Nigeria – confession of Yahoo Plus Boys: “Ritual does not give us money”

Screenshot from ICIR Nigeria website showing suspects Uche, Onoriode, Desmond and Obajero. 

The International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, is an independent, nonprofit news agency that seeks to promote transparency and accountability through robust and objective investigative reporting. The ICIR’s mission is to promote good governance and entrench democratic values by reporting, exposing, and combating corruption. 

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Confession of Yahoo Plus Boys:
“Ritual does not give us money”

Published: November 8, 2019
By:  Ejiro Umukoro

IN their desperation to join the ranks of their compatriots who have been making millions of dollars out of online-scams, young Nigeria- based wannabe scammers known as ‘yahoo boys’ are resorting to the use of traditional charms and mystical powers to charm potential victims.

Yahoo Boys are young men —usually aged between 22-29 years—who specialize in various types of cybercrime. Many of them may be undergraduates or college dropouts whose distinct lifestyles of fast cars, wealth and ostentation is the envy of many of their age-mates. The Yahoo Boys are not limited by geography— the internet is their home— and their victims are as diverse as there are naive and people ready to fall for get-rich-quick scams.

There are numerous websites dedicated to providing tips for those interested in joining the growing ranks of Yahoo Boys. According to a research report, Understanding Cybercrime Perpetrators and the Strategies They Employ in Nigeria, the use of voodoo and charms for spiritual protection and to charm potential victims is very common among Yahoo Boys in Nigeria. The practice is referred to as “Yahoo Plus. According to the report, another level in the use of charms is known as Yahoo Plus Plus, which “involves the use of human parts and may need kidnapping other human beings for rituals, which is not necessary in ‘‘Yahoo Plus.’’ In Yahoo Plus Plus, the use of things such as victims finger nails, rings, carrying of corpses, making incision on their body, sleeping in the cemetery, citing of incantation, using of their fingers for rituals, and having sex with ghosts are common.”

Two suspects: Emudiaga and Desmond 

Getting a Victim – The Kidnapping

The car drives by in a lazy fashion. Its three passengers, all male: Macaulay Desmond Oghenemaro, Emese Emudiaga Kelvin and Onoriode Enaike are good spotters. They know a victim when they see one. The signs are usually obvious: a response to a cat-call, eye contact, a smile, a wave of the hand, a thumbs up or just the mere sight of their expensive car is enough to pull a vulnerable, or even, willing participant. This is their fourth recon for their next task. The last three girls they got had been easy catch, their names unremembered, their bodies long decomposed; each one, a girl on the lookout for quick money, free food, or free drinks in return for a one night, short term, or simply a girl keen on dating only men who drive cars.

The three of them sight a potential victim. She flags them down and gets in. She looks about twenty-years-old. She’s not a student; a fashion designer she tells them. They drive to the hottest spot in town for drinks, skewered meat and food. They continue to pour alcohol into her glass, ordering more bottles of beer. She guzzles down the beer as she feasts on the meat and other goodies that they push before her.

The night was about to be ushered in. Their day job as ‘Yahoo boys’(online fraudsters) has taken a new twist. They are now Yahoo Plus Plus, a code name for ‘ritualists’ – or those who are in the business of getting human body parts for use in rituals and occult practices which are supposed to guarantee success of their internet scams. They signaled each other: it was time to take her out. They get her into the car in a drunken stupor then drive several kilometres to the outskirts of Oghara into a bush where they first plucked out one of her eyes while she was still alive. The young lady was crying, begging them to forgive her and let her go, but they went ahead and pluck the other eye, remove her breasts and heart before she died.

Three hours later they are done with her. They abandon her body out in the open, her hands and feet bound with marine ropes. Within three hours they cut off her organs: breasts, heart and eyes. Once they were done, they head for their next stop at the ‘Jazz Man’s’ shrine in Alegbo, Warri.

His name is Ojokojo Robinson Obajero, a 63-years-old man, who though an expert in herbal medicines, mixes his craft with occult practices. They call him the ‘Jazz Man’ in pidgin patois. When the three men meet him and presented the human organs, Obajero tells them when to return. They leave. Four days later, Obajero summons the three men and hands over the burnt ashes of the deceased’s body parts he claims he used in preparing a “money ritual concoction”, which he tells them will guarantee that their online victims fall prey for their tricks to obtain money through fraud.

Several weeks later they returned to Obajero, disappointed and angry. Their business of internet fraud has not been booming as they expected. Instead, it seems that the online victims they have been targeting have become smarter and are no longer falling for their scams. It’s also been several months since they made any money from female victims looking for love on the internet.

They demand to know from Obajero why his ritual did not work. He tells them that he has been testing them – the first three victims whose body parts they brought to him for conjuring was a test to confirm they would not divulge his identity as the person making the charms. He tells them he is confident they will keep their mouths shut and demands that they must get a fifth victim whose body parts he will use to make a new charm.

The three scammers are not happy with this new request. Desmond tells Obajero that they had put in a lot of effort to get the body parts from their four previous victims, and yet they had not got any results. Desmond is angry that even though they had invoked the occult, they were not as successful in luring victims as they had been before they started engaging with Obajero. But this time, Obajero makes a firm promise: “This time you will make money through the death of the girl and the ritual I will do for you.”

The three men left wondering where to get their next victim. Less than 24 hours later, Onoriode calls Desmond and Emese. He tells them there is a possible victim — a student in Abraka University where he works as a security guard. The girl, Elozino Ogege is a 300 level Mass Communication student of the Delta State University who had a few days earlier, asked him if he could help her with information regarding available rooms for rent within the school’s staff quarters, and he had now has asked the girl to return the next day. He told his two accomplices this would be an opportunity for them to kidnap her and take her out of the school premises with the help of the head of security, Nwosisi Benedict Uche, who will be paid N30,000 for allowing them to pass through the gate without the boot of the car being subjected to a search.

One of the victims: Elozino

Inside the Lecturers Staff Quarters, the three of them waylay Elozino, incapacitate her with a toxic fume, and dump her in the boot of the jeep they brought. While Onoriode waited behind at his guard post, the other two drove to Emese’s house in Umeghe and waited for Onoriode to join them after work hours. Once Onoriode arrived, they drive towards Abraka just before Obiaruku by the right when coming from Warri axis into a large expansive land thick with vegetation. They drive through the bush track of lined palm trees. The bush track leads to Ugunu Community but they do not drive inwards, parking the Corolla car a few metres from the expressway. It was already dark. They get their tools and torchlight.

Desmond had drank half a bottle of strong expensive alcohol but his two friends had no need to dull their senses before they mutilated the girl they had successfully kidnapped. Elozino was crying, begging them to let her go but they ignored her pleas while they plucked her eyes out, removed her heart and cut off her nipples. Two and a half hours later, they are done with the deed. They drive off and deliver the dismembered parts to the occultist who once again instructs them to return after two days when he would have completed preparing the charms.

This was their 5thvictim. In their desperation to make money through ritual killings and sacrifices, they covered an estimated distance of at least 78KM, a journey of about 1hour 27mins between Abraka to Otefe, Oghara in at least 10 instances (780KM) (870 minutes); including traveling back and forth from Abraka to Warri on at least 10 occasions to meet with the occultist who prepared charms, estimated distance of 490KM both ways, a total of 660 minutes; in addition to navigating their way from their home base in Abraka to Delta State University, DELSU, towards the expressway some distance from Obiaruka where they committed their last crime, a journey of at least 41KMboth ways and roughly 50mins at the least. On average, it took them about 3 hours on each victim to extract the organs, an average total of 15 hours spent.

While they were at home awaiting the call from the jazz man, in less than 48 hours later, in the early hours of Saturday 10thNovember 2018, all three men including the occultist were rounded up by the police. A tipoff from the victim’s family led to an investigation that helped the police trace the girl’s cell phone, a Tecno K7 Mobile, to the murderers. Elozino Ogege was their fifth victim.

Four suspects: Uche, Onoriode, Desmond and Obajero

ON MISSING GIRLS

A follow-up investigation into the other 4 missing girls was made. Reports from Police Missing Person data does not have any record of reported missing girls during this period when the acts were carried out. According to the Police IPO in charge of Elozino’s case, who followed up on the perpetrators confession, no bodies of the missing girls were found when they went to inspect the areas where their bodies were dumped in the bushes in Oghara.

The late Elozino-Ogege 

When the police was asked why there was no missing persons’ report, one theory postulated was that since the bodies of the girls according the yahoo boys were left abandoned in the open, decomposition was fast and the decayed bodies and bones likely eaten up by animals.

The other reason he explained was that, as a rule, because police don’t trust anyone, many people prefer not to report such cases of dead or mutilated bodies found so they are not mistaken or held for being responsible for such deaths or incidences. To remedy this, he suggests that citizens in general can report such cases to NGOs whose focus covers such issues who will then bring the case to the police. That way, the person who made the report is at first protected until investigations into the matter are completed.

But most importantly, citizens should begin to take it upon themselves to report suspicious activities and suspicious persons to the police early on as a preemptive call-to-action. Neighbourhood Watch is a must in combating crimes, illicit and illegal activities in all communities, especially more so in the ‘ember’ months ahead, where end of year activities are highest.

Efforts were also made to reach the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) to give us data on activities surrounding violent killings of females within the context of Yahoo Plus Plus using the FOI Request but no response, over two months before this report was filed, was gotten from EFCC regarding this. Violence of any kind against women: yahoo plus plus, other occult related killings, rape, assault, etc., are human rights abuses that must not be condoned by society. Cases must be reported and speedy justice administered to stop the scourge and prevent future incidents.

More needs to be done to collect data on missing women in Nigeria, to better understand the scope of the problem and work towards making university campuses a safe space for female students.

THE SCAM

As foreign law enforcement crackdown on online scams in a bid to protect their citizens from online fraud, it will become harder and harder for the Yahoo Boys to keep operating as they have in the past. Ritual killings and the belief that their victims’ body parts will create charms that will enable them to earn a living from scams are just one of the results from a population of young people who are turning to crime to make a living.

