The killings, kidnappings, and physical attacks against people with albinism continued, despite government efforts to stop the violence, including several arrests. In Mozambique and some neighboring countries, people with albinism are hunted for their body parts, which are used for witchcraft.
In March 2017, the United Nations independent expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, told the UN Human Rights Council that the situation of people with albinism in Mozambique “requires urgent and immediate attention.” She estimated that more than 100 attacks against people with albinism had occurred in Mozambique since 2014. Many of the victims are children. In September 2017, according to the police, a 17-year-old boy with albinism was killed and his brain removed, in Tete province. Four months earlier, police uncovered an attempt by two parents to sell their child with albinism in the same province. In June, the Malawian press reported that a 12-year-old Malawian boy with albinism had been killed in Mozambique, and police had arrested five people allegedly connected with the crime.
Published: February 22, 2018 By: Amnesty International
DISCRIMINATION – PEOPLE WITH ALBINISM
An estimated 30,000 people with albinism experienced discrimination and were ostracized; many lived in fear of their lives. Incidents of persecution increased; at least 13 people with albinism were known to have been killed although figures are likely to have been greater. (italics added by the webmaster FVDK). The killings were fuelled by superstition or myths about the magical powers of people with albinism. Most killings took place in the central and northern provinces, the country’s poorest regions.
A seven-year-old boy with albinism was murdered on 31 January by four unidentified men who broke into his house and abducted him while the family slept, in Ngaúma district, Niassa province. On 28 May, a group of unidentified assailants abducted a three-year-old boy from his mother in Angónia district, Tete province. On 13 September, a 17-year-old youth was killed for his body parts and organs in Benga area, Moatize district, in Tete province. The attackers removed his brain, hair, and arm bones. None of those responsible for the killings were arrested or brought to justice by the end of the year.
Despite public outcry, the government did little to address the problem. A strategy was designed to stop the killings; however, this was not implemented, allegedly because of a lack of resources.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.
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).
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)
Will it never end in Liberia? Will ritualistic murders ever stop in this country? Liberians blame the killings on the country’s contaminated judicial system and inefficiency, corruption, under-qualified lawyers and judges, lack of court facilities, transportation, and others resources, inadequate police investigation, shortage of public defenders, poor case management, and they believe the reintroduction of capital punishment would serve as serious deterrence to would be ritualistic killers. Unquote (see below).
But what is lacking in this ‘explanation’ is “superstition”, the belief that ritualistic practices including murder give the perpetrators or those who command these crimes wealth, political power and/or prestige. Moreover – in my view – any ‘solution’ of this age-old problem must include ‘education’ and the enforcement of the rule of law by objective, impartial and competent judges. (Webmaster FVDK)
Published: March 25, 2019 By: Franklin Doloquee, Nimba County Contributor, FrontPage Africa
On suspicion of ritualistic killings, two men mobbed to death in Ganta
Ganta, Nimba County– Mob violence has taken center stage in Nimba County as locals consider it a means of reprisal to a wave of alleged ritualistic killings happening in recent weeks.
Two men, who were accused of killings of a 14-month-old baby, were mauled to death while they were being transferred to the county’s capital for investigating.
The two men were mauled by angry residents of the LPRC Community in Ganta. The incident occurred on March 19 when angry residents stormed the city, calling for the speedy investigation of the killings.
The violence brought normal activities to a standstill leaving some police and Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency officers injured.
Earlier, seven men were accused of alleged ritualistic killings in Blavahlay Town, District #7 and they were taken to Sanniquellie for investigation.
The issue of mobbed violence is now on the increase in Nimba County with Ganta experiencing the most incidents, a FrontPageAfrica reporter in the county said. At least 10 persons have been reported killed as a result of mob violence in the last two years.
Since the March 19 incident, the police presence has increased in the county and 93 suspects have been arrested in connection with the disturbance. They are currently in Gbarnga, Bong County undergoing investigation.
The alleged ritualistic killings and subsequent unrests have destabilized Ganta, a major commercial city in northern Liberia. It is drawing concerns for people from all walks of life.
At the weekend, over 200 women under the banner Nimba Women for Peace and Reconciliation presented a position statement on the increase of ritualistic killings in the county recently.
The women, from the 17 administrative districts of the county, gathered at the Christian Bible Church in Ganta. They were very angry and called on the government to combat the strange killings.
The heads of several women groups in the county expressed their dismay and called for swift actions from the government.
They said, “their children are now living in fear, they are not going to schools, and they should not be used for to rich themselves with our children that are the future leaders of the nation”.
The women presented a position statement to the county leadership but only a county official was present.
The Nimba Women for Peace and reconciliation lamented that since the increased of ritualistic killing in the county, “the local authority continues to remain silent while children are going missing”.
They stressed that they feel obliged to undertake the cause to condemn “these evil acts by people who are interested in nothing else but just of power and money”.
They also called for calm among families of victims while urging local leaders and the county lawmakers to stand behind their effort and combat the increase killings in their communities.
The gathering comes four days after the lifeless body of an infant was discovered in Ganta. The body was discovered burned and it was said to be a 14-months-old child.
Another child was reported missing at the Ganta general market while there have been reports of several other alleged killings of children in the county.
There have been brewing tension in the county with hundreds of residents threatening mob justice, prompting the women to emphasized the importance of the government’s intervention.
And the women stressed that timely intervention will avoid a ongoing negative reaction from the public, that is already frustrated and showing a lack of confidence in the authorities and security actors.
The women then called on the government to launch an investigation into the “killing and missing of innocent children in the communities and bring the perpetrators to book and keep the public constantly abreast of the progress of such investigation”.
At the same time, rights advocates in the county have termed the “strange killings of children as “a blatant violation of human rights”.
According to the Executive Director for KIDS Foundation Liberia Augustine Dahn, in the past years, several children and adults had gone missing and were later discovered dead with parts of their bodies extracted for ritual purposes. (Italics added by the webmaster FVDK).
The group joined the Nimba Women for Peace and Reconciliation to condemned the killings and called on government to reintroduce capital punishment.
