In the 1980s confraternities spread throughout the over 300 institutions of higher education in the country. The Neo-Black Movement of Africa (also called Black Axe) emerged from the University of Benin in Edo State, while the Supreme Eiye Confraternity (also known as the National Association of Air Lords) broke off from Black Axe. In 1983 students at the University of Calabar in Cross River State founded the Eternal Fraternal Order of the Legion Consortium (the Klansmen Konfraternity), while a former member of the Buccaneers Confraternity started the Supreme Vikings Confraternity (the Adventurers or, alternately, the De Norsemen Club of Nigeria) the following year. This time period saw a drastic change in the role of the confraternities. The coup of Ibrahim Babangida in 1983 caused a large degree of political tension. Military leaders, beginning in the 1980s, began to see the confraternities as a check on the student unions and university staff, who were the only organized groups opposing military rule. The confraternities were thus provided payment and weapons to use against student activists, though the weapons were often used in deadly inter-confraternity rivalries. Sociologist Emeka Akudi noted that some university vice-chancellors protected confraternities which were known to be violent and used them to attack students deemed troublesome. During this period the confraternities introduced a new tradition of carrying out traditional religious practices, including Vodun, before any other activity. Perhaps in reaction to the changes, in 1984 Wole Soyinka declared that the Seadogs should not operate on any university campuses.
The Brotherhood of the Blood (also known as Two-Two (Black Beret)), another notorious confraternity, was founded at Enugu State University of Science and Technology. Another cult, the Victor Charlie Boys, was established by Augustine Ahiazu when he was vice-chancellor of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology. The cults established in the early 1990s are legion; they include: Second Son of Satan (SSS), Night Cadet, Sonmen, Mgba Mgba Brothers, Temple of Eden, Trojan Horse, Jurists, White Bishops, Gentlemen Clubs, Fame, Executioners, Dreaded Friend of Friends, Eagle Club, Black Scorpion, Red Sea Horse, Fraternity of Friends.
The Klansmen Konfraternity expanded their influence by creating a "street and creek" wing, Deebam, to fight for and control territory outside of the universities through violence and crime. In response, the Supreme Vikings Confraternity (SVC) established their own street and creek group, Deewell. When Dewell was unable to match Deebam, the SVC created a second confraternity wing, the Icelanders (German), which would eventually be led by militia leader Ateke Tom. The Outlaws, another well-known street and creek confraternity, began as a splinter group of the Icelanders (German).
In the late 1990s, all-female confraternities began to be formed. These include the Black Brazier (Bra Bra), the Viqueens, Daughters of Jezebel, and the Damsel. Female confraternities have supplied spies for allied male confraternities as well as acted as prostitution syndicates.
In a student assembly called the following day, the president of the Student's Union, who had escaped the killers by leaping from his window, demanded the resignation of Vice-Chancellor Wole Omole, who was seen as obstructing efforts to fight confraternities, such as by refusing to expel the eight cultists who had been found stockpiling weapons. A bounty of 10,000 naira (US$100) was offered for his capture and one vigilante group reportedly abducted Omole's wife as ransom for his surrender. Students also manned checkpoints and carried out searches for cult members still on campus, arresting suspects. In one case, students worried about police leniency stormed a police station to re-seize a suspect they had previously turned over.
Nigerian Education Minister Tunde Adeniran later dismissed Omole and ordered university administrators to eradicate confraternities from their campuses by September 1999. In response, hundreds of cult members publicly renounced their confraternity and cult-associated violence temporarily subsided.
Normal criminal activity for cults include intimidating professors into giving high grades, including by burning their cars or briefly abducting their children. Since the 1980s, confraternities have murdered people who are thought to have 'stolen' a member's girlfriend, or "sugar daddy" in the case of female groups. Female groups began operating as prostitution rings relatively early. The majority of confraternities, as of 2005, were engaged in a variety of money-making criminal activities, ranging from armed robbery to kidnapping. Cult members may also get money from political figures, who wish to intimidate their opponents. The exact death toll of confraternity activities is unclear. One estimate in 2002 was that 250 people had been killed in campus cult-related murders in the previous decade., while the Exam Ethics Project lobby group estimated that 115 students and teachers had been killed between 1993 and 2003.
In the Niger River delta, confraternities are deeply enmeshed in the conflict in the oil-rich delta. Most of the campus cults have been accused of kidnapping foreign oil workers for ransom, while many of the militant groups, such as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), employ confraternity members as combatants; Soboma George, head of street and creek confraternity The Outlaws, is also an MEND commander.
Campus cults also offer opportunities to members after graduation. As confraternities have extensive connections with political and military figures, they offer excellent alumni networking opportunities. The Supreme Vikings Confraternity, for example, boasts that twelve members of the Rivers State House of Assembly are cult members.