Nigeria’s youth unemployment rate averaged 36.5% iin the third quarter of 2018, while the national average rose to 23.1%. With graduates entering the workplace in greater numbers, there needs to be a concerted effort by national and state governments to provide an environment that will enable job creation to give young people better choices.

Yahoo Boys as also adept at cyber-enabled financial fraud. A six month operation wire wire conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service resulted in 74 arrests in the United States and overseas, including 29 in Nigeria, and three in Canada, Mauritius and Poland.  The operation also resulted in the seizure of nearly $2.4 million, and the disruption and recovery of approximately $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers. Many of these scammers who were in Nigeria have since fled to other countries eg Ghana, Dubai ,South Africa, Gambia as the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes commission closed in on them.

I set out to interview Desmond and Onoriode who admitted to practicing Yahoo Plus Plus rituals. Together as a gang they spent an estimated 1,311KM, equaling a total of 1,580 minutes on the prowl looking for vulnerable women they can lure. Their lead-man, Emese, was alleged to have slumped and died when the police were close to catching him. Desmond and Onoriode were both in police custody while awaiting trial when this interview was conducted. During the interview, they were unemotional as they narrated how they kidnapped their victims and mutilated their bodies.

Sitting down on a short bench close to a hedge of plants, the sun shining overhead with a white plastic table separating us, this is an excerpt from the interview I conducted in the presence of the police:

Yahoo Plus Boys Onoriode and Desmond     

Q: What’s your name and how old are you?

Macaulay Desmond. I’m 32 years. I Finished secondary school in 2008 (Urhuoka Secondary School, Abraka) but I was born in Lagos. I did my primary school in Benin and secondary school in Abraka.

Q: Were you in business before?

Desmond: I was into photography work and sand dredging from high sea. My job was to pile it up. I dredged in Bayelsa and with Delta Glass for two years and six months. Photography was from 2006 to 2013. I was learning photography as an apprentice at the same time I was schooling in secondary school. After school I go to do my apprenticeship. I was good with snapping photos, creating handbills, all types of photo enlargements, making complimentary cards, CD plate transfers and so on. But after I finished secondary school I stop my apprenticeship and left the job. Because I didn’t have the money to open my own shop I decided to work for my boss. After a while I left the job because it wasn’t paying that well. So I went to Lagos to work for another construction company. But that too wasn’t paying me well.

So I approach my Uncle to help me with money to further my studies. So my Uncle put me in the line of dredging sand from 2013 up till 2016 when I now leave for Ghana. I left because the dredging contractors who supplied the sands to Beta Glass was not paying, they owed us for long periods. Life was difficult. When I complain to my uncle he no show concern; im own be say e don put you for line. His own is to build the barge, rent it out or sell it out. The weather in the place too was a problem especially when I was hungry. So I got fed up.

Q: Why didn’t you learn how to make barges yourself from your Uncle? Or you didn’t want to learn how to make barges?

That’s not what I discussed with him actually. I told him I have finished my photography work and I just need money to finish my studies. My Uncle told me he does not have that kind of money. But the best he can do for me is put me in the line of working in the barge.

Q: So how did you get into this other line of business?

When things got rough with the dredging business, I called my friend and told him things are rough with me here (Nigeria) that’s when my friend now ask me to come in 2016.

Q: So what happened in Ghana? What were you now doing in Ghana?

We are doing the yahoo yahoo.

Q: Where exactly in Ghana?

Kasoa.

Q: How long were you there for?

I was there like 8 months.

Q: So you were living with your friend there? How were you paying or compensating him for living in his house?

There was no compensation because he’s my childhood friend. We went to the same secondary school. The agreement we have is that if I collect money, then the percentage we’ll share it. If I collect N300,000 we can share it 40/60 because he’s the one providing for the network and feeding. That’s how they do it everywhere. Everybody that travels to Ghana that’s how they do it. It’s 40/60. Or some chairman the one that’s not greedy 50/50.

Q: Describe this your yahoo business for me.

Yahoo is kind of internet relationship. When you meet a woman.

Q: So you target women?

Yea its women. Some people do male one or female, depends on the one you want. You tell the woman that you love her and you want her to be your wife for the starting when you propose to her if she agree.  For the first week you push love to her then may be for the second week you still push love to her. From there she will give you her number so you can be communicating with her so both of you can be talking. Then may be she can tell you that you cannot be talking on phone-phone that she want you to come over. That’s when she’s in love. She’ll tell you to come over. Because them they believe in love. Once they tell you that they’re in love they’re really in love.

Q: Which kind of women are you targeting? African women or …?

Any woman. Let me say in Africa, only South African women because it is the currency we’re looking at. We target women in Germany, U.S, Italy, London,

Q: So do you target this women? You look at their profile or you randomly choose anyone you want?

We bond them through Facebook. Facebook show your location, your name. So you can use your name and put your phone number and everything about you will show. And if you like to accept you accept, and if you don’t like to accept…

Q: So once I accept your friendship, the next thing you’ll be sending me messages?

We’ll be chatting.

Q: How long does it take before a woman gives in?

It depends on how long it takes for the woman to fall in love. In the past it used to take two weeks for her to ‘fall in love’. But these days it can take up to three years because many are now aware that there are scammers. So most of them are very careful. So if you tell her you love her, she will say no, because most of them have been played before. Those ones that have been played before will tell us so and so person did this to me. Those types of women, we leave them. No need wasting time with them. Once they tell you they’ve been played before its best to leave them because nothing you’ll tell that person will change them. You dump her and look for another one. Those who have money will give you.

Q: What language do you speak to these women?

For English women, you speak English. For Spanish women, you download an App to translate English to Spanish or English to German or English to Portuguese.

Q: When did you start Yahoo business?

January 2016. But my friend has been in it since 2013.

Q: How much do you make on a weekly or monthly basis?

Money doesn’t come in like that. But within a month, if you meet a woman who fall for you, you can get as much as $3,000 – $4,000. Once she pays you that money, you leave her for some time so you can build trust. Else if you demand too quick after the first one, she will not believe you.

Q: What do you tell her that moves her to give you such money?

The type of work I’m doing is what I used to get her. I tell her I’m an engineer. I pose as an engineer working at sea into rig drilling. That’s the only way to get a vacation from my boss. Then I’ll tell her to write to him because he’s the only one who can grant me my vacation since I’m not due for leave yet. And the only way to get out of the sea is through a helipad. If she can pay for that, plus other expenses like ground transportation, accommodation and feeding, then I can be with her fast fast. So the cost will be like $3,000 to hire the helipad plus another $1,000.

Q: But how does she know which company you work for?

I design a website that looks exactly like a popular offshore drilling website company but my pictures will not be on it because once she sees who I really am, she won’t fall for it. So I will send the company email to her which I have already created. She now writes to by ‘boss’ using that email. But the email is coming back to me. I will now reply to the email as the ‘boss’ telling her that “the message she sent has been received. And will get back to her in a few days.” After she has received this first email she’ll now copy it and send it to me to say this was the response she got from my boss.

Two days later, the ‘boss’ will now write back to me saying: “We have granted the vacation. Since this is not his normal vacation time, it will require a helipad to take him out from the sea.”

She will now copy this and send to me. That is when I will now tell her it would cost $3,000-$4,000 to pay for the helipad that will take him out of the sea to land including expenses for hotel, feeding and accommodation.

Q: How does she send the money to you?

We keep a collection of women on the internet for different reasons. Some we propose marriage to and keep promising them that to keep the relationship going but tell them we’re struggling in Nigeria with a business we want to grow so that when need for her arises like in transferring money from one European country to another, she provides the bank account needed for the transaction. By this time I would have told her I only trust her and I have a big contract in Nigeria worth $300,000 that is going to run for a year and six months (or whatever time I like to give her), but because I don’t have all the money yet to execute it, I will tell her I’m asking money from friends and families within and outside Nigeria to help me with some money so I can succeed in the business. Then the monies would be sent to her account and after the contract is done, the entire money will be paid into her account then we can be together. I will now ask her to assist too since the other monies will be dropping into her account. Because the woman sees herself as wife to be married to me, her future husband she believes me. So when I get a new client ready to pay money, I will reach out to my ‘wife’ who now provides me with the bank account and the money is wired in it. Already I’m posing as a non-Nigerian. And although I am in Nigeria, I’m working as a contractor but don’t have an account yet. I will now tell her to send the money to my supervisor who is a black man. Then I will provide her with my own account details. Or any other account needed for the purpose.

Q: Is the pickup woman part of the yahoo team?

No she’s not. She’s just like the other women looking for love too who I have already proposed to.

Q: Why send the money through her? Are you not worried she will keep it for herself?

There’s a lot of problems that will come up if I give her my account. Money transfer from inter country takes 6-7 days. And if you use your own account, your face as a black man will show and that will terminate the transactions.

Q: At what point does the woman know that she’s been deceived?

She cannot know. She does not know. The only time she begins to think so is when her daughter, friends or even husband tells her that the person she’s dealing with is scamming her.

Q: From the point she sends in the first money, how long does it take from that time for her to know she’s been scammed?

It takes a while. Even after the first payment, some of them will send more money again as long as she doesn’t realise. But once she realises, she would stop. In the past it used to take four years of continuously sending money before she realises she’s being scammed. But these days it may not take up to two years.

Q: How many women have you gotten money from like this?

Since 2016 till December 2018 I only succeeded in getting two women to give me money. But I have spoken to many women who think I’m in love with them. Many of them are genuinely in love but don’t have money. The reason being that once you mention money even after you have proposed to them and keep promising love, some will tell you they don’t have or will just stop talking to you.

Q: How much have you made since 2016-2018?

We split the money into 60/40. So the money that has come to me is up to N3.5 million naira.

Q: What do you do with this money? 

I use it for myself and give my sisters too. I also have cousins I share it with.

Q: Do they know that this is how you got the money between 2016 and 2018? They didn’t ask you?

I told them I was travelling. And even after I came back to Nigeria and continued, they don’t know what I do. I don’t stay with them. I stay with my friend and we live very far from them even though we’re all in Abraka. They call me whenever they need money and I send it to them.

Q: Why did you leave Ghana?

