As I have repeatedly stated on this site, Nigeria is most likely the African country where most ritualistic murders are taking place, not in the least because with 200 million people the West African nation is Africa’s most populated country.
Security, or rather insecurity, is one of Nigeria’s biggest problems. Not a day passes without prominent politicians, ordinary citizens, civil society organizations and newspaper editors and journalists complaining about the present situation. The three main manifestations of insecurity, terrorism and the resulting fear relate to Boko Haram, kidnappings by bandits who demand ransoms for their hostages, and – unfortunately, also ritual murders, locally known as ‘money rituals’: killing, rather slaughtering, of innocent people by unscrupulous people who believe his will result in more power, prestige, wealth or a better health. Superstition based on greed and ignorance.
Notably the southern states are notorious for their ritualistic murders, but these days also the people in Taraba State, in North Eastern Nigeria, and in particular in the – with 120,000 inhabitants relatively small – state capital Jalingo, who live in fear following a wave of ritualistic murders and missing persons.
it is nearly impossible to include on this site all ritual murder cases which are brought to light in Nigeria. Over the last few months I have been confronted with tens of murder cases, in a large number of states, which I have not included on this site. I may present a summary in the near future.
For the time being I bring this particular case, in Taraba State, to your attention. It is noteworthy that there are over 40 different tribes and languages in Taraba State which all have a rich culture and history. After all, a friend who knows the country very well once described Nigeria to me as ‘a nice set of countries’.
If you wish to read more about Taraba State, which lies largely in the middle of Nigeria, please click this link. (webmaster FVDK).
Fear grips Jalingo residents as cases of missing persons rise
Fear has gripped residents of Jalingo following an increase of cases of missing persons which is linked to ritual killings.
Areas worse affected, according to sources, include roads leading to Jalingo main market, Karofi area to Baba Yau and ATC.
North East Trust’s finding revealed that incidents of missing persons started a few months ago and it worsened in September and October.
Dead bodies of some of those that got missing were found with part of their bodies removed while several others are yet to be found.
One of the victims, Sulei Musa Kantiyel, who resided at Jauro Boto in the Jalingo metropolis was said to have left his house at about 10 pm on September 15 and two days later his corpse was found on a maize farm along Mile Six Road with many parts of his body removed.
Another person, Husseini Maigari of Anguwan Baraya also got missing on September 17 and he is yet to be traced.
North East Trust also gathered that an elderly woman who disappeared between Jalingo main market to Kasuwan Yelwa is also yet to be found.
Similarly, the dead bodies of three persons including two women were said to have been found with parts of their bodies removed in two locations in Jalingo recently.
Further findings revealed that the children of one Ibrahim Maigini, who got missing from their house at Tudun Wada were lucky to be found alive at a military checkpoint on the outskirt of Jalingo.
Their father, lbrahim, told our reporter that he received a call from his wife that their children, aged 10 and 11, were missing.
He said it was at about 5 pm the photos of the two missing boys were posted at one of the checkpoints requesting for their parents to come and claim them.
It was learnt that the ritualists use tricycles and private cars to perpetrate their crime both during the day and night.
Some residents who spoke to our correspondent on the issue said nobody is safe in the town because the ritualists are targeting both children and the elderly and operating in many parts of the town.
One of the residents, Mallam Sani Saidu said security agents and the community should work closely to address the situation.
The state Chairman of Commercial Motorcycles Operators, Abdullahi Bello, told North East Trust that he was aware of the complaints that some of his members were being used by some of the criminals behind the missing persons.
He said the association has put in place measures to address the issue.
He said part of the measures include suspension of operations by all members at 9 pm and violators would be arrested and prosecuted.
The police spokesman, DSP Abdullahi Usman, said from his finding, the command has not received any case of missing persons within the metropolis.
“Rumors have it that there are series of such cases” the PPRO said.
Nigeria’s security problems have many faces. In the northeast of the country Boko Haram terrorizes the population and has disrupted ordinary, daily life. The exact number of victims of the jihadist terrorist organization which also operates in neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, can no longer be counted. It is estimated that since the beginning of the uprising, in 2002, between 25,000 and 30,000 people have been killed, over two million people have been displaced, and a countless number of children have been kidnapped – girls for sexual motives, boys to be forcibly recruited as soldier in the terrorist organization which originally started as a campaign against corrupt officials.
The seemingly perennial violent conflicts between herders and farmers in several states also have cost thousands of people their lives. Furthermore, a countless number of people have been abducted by kidnappers, bandits and cultists. Moreover, superstition and the greed for (more) power, prestige or success are at the origin of the notorious ‘money-rituals’ for which Nigeria is known and which is feared by virtually the entire population, not only in the southeastern states as my posting of January 30 could suggest. Last but not least, ‘ordinary’ criminal killings, manslaughter, murder and extrajudicial killings by security personnel add to the many security challenges which Nigeria is facing.
In the coming days and weeks I will elaborate on the ‘money-rituals’ and the criminal activities of cultists, herbalists, witchdoctors, and other perpetrators of heinous, criminal ritualistic acts. If a government wants to effectively fight and eradicate this ugly, partly traditional phenomenon it will have to take the overall (in)security situation of the country into consideration.
The author of the article reproduced here, Femi Falana, SAN, is a Human Rights Lawyer and a recipient of the prestigious Bernard Simmons Award of the International Bar Association. In his article he explains the violent clashes between herders and farmers, and provides a possible solution to their conflict which basically is a dispute over land. Although the topic of his article is beyond the main focus of the present website, the article is reproduced here in its entirety, not only for a well-deserved respect for the author but also for information reasons as well as to illustrate that for every problems there exists a solution (webmaster FVDK).