The group argues that the increasing wave of these human rights violations can be blamed on the country’s “contaminated judicial system and inefficiency, corruption, under-qualified lawyers and judges, lack of court facilities, transportation, and others resources, inadequate police investigation, shortage of public defenders, poor case management.” The management of Kids foundation believes the reintroduction of capital punishment would serve as serious deterrence to would be ritualistic killers.
The original article is in French. A summary reads as follows (under construction). Webmaster FVDK
Published: December 15, 2017 – 09:29 am By: Edouard Djogbénou
Bénin : un jeune homme victime d’un sacrifice rituel à Zogbodomey
Les crimes rituels prennent de l’ampleur au Bénin avec la prolifération actuelle des « hounnon », une nouvelle filière en plein essor où s’engouffrent beaucoup de jeunes adeptes de la facilité. Les appels lancés à l’endroit des autorités du pays notamment à l’endroit du ministre de l’intérieur et de la sécurité publique pour un recensement de tous les acteurs du secteur afin de les responsabiliser sont tombés dans des oreilles de sourds et le mal va grandissant.
Il n’y a pas de jour qu’on signale la disparition d’un enfant ou un corps inanimé d’un individu dont les organes sont prélevés; comme c’est le cas dans la nuit du mardi 12 au Mercredi 13 Décembre 2017 le corps inanimé d’un jeune homme sacrifié au fétiche « kinninsi » a été retrouvé à Avlamè, une localité de la commune de Zogbodomey.
Selon l’agence Bénin presse (abp), le jeune homme de 27 ans environ serait isolé par son bourreau et ensuite froidement sacrifié au fétiche dans une maison isolée. La victime selon l’agence Bénin presse serait un agent de sécurité dans une société de gardiennage.
Les enquêtes ont conduit à l’arrestation d’un jeune homme de moins de 20 ans soupçonné être l’auteur de crime rituel. Conduit à la brigade de gendarmerie de Cana, il sera présenté au procureur pour les nécessités de l’enquête.
Les autorités de notre pays doivent sortir de leur silence et se pencher sur ce phénomène qui prend de l’ampleur dans notre pays encore que le « tô fâ » 2017 révèle qu’il y aura beaucoup de disparitions d’enfant en 2018 et invite les parents à la vigilance.
Si les organisations non gouvernementales, les partis politiques et autres organisations sont enregistrées au ministère de l’intérieur donc reconnues par l’État, il urge que les marabouts, les « hounnons » et autres prêtres du « vodoun » soient également recensés et que l’État ait un droit de regard sur leur fonctionnement; il en va de la sécurité de nous tous.
A must read. Though a very lengthy report that I reproduce here, it contains such a wealth of information on albinism, people living with albinism, their fears, their dangers, the measures taken by the Government of Tanzania, that I thought I must conserve it and present to you. I will not even try to summarize it or give some sketchy details, judge for yourself. (Webmaster FVDK)
Published: February 9, 2019 3:01AM EST By: Human Rights Watch
Many children with albinism in Tanzania share similar stories of hardship. The “temporary holding shelters” strategy introduced by the Tanzanian government in the late 2000s may have contributed to a decline in the number of physical attacks, but Human Rights Watch observed that it led to the emergence of additional challenges.
In July 2017, Human Rights Watch interviewed 13 children and young people with albinism, aged 7 to 18 years old, and 26 other people, including family members, education professionals and nongovernmental organizations in the Mwanza, Shinyanga and Simiyu regions of Tanzania. There, we found that Tanzanian government policies designed to protect children with albinism incidentally had a negative impact on their rights to family life, an adequate standard of living and inclusive education. In order to protect their privacy and shield them from potential repercussions, the names of most interviewees referred to hereafter have been changed.
While the Tanzanian government appears sensitive to these concerns, it should now intensify efforts to reinsert children with albinism into their communities and provide them with inclusive education, while continuing to investigate and prosecute those responsible for attacking children with albinism. By doing so, Tanzania has an opportunity to emerge as a strong African leader in ensuring the safety, inclusion and dignity of people with albinism, as outlined in the Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa, the first-ever continental strategy to address violations against people with albinism, adopted in 2017.
What Is The Best Interests of the Child Principle?
The Best Interest of the Child principle derives from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It requires state parties to prioritize the interests of the child in any action that may impact them. This includes taking into consideration the child’s own views and desires, his identity, his need for care and development and his right to a safe family and community environment. These factors should be considered altogether and balanced against one another if in contradiction. State intervention should be based on individual assessments of the particular child whose situation requires it.
Recommendations To the Government of Tanzania
Increase public sensitization efforts aimed at dispelling deadly and discriminatory myths about albinism, notably through workshops and public service announcements on radio and television, particularly in rural and isolated communities.
Ensure that all teachers in the public education system are trained to adequately provide for the specific needs of children with albinism.
Ensure that resources are at the disposal of schools to meet the specifications needed of children with albinism, notably by providing for textbooks and exams with larger fonts and assistive devices to read the blackboard.
Pursue efforts to promote the safety of people with albinism by investigating threats and crimes against people with albinism and holding those responsible to account.
Work with parents and communities to ensure the safe and orderly reunification of children with albinism with their families, with the goal of progressively dismantling the temporary holding shelters.
Recommendations to International Donors
Support projects dedicated to sensitizing the Tanzanian public to albinism and training teachers to provide for the specific needs of children with albinism in public schools.
Support the Tanzanian government in reuniting children with albinism with their families and ensuring their return to a safe, inclusive community.
Albinism in Tanzania
Albinism is a genetic condition that causes a deficit in the biosynthesis of melanin, a pigment that colours the skin, hair and eyes. While albinism is a rare condition in Europe and North America, affecting one out of about every 17,000 to 20,000 people, it is slightly more widespread in Sub-Saharan Africa, with prevalence rates of 1 in every 5,000 to 15,000 births. Tanzania’s 2012 national census identified 16,477 people with albinism. Today, it is estimated that there are over 18,000 people with albinism in the country.