My friend asked us to come back to Nigeria with the promise that we will return to Ghana. But to my surprise, he said we were no longer going back. He deceived me. I was very angry at him because his attitude towards me changed. It wasn’t about money. I quarreled with him. Another friend of his, a guy in the same line of business came between us. I was very angry with my friend so I left him. Later he came to beg me and I went back to stay with him.

Q: Why didn’t you just go back to Ghana on your own?

There was no money.

Q: At what point did you now add ‘ritual killings’ to your business?

It was after we got to Nigeria when the money was no longer coming in again like before. That was one of the reasons I quarreled with my friend. Nigeria wasn’t favourable. I even went back to loading tipper and dredging sand to see if I can raise money but I wasn’t even making enough money to save so that we can use it to go back to Ghana.

Q: So who introduced you to ‘ritual killings’?

My friend, Emese, who was here with us in the prison. But he’s dead now.

Q: Are you convinced ‘ritual’ gave you the money?

To me what I see there is that it’s just being manipulator. Let me say so. Or is just when things will just happen. Now I don’t believe that anybody on earth, nobody can tell me this kind of thing.

Q: Desmond you took the lives of 5 girls. Elozino was not drunk, nor drugged but awake while you guys cut her up … How did you feel when you were doing that? How were you able to do that Desmond?

It was not easy to do. But that was why I drink.

Q: But that was not your first time, Desmond. You did it 5 times. Each of the times you did it to the girls, they begged you to stop? Were they not crying?

YES.

Q: So when you saw the tears and heard their begging, how come that didn’t move you to stop? Why didn’t you feel sorry enough to let them go, to free the girls?

It’s because of what the herbalist told us. That was why we were afraid. He said we would go mad or die.

Since Desmond made his confession, he is still very much alive in 2019, several months since he committed the act in 2018.

ONORIODE’S CONFESSION:

Q: How Old are you?

23 years

Q: How long have you been a security man in Abraka?

6 months. Sometime in May. Before June.

Q: Before this time, what were you doing?

I was studying nursing at a private hospital in Eku. Life Care Hospital.

Q: What kind of nurse were you? Auxiliary or Regular?

Auxiliary

Q: What was your job in the hospital?

I learn how to stitch people. I can stitch. After that, we learn pharmacy, to know more about drugs. I go chemist go learn drugs. You can discuss with the person to do apprentice for 6 months or 1 year.

Q: Why did you want to learn about drugs?

Because nurses just treat and do stitches and put drugs into drips using injection but don’t know drugs. That’s all they know. But when you go into pharmacy, you know more drugs. That is the reason why I go to pharmacy, to know more drugs.

Q: How long did you practice as an auxiliary nurse?

2 years.

Q: How many hospitals did you go to learn this auxiliary nursing? 

Nursing was in Eku, Life Care Hospital. I Learn how to treat, how to pass drip. But I do pharmacy in Obiarukwu.

Q: What year did you learn all these?

2015 to 2018.

Q: So before 2015 what were you doing?

I wasn’t doing anything then. I finished my secondary school in 2007.

Q: So between 2007 and 2013, what were you doing these 6 years?

I was farming in Abraka.

Q: What kind of farming were you into?

Cassava farming.

Q: Was it your land or you rented it?

Family land

Q: How was the business back then?

It was okay.

Q: So why did you leave it to enter nursing? 

I cannot just rely on farming every time. I must look for something to do.

Q: Was the farming not a good business? If it was paying, why leave it?

I always love nursing. That’s why I go for the nursing.

Q: Why didn’t you study for JAMB (Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board conducted exam for every student seeking entrance to university), pass your exams and go to university to learn it instead?

I no get helper.

Q: Are you the first child? How many are you?

My father has three wives. Out of the three wives children, I am the last. My mother has 5 children and my stepmother has 6 children. And the third wife has 2. But my father is late. He died in 1995.

Q: But you do everyday business? And you make some money too?

Yes.

Q: So why didn’t you use the funds to help you further your education if you made money from farming?

What I plan before as I finish the nursing, na to open chemist so better income will help me further my education.

Q: So what now happened that you didn’t open the chemist or go to school, but instead became a security man? What happened between this time? 

I go to the chemist union. Dem tell me that before I fit open a chemist shop, I must be a union member as they cannot allow me run chemist shop without joining association first. That was when they tell me I have to register with N300,000, plus I will buy drinks and kill goat as part of the registration process before they will allow me stock my store with medicines, apart from the money to rent the store, employ a store keeper, and so on, so I gave up and tell myself to focus on other things or business until I can meet up with the requirements.

Q: So how did you get into this business of using human parts? 

It was Desmond’s friend who introduced me to it. We all live in the same community in Abraka.

Q: What is the friend’s name? 

Emudiaga Emese. He is from Umeghe. I am from Ovuso/Abraka. Mudiagha who is boss to Desmond came to meet one day like that asking if I remember him. I said yes. That was when he told he will teach me about his business so I can join him. He asked me if I didn’t admire him for how he has money? I said yes, I’ll like to. He now said he will put me in line so I can learn how to make money like him.

Q: Police record shows that before you got your job as a security guard in Abraka University you were put in jail. How did you get to be in prison?

I was arrested sometime in January/February of 2014 and released in December 2015. What happened was that there was a party in my compound. Someone brought a car into the compound with another person but by morning that person died. So what happened was that police raid the area and pack all of us into cell. They charged us to court then sent to prison. This happened when courts go on strike. So when I was supposed to get bail, court did not sit. So that was how I was kept in jail for one year. The court was waiting for DPP advice, so they kept me there in jail in Sapele Prison.

Q: Are you a cult member? 

No.

Q: Who bailed you out from prison? 

My mother and older brothers get lawyer for me. I am the youngest of my mother’s children.

Q: When you came out of prison, what happened before you became security guard in Delta State University (DELSU)? 

It was after I came out of prison I went to learn nursing work.

Q: So when exactly did they recruit you?

  • But they only approach me to join them for ritual killings after I started work as a security guard in DELSU.

Q: During this time you were ‘moving about’ with them, what were you guys doing? 

Because Mudiagha had money, he will come to and take us in his car and then we all stroll together.

Q: What do you mean by stroll together?

We go to beer parlours to drink, carry girls, tour the town then go back home.

Q; When you carry girls. What do you do to them? 

If it is a girl Mudiagha wanted to use, we carry the girl, get her drunk, take her to the bush and thereafter take the parts we want.

Q: Do you drug the drinks the girls take?

No we don’t drug their drinks. Is just a simple thing we do. We get in the car, girls see us in this beautiful car and they agree to join us then we go to a beer parlour and just get her drunk.

Q: Which kinds of girls do you target? How you know if you speak to a particular girl she will do your bidding? 

We don’t target the girls! Girls dem too like cars! They like to flex, have fun, party. So when they see a young boy with a car they like to hang out with you. We don’t even spin them before they just jump into the car because they assume that before you can own a car, it means you’re loaded. You have money. So they just follow you.

Q: So how many girls have you gone and targeted like that with Desmond and Mudiagha that you were a part of? 

5.

Q: How much have you made from this online money since you started 2 years ago? 

Sometimes I get N50,000 or N100,000

The next question is directed to Desmond

Q: Is that how much you give him, Desmond?

DESMOND: It depends on how the money comes. Sometimes Onos gets N200,000.

ONORIODE: You have never given me up to N200,000 at once.

DESMOND: Yes we have. 200,000 up to N300,000 sef. Will I lie against you (he turns to look at Onoriode).

ONORIODE: But I don’t have a say on how they share the money. They are the bosses that does the sharing. So whatever they give me as my share I simply take it.

Q: So how many times did you collect N50,000 and N100,000 separately? 

ONORIODE: I was given money 5 times. I collected N100,000 on three different occasions. Then N50,000  on 3 different occasions too.

Q: So between 2016-2018 you made at least N550,000?

Yes.

Q: What did you do with the money?

I used it to buy shoes and clothes.

Q: Did you give any of the money out as gifts to anyone? Family? Friends? 

  1. I flex with the money: beer parlours, nights in hotels, buy suya, spend money on restaurant food, and so on.

Q: Out of the N550,000 you made, who did you share part of the money with?

Nobody.

Q: Not even your mother?

NO.

Q: Why didn’t you give anybody out of the money?

You know, when money is in your hands, all you think of is have your bath, think of the next place to go and spend money and just flex around. You hear there’s a birthday party, and other such things and you’re there. Just like that that’s how I spent the money.

Q: So this period you didn’t extend any money gift to your mother or sister like a way of showing care or supporting them?

NO.

Q: So why did you take the security work in Abraka since you’re already making money through this?

I use it to patch up.

Q: Who recommended you to the management of Abraka to hire you? 

Abraka na my area. I know it well and I am part of the community so they know me. I already know the man in charge of security too. So I approached him for the job and got it.

Q: What other reason did you have for applying for this security job? 

To gather myself up to raise enough to start my chemist shop.

Q: Why did you go after Elozino, the last girl? 

It was just a coincidence. We already get a plan to get a girl for the next ritual as the jazz man tell us to do. So our mind is set to look out for a girl that will provide the parts for us. So when the opportunity just show the day after we had discuss, and this girl approached me two days before na then I make up my mind that she go be the one. So I tell my guys. So when she show up the next day we kidnap her.

Q: In what condition were you guys when you carry out this act? Do you take any drink?

DESMOND: Yes. I take a lot of alcohol and spirits before we go out to do it. I take up to half bottle.

ONORIODE: Me I no dey take anything. No drink. No drugs. No smoking of any kind.

Q: So you do it with clear eyes, Onos?

Nods his head in the affirmative.

Q: Why do you take drink before you start, Desmond?

I take it so that when I feel the pain, because na human being like me too, na that alcohol go give strong mind to finish the work.

Q: So Onos, you said you do it with your eyes wide open, no weed, no alcohol or drugs to douse your senses. And you have done it 5 times like that?

Wetin we just talk be say e tell me say if we do this one finish before, we go get money.  So na the stuff, money wey be say I no get naim make me fit do am.

Q: So you don’t feel sorry for the girls you’re doing this to as long as it’s money you’re after? 

It’s not as if I don’t feel sorry for them. I feel sorry. But based on the fact that I have struggled to get money and haven’t succeeded, I just focus on the work so I can get the money.

