. Did you finish your IJMB
programme?
My situation became very bad that Makurdi
became too hot for me to stay. Rival cult groups
were on my trail, the police were looking for me
and so was the school management too. So, I left
town. Later, I gained admission to University of
Maiduguri where I planned to hide because my
thinking was that cult activities would be low up-
North. Unfortunately, someone recognized me as
a cultist and he reported me to the men on the
campus that one of their members had joined the
school but refused to “belong”.
They came after me, and after some time, I joined,
but I felt they were not well-organized as we were
in Benue. So, I introduced them to the Benue
system. I was the one who now introduced arms
to them. At a time, we had a fight with the Vikings
and they came to my residence to kill me, but I
had already gone out to buy cigarettes and they
mistakenly killed my bosom friend. I still take
responsibility for his death. However, news went
viral that I had been killed because the fight lasted
for over two weeks in 2008. I was studying
geography but I could not also graduate despite
being a brilliant student.
Were you eventually arrested?
I was arrested in Maiduguri metropolis for armed
robbery and was sent to prison on awaiting trial.
We actually robbed a bank, but I was arrested on
my way to Jos and I was in prison for about a year.
There, I learnt more tricks because I met equally
hardened criminals and cultists. I got bail. It was
as if I did not handle the operation well and so
when I came out in 2011, we went on another
operation even while I still had a court case. I was
caught again.
How was it that you never got killed?
In all of these, I never killed anyone but I take
responsibility for the death of some of my friends
who I initiated into cultism. I lost 34 friends in two
years. They were killed by rival gangs and the
police. I never used charms, but I think what made
the difference was that my parents never
abandoned me. They stood in the gap for me,
always interceding before God on my behalf. I was
aware of that. Some other parents would not
stomach the level of disgrace I brought my family.
Many would placed curses on such children.
I was in and out of prisons five times. It was after
the fifth time that I discovered my true purpose in
life. My father called me and said that was the last
time he would offer me any form of assistance,
that he was tired as age was not on his side. He
spoke to me at length.
How did you renounce cultism and is there
hope for others?
Yes, there is hope for cultists. Many of them would
want to opt out if they know the way or if given the
opportunity, like in Benue where the state
government has offered amnesty to them.
There was this boy called Stephen Mshelia. He was
17 years then and often came to the prisons for
evangelism. On this eventful day, the prisons
pastor brought Mshelia to my cell where I was
Unclad and bound in chains. I was chained
because I attempted a jailbreak.
Mshelia preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to me
and told me how he loved me, how he raised the
dead and that Jesus stands in the gap. It was as if I
was hearing that for the first time. He prayed for
me. After he left, I could not smoke cigarette again
as what Mshelia told me began to stink. I thought
the cigarettes had gone bad, so, I requested for
another pack, but all of them were smelling. That
was the beginning of my journey to a new life. As
at then, I had forgotten the Lord’s Prayer and even
Christian songs because I had stop going to
church for many years. All I knew was the
language and codes of cults. I became born again
in November 2012 and even raised a church in the
prison to the extent that people came from
outside to worship there.
As a cultist, there was no where I could go without
a gun. The only time I went to church as a cultist
was for a wedding and I still went with a gun. So,
after Mshelia’s visit, I made a vow to God that if He
would deliver me and set me free of all the
charges against me, there is no place I would ever
go without a Bible.
How were you eventually released from jail?
My lawyer deserted me because he was angry that
I kept coming back to court for all the wrong
reasons after struggling hard to secure my
freedom. So, I was assigned a lawyer by the Legal
Aid Council. The judge said he had already written
his judgment of condemnation but that somehow,
something kept pushing him to give me another
chance. At the end, he discharged and acquitted
me.
During the proceedings, as against the convention
of the court, I had raised up my hand to speak
despite having legal aid. I begged the judge to set
me free so that I could go back and serve God. I
told him, all the offences I committed, that Jesus
Christ had taken them away and that the life I was
now living did not belong to me, but to God.
The judge said God had dealt with him concerning
my case, because each time he was to come for
my case, something strange would happen in his
house. Curiously, he decided to set me free and
said although I had escaped his judgment, if I go
out and refuse to serve my God, final judgment
awaiting me would be terrible.
What do you have to tell other cultists?
Cultism comes in pleasant packages but, in the
end, it is destructive. A gun has spirit and if you
are exposed to it as a cultist, you would definitely
take to armed robbery.
The evils of cultism should be taught in schools.
The best way to stop this menace is to ensure that
there is no recruitment. So, catching them young
the right way is the answer. Let us not wait for
cultists to catch the youth in our society.

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