People with albinism usually have a paler, whiter appearance than their relatives. The deficit of melanin can also result in low vision and an increased vulnerability to sun’s ultra-violet radiation. Consequently, people with albinism living in Sub-Saharan African are about 1,000 times more likely to develop skin cancer than the general population.
As noted by the United Nations Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, “The complexity and uniqueness of the condition means that their experiences significantly and simultaneously touch on several human rights issues including, but not limited to, discrimination based on color, discrimination based on disability, special needs in terms of access to education and enjoyment of the highest standards of health, harmful traditional practices, violence including killings and ritual attacks, trade and trafficking of body parts for witchcraft purposes, infanticide and abandonment of children.”
In many parts of East Africa, people with albinism are targeted for their body parts, which some believe hold magical powers and bring good fortune. Traditional healers and “sorcerers” have over the years claimed that people with albinism are “ghosts” who never die but merely disappear. In 2009, the International Federation of the Red Cross reported that a senior police officer in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s economic capital said that the body of a person with albinism could fetch up to US$75,000.
Over the last decade, Under the Same Sun, a Canadian non-governmental organization working to empower people with albinism, estimates that over 200 people with albinism, many of them children, have been killed in Africa or had their body parts amputated. In Tanzania alone, the group reported that at least 76 people with albinism were killed since 2006.NGOs and local groups reported that criminals have stolen bones from the exhumed remains of people with albinism.
The last reported killing, in February 2015, took place in the region of Geita, in Northwest Tanzania, when men abducted a one-year-old baby with albinism from his mother and “hacked [him] to death.” The men were said to have hit the mother with a machete when she refused to hand over her child, an activist who was with her when she woke up at the hospital told Human Rights Watch.
Faced with increased international scrutiny at the end of the 2000s, Tanzania began to mobilize resources to fight off traffickers and protect people with albinism. Local organizations told us that since 2007, hundreds of children were removed from their families, sometimes with no consultation or consent, and placed in shelters where they were effectively isolated from society.
According to activists who spoke to Human Rights Watch, orders from the government to protect people with albinism were enforced by district commissioners, who oversee security in their respective districts.
“There is an order from the district that says that if anything happens to [a] child with albinism, local leaders would be responsible. It something happens, the whole community will be suspected,” the manager of a local organization working with people with albinism told Human Rights Watch. “Because no one wants trouble in their backyard, there was a big push from the communities to send the children to the shelters.”
The Tanzanian government also moved to combat impunity for ritual crimes, notably by investigating, arresting and prosecuting those who attack or sponsor attacks against people with albinism. In 2015, the Tanzanian government announced a ban on witchdoctors, which came out of a special joint task force between the police and the Tanzanian Albinism Society. As reported by the BBC at the time, then Home Affairs Minister Mathias Chikawe declared there would be a nationwide effort to “arrest them and take them to court” if witch doctors continued their practices. Over 200 suspects, including some allegedly involved in killings of people with albinism, were reportedly arrested by the authorities.
Ten years after the wave of killings and attacks began, these appear to have decreased because of Tanzania’s protective measures and stronger response to ritual crimes and attacks against people with albinism. The temporary holding shelters, however, remain. “The shelters were emergency, temporary solutions. But 10 years is not temporary anymore,” an activist for the rights of people with albinism told Human Rights Watch.
Under international human rights law, children with albinism have the right to live in a family environment. Local NGOs are now making efforts to reunite children and families. The Tanzanian government should do more to reunite families, to combat stigma within communities and ensure that family caregivers have the financial and social support they need to care for these children.
The government’s response should be guided by the best interests of the children involved, and balance the child’s protection and safety with the preservation of the family environment and the enjoyment of other rights. This is particularly important as the government has begun to send some children from the shelters back to their communities.
Separation from the family and movement restrictions
Most of the 13 children and young adults with albinism Human Rights Watch interviewed described how the killings and the ensuing protection measures implemented by the Tanzanian government separated them from their families.
While in many cases, separation was a decision of the parents, five children said they were ordered to go to a shelter or boarding school by government officials (police or district education officers), with no regard for their parents’ consent. Human Rights Watch was not able to confirm this assertion from their parents. Once in the shelters or special boarding schools, the children’s freedom of movement was severely curtailed on security grounds.
Marco, an 18-year-old man with albinism, described to Human Rights Watch how his father had been obliged to let him go to the shelter: “When the killings and attacks happened, the government moved me to the Buhangija temporary shelter (Shinyanga region). Police officers came home and spoke to my dad but he refused to take me to Buhangija immediately because he wanted to find out more about it first. The first time, the police left without problems. The second time, they left with me.”
Augustin, a 14-year-old teenager from Shinyanga who was attacked by criminals who cut his left forearms and fingers on his right hand when he was four-year-old, said the district education officer took him to the shelter when he was seven or eight. “He picked me up at a bus stand. At first, no one explained to me why I was being taken there. I was sad at the beginning because I missed my parents. It felt like a punishment. Now, I understand it was to protect me from bad people,” he told Human Rights Watch.
The mother of Victoria, a young woman with albinism from Shinyanga region who stayed for three years in Buhangija, confirmed that parents did not have any choice but to let their children go: “The government wrote a letter to the school Victoria was attending giving notification that children with albinism should be sent to Buhangija [shelter]. We were given a specific date and time by which she had to be there, which was two days later.”
Victoria’s father added: “When the government said we had to bring Victoria to Buhangija, I didn’t know why. There was security here…. But I had to accept the order. I don’t know what would have happened if I had refused.” 
NGOs that promote the rights of people with albinism also reported pressure by the government on local schools and the community to send children away to the shelters, by threatening to hold community leaders and members accountable if a child who remained at home was attacked. “For communities, having a child with albinism among them felt like a burden – because you have to provide protection – so the shelters were a good solution to get rid of that burden. You don’t have to respond to police enquiries if something happens,” a national advocate for the rights of people with albinism told Human Rights Watch.