Q: But you already have a job as a security guard. Why did you have to take this girl’s life?

ONORIODE: Wetin be N20,000? That one na money?

Q: Onos, since you started this ritual business, have you made money? 

ONORIODE: No. no. no. I have not made money.

Q: So if after all this time, you didn’t make money, why did you continue? 

ONORIODE: It is because the Baba, the Jazz Man, promise that this last one will bring us money. He said we will go mad or die if we talk.

Q: But the man promised you this, 1sttime, 2nd, 3rd, and 4thtime, yet did not fulfil this promise and the money you’re looking for you didn’t get it, why go for the 5thone?

ONOS: The Baba promise that this 5thone is what will give us the money.

Q: So why didn’t the others give you money?

ONORIODE: The Baba said he was testing us to see whether we will reveal the secret and now that he’s sure we will not do so, he then promise us that this 5thone will bring us the money. He said if we follow through on this one we will get money from it.

Q: The baba who is promising you all these riches, how rich is he?

ONOS: No he’s not as rich.

Q: Where does the herbalist live?

ONOS: In Warri. Alegbo Axis. He lives in the last street before Alegbo Primary School.

Q: Do people in the area know him for his ritual activity?

DESMOND: No. I’m not sure. But we hear people address him Doctor. They call the Baba Doctor. The man na herbalist.

Q: What is the role of your fellow security man who is in custody? Many feel you just named him to rope in.

ONORIODE: See the matter. He did not join us in any ritual cutting. But the thing is that anybody who drives into the school with a car must have the car searched and because he is head of security at the post he has veto power to search and approve any car passing at the main gate. So there was no way my guys can leave the school without being searched after we have capture the girl in the car. So I tell him about the deal and told him one of my big bros is a Ghana Burger and he has money. I discuss this with him two days before we get the girl.

Q: So you told this senior security man that this your boss is a Ghana Burger and he has money?

Yes. So I told him we cannot do this without his permission, and he’ll get his cut after we succeed. He asked me what I mean. So I explain to him that the person we wanted to carry is within the school premises and since he’s the one always at the gate, we need his help as the supervisor to allow our vehicle pass out of the gate without check. That we need him to pass the order so that the junior security men at the post will allow the car pass through without being held up. Once he give the order to raise the bar at the gate, nobody will challenge it because he’s the supervisor. Any order he gives they must obey him. After I explain all this to him he accept the offer and promise to do his part. The other part of the arrangement was for him to post me on my next shift to the lecturer’s lodge area the next day since I had already made arrangement with my guys to call the girl to meet me where she met me the day before. If I no reach arrangement with him, he will post me elsewhere. Because the lecturers lodge is very far we can carry our plan and nobody will see us. Any other security post by the roundabout or near the school gates is not a good hiding place. So the supervisor agree.

Q: How much did you promise to give the supervisor, the head of security?

ONORIODE: I did not mention bulk amount to him. But I told him he will get some huge cash. I tell am say better money go enter eim hand. And I know too that once we made the money the supervisor could get up to N30,000 to N40,000.

Q: What’s the supervisor’s name?

ONORIODE: Supervisor’s name is Uche Benedict Nwosisi

Q: From your experience now, does ritual killing actually bring in money?

DESMOND: NO. Na circumstances they make everything correct, just rhyme. Let me say, is just being manipulator or is just the way things will just happen.

ONORIODE: I be follow follow first. I never sabi.

DESMOND: Onos know everything already. Na the yahoo dey give us money.

Q: But since you do the ritual e bring money for you?

ONOS: e no bring money for me.

Q: So, if e no bring money for you why you kon dey do am dey go till you kill 5 girls?  Sense dey the thing?

ONOS: No sense

Q: So why did you continue doing it when you realised there was no sense in continuing killing more girls? 

AWKWARD SILENCE

Q: So what will happen to you now?  Do you know what will happen to you going forward? 

DESMOND and ONORIODE: I don’t know.

Q: What do you think you deserve to be done to you for what you both did to those 5 girls? 

DESMOND: Imprisonment.

Q: Is that the only thing you deserve? 

SILENCE

Q: what about you Onos? What do you deserve for all the atrocities you committed?

LIFE imprisonment

Q: So if you’re to give advice to people who think ritual brings money, what would you say to them? 

DESMOND: That it is not how to make money. You make money with your hands, and make money from the right source, not quick money. If you have opportunity fine. But if you don’t have, you wait until God blesses you.

Q: What if you get hungry, is it enough to do this kain thing? 

DESMOND: If you’re get hungry then you die. But I know that hunger does not kill somebody.

ONORIODE: it is better to build with your hand than to do this.

Q: how many were you in this yahoo ring in Ghana?

Me, my friend and two other guys from Nigeria.

Q: Where in Ghana were you living? 

Kasoa. Many Nigerians are into yahoo in Ghana. We are many. They are still there. We all stayed in a popular estate, Obo(lu) Estate in Kasoa. Kasoa is big. Take a bike and tell them you want to get to Obolu estate. They’ll take you there. They will ask which of the estate. So you tell them but I can’t remember the exact name of ours. But when you say Obolu estate, they will take you there. The man Obolu has many estate. So you’ll have to tell them the specific estate because the Obolu estate is very big and there are different estates there too.

Q: The police thinks ritual killings with yahoo boys started from Ghana. Except you don’t know it? 

DESMOND: People do it here in Nigeria before them go Ghana. They are the ones who introduced it in Ghana. A week, two weeks they have made money then they now come back to Nigeria. But when I was there in Ghana for eight months (2016-2017), there was nothing like ritual killing.

Desmond and Onoriode are currently under trial in Delta State, and the status of their conviction is yet to be determined.

This story is supported by WanaData a project of Code For Africa

Source: Confession of Yahoo Plus Boys“Ritual does not give us money” – Suspects

This story was – one day earlier – published by The Guardian (Nigeria), on November 7, by the same author Ejiro Umukoro:
Ritual does not give us money, Yahoo Plus boys confess
(webmaster FVDK).

South Africa: 14-Year-old Masia boy brutally murdered (2013 article)

Dead: Nkhumeleni Mukhado

Published: April 26, 2013
By: Tshifhiwa Mukwevho

The lifeless body of a 14-year-old boy was discovered at the back of the cemetery at Majozi village last Thursday morning. It is alleged that the body has a gorged skull and was missing its private parts. It is suspected that the deceased is another victim of ritual murder.

The enraged community of Masia allegedly set a suspect’s hut on fire on Sunday night. However, the man and his family managed to slip away by jumping over the fence at the backside of his main house.

The boy’s body was first discovered in the early hours of the morning by a group of women who were walking down the mountain from fetching wood. It was later revealed that the boy came from a neighbouring village, Masia.

The body was later identified as Nkhumeleni Mukhadi by his father, Mr Frank Mukhadi.

A suspicious finger pointed at a man for whom the boy used to perform odd jobs, after some community members said that he was seen walking out of a church crusade service with him on Wednesday evening (17 April).

Mukhadi is a heartbroken man, following the discovery of his son’s body. He believes that a bicycle was used to lure his son to the Phadinwe mountain, where he was then killed for muti. “There were fresh prints of a bicycle, which led us to the spot where Nkhume was killed,” he said. “We saw blood soaked into the ground.”

Nkhumeleni was a Grade 4 pupil at Vhangani Primary School. Mr Bernard Bopape, a teacher, said that the school was unable to accept that the young boy is no more. “We need answers to his death. We need to know who killed him and the motive behind the killing.”

Bopape said the pupils could hardly focus on their school work since everyone in the village was speaking about the pupil whose private parts had been cut off.

Cllr Sarah Makhuvha  of Ward 7 maintains that she had received a sketchy report about the boy’s death from the ward committee and the deceased’s family. “There are community members who are maintaining that the man whose house was burnt had fetched Nkhumeleni from an evening church service and the boy never returned,” Makhuvha said.  “To lose a child under such horrific circumstances is really painful.”

Makhuvha, the school and affected community members continue to hold meetings at the deceased’s house, as a way of trying to comfort the family of the deceased.

The police’s provincial spokesperson, Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi, said the police had opened a case of murder. “No arrests have been made thus far, but our investigations are ongoing,” said Mulaudzi. “We are also waiting for the doctors to perform a post-mortem.”

Mulaudzi added that the police had opened an arson case after a house of a man was set alight.

Chief Vho-Thanyani Masia called for calm in the village and requested the community members who might have information regarding the boy’s killing to supply it to the police.

When Limpopo Mirror visited the village on Monday evening, there was a large number of community members scattered about the suspect’s yard with the intention of setting the remaining rooms alight. The Vuwani police kept an eye on the situation from a short distance.

Source: 14-year-old Masia boy brutally murdered

Uganda – ritual murder: four men to spend 45 years in prison (2013 article)

Published: April 25, 2013
By: Daily Monitor (Uganda)

Four men have been handed a 45-year jail term after being found guilty of killing a 12-year-old girl in a ritual sacrifice in Kyankwanzi District. 

The men were convicted by Justice Faith Mwondha.

A special High Court session sitting in Kiboga District was convinced beyond doubt that Mande Wanyama, Richard Katumba, Joseph Muganga and Fred Kaliisa, a witchdoctor; killed Sylvia Kangume.
Court heard that on March 20, 2009 at Ntunda village in Nsambya Sub-county in Kyankwanzi District, the four men murdered Kangume who was a pupil at Ntunda Primary School. 

The child’s mutilated body was found dumped in a bush with some body parts missing. A police sniffer dog led cops to Kaliisa’s shrine at Nalukonge village where body parts and blood were discovered.
During the trial, prosecution led by Ms Immaculate Aguntoko presented four witnesses including Ms Faridah Kemirembe, the deceased’s mother and Geoffrey Onen, a government expert who pinned the convicts.

Mr Onen, a government laboratory analyst told court that DNA tests proved that the blood found at the shrine matched with blood samples that were taken from Kangume’s body. 

Justice Mwondha said children who are being targeted by such criminals need protection. She said the sentence would send a signal to other potential offenders that they would be harshly punished.

