Ritual killings are fast becoming the fad in Nigeria. This, many have attributed to the erosion of the country’s value system, which incidentally seem to have given rise to money becoming the god worshiped by youths. In this report, ISIOMA MADIKE, looks at why young people do everything fetish, including human sacrifice to get rich quick nowadays
Nigeria, many believe, is in great danger as ritual killings are gradually but steadily overshadowing all other crimes in the country. The evil has actually assumed a frightening dimension with many of the country’s youths jumping into it without thinking of the consequences of their actions. To a lot of people, the Nigerian society is fast losing its value system.
Those with this line of thought have also argued that money has unwittingly become the god worshiped by the youth. For this reason, young people, they said would do everything fetish, including human sacrifice, to get rich quick nowadays. This obsessive lust for money, others concurred, makes many of them to resort to doing the absurd as a way to realising their devilish desires. Today, an average youth on the street does not seem to value hard work or follow the process of growth any longer. They seem to have also jettisoned the law of sowing and reaping as they wish to turn billionaires overnight.
This might be the reason why they recently invented stealing female underwear to do money rituals. In the last few years, the number of people who have been butchered or raped to death remains countless even as the incident appears to have risen in the last few weeks. Just recently, emesis caught up with two young men, Hyginus Mbachi and Gambo Bulus, who reportedly killed a young man for alleged ritual.
One of the suspects had tricked the boy away from his father on the pretext that he was going to help him gain admission in the Republic of Cameroon. But, Mbachi and Bulus, who confessed to the crime, said the victim whom they alleged was a member of the Young Vikings confraternity was actually not the target for their ritual purpose but was stabbed in error.
Before the killing, Mbachi, according to the Benue State Police Commissioner, Omololu Bishi, had defrauded the father of the boy of N208,150 being the alleged fee for the admission into a university in Cameroon. On May 6, the Niger State Police Command also apprehended three brothers for ritual killing in the Borgu Local Government Area of the state.
The suspects, Saminu Usman,25; Yusuf Usman, 22; and Muhammadu Usman, 35, all of Janruwa village in the Borgu LGA were reportedly arrested by a team of policemen attached to the New Bussa division after a complaint by the father of their victim, Yakubu Garba. It was learnt that the suspects abducted one Shehu Garba and whisked him away to an unknown location where they killed him for rituals. Northern City News reported that the men took their victim to a bush where they cut off one of his hands.
One of the suspects, Saminu, according to the report, alleged that his eldest brother, Mohammadu, instructed them to cut off their victim’s hand for ritual to enable them to be rich. He was quoted to have said: “It was actually not our intention to kill our victim for rituals. But after killing him, we cut off his hand, which we planned to use for ritual, before we were arrested by the police.
I don’t know what to say; but we have disappointed our parents and other family members. Imagine three brothers going to jail at the same time; we have ruined our lives.” In Edo State, a young man of 18 years of age, was also arrested by the police for allegedly killing his mother and slept with the corps for money ritual purposes.
That incident brought to the front burner the incessant cases of ritual killings in recent times and the need to address the immediate and remote causes of the scourge. In Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, a woman reportedly jumped from a twostorey building in a desperate move to escape from the now notorious ‘Yahoo Boys’ who allegedly wanted to use her for ritual. The state’s special security outfit, Operation Burst, arrested the two suspected internet fraudsters to the Ibadan zonal office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), after the woman escaped and reported her nightmare.
The suspects, Sanusi Azeez Toba and Osho Olalekun, were arrested on April 3, at Kolapo Ishola, Akobo area of Ibadan after the woman escaped by jumping down the two-storey building where she and others were taken hostage. According to her, “We met at the club and we all went back to their apartment to sleep over. At some point, I noticed some funny movement and I saw them with a calabash (a native pot).
“That was when I knew they were ritualists with the intention to use me for rituals. So, I jumped off the two-storey building, and off the fence. I then reported the case to the ‘Operation Burst’. Police later found incriminating documents stored in the Laptops and phones recovered from the suspects. An herbalist, Owolabi Mesioye and his friend, identified only as Oloruntoyin, were equally caught in the act after they allegedly killed an unknown man for rituals in Ogun State. According to Naija News which reported the incident, Oloruntoyin purportedly lured the victim to his home near Mesioye’s residence at night.