In addition, parents of children with albinism and organizations working with people with albinism told Human Rights Watch that regardless of whether children had been voluntarily or involuntarily placed in shelters, once they were under the protection of the state, they were no longer allowed to go home – even for vacations – without a letter from the village chairperson, approved by the district commissioner, guaranteeing the area’s safety. An NGO worker explained the process to Human Rights Watch:
The parents [must] first get a letter from the chairperson of the village and then send it to the district commissioner. The chairperson’s letter should say that the area is safe, that we know the child with albinism is visiting the parents. Without the chairperson’s letter, the district commissioner cannot issue his own letter. Some parents complain and say that they have the right to take the children home. But they generally understand.
Severin, a 14-year-old boy with albinism, said he never went home on vacation while he lived in the shelter. “Once in Buhangija [shelter], we were told we needed a letter to be allowed to go home. My parents didn’t try to get the letter. I felt bad not to be with my family during the vacations because I missed them,” he said.
The parents of Victoria, a young woman with albinism who stayed for three years in Buhangija, who have university degrees, said it was easy to obtain such a letter from the authorities. “When the parents are bringing the letter, it assures the school that there is full security in the family and in the village [for children with albinism],” the mother said. “We wouldn’t have been allowed if we had tried to bring [our daughter] home for good. It was impossible to come out of Buhangija [shelter] without permission. There was full security.”
A representative of an international NGO sponsoring the education of children with albinism told Human Rights Watch that these restrictions also apply to children who have been moved out of shelters and into private schools under their sponsorship program.
As a result of the government’s restrictions, some children had not been home for several years, and some were no longer in contact with their family. In one case, Lucy, a 12-year-old girl with albinism, told Human Rights Watch at the time of the interview that she had not seen her mother in two years and did not know where her family was:
I was 6 years old when I got to Mitindo [shelter in Mwanza]. My mother brought me there because she saw the thieves [people attacking children with albinism] and so she took me to the [shelter]. I was left there alone by my mother and I felt sad because she said she’d come back but did not. She came back only once I went [to a private school, where I am being sponsored by an international NGO] in 2015. She came only for one day to ask who was paying my school fees and asked whether they could pay for my brothers too. I don’t know why she hasn’t come back. We don’t get to speak on the phone. I don’t have her number. So I don’t know about my mother and brothers right now.
According to representatives of local organizations working with people with albinism, another reason why some children placed in shelters no longer see their family is because their parents left no records of where they came from, and tracing the family after several years is difficult.“When some parents brought their children to the shelters, some didn’t leave any contacts and in other cases they did but the phone numbers don’t work,” a local NGO worker told Human Rights Watch. A staff member of another NGO said the temporary holding shelters had become akin to orphanages: “Parents took advantage to drop their kids there. Some children with albinism have been there for four or five years now without seeing their parents.”
The separation from family exerts a heavy emotional toll on young children with albinism. Peter, an 18-year-old man who stayed at the Buhangija for eight years, said his brother was the only one visiting him. “I didn’t want to come [to the shelter]. I was too young. I used to cry all the time. I was a child, I missed my mother, my grandmother and my sister,” he told researchers. “Only my brother would come to visit. I did speak with my mother however, maybe once a month by phone. I felt good talking to her but I missed her.”
Despite the difficulties children with albinism face in the shelters, some, including Severin, said they saw advantages in living among other people with albinism: “My parents did not come to visit at Buhangija. But it was good to be with other children with albinism because we felt we had a right to stay in the world.”
To protect children with albinism from physical attacks, a number of shelters and boarding schools have enforced drastic security measures that deprive children of their freedom of movement.
In July 2017, Human Rights Watch visited Buhangija, a former boarding school for students with disabilities transformed into a temporary holding shelter for children with albinism in 2009. At the time of the visit, 226 children were living in the shelter, out of whom 142 were children with albinism (the others were deaf or blind children attending the inclusive school located next to the shelter). At the shelter, Human Rights Watch researchers observed a barren compound made up of five dormitories surrounded by tall walls topped with barbwire. Children with albinism who attend class walk about 100 meters to the school. The rest of their free time is spent within the compound, which has no recreation space or trees to provide for shade, useful in helping people with albinism shield themselves from the sun.
“My first impression of Buhangija was that it was so difficult because we were staying in [the shelter] for the whole day and I’m a very mobile person. So I first felt very bad but as days went by, I got used to it,” Marco, an 18-year-old who left the shelter in 2017 told Human Rights Watch.
The principal of a secondary boarding school that caters to children with and without albinism in Mwanza region told Human Rights Watch that the movement of children with albinism is restricted even beyond the temporary holding shelter, and in the case of his school, because it lacks resources to adequately protect them outside the compound: “The main challenge with people with albinism is protection and safety,” he explained. “I’ve been asking since last year for one district policemen to be on site at night but there isn’t enough [district]money to do that. So, we talk to those students and discourage them from walking around alone, especially at night.”
A 15-year-old girl with albinism attending that secondary boarding school said they are not allowed to leave the dormitories: “The environment here is not good. We are not allowed to stay outside because the school doesn’t have enough security. Classes usually finish at 2:15 p.m. and we have to be in our dormitories by 2:40 p.m.”
NGOs have reported that children with albinism living in these shelters are progressively being sent back to their communities. While this is important progress, it is essential that the process of reinserting children in their communities complies with the best interests of the child principle. Authorities should ensure that the views of children and their families are taken into account, that children have access to education in their community, and that the community has protection systems in place.
Such consultations did not take place in the case of Mariam, a seven-year-old girl from Simiyu region, who was reunited with her 85-year-old grandmother. “After she was removed from Buhangija, the government forced me to take care of Mariam because her mother and father are not providing for her, “recalled the grandmother.” This happened without the government consulting me beforehand…. They just dumped the child on me.” Mariam does not attend the local school because, her grandmother said, she could not afford to buy textbooks.
Stigma and bias in the community
Eight children with albinism interviewed by Human Rights Watch recounted how they experienced stigma and bias in their communities, including name-calling.