The murder of Kangume in 2009 drew the attention of Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police who camped in the area for four days and took charge of the investigations. 

He also ordered the arrest of Mr Joseph Tukamushaba, the then Officer in Charge of Kigando Police Post after policeman was accused of attempting to frustrate investigations.

Source: Ritual murder: Four men to spend 45 years in prison

Kyankwanzi District is the northernmost district in the Central Region of Uganda (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyankwanzi_District) 

Kenya: Witchcraft tales in thirst for land put elders lives at risk

Introduction – under construction

A volunteer teacher Nguma Kiwala (right) talks to elders at Kaya Godhoma Centre in Kilifi County. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Published: April 13, 2019
By: Baya Samuel and Siago Cece

Hidden deep in the thicket, just a kilometre from Mrima wa Ndege township is Kaya Godhoma Centre, a sanctuary that has hosted tens of elders since 2008.

As we made our way in, we were stopped on our tracks, and told we had to undergo a cleansing ritual, as we were entering a cultural place.

“Let’s all stand up and form a ‘lungo’ (a traditional circle formed by a number of people gathered before prayers),” Emmanuel Katana, 45, the current chairman of the centre asked, and we all obliged.

For the next few minutes, together with the group of about 15 elders, we joined in their prayers, in Giriama dialect, thanking their gods for us, the visitors.

The prayers then ended with a handshake, signifying peace among the members. A brief introduction followed and later we were ushered inside the kaya minus our shoes, which we left at the bushy entrance.

KAYA MEETING

Looking famished, with despairing faces, several elderly persons trickled into the kaya meeting point, under a tree shade.

Some were dressed in faded shirts and torn clothes holding their three-legged stools, while supporting their thin frames with wooden walking sticks. The women, on the other hand, donning torn lesos, carried woven mats which they spread down for the rest to sit on.

Kahindi Ngoka cuts a figure of a man weighed down by worry. At 76, Mr Ngoka is bitter at how his family turned against him, as they eyed his prime land in Kilifi.

Mzee Ngoka was branded by his own wife and children a witch, before they attempted to harm him. All along, their prime target was his one-and-half-acre prime land.

WITCH

“The problem started in 2011, when my children accused me of being a witch. I defended myself, even suggesting that we go to a local witch buster called Mwasamani in Kwale County. Even when the ‘witch buster’ exonerated me, they didn’t stop,” Mr Ngoka said.

As he tried to ignore their accusations, the family upped the stakes by tricking him into a meeting at his eldest son’s house. “As soon as I entered, the doors were locked from outside and I knew that was the end. I had to act, sneaking through the thatched roof, and I escaped,” Mr Ngoka said.

What Mr Ngoka didn’t know was that a plan had already been hatched to push him out so that his land could be sold.

“Barely weeks after I escaped and came to Kaya Godhoma, I received news that part of my land had been sold and that one of my family members had gone to court to stop the sale,” Mzee Ngoka said. “I later realised that all the troubles were the plan of my wife and some of my children. They branded me a witch so that they could sell part of my land. I leave it to God,” he said.

WORRIES

Karisa Ndhudhi’s gait depicts a man burdened by worries about his life. The 63-year-old native of Konjora village in Kilifi, struggles to control his emotions, as he narrates his near death ordeal.

“I arrived here in August of 2017, having escaped death after a section of my family turned against me, branding me a witch. My problems started immediately after the death of my wife on December 24, 2013,” said Mr Ndundhi.

Immediately after her death, after a long illness, word went round that he was responsible for it, as he had bewitched her.

“Since I wanted to prove to them that I was not a witch, we went to a witchdoctor in Kwale, who exonerated me, after performing a ritual,” he said.

Thinking that he was off the hook, Mzee Ndundhi returned home, unaware that the worst was yet to come.

CHOLERA

“Four years later, in July 2017, my third born son contracted cholera, but unfortunately despite the quick medical intervention, he passed on. Hours after my son’s death, I was again accused of bewitching him and the villagers and part of my family members descended on me with stones,” he said.

As the youths stoned him, an assistant chief called officers from the nearby Ngerenya police post, who rescued the hapless old man.

“I was then taken to Chumani village where our larger family resides,” he said. “At Chumani, a decision was arrived that he must be taken to Kaya Godhoma.

“I still love my home but I fear that once I return, they will kill me. Now my land is at stake and I have heard that there is someone seeking to purchase it, with the help of my other children,” he said.

SAD TALES

Katana Thuva, 60, died a dejected bitter man. On paper, he was worth millions but in reality, he died a pauper, surrounded by elders who were also in the same predicament, offering nothing more than companionship and sad tales.

At the time of his death in October last year, Mzee Thuva owned a half-acre plot in Watamu, second row to the beach, which the current market value stands at Sh20 million.

He was also accused of practising witchcraft, even as he said his family was out to kill him, as they sought to sell his prized possession.

Mzee Ngoka and Ndhudhi’s predicament paint the sad picture facing hundreds of other elders in Kilifi and Kwale counties, which are being dispossessed off their prime land, some touching on the beaches, by money thirsty children, who want to make a quick killing from the black gold.

SOUGHT REFUGE

The elders have all sought refuge at the Kaya Godoma in Kilifi, a centre that offers them safe refuge; whiling time away, nursed by the haunted memories of their past, and the very resource they say connects them to their forefathers – land.

Within the Coastal counties, land ownership is still an emotive issue with the resource notably the cause of the killing of most elders.

In 2018, killings in Kilifi remained high with the security agencies stating that there are about 108 cases that were reported in the entire county.

Most of those we interviewed at Kaya Godhoma Rescue Centre in Vitengeni, Kilifi County connected their ordeal to land ownership.

Even with much spirited campaign from the government to end the trend, scores were killed especially in Kilifi and Kwale counties.

A report done jointly by Haki Africa and Institute for Land, Governance and Human Rights has shown that land ownership tussles were behind the killings. In an interview with Saturday Nation, Haki Africa executive director Khalid Hussein said that the report focused on the three years to 2018.

KILLED

The report shows that in 2016, 41 elderly people were killed, while in 2017, 37 lost their lives. Last year, there were around 25 old men and women who were killed. “The main thing we found from the residents is that witchcraft was being used as a trigger of forceful land inheritance, with the children becoming impatient,” Mr Hussein said.

“We are currently undertaking a programme which we are implementing with local leadership in Kilifi and Kwale counties to address this menace.”

Poverty is also said to be a contributing factor, which has driven a lot of the young people to have an insatiable appetite to sell their ancestral lands.

The report further said that most of the victims were innocent of the witchcraft accusation, but still lost their lives because of land tussles.

“When over 100 people are killed in a span of one year, then you know that there is a problem. The only thing we are doing at the moment is to raise awareness so that locals can desist from killing the elderly,” Kenya National Commission for Human Rights (KNCHR) Coast regional coordinator Brenda Dosio said.

WITCHCRAFT ACT

Ganze legislator Teddy Mwambire said he will be pushing for an amendment in Parliament to review the Witchcraft Act to cushion the elderly people from being murdered on suspicion of being sorcerers.

“The Act in its current form falls short of providing security to the aged. Ignorance is to blame for the rampant killings of the elderly in our society. People associate advanced age with witchcraft, a trend that has seen hundreds murdered. I will be seeking amendments of the Act or table another Bill altogether in parliament that will seek to cushion the elderly from such retrogressive acts,” he said.

DEEPER PROBLEMS

Mr Julius Wanyama, a Peace Programme Coordinator at Haki Yetu organisation, said “From our assessment, the witchcraft accusations against the elderly are an excuse, but a very fatal one. It’s a trigger to deeper problems within the society -that is the thirst for land and money.”

“As an organisation, we have had to seek a meeting with the county security team to address the problem. We discovered there was no ready forum to address or resolve misunderstanding and initiated a programme called ‘Wapatanishi’ (local interveners), who have helped especially when they of the targets. So far they have managed to save 20 in Kilifi County and 10 in Kwale who are currently living in their homes without fear of being killed.”

Source: Kenya: Witchcraft tales in thirst for land put elders lives at risk

Amnesty International: “End violence against people with albinism in Malawi” (2018)

This report is a follow-up to the 2016 report “We are not animals to be hunted or sold’”: Violence and discrimination against people with albinism” and is based on visits conducted in 2017 as well as follow-up interviews and desktop research.

Published: 2018
By: Amnesty International 

End violence against people with albinism in Malawi – Towards effective criminal justice for people with albinism in Malawi

Introduction

Violence against people with albinism in Malawi decreased soon after Amnesty International published its 2016 report “We are not animals to be hunted or sold’”: Violence and discrimination against people with albinism. 

However, since the report was published in 2016, there was a resurgence in attacks, with four more people with albinism being killed in Malawi since January 2017. That report recorded 69 cases involving crimes related to people with albinism, comprising 18 cases of people killed, five abducted and missing, between November 2014 and May 2016. In February 2018, a joint report by the Malawi Police Service and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs revealed that the number of reported crimes had increased to 148, including 14 cases of murder and seven attempted murders since November 2014 (note 1). 

In May and June 2017, an Amnesty International delegation visited Malawi and met with civil society, victims and government officials from the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the national prosecuting authority, the Chief Justice and other members of the judiciary and the police. 

This briefing is a follow-up to the 2016 report and is based on visits conducted in 2017 as well as follow-up interviews and desktop research. The briefing focuses on the current resurgence in attacks against people with albinism, stemming from an atmosphere of prejudice and a lack of understanding of the condition. The problem is exacerbated by inadequate resources to deal with crime, leading to a culture of impunity. The briefing analyses the causes of recurring attacks and the government’s response, and identifies gaps in the criminal justice system. 

It also assesses the progress made in Malawi towards the protection of the right to life and security of people with albinism. 

Background

The UN noted that from 2000 to 2013 it had received 200 reports of ritual attacks on people with albinism across 15 African countries (note 2). Since November 2014, however, an unprecedented wave of killings and other human rights abuses including abductions and robberies against people with albinism has swept through Malawi. Similar attacks have occurred in neighboring Mozambique. People are targeted for their body parts in the belief that they contain magical powers. The current population of people with albinism in Malawi is estimated at between 7,000 and 10,000, representing a ratio of 1 in every 1800 persons (note 3).