He was said to have called the herbalist and allegedly hit his victim with a charm that made him unconscious. An eyewitness reportedly said: “The herbalist had been warned several times to desist from placing sacrifices at junctions in the community. He was summoned to a meeting by the community leaders but he did not honour the invitation, same with Oloruntoyin.”
A 62-year-old herbalist, Ganiyu Idowu, alleged that an Islamic cleric, Bamigbola Edun, aka Alfa, asked him to get a human heart and two hands, with which he would prepare a ritual that had a potency to produce N11 million. Idowu was one of the 19 suspects paraded by the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Iliyasu, at the command’s headquarters, Eleweran, Abeokuta. Paraded alongside Idowu and Edun was another 62-year-old motorcyclist, Mathew Odunewu, who was alleged to be an accomplice. The three of them, according to Iliyasu, conspired, kidnapped and attempted to kill one Ganiu, an apprentice to Idowu, for alleged money ritual, in the Oriyanrin area of Abeokuta.
He said: “On getting to the river bank, the three men grabbed the fourth person, who is the youngest among them, laid him on the ground and were about to slaughter him like a lamb when policemen swooped on them.” Iliyasu added that when the suspects were arrested, they had polythene bags with them.
“They confessed that they would have put Ganiu’s body parts inside the bags if they had succeeded in killing him.” In Asaba, Delta State, the activities of suspected ritualists and internet fraudsters (Yahoo plus boys) is also giving the residents of the capital city sleepless nights. The bad boys are said to be abducting and killing people, especially women before making away with their vital organs and panties for alleged money- making rituals. Just like in Asaba, these bad boys have also been terrorising the other cities across the state. Cases of attacks and disappearances of persons at Jesse, Sapele, Abraka, Oghara, Ughelli and Warri in recent weeks have become rampant.
Apart from the killing and harvesting of breasts and tongue of a First Class undergraduate of Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka, which sparked anger in the sleepy university town, suspected ritualists equally beheaded a widow at Oghara, the country home of former governor of the state, Chief James Ibori, in a similar manner.
Though the rate of ritual murders in Nigeria in the last few years had been a source of concern, in recent times, the increasing cases of female university and polytechnic undergraduates falling victim of ritual murderers have been frightening. This may be the reason why many now describe students’ lives in public higher institutions in the country as brutish and challenging. Outside the school campuses, the young undergraduates are also being preyed upon by opportunistic kidnappers looking for candidates to be killed for rituals. Punch had reported the headless body of a young lady which it said was found along the Amanwaozuzu-Ogwa Road in Imo State.
The victim was believed to be an undergraduate of a university in the South- East. The report said that other body parts were removed from the corpse, fuelling suspicion that she might have been killed for ritual purposes. Before the Imo incident, another student of Mass Communication at the Cross River State University of Technology had died in circumstances believed by her parents to be for rituals.
She was said to have gone to the home of an Alhaji to seek financial help with the knowledge of her mother. Also, an unidentified woman, who left her abode in Sango Otta, Ogun State, in search of spiritual cleansing, ended up being a victim of ritual killing in the hands of those who pretended to be clerics, according to reports. Aside that, the body of one-year-old boy was also discovered in a church with her heart ripped out from her body in Calabar. As if in competition, a suspected ritualist reportedly confessed that he connived with a Muslim cleric, to use his student for money rituals.
With the spate of killings for ritual purposes gradually assuming an alarming rate in Nigeria, many would have expected security agencies to checkmate the trend. But that has not been the case. Recall that in March 2014, a horrible ritual forest was discovered in Soka, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, where human body parts, including skulls and skeletons dotted the whole forest. In a similar manner, another forest was also discovered around the same period in Ogun State where an underground cell suspected to be a ritualists’ den was uncovered at Iyana Egbado village in Ewekoro Local Government Area of the state.
More discoveries were made in different parts of the country in recent years. On a daily basis, there have been screaming media headlines and stories of people either being arrested with human parts for ritual purposes, or of missing persons. Not too long ago, deadly and notorious cult group, known as Badoo, which was responsible for a lot of killings for ritual, held swear at the Ikorodu area of Lagos State until the police was able to dislodge and degrade the group. For sure, the rising scourge of ritual killings in Nigeria is not a phenomenon in a vacuum. In fact, there are several reasons why the problem of ritual killings has persisted.