Josefina, a seven-year-old living with her grandparents in the Shinyanga region, for example, said other children call her “Mbuliwmelu,” which means “white goat” in the local Sukuma language. “When that happens, it makes me feel sad and very angry, but I stay silent,” she said.
In the Simiyu region, the grandmother of Mariam, a seven-year-old young girl with albinism, said Mariam frequently faced similar experiences:
Most people have a negative perception of Mariam because of her color. They don’t even want to welcome Mariam in their home. If they see her, they’ll see her colour and will see that if she spends too much time in the sun she has sores. If she plays, they fear blood will come out of her. They call her “Mbulimwelu”. Mariam is always sad when they call her like that, and sometimes she locks herself in the house and starts crying. In those cases, I just leave her alone.
In some cases, parents have rejected or attacked their own children. Twelve-year-old Lucy, for instance, now lives at a private boarding school after receiving a scholarship from an international NGO. Choking on her tears, she said her mother told her that her father abandoned her prior to sending criminals to try and kill her: “My mother told me that my father refused me. I don’t want to go back [to my hometown] because it is my father who sent the thieves to get me.”
Despite efforts by the government of Tanzania and NGOs to sensitize the general public in recent years, progress remains fragile, especially in rural areas, where people with albinism continue to face stigma and the rejection of their community and, at times, their own families. This can lead to poor self-esteem among young people with albinism, and difficulties in finding work opportunities later in life. An 18-year-old man with albinism told Human Rights Watch in Shinyanga region that he thought people like him have a harder time at finding work: “My life would definitely be different if I was not a person with albinism. If you have a black skin, you have many more opportunities. You can do the physical work, whereas person with albinism have to be careful because of their skin.”
But, as the parents of four children with albinism pointed out, not all communities and families reject children with albinism. “When I had my first child with albinism, I was happy and thought this was normal. My family was happy too and if they weren’t, they didn’t let it show,” their mother said. “It is the choice of God. God is giving. We should agree with them, be close with them,” their father added.
Barriers to education
“People with albinism don’t get education,” a community organizer with albinism told Human Rights Watch. “Firstly because of their low vision. Teachers don’t know how to deal with that. Secondly because [of lack of] interaction [with others]. There is teasing in school. People with albinism face a lack of interaction with local community. People see us as bad people. They see us as people who can’t contribute because of our bad education or lack of education,” he added.
Ensuring a free, safe and dignified access to education is key to upholding the fundamental human rights of people with albinism and to combatting the stereotypes and stigma that continue to expose them to mistreatments and fatal risks.
Children with albinism face a range of barriers impeding their access to education.
Many families of children with albinism for instance are unable to enroll them in school because they lack sufficient income, or fear that having them walk to school may expose them to dangers. The grandmother of Mariam, the seven-year-old girl with albinism, said she is ready to go school but that she doesn’t have the resources to send her. “I wish for Mariam to become a doctor or a teacher. I don’t want her to be a wife. But it costs money to buy books and everything.”
Children with albinism may also face health risks at school due to their sensitivity to the sun. Laura, a 15-year-old student at a public secondary school, told Human Rights Watch that despite efforts to train teachers on the needs of children with albinism, the school still put the health of children with albinism at risk: “This school is not good. They force us to do activities in the sun. Teachers can also punish you if you say you can’t do activities in the sun. They caned me three times and it was very painful.”
In addition, children with albinism do not always get the inclusive education they should be entitled to. In that respect, the existence of the temporary holding shelters and other special boarding schools, while providing safety and an opportunity to attend classes, promotes segregation and denies children the opportunity to learn with their peers without albinism and to feel included in their communities. As 12-year-old Lucy explained to Human Rights Watch, “It was not nice to only be with children with albinism because we stayed without difference – we must mix.”
Children interviewed by Human Rights Watch also said that schools sometimes fail to provide children with albinism with appropriate accommodations for their low vision. This would include assistive devices, such as magnifiers, enlarged printed material, writing in large letters on the blackboard, and seating children with albinism in the front of the classroom.
Gloria, a 14-year-old student with albinism who wants to become an engineer and build airplanes said she had different experiences in public and private schools: “Before, I was going to a public school. I didn’t like it there because there was no good care. In class, the teachers would be writing with small letters on the blackboard. I’d ask them to make the letters bigger, but they’d say that they can’t,” she told Human Rights Watch. “[The private school] was better. They wrote with big letters on the board – it was easier for me to follow the classes and get good grades.” 
Some public schools are taking positive steps. The principal of a Mwanza region public secondary boarding school that caters to the general public as well as to several children with disabilities and children with albinism told Human Rights Watch: “There is no segregation. All students are taught together. We have many special education teachers and they are all trained by the government. I insist that children with albinism sit at the front row and that the teachers write with big letters on the blackboards and that exams and other exercises are printed with big font for them,” he said. Yet, the resources are scarce: “We get some equipment from the ministry, but not enough. We have no monoculars [to help children with albinism see the blackboard], for instance.” 
Lawrence is a shy nine-year-old boy who attends public school and his father is very proud of him. “When we took him to school for the first time, teachers were very aware of albinism, maybe they had been trained,” Charles said. “The only challenge Lawrence faces is his vision. Sometimes he has difficulties reading the blackboard [but] he gets support from the teachers and sometimes they explain or move him to the front. Lawrence does very well at school and sometimes is at the first position.”
It is important that all teachers be familiarized with the specific needs of students with albinism and that the schools be provided with adequate resources to ensure they can achieve their full educational potential. More efforts are also needed to sensitize family-members and communities about albinism, to ensure that children with albinism in Tanzania can thrive both inside and outside the classroom.
 Lekalakala, P., Khammissa, R., Kramer, B., Ayo-Yusuf, O., Lemmer, J. and Feller, L., “Oculocutaneous Albinism and Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Skin of the Head and Neck in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Journal of Skin Cancer, August 12, 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4549604/ (accessed January 25, 2019).