Between June and December 2016, Malawi experienced a seven-month respite from attacks and killings, believed to be because of awareness brought by the launch of the Amnesty report, the public condemnation of the attacks by President Mutharika and other senior government officials. This was broken in January 2017 when Madalitso Pensulo, a teenage boy with albinism, was killed in Mlonda village under the Nsabwe Traditional Authority in Thyolo District. In February 2017, Mercy Zainabu Banda, a 31-year-old woman with albinism was found murdered in Lilongwe with her wrist, right breast and hair removed. Two brothers were stabbed in Nsanje in March 2017, amid several attempted abductions or killings. Cases of verbal insults, threats and robbery of graves containing the remains of persons with albinism have also been recorded. Women and children with albinism are particularly vulnerable to abductions and killings by criminal gangs because they are seen as easy targets. According to the UN, suspected perpetrators operating as gangs or individuals can gain up to US$75,000 for the sale of a full set of body parts (note 4).

Notes:

Note 1:
Joint Docket Tracing Exercise Report for Cases of Persons with Albinism in Malawi. This is a Joint report by the Malawi Police Service, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. It was funded by the UNDP with technical assistance from UNICEF.

Note 2:
www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/…/A_HRC _24_57_ENG.doc Report on Albinism, UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, 2013

Note 3:
Amnesty International, ‘We are not animals to be hunted or sold’: Violence and discrimination against people with albinism (Index: AFR 34/4126/2016)

Note 4:
http:/news.un.org/en/story/2016/03/525042-witchcraft-beliefs- trigger-attacks-against-people-albinism-un-expert-warns 

Continue reading the 24 pages report: see source (below) 

Source: End violence against people with albinism – Towards effective criminal justice for people with albinism in Malawi



Children accused of witchcraft: abuse cases on the rise in UK (2014)

Whereas the criminal practice of ritualistic murders is a revolting and sad one, another phenomenon also draws our attention.  Both phenomena relate to superstition. Of course I know that fearing witches or, rather, fearing persons who people believe are possessed by an evil spirit or are thought to be witches is a universal superstition that can be found on all continents of the globe. Moreover, I certainly do not want to stigmatize a particular group of people or race. However, the focus of this website being on ritualistic practices notably ritual murders in Africa, I cannot ignore the occurrence of ritualistic murders committed by Africans that take place outside the continent.
For this reason I drew attention to the high profile case of the torso of a small black boy (‘Adam’) that was found floating in the river Thames in 2001. It proved to be a case of ritualistic murder, very likely committed by persons originating from West Africa. Unfortunately, also reports exist of ritual practices – even killings – of persons of African descent in other European countries (more later on this site).

The inclusion of the cases reported below is justified by the same reason – though these cases do not represent ritual murders. The ’cause-in-common’ of these distinct but related crimes is: superstition. Whereas the battle against superstition should be fought with all strength and conviction that we have, the rule of law should be strictly applied to those who commit these heinous crimes, be it murdering or torturing innocent people, notably children. Their suffering in the hands of the perpetrators of these crimes should end as soon as possible. Each new case is a case too much.
(Webmaster FVDK).

Children accused of witchcraft: abuse cases on the rise in UK (2014) 

Victoria Climbié (left) and Kristy Bamu (right), tortured to death by relatives
who were sentenced to life imprisonment (UK)

Published: October 16, 2014
By: RELIGION NEWS BLOG

London’s Metropolitan Police reports that cases of abuse where the child is accused of being a witch or possessed by an evil spirit are on the rise.

Thus far this year 27 allegations have been received — up from 24 in 2013.

There were 19 such cases reported in 2012, and 9 in 2011. Some 148 cases have been referred to the Metropolitan Police since 2004.

The rise in the number of reports is likely due to greater awareness among social workers, healthcare staff, teachers, pastors and others.

However, police believe many more cases are kept hidden in families and communities.

Parents, other guardians, and in several cases pastors and church members who believe a child is possessed often resort to physical abuse in order to try and get the spirits to leave.

New guidance has now been issued on how to spot children at risk of abuse linked to witchcraft.

On October 8, the Metropolitan Police Service and CCPAS,  the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service, hosted a multi-agency event at London’s City Hall to raise awareness of child abuse linked to faith or belief.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Det Supt Terry Sharpe explained:

“Abuse linked to belief is a horrific crime which is condemned by people of all cultures, communities and faiths.

“A number of high-profile investigations brought the issue of ritual abuse and witchcraft into the headlines but it is important that professionals are clear about the signs to look for.

“Families or carers genuinely believe that the victim has been completely taken over by the devil or an evil spirit, which is often supported by someone who within the community has portrayed themselves as an authority on faith and belief.

“Regardless of the beliefs of the abusers, child abuse is child abuse. Our role is to safeguard children, not challenge beliefs. We investigate crimes against children, but our main aim is to prevent abuse in the first place. This is a hidden crime and we can only prevent it by working in partnership with the community. Project Violet aims to build trust with communities and emphasise that child protection is everyone’s responsibility.”

A training film aimed at all front-line professionals who work with children was launched at the event. The DVD, commissioned by our Project Violet team in conjunction with CCPAS, advises how to recognise the signs that a child may be suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm from abuse linked to witchcraft and spirit possession.

According to CCPAS the training DVD will be made provided to Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) so they may make it available to social workers and other front line staff.

HIGH-PROFILE CASES

Victoria Climbié

High-profile cases include Victoria Climbié  (link added by the webmaster FVDK) whose great-aunt and her boyfriend — along with their pastor — believed the girl was demon-possessed.

Beaten, burned with cigarettes and forced to sleep in a bathtub, the 8-year-old girl died in February, 2000 — with 128 injuries on her body.

In 2001 the headless, limbless body of a boy aged between five and six was found floating in the river Thames. Evidence strongly suggests the boy was sacrificed in a Muti ritual.
(See elsewhere on this site, ‘The unsolved case of the torso in the Thames’. The murder boy was ‘named ‘Adam’ by the investigators. Information added by the webmaster FVDK).

In 2010, 15-year-old Kristy Bamu was tortured for three days by his sister and his boyfriend after being accused of witchcraft, and was subsequently drowned in a bathtub during an exorcism ritual. 

HUMAN TRAFFICKING

In 2005 a leaked police report revealed that children are being trafficked  into the country in order to be killed as human sacrifices:

A confidential report into the sacrifice and abuse of children at African churches describes how pastors are profiting from the trafficking of black boys into Britain.

Uncircumcised boys are being smuggled into the country for human sacrifice by fundamentalist sects whose members believe that their ritual killing will enhance spells.

TYPES OF WITCHCRAFT

Most reported cases involve what is known as “traditional witchcraft” as opposed to “contemporary witchcraft.”

  • Traditional Witchcraft, such as performed by shamans or witch doctors, is a magical practice — not a religion. However, it can have religious elements.
  • Contemporary Witchcraft is one of many types of neo-Paganism. It is religion within the broader context of occultism. 

MANY COUNTRIES

The problem of children who are accused of witchcraft is not limited to England. But after several high-profile cases there is a greater awareness — and official response — that highlights such cases.

Immigration also plays a role in the rise of reports — as many immigrants bring along various beliefs and superstitions. 

Many Christian churches in Africa are part of the problem as well — as traditional beliefs are mingled with Christian theology regarding demons and exorcism.

In 2009, the Associated Press reported

An increasing number of children in Africa accused of witchcraft by pastors and then tortured or killed, often by family members. Pastors were involved in half of 200 cases of “witch children” reviewed by the AP, and 13 churches were named in the case files. 

Some of the churches involved are renegade local branches of international franchises. Their parishioners take literally the Biblical exhortation, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” 

Screen shot – the link to the source (below) gives acces to the video ‘Witch Child Documentary’

In 2010 UNICEF, the United Nations’ children’s charity, said that accusing children of sorcery was a fairly new and growing trend in Africa, despite long-held traditional and mystic beliefs on the continent.

Where previously elderly women were accused, today the focus more often falls on young children, often some of the most vulnerable, such as orphans, disabled or poor.

Throughout Africa, the vast majority of children accused of witchcraft are not murdered but — if torture has not helped remove the evil spirits — are expelled from their homes and communities.

 Exploring Issues of Witchcraft and Spirit Possession in London’s African communities

Child Abuse Linked to Accusations of Possession and Witchcraft — Eleanor Stobart, Dept. of Education and Skills

Source: Children accused of Witchcraft: abuse cases on the rise in UK

Related articles:

Rise in ‘witchcraft’ child abuse cases
Published: October 8, 2014
By: BBC
(extensive coverage of Victoria Climbié’s murder)

Rise in cases of ritual child abuse linked to witchcraft beliefs reported, say police 
“Threefold increase in allegations, say police, including two claims of rape and of children beaten ‘to drive out the devil’” 
Published: October 8, 2014
By: The Guardian
(with numerous articles on Kristy Namu’s murder)

Child abuse linked to witchcraft on the increase
“Met reveals it has investigated allegations of children having chilli rubbed into their eyes and being forced to drink noxious liquids in order to rid them of evil spirits.”
Published: October 8, 2014
By: Martin Evans, Crime correspondent, The Telegraph

Albino Foundation condemns killing of albinos in Nigeria (2013)

Published: May 2, 2013
By: Channels Television

Nigerian albinos

Founder of the Albino Foundation in Nigeria, Mr Jake Epelle has condemned the alleged killing of albinos in some parts of the country for ritual purposes.

Speaking in Abuja ahead of the national albinism day, Mr Epelle says Nigerians living with albinism suffer discrimination from their families, schoolmates and peers in addition to a deliberate failure to educate children living with albinism.

Mr Epelle therefore appealed to the various arms of government to come to the aid of persons living with albinism.

Dressed in yellow T-shirts and face caps, albinos converged on the national press centre in Abuja to listen to talks on albinism ahead of the national albinism day.

Some promoters of the albinism cause also appealed to privileged members of the society to assist persons living with albinism and stop all forms of discrimination against them.

Members of the albino foundation appealed to the federal government to assist them particularly in the area of acquiring education.