Greed and poverty, according to those who should know, are some of the fundamental causes. However, it is sad that some Nigerians are never satisfied with wealth. As such, they have unyielding desire to be extremely rich. This, some others said, is a driving force that leads to ritual killings. Apart from that, desperation for quick riches has also been fingered as a motivating factor in such inordinate act.
There is the factor of the high level of unemployment also. Many have said that the growing unemployment could motivate the youth who are anxious to begin to consider illicit and irrational ways of succeeding including money rituals. Joblessness, others said, could equally be a recipe for other crimes including armed robbery, thuggery and fraud. Yet, cultism cannot be overlooked as many believe it contributes to the moral decadence in the country. It is disheartening that cultism is now widespread not just in institutions of higher learning but also in the larger society.
These cult groups go to the extent of killing innocent people and sacrificing them for wealth, power and sometime protection from death. However, the founder and head of Evangelical Ministries (Wisdom Chapel), Lagos, Bishop Stephen Ogedengbe, has stressed the need for the three tiers of government to create more jobs for the teeming youths to dissuade them from indulging in ritual killings. According to the cleric, the difficulties in securing jobs have made some youths, who did not have the right values, to go into ritual killings, mass migration and other vices. He is equally of the opinion that the vices could be curbed if the leaders think more of the youth than self.
He said: “We can only continue to tell people that in the end, crime does not pay; engaging in ritual activities or other vices makes a person sell his or her soul to the devil. So, we must constantly tell youths that values of faith in God, values of integrity and honesty, hard work and labour supersede the short term gains of rituals and scamming.’’ Professor of Islamic Eschatology, Muslim Activist, and Advocate of Dialogue, Ishaq Akintola, appears to support the thinking of Ogedengbe when he said that “our leaders should provide good infrastructure and create jobs for the youth to take them away from negative acts such as ritual killings for money.
They are the future of this country; they should be equipped with employment or empowered. “Nigerians are faced with multiple of challenges, what is paramount is how to ensure that there is infrastructure in place that works for people. Power is very important, training is also important, especially functional education, which teaches people what to do and how to do it; what is important for people is to earn a living.
“Somehow, there is an indirect relationship between corruption and money rituals. Nigeria is a country where people steal public money and call it free money. Since the thieves did not work for it, they spend it anyhow such that, their neighbours or those who look up to them are moved to envy. And in the process of trying to emulate them by all means the youth take desperate steps including doing money rituals. “Add to this is the manner with which public servants who stole money are venerated in society which makes the young ones desperate to emulate them.” Meanwhile, the Police have said that stealing of pants by “Yahoo Boys” for money rituals cannot be investigated because there is no evidence.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, who was responding to questions on ritual practices and ‘get rich quick’ schemes, said this on a live television programme on NTA, ‘Good Morning Nigeria’. He said: “Stealing of underwear for whatsoever reason is a recent phenomenon. Before now, we had cases of ritual killings but we can’t investigate things that are not empirically verifiable except when there is convergence of the act like cases of murder or an attempt or related crimes.” The police spokesperson went on to advice youths against drug abuse, adding that substance abuse fuels crime.
“Drug and substance abuses are strong conscience suppressors that influence our youths into these wicked acts of fetish and ritual killings for get-rich-quick. While we’ll continue to fight the menace of drug abuse head-on, we want our youths to desist or be ready to bear the consequences “We don’t investigate divinations or morality except related acts that constitute a criminal offence. Apart from factors like unemployment, what we have on home videos, TV programmes and messages being sent out help in spreading these evils.” In his reaction, a Lagos-based lawyer, Emmanuel Nwaghodoh, said that most people who should know better unfortunately are the ones helping to fuel the menace by believing in arcane things and fetish practices.
While also blaming the malaise on the worsening economic condition across the country, Nwaghodoh urged security agencies to step up and live up to their responsibility of protecting lives and property. “From time, our politicians believe ritual killings or severed human parts and organs would help them win elections.
For me, they are vampires thirsty for human blood,” he added. Speaking on how to curb the malady, a security expert, Dr. Ona Ekhomu, stressed the need for people to always be vigilant and take cognizance of their environment. He advocated value reorientation and called for more jobs creation to help steer desperate youths away from turning into body part merchants, kidnappers and murderers. Ekhomu lamented the inability to prosecute those caught in the act, which he said, had continued to encourage others to remain in the business. He therefore called for stiffer penalty for anyone caught in the act of ritual killings, as, according to him, that will serve as a deterrent to others, especially the youth.