 Human Rights Watch interview with Augustin (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with A.Y. and Z.M. (pseudonym), the parents of Victoria (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with representatives of three NGOs working in this field, names withheld, Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with community activist (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch separate interviews with representatives of three NGOs working in this field, names withheld, Tanzania, July 2017; Severin (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017; and A.Y. and Z.M. (names withheld), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Severin (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interviews with A.Y. and Z.M. (names withheld), parents of Victoria, Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with NGO representative (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Lucy (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with representatives of three NGOs working in this field, names withheld, Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with a representative of one NGO working in this field (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with a representative of one NGO working in this field (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Peter Mwanzi (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with Marco Ndimo (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with A.M. (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
 Human Rights Watch interview with J.P.M. (pseudonym), Tanzania, July 2017.
Published: October 13, 2018 By: Jide Babalola and Faith Yahaya
Sixteen men, including a former legislator and a vigilance group commander alleged to be involved in kidnapping, ritual murder and sale of the human private organs in Kogi State were yesterday paraded by the police in Abuja.
Police spokesman, Ag. DCP Jimoh Moshood,said male and female organs, including that of a police inspector were harvested and sold by the syndicate whose ages range between 19 and 45 years.
The gang,according to Moshood,was working under the instructions or request of a wealthy businessman, Alhaji Shaibu Adamu alias Aye-Marina (43 years).
A manhunt is underway to arrest patrons of the group.
The police sid the arrested men have confessed to the killings and removal of body parts of several people.
However, Alhaji Shaibu Adamu and Abdullahi Ibrahim Ali, a former Kogi state legislator vociferously disowned the gang’s leader who claimed to have been liaising with them, adding that they are doing legitimate businesses with credible business partners including the first son of a former governor of Kogi State.
Aside from six identified victims including the late Inspector Abdul Alfa who was axed from behind and his police rifle snatched, most of the human organs sale syndicate’s victims cannot be properly identified, even after helpful confession from the criminal suspects.
Names of the suspects who are indigenes of Ankpa local government in Kogi state as given by the police include: Honourable Abdulahi Ibrahim Ali, alias Halims (35);his driver, Alhaji Abdullahi Zakari (35); a businessman, Alhaji Shaibu Adamu alias Aye-Marina (43); Akwu Audu (21); Sale Adama (45); Musa Abdulahi (32);Yakubu Yahaya (30); Adama Shagari (30); Baba Isah (23); Isaac Alfa (19); Idoko Benjamin (20);and Yakubu Hamidu (39) alleged to be the gang leader while also working as vigilance group commander in Ankpa Local Government.
Four other suspects who hail from neighbouring Ofu local are Ubile Attah (21); Julius Alhassan (30); Shehu Haliru alias Fedeco (25); and Abdullahi Tijani (27).
Exhibits allegedly recovered from them are one pump action gun, two locally fabricated single barrel guns and three short axes.
According to the police spokesman, the rampant cases of missing persons, killing of innocent people and the removal of their private parts for ritual purposes in Ankpa town and environs made the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim K. Idris to direct the IGP Strike Force attached to Operation Absolute Sanity to investigate all such cases, arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
“In the course of investigation , it was discovered that this gang – from information and intelligence gathered from public spirited individuals and other residents- were responsible for kidnapping, gruesome murder, and ritual killings of innocent people in Kogi State, travellers passing through Kogi State and strangers coming into towns in the area were mostly victims.
”Yakubu Hamidu (39 years old Gang Leader and a Vigilante Commander of Ankpa), and his vigilante guards are the hit-men responsible for the killings of several victims and removing their organs, mostly male and female organs including other body parts such as the head, kidney, and other vital body organs and selling them to personalities within and outside the state for rituals.
“During interrogations, the Gang Leader, Yakubu Hamidu and his members now in Police custody confessed to the crime and admitted that they were sponsored and working for Abdulahi Ibrahim Ali alias Halims and Alhaji Shaibu Adamu alias Aye- Marina whom they handed over the body parts to, after killing their victims and severing their body organs and collecting huge sums of money ; Aye-Marina’s driver known as Zakaru receives the body parts from Yakubu Hamidu.
” Abdulahi Ibrahim Ali a.k.a Halims who has volunteered statement to the investigators is now in Police custody and is suspected to have used the proceeds of crime to build and own so many properties including big hotels and several filling stations in Kogi State while Alhaji Shaibu Adamu a.k.a Aye Marina, without any known profession or any known means of livelihood was suspected also to have built ,and owns mansions and four filling stations in Ankpa, Kogi State and another four at Onyangede in Benue State with the proceeds of the crime.
“Yakubu Hamidu, Julius Alhasan, Shehu Haliru, Ubile Attah and Akwu Audu have confessed to the gruesome killing of Inspector Abdul Alfa attached to Ejule Police outpost in Ofu Local Government on 28 th November, 2017 and carted away the Police rifle in his possession.
“All the suspects have made voluntary statements to the Police Investigation Team and have confessed to the various criminal roles they played in the recent kidnapping, gruesome murder and ritual killing attacks on innocent residents and the killing of a Police Inspector, Inspr. Abdul Alfa, attached to Ejule Police Outpost, in Kogi State.
“Investigation is being concluded and efforts being intensified to arrest other suspects who include prominent personalities linked to the crime but still at large; they will all be arraigned in court on completion of investigation.
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Strike Force, has arrested sixteen suspects in connection with alleged kidnapping, murder and ritual killings in Kogi State. The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Acting DCP Jimoh Moshood, who made the disclosure while presenting the suspects at the Force Headquarters in Abuja yesterday, accused them of harvesting vital organs, after killing their victims. According to Moshood, the harvested vital organs were then sold to “personalities in Kogi and other neighbouring states.” Among those arrested and presented before journalists, was Hon. Abdullahi Ibrahim Ali, who claimed to have won the All Progressives Congress’ ticket for Ankpa/ Omala/ Olamaboro federal Constituency of Kogi State. Also arrested was Vigilante Commander in Ankpa,Mr. Yakubu Hamidu, who admitted his alleged involvement and others in the heinous crime. One of the victims of the alleged ritual killing, according to the Police, was Inspector Abdul Alfa.