Albinism is an health condition that occurs in people of all race and gender and Nigeria is estimated to have one of the highest albinism prevalence rate in the world with children constituting about 40 per cent of the albinism population.

With the campaign for a national albinism day, the challenges of albinos may reduce stereotypes against persons living with albinism.

Picture is a screen shot. The link below to the Source  contains the link to this short video.

Source: Albino Foundation Condemns Killing Of Albinos In Nigeria

Mali: Salif Keita retires, his Golden Voice falls silent

This tribute to Salif Keita is long overdue. I first met this great Malian musician in Ségou, a regional capital city in south-central Mali in the early 1980s. With a big band of more than 20 musicians, Salif Keita performed in the open air court of a second-rate hotel in the outskirts of this modest city. It was a hot, humid Saturday night in August, 1984. We were in the middle of the rainy season. I was struck by the versatility of his music: African, Caribbean, Latin American, jazzy. He captivated the audience, all music lovers from Mali. I was the only white person in the crowd. From that day on, I was a passionate fan of this allround musician and singer.

I was also very much impressed by Salif Keita’s modesty. Greeting ceremonies in Mali are complicated and lengthy. One day, in the late 1980s, I was standing next to the reception desk in the lobby of (then) one of Mali’s most luxurious hotels – Hotel de l’Amitié in Bamako, the country’s capital – waiting for an appointment who was late.  It was around 7:30 a.m. I saw Salif Keita stepping out of the elevator, walking towards the reception desk and greeting everyone behind the desk . When he was done he continued greeting the by-standers, including me. He took his time, he greeted everybody as if they were his brothers and sisters. Maybe they were, because in Mali many people are related – somehow, somewhere.  

The third time I came face to face with Salif Keita was at the Africa festival in Hertme, the Netherlands, in 2013. Salif had become a middle-aged gentleman in his sixties, slightly corpulent, but his music was as brilliant as ever!

Salif Keita’s star will continue to shine, also after this retirement.  As a person with albinism he has realized one of the most envied goals one can imagine. Millions have enjoyed his music – and still do. He is world famous. In the future he will continue to raise his voice against the discrimination of people living with albinism, against the murder and mutilation of innocent people, men, women, children, even babies who are being victimized because of their albinism.  His last public performance was at a free concert on November 17 in Fana, in Mali, dedicated to the memory of Ramata Diarra, a five-year-old girl with albinism who was brutally murdered then mutilated in a ritual killing in May of this year. It will certainly not be the last time we’ve heard of Salif Keita. His struggle is our struggle. A luta continua!
(webmaster FVDK)

Salif Keita retires, his Golden Voice falls silent

Published: November 24, 2018
By: Charles Onyango-Obbo

Malian afro-pop singer-songwriter Salif Keita. He is unique not only because of his reputation as the “Golden Voice of Africa” but because he has albinism and is a direct descendant of the founder of the Mali Empire, Sundiata Keita. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The great Malian musician Salif Keita, dubbed the “Golden Voice of Africa,” has announced his retirement from performing.

The 69-year-old Keita made the announcement after the release of, supposedly, the last album of his storied career. Titled Another White, it is a cry for the protection of people with albinism, a cause he has championed all his life.

Born into a local royal house, Keita was rejected by his family because of his albinism, considered either a sign of bad luck in many African cultures – or mysterious power, which drives the ritual killing of people with albinism.

In East Africa, Tanzania and Burundi are notoriously dangerous places to be a person with albinism.

Appropriately, Keita gave what could be his last major public performance at a free concert on November 17 in the town of Fana, in Mali, dedicated to the memory of Ramata Diarra, a five-year-old boy living with albinism who brutally murdered then mutilated in a ritual killing early in the year.

I am one of those Africans for whom Keita offered one of the defining sounds of our youthful years. There is something unique about Keita’s generation of musicians, along with other luminaries like Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango, and Guinea’s Mory Kante, and on the more youthful end, Senegal’s Youssou N’dour, to name a few.

First, their music isn’t always overtly political, though it is. They sing in their native tongues, and draw heavily from folk imagery, local culture, history, and communal stories.

Probably as a result of that, they function like mediums, so bring a great ease to their art. It is almost annoying.

Some years ago, at an Africa arts festival in Copenhagen, over the course of a week I watched performances by Keita, N’dour, and Malian kora player Toumani Diabate one after another.

They mesmerised the crowds but Keita and Diabate especially barely broke a sweat. It was as if they could have still have pulled it off even if they were half asleep.

That was in stark contrast to watching the performances of Hugh Masekela or Fela Kuti, some of the most political musicians to have come out of Africa.

They laid into their music and its politics with incredible energy and fury that left you giddy with revolutionary spirit. Going to the street to protest oppression or the bush to join the rebellion, seemed to be the next logical step.

But it’s in that contrast that the music of Keita and others in his musical tribe reveals their relationship to the broader African liberation experience.

In the Cold War era, when music often ran into ideological walls, and the troubled 1970s and 1980s in Africa, Masekela and Kuti played to an internationalist solidarity crowd that had bought into the anti-apartheid and anti-imperialist movements, were angry at the World Order, and wanted to overthrow it.

People like Keita won over the fence-sitters, the ignorant, the soccer moms, and people of goodwill. They didn’t fit the stereotype of flame-throwing radicals, and thus lowered the cost of embracing progressive African causes in a polarised world.

Closer home, The Man, Congolese great Franco Luambo Makiadi, had a similar effortless genius.

One of the most accomplished musicians Africa will ever produce, on stage his massive figure seemed a strangely reluctant presence – until he opened his mouth and moved his guitar fingers.

Charles Onyango-Obbo is publisher of data visualiser Africapaedia and Rogue Chiefs. Twitter@cobbo3

Source: Salif Keita retires, his Golden Voice falls silent

Gabon senator arrested in ritual killing case (2013)

The article reproduced below reminded me of previous reports on ritualistic murders in Gabon. It is a saddening reality that this Equatorial African country has a very bad reputation in this respect. I have been monitoring reports on ritual murders in African countries since the end of the 1990s and Gabon ranks high on the list of counties with ritual killings. (webmaster FVDK)

Gabon senator arrested in ritual killing case

Published: June 8, 2013 / 2:01 PM
By: Reuters Staff
Reporting by Jean-Rovys Dabany; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Louise Ireland
Andrew Lawson

A sorcerer performs a dance in front of a sacred fire in Bitouga, some 600 km from the Gabon capital Libreville, in this September 2007 photo. REUTERS/Antoine

LIBREVILLE (Reuters) – A member of Gabon’s senate has been arrested in an investigation into the ritual killing of a 12-year-old girl in the central African nation four years ago, the first time a senior politician has been detained in such a case.

Rising public anger at a spate of ritual killings in Gabon, an oil-rich former French colony on the Gulf of Guinea, sparked a march by thousands of people in the capital Libreville last month after mutilated bodies washed up on beaches.

President Ali Bongo promised the protesters that anyone convicted of such killings would be jailed for life.

Senator Gabriel Eyeghe Ekomie, who was stripped of his parliamentary immunity in December, was arrested on Friday after failing to appear before a court on May 31, his lawyer said.

Eyeghe Ekomie was summoned for questioning by the court after a man convicted of the girl’s killing said at his trial in May 2012 that he did it on the senator’s orders. Eyeghe Ekomie has denied the accusation.

“This is an unjust decision because my client was not correctly summoned,” said lawyer Gisele Eyue Bekale. “We asked the judge to re-issue the summons but he did not. We will continue to appeal this decision.”

Human and animal body parts are prized by some in the region, who believe they confer magical powers. Gabon’s Association for the Prevention of Ritual Crimes estimates that at least 20 people have been killed so far this year and their lips, tongues, genitals and other organs removed. (Bold and Italics mine – FVDK, webmaster).

Earlier this week, a sack containing human genitalia was found in a building in Libreville. An investigation is underway.

Gabon is not the only African country with a black market trade in human organs.

Grave robbers dug up more than 100 bodies in Benin’s capital Cotonou in November. Cameroonian authorities in September arrested five people for trafficking when they were stopped at a checkpoint with a severed human head.

Wave of Ritual Killings Spark Panic in Cameroon (2013)

The two articles reproduced here date from 2013, hence the reported cases of ritual killing are no recent ones. Be that as it may, I believe they are authentic and the reported cases are genuine.
Late 2012 the population of Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, was terrified after the disappearance of 18 young women and the subsequent discovery of their mutilated bodies. In September 2013, parliamentary elections were held in Cameroon. They were originally scheduled for July 2012, but were repeatedly postponed: February 2013, July 2013, and finally held on September 30, 2013, alongside local elections. It has never been proven that the wave of ritual killings in 2012 was linked to the planned elections, but observers of ritualistic murders in Africa point to the fact that often there is an increase in ritual killings during election campaigns. Also, as one of the articles states, ritual killings were common in Cameroon until the 1970s though more recently the number of ritualistic murders has decreased. (webmaster FVDK)

Ritual Killings: 18 Young Women Found Murdered With Brains, Eyes, Genitals Missing

Published on January 23, 2013
By: Naij.com

A series of ritual killings of young women in the West African nation of Cameroon has caused panic in the capital city Yaoundé.

Families are now refusing to let their daughters go out after a spate of gruesome killings of young girls who were abducted by the drivers of motorcycle taxis before being murdered and dismembered.

Police have found 18 mutilated bodies on the streets of the capital in the past two weeks, five of them outside a nursery school, and all are believed to be linked to occult rituals.

In some parts of the country traditional healers believe that body parts including eyes, genitals, breasts and tongues have mystical powers, with many believing they bring riches and other good fortune.  Others believe that performing a human sacrifice will bring good luck.

Ritual killings were common in Cameroon until the 1970s but as education spread, the number of murders decreased.

Now families fear the practice is coming back, with the latest wave of killings causing near-hysteria in the capital city.

This week, the sister of a 17-year-old girl whose corpse was found on Friday outside a nursery school, minus the genitals, tongue, eyes, hair and breasts, wrote to Cameroon President Paul Biya demanding action to prevent further killings.