The police officer, who worked at Ejule Police Outpost in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State, was killed “while on foot patrol” on November 28, 2017. Other victims, apart from the officer, included “innocent people in Kogi State, travellers passing through Kogi State and strangers coming into towns in the area”. The guns and axes the suspects allegedly used in killing and severing victims” vital organs, were displayed during the press briefing.
“Consequent on the killings of innocent people and the removal of their private parts for ritual purposes in Ankpa town and environs, and the killing of a Police Inspector, Abdul Alfa, at Ejule Police outpost in Ofu LGA while on foot patrol on November 28, 2017 snatching the Police rifle in his possession, and several complaints of missing persons received at the Police stations in Ankpa and environs, the IGP Ibrahim Idris, concerned with these trends of criminalities in Ankpa Local Government Area of Kogi State and other neighbouring States, directed the IGP Strike Force attached to Operation Absolute Sanity to investigate all these cases, arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
“In the course of investigation, it was discovered that this gang from information and intelligence gathered from public spirited individuals and other residents, were responsible for kidnapping, gruesome murder, and ritual killings of innocent people in Kogi State, travellers passing through Kogi State and strangers coming into towns in the area were mostly victims.
“All the suspects have made voluntary statements to the Police Investigation Team and have confessed to the various criminal roles they played in the recent kidnapping, gruesome murder and ritual killing attacks on innocent residents and the killing of a Police Inspector, Inspr. Abdul Alfa, attached to Ejule Police Outpost, in Kogi State. “Investigation is being concluded and efforts being intensified to arrest other suspects who include prominent personalities linked to the crime but still at large. They will all be arraigned in court on completion of investigation,” the Police said.
LEADERSHIP: A suspected murderer, who confessed to specialising in killing and harvesting human private parts and organs to politicians and business men was arrested and paraded by the Nigeria Police Force yesterday in Abuja. The suspect, Yakubu Hamidu, male and 39 years, who was a vigilante personnel at Ankpa, Kogi state admitted to have personally sold four male private parts and human organs to a politicians, at prices ranging from N100,000 to N250,000 each. The suspect and his cohorts further confessed to the killings and removal of body parts of the following victims James M (other names yet to be known), Christopher (other names yet to be known), Mohammed (other names yet to be known), Small Case (Real name unknown), Omu (other names yet to be known) and Inspector Abdul Alfa (who was ambushed and axed on his head from behind to death) by Julius Alhasan and his gang.
The suspects, Hamidu, Julius Alhasan, Shehu Haliru, Ubile Attah and Akwu Audu also confessed to the gruesome killing of Inspector Abdul Alfa attached to Ejule Police outpost in Ofu Local Government on 28th November, 2017 and carted away the Police rifle in his possession. Force public relations officer (FPRO), Jimoh Moshood, while parading them, said: “Consequent on the killings of innocent people and the removal of their private parts for ritual purposes in Ankpa town and environs, and the killing of a Police Inspector, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris, concerned with these trends of criminalities, directed the IGP Strike Force attached to Operation Absolute Sanity to investigate all these cases, arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
“In the course of investigation, it was discovered that this gang from information and intelligence gathered from public spirited individuals and other residents, were responsible for kidnapping, gruesome murder, and ritual killings in Kogi state. “All the suspects have made voluntary statements to the Police Investigation Team and have confessed to the various criminal roles they played in the recent kidnapping, gruesome murder and attacks on innocent residents of Kogi State. “Investigation is being concluded and efforts being intensified to arrest other suspects who include prominent personalities linked to the crime but still at large. They will all be arraigned in court on completion of investigation.”
On numerous occasions Liberian leaders have publicly denounced the ritual murders that take place in the country. We can mention President William Tolbert (1971-1980), Gyude Bryant (Chair of the Transitional Government after the Second Civil War, 2003-2006) and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2006-2018). The fact that the presidents Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor were not so outspoken on this subject, certainly not in public, has special reasons……..
The article below on Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s warning and reaction does not constitute the first and only time that she denounced the phenomenon of ritualistic killings in her country. More on it at a later stage. (Webmaster FVDK)
Published: November 20, 2015 By: The Guardian
Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, vowed on Thursday to crack down on those responsible for a rise in ritual killings in the west African country as it seeks to emerge from the shadow of an Ebola epidemic.
In some areas of central Africa, body parts are prized for their supernatural powers and are used in black magic ceremonies. Local media have reported at least 10 related murders in Liberia in the past few months. (Italics added by the webmaster, FVDK).
Johnson Sirleaf said in a speech: “We are witnessing the rise in what appears to be ritualistic killings and armed robbery in the country, thus threatening our security.”
“I am instructing the security forces to rigorously enforce the law to the letter and bring this ugly situation under immediate control.”
It is not yet clear why ritual killings are rising and Johnson Sirleaf offered no explanation. Some residents have speculated that presidential hopefuls seeking to replace Johnson Sirleaf when her final term expires in 2017 are using black magic to boost their chances.
Liberia was declared Ebola-free for the second time in September after reporting more than 4,800 deaths but its economy is struggling to recover.
Johnson Sirleaf said in the same speech she would seek to boost power supply and access to electricity and build additional infrastructure in the last two years of her term.
Published: November 10, 2018 – 2:25 AM
By: Nathaniel Bivan (Abuja) & Itodo Daniel Sule (Lokoja) Ritual killings and trade in body parts is one crime that has refused to go away in Nigeria. So far, not less than 55 suspects have been arrested in the past one year for human parts-related crimes in states such as Kebbi, Oyo, Kwara, Osun, Lagos, Ogun, Kogi and Nasarawa.
One of the most recent took place in Nasarawa State, where three men were arrested by the Nasarawa State Police Command for allegedly being in possession of human parts. They were reported to have, on November 1, exhumed a freshly buried corpse from a cemetery at Mararaban-Akunza and chopped off an arm.
Then in Ankpa LGA of Kogi State, neighbouring communities have had long-drawn cases of abductions, ritual killings, harvests of human parts, deadly cult activities and gruesome murders. Alarmed, some locals lodged complaints to the police. After months of discreet investigations, the Inspector General of Police Special Tactical Squad first busted a 10-man gang that allegedly specialized in selling human parts, also responsible for various crimes perpetrated in Ankpa and environs sometime in September 2018.
The kingpin of the gang, 39-year-old Yakubu Hamidu, had prior to their arrest held positions of Secretary of the Local Vigilante Group for five years and was its chairman for one year in Ankpa LGA where he hails from.
Hamidu told the police that in his capacity as leader of the vigilantes, he had access to arms and ammunitions with which he hunted down victims for human parts, especially male and female private organs. He also revealed how they killed four local vigilante men and a police officer in Ofu LGA during one of their operations.
But following the mop-up of arms and ammunitions by the police as directed by the IGP, the crime business nosedived, thus forcing Hamidu to resort to recruiting youths in the community to resuscitate the human parts trade. He had allegedly promised handsome rewards to those he recruited, but the bubble burst when he failed to keep his promise. One of the gang members, 18-year old Ubile Attah decided to turn in the group to the Inspector-General of Police Special Tactical Squad.
Following the arrest and revelations made by the 10-man gang, the police High Command made further arrests of those allegedly behind the killings and human parts trade.
Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Jimoh Moshood who paraded the suspects in Abuja, said the police began investigation into the group’s activities following repeated cases of abduction, killing, and removal of vital body parts of victims which were reported in Ankpa town and environs as well as the killing of a Police Inspector, Abdul Alfa, at Ejule Police outpost in Ofu LGA while on foot patrol on November 28, 2017. A total of 16 suspects alleged to be responsible for the criminal activities were paraded in Abuja by the police.
The suspects are: Abdulahi Ibrahim Ali, Alhaji Shaibu Adamu, Yakubu Hamidu, Ubile Attah, Julius Alhassan, Shehu Haliru, Abdullahi Tijani, Akwu Audu, Alhaji Abdullahi Zakari, Sale Adama, Musa Abdulahi, Yakubu Yahaya, Adama Shagari, Baba Isah, Isaac Alfa, and Idoko Benjamin. Arms and ammunition recovered from them, according to police, include one pump action rifle, two locally fabricated single barrel guns, and three short axes.
According to Moshood, Hamidu, 39, who is gang leader and native of Ankpa, and the vigilante leader in the community, along with his vigilante guards “are the hit-men responsible for the killings and removal of mostly male and female organs of several victims, including other body parts, such as the head, kidney, and other vital body organs, which they sell within and outside the state for rituals.”
According to the Police spokesperson, Yakubu and his members confessed to the crime and admitted that they were working for one Abdullahi Ibrahim Ali a.k.a Halims and Alhaji Shaibu Adamu a.k.a Aye-Marina, whom they sold the body parts to.
Moshood noted that Ibrahim has allegedly “used the proceeds of crime to build and own many properties, including big hotels and several filling stations in Kogi State, while Alhaji Adamu who is without any known profession or means of livelihood was suspected to have built mansions and four filling stations in Ankpa, and another four at Onyangede in Benue State with the proceeds of the crime.”
According to him, the suspects further confessed to the killings and removal of body parts of victims whose names they gave as James, Christopher, Mohammed, Small Case, Omu and one Inspector Abdul Alfa who was ambushed and axed to death in Ofu.
Some of the suspects confessed that they paid N500,000 for female organs and N300,000 for male organs by those that contracted them. The police have since charged the suspects before a Kogi Senior Magistrate Court in Lokoja.
Ibrahim, who was alleged to be one of the ‘contractors’, however said that he knew nothing about the said crime, adding that his ordeal was orchestrated by his political enemies. He is currently the All Progressives Congress’s (APC) House of Representatives candidate for Ankpa/Olamaboro/Omala constituency in the 2019 general election.
In the meantime, Ibrahim, Adamu and Ukubile had been granted bail by the court while the other suspects were still being remanded in police custody in Abuja. Hearing on the matter comes up at the Magistrate Court in Lokoja, on November 12.
The cases continue to pile up nationwide: On August 13, a suspected ritualist, Ganiyu Idowu, 62, confessed he connived with one Alfa Bamigbola Edun, to use his apprentice for money rituals. The two were paraded by the Ogun State Police Command alongside another accomplice, Matthew Odunewu, at the state police headquarters, Eleweran, Abeokuta for allegedly kidnapping Ganiyu Akanni for money rituals.
Idowu, a herbalist, said Edun asked him to provide one person for a ritual that would yield N11 million. But Edun denied the accusation, saying he only engaged the herbalist in a mutual exchange of knowledge.
The Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Iliyasu, said the suspects were arrested at the Ogun River bank in the act of preparing to slaughter the victim for a ritual. “On interrogation, they confessed that the polythene bags found with them were to be used to collect their respective shares of the victim’s body parts after killing him,” he said.
Lagos is also not left out: In August this year a ‘mentally deranged’ couple who resided under a bridge at Cele NICA bus stop, Ojo in Mile 2, Badagry Expressway were nabbed by detectives attached to Ijanikin Police Station of the Lagos State Command, who found them in possession of various human parts.
Another case is that of an Ilorin group of eight suspects allegedly responsible for kidnapping, murder, ritual killings and exhuming dead bodies. They were also said to have been removing and trading in human skulls and other human body parts in Ilorin, Kwara State by police spokesman DCP Moshood. He narrated that during a search operation, eleven human skulls, some pieces of human bones, human hair, and powder suspected to be ground human bones and charms were recovered.
Moshood said the suspects confessed and admitted to have sold 31 human heads to some personalities in Ilorin, other towns in Kwara State and neighbouring states.
Some locals spoke to Daily Trust Saturday, expressing fears that cases will only increase, as the general elections approach. “Some of them believe in arcane things, and subscribe to fetish activities,” one of them said. “They think ritual killings or severed human parts and organs will help them win elections, but they’re wrong. They’re just monsters, with a taste for human life,” he added, “And God will certainly visit his wrath on them.”