Deborah Ngoh Tonye Epouse Mvaebeme said her sister, Michele Mbala Mvogo, a student at the government bilingual High School Yaoundé was abducted three days before her body was found outside a nursery school. She accused the city’s commonly-used motorcycle taxi drivers of facilitating the murder, and said the government had failed to do enough to protect the victims, who were from the poverty-stricken neighbourhoods of Mimboman and Biteng.

One local said: ‘The moto-taxi drivers are the assassins’ accomplices, and their targets are girls aged 16-25 who get the taxis after nightfall.  For a large sum of money, these girls are delivered to men in the suburbs who do the rest.’

The head of a Mimboman nursery school told afrik.com how she found one of the bodies outside her school.

She said: ‘It was a strong smell of rotting that drew my attention, so I decided to do a tour of the school. ‘That’s how I found, behind one classroom, a body of a young girl in an advanced state of decomposition, with her underwear placed on her feet, before my very eyes.’

Families in the neighbourhood are said to be in a state of hysteria, banning their girls from taking motorbike taxis and keeping them indoors after dark.

Communication minister Tchiroma Bakary said: ‘Ritual sacrifices with a demoniac connotation are unacceptable and intolerable, and the government will do all it can to put a stop to it.’

Ngoh Tonye, whose sister was murdered, told CNN: ‘There is laxity in the forces in ensuring security in the capital.’

The bodies of the five most recent victims were identified yesterday, according to a State security official who said most of the victims were high school students aged 15-26.

Two men have been arrested in connection with the killings but so far no charges have been brought.

The Cameroon capital, which has a population of just over two million, is in a state of distress with families staying behind locked doors as soon as darkness falls. Police warn pedestrians to walk in groups at all times and have cracked down on local bars frequented by criminals, shutting them down in the dozens. Vigilante groups of young men guard the streets at night and hunt for the killers, as the people of Yaoundé say the police are not doing enough to keep the city safe.

The new wave of gruesome killings in the capital has also seen dozens of complaints about mutilated corpses in the mortuaries of Yaoundé’s public hospitals, according to Health Minister André Mama Fouda.

Source:
Ritual Killings: 18 Young Women Found Murdered With Brains, Eyes, Genitals Missing

Yaoundé, capital of Cameroon

Related article:

Wave of Ritual Killings Spark Panic in Cameroon, Increase Safety Measures

Published: 28th February 2013, 14:15 GMT+11
By: Global Press Institute – Nakinti Nofuru

BAMENDA, CAMEROON When Sarah Ewang, 41, heard about the homicide and dismemberment of 18 young women in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, she cried and prayed to God to give strength to the victims families.

Ewang, a jewelry trader in Bamenda, the capital of the Northwest region, can understand the pain the girls endured during the moments before they were slain by alleged ritual killers. I came so close with ritual killers, she says. God delivered me from the hands of those evil men.

During 2005, Ewang traveled from Bamenda to Douala, the capital of the Littoral region, to buy jewelry to restock her shop. In Douala, she entered a taxi already occupied by two men, who appeared to be passengers. As they drove, another woman stopped the taxi. Moments after picking up the second woman, one of the men in the car pointed a gun at them and ordered them to keep quiet. I tried to shout, but one of the men slapped me very hard, Ewang says.

The taxi took a sharp turn off the main road and drove for more than an hour into an isolated forest. Eventually, the car stopped at a strange-looking hut, constructed of sticks, grass and old bags. I knew my life was coming to an end, Ewang says, and the next thing I thought of was my 3-months-old baby.

She says she cried out and received a second slap from the man carrying the gun, causing her to pass out. When she awoke, she discovered that they had removed her from the car. The driver and one of the men walked into the hut, but the man with the gun remained with them. She says they were ritual killers. They didnt request for anything from us, Ewang says, so they didnt look like armed robbers or thieves.

Finally, the two men emerged, along with four other men carrying cutlasses. Desperate, Ewang cried aloud in her local dialect, Bakossi. Oh my God, I will die and leave my 3-months-old daughter to who? she says she cried. Oh God, please come and help me.

Immediately after she spoke, the man with the gun walked up to her and looked her in her eyes but did not say a word, she says. He then led the other men back into the hut, where they remained for more than 45 minutes. Eventually, the man with the gun returned and asked her and the other woman to get into the car.

The men returned them to Douala and told them to walk away without causing any alarm. As they walked away, the man with the gun spoke. Go and look after your 3-months-old baby, she says that he told her in Bakossi. Extend my greetings to her. Tell her that her forest uncle sends his greetings. Your fluency in your dialect has saved your soul.

As soon as she heard the man speaking her dialect, Ewang stopped, fell to the ground and wept. She says he must have been from the same tribe as her in the Southwest region, where she is originally from. The men drove away, probably to look for the next victim, Ewang says.

Now, eight years later, news of recent killings in Yaoundé has brought fear to Ewangs home in Bamenda as she recalls her own experience.

It is an experience I will live to remember, she says, her voice breaking, and then bursts into tears. May God come to our rescue. Her youngest daughter, who was 3 months old at the time, is now 8. She uses her right hand to dry her mothers eyes. Mummy, dont cry, she says.

Since the discovery of nearly 20 young womens corpses in December and January, women in Bamenda say they will stop at nothing to ensure the safety of their daughters from ritual killers. Young women advise each other to not go out at night. Teachers report that lectures on safety tips for their pupils have intensified in their schools. Local police state that they are working to maintain peace and security for the population.

The dismembered corpses of 18 young women were discovered in Yaoundé, some hidden in bushes and one discovered by a headmistress in a primary school classroom, says Mark, a member of the Rapid Intervention Battalion in Bamenda, who declined to publish his last name for reasons of job security. The battalion is a special branch of the police force in Cameroon tasked with responding to emergency situations.

News reports also reached Bamenda that vital parts of the corpses were missing, including the womens breasts, eyes, kidneys and heart, Mark says.

A lecturer at the University of Bamenda, who requested anonymity to ensure his safety, explains that the removal of those body parts is what marks the deaths of these young women as ritual killings.

He explains that ritualists pay killers to come back with certain body parts, which the ritualists then take to witch doctors or use themselves. Ritualists are usually people seeking fame, money, or positions in government and politics.

Although there were occasional reports of ritual killing in Cameroon before, he says, they were not as large in scope or frequency as the massive killing that recently occurred in Yaoundé.

Beatrice Ngwe, a mother of four girls and one boy, lives with her family in Bamenda. Ngwe says she feels the pain of the mothers in Yaoundé who lost their daughters to ritualists.

Being a mother of four girls is not easy, she says with a heavy voice. I fear for their life all the time.

Ngwes friends daughter disappeared during 2008 after the woman sent her 9-year-old to deliver a message, Ngwe says. The girls body has not been found, leading the town to suspect she became a victim of a ritual killing.

Ngwe says she would not want to live with the guilt of being the author of any of her daughters or sons misfortune, so she is taking extra safety precautions. These days, she fears even more that they may be killed for ritual purposes.

I will die to protect my daughters, Ngwe says. If an errand is very important that it cant wait to see the light of the next day, I prefer to go on it myself.

Melanie Vishiy, 22, is a student at Trinity Computer Training Center in Bamenda. She says she fears for her life because of the news of ritual killings of young women in Yaoundé as well as of another girl during January in Nkambe, a town in the Northwest region.

Since I heard of the death of the young girls in Yaoundé and in Nkambe, I dont go out after 6 p.m., she says, shaking her head. No, I dont, not even to urinate at night. I do that in a small bucket meant for the purpose.

Vishiy had heard of incidents of ritual killings before. But she says that she didnt understand the reality of it and was never scared until news broke about the recent series of deaths.

Now, she says she has never been so scared and alert in her life. She doesnt trust any man she comes across while walking alone.

If a man is on a path with me, just two of us, I make sure I start preparing my heels for running, she says. I look at him directly into his face and try to keep a reasonable distance from him.

Vishiy advises girls to stay indoors for their safety.

I am calling on girls and women to stay close to homes, she says. I am not saying that they shouldnt go out there and have fun, but they should do it with limitation and reasoning.

Beyond the home, teachers in Bamenda are doing their part to spread the message of safety.

Sarah Koye is a teacher at Government Bilingual Primary School Group 2 in Bamenda. She says the recent killings in Yaoundé have prompted teachers to introduce safety tips to their pupils.

We ask them to always move in groups when coming to school and when going back home, Koye says.

Some teachers go as far as asking pupils to tell their parents that they should not send them on errands in the dark or on lonely roads.

The children know what is going on in the nation, she says. When she asked her students whether they had heard about the killings, some children shouted that they had watched it on the news, while others had heard about it from their parents and friends. At school, children shared safety tips that they had received at home.

Because all victims since December have been women, Koye focuses extra training on female students. Some ritual killers begin by violating the children sexually, so she has also introduced some elementary sex education and lessons on morality.

Koye helps the students understand that they are too young for sexual activities and advises them to run and scream if a man makes such advances. She asks them not to follow strange men into homes or bushes. Teachers also tell pupils not to speak with or to accept gifts from strangers on the way to and from school.

In our days, we could receive things from strangers, talk with strange people on the way, without any strings attached, she says. Today, such interactions may only lead to danger. We tell our pupils to be very careful and alert.

The students are doing their best to take the advice that they are being given in school, Koye says.

Outside of school and the home, the police is working to protect the population of Bamenda.

Ever since the ritual killing cases in Yaoundé, the commissioner of police has asked the force to be more vigilant, Mark of the Rapid Intervention Battalion says. They are to arrest and interrogate anybody walking the streets late at night.

We patrol the town all night just to make sure that nothing goes wrong, he says. We have arrested and interrogated many suspects that we find in suspicious places in the heart of the night.

Mark says the battalions lines are open to all. They have received many calls both day and night from people who find themselves in difficult situations. He says the force always goes to their rescue and doesnt spare any suspect from questioning and possible detainment.

He says the number of calls they receive and suspects they have pursued is confidential. But so far, there have been no cases of ritual killing in Bamenda.

Security has stepped up in all the towns of Cameroon, Mark says. He asks the public to trust the capabilities of the police.

We will stop at nothing to put this town under serious surveyance, he says.

Source: Wave of ritual killings spark panic in Cameroon, increase safety measures