Violent Clashes Between Herders and Farmers: A Legal Panacea
Published: February 2, 2021 By: This Day, Nigeria – Femi Falana SAN
From 1999 to 2021, thousands of people have been brutally killed in herders/farmers’ clashes in several States of the Federation. The mindless killings have continued, due to official impunity and negligence which have led to the virtual collapse of the security architecture of the neocolonial State. Hundreds of other citizens have been abducted by gangs of kidnappers and bandits. While some of the abducted people were killed in gruesome circumstances, others were released after the payment of ransoms running into hundreds of millions of Naira by their family members. The hardened criminal elements, have subjected abducted women to sexual abuse. Over 100 school girls in captivity, have been forced to marry their abductors. In spite of the routine assurance of the security of life and property of every citizen, the Federal Government appears to have lost the monopoly of violence to the criminal gangs.
As a result of desert encroachment, the Fulani herders have been forced to seek fertile land for grazing of their cattle in the middle belt and southern parts of the country. Since the State has failed to address the challenge of desertification, the herders have continued to graze their cattle in the bush. In the process, they graze their cattle without regard to State laws and the rights of the farm owners. In struggling to survive on fertile land, the herders attack farmers who resist the invasion of their land. They attack farmers with AK 47 rifles, which have been acquired to protect cattle from rustlers. The violent clashes between herders and farmers have continued, due to the failure of successive governments to revive the ranches inherited from the regional governments of the First Republic, but which collapsed during years of the locusts under successive military regimes.
History of Ranching in Nigeria
The point that I am struggling to make is that, ranching is not a new phenomenon in the country. It is on record that the regimes of Ahmadu Bello, Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe established ranches in the Northern, Western and Eastern regions respectively. The Obudu Cattle Ranch which was the oldest in the country, was established in 1951 by a Scot, but was later taken over by the Eastern Regional Government. The Northern Regional Government established a ranch in Mokwa (Niger State). In the West, there were ranches in Iseyin (Oyo State), Oke Ako (Ekiti State) and Akunu (Ondo State).
Under the Yakubu Gowon regime (1966-1975) , the Kano State Government headed by Police Commissioner Audu Bako, established ranches in the State. All the ranches collapsed during the years of the locusts, under successive military juntas. The famous Obudu Cattle Ranch has since been turned to Obudu holiday resort.
In 2014, the Jonathan regime decided to establish ranches in the country. A team of young people were sponsored to learn animal husbandry in Botswana, while the sum of N100 billion was released to some State Governments to establish the ranches. In a recent probe, the House of Representatives confirmed that the money was diverted, as not a single ranch was established.
In 2016, the Buhari regime also opted for the establishment of ranches, in order to end the perennial violent conflicts between farmers and herders. About 55,000 hectares were acquired in 11 States, for the project. The Federal Government also announced its plan to disarm the herders, and other armed bandits. But, instead of establishing the ranches and disarming the herders, the Federal Government has handled the violent clashes between farmers and herdsmen rather lackadaisically. The sudden embrace of cattle colony or RUGA policy by the Federal Government, was suspected by many citizens as a design to take over and turn over land seized from farmers to herders.
Clashes and Kidnapping
Even though the dangerous policy has been dropped, the plan to establish ranches has equally been abandoned. In recent times, the clashes between herders and farmers has been compounded by many incidents of kidnapping that have been traced to some herders. Owing to the failure of the Federal Government to bring the situation under control, some people have reported to self help and jungle justice. The various State Governments have come up with policies such as enactment of anti-grazing laws, and compulsory registration of all herders and farmers operating in forest reserves. The Umar Ganduje administration, once invited displaced herders in Benue and Taraba States to Kano state.
Instead of adopting knee jerk reactions to the crisis, the Federal Government and State Governments should encourage the immediate establishment of ranches. Apart from ending clashes between herders and farmers, the policy will lead to large scale production of meat which will be distributed throughout the country, and possibly exported. Ranching is working in Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya and South Africa. It has worked before in Nigeria. It can work again. Let the Authorities move speedily to end the violent clashes between herders and farmers, without any further delay. Let the Authorities adopt proactive measures to end kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery and ritual murder, as well as extrajudicial killing by security agencies.
State Governments and Security Challenges
A few years ago, armed robbers launched violent attacks on banks in Lagos State. The criminals killed many bankers, customers and security personnel, and carted away millions of Naira. The then Babatunde Fashola administration, sought the permission of the Federal Government to purchase and import some modern security equipment and gadgets. As soon as the licence was granted by President Umaru Yar’adua, the Lagos State Government brought in the equipment and gave them to the State Police Command. Armed with such equipment, the Police succeeded in securing the banks and other commercial institutions in the State. Shortly thereafter, about 20 well armed members of the Boko Haram sect sneaked into the State and concluded plans to launch bombing attacks on people, religious centres and schools. The terrorists were arrested and detained under the Terrorism Act, a Federal offence. The State Government requested the Federal Government, to try the dangerous suspects.
When it became clear that the Federal Government was foot dragging over the matter, the Attorney-General of Lagos State applied for the fiat of the Attorney-General of the Federation to enable him to prosecute the terror suspects. As soon as the fiat was granted, the suspects were tried, convicted and jailed.
In another development, the State Government faced fresh security challenges when another set of criminal elements embarked on kidnapping school children and other innocent people. Again, with the acquisition of more sophisticated equipment by the Lagos State Government, the Police Command has frontally attacked the crisis and brought the situation under control. About three years ago, the Inspector-General of Police Monitoring Unit recently arrested a billionaire kidnap suspect, Mr. Chukwudimene Onwuamadike (a.k.a Evans). The suspect was alleged to have specialised in extorting millions of dollars and other foreign currencies, from victims of his criminal enterprise. At the end of the Police investigation, the Lagos State Government took over the matter and has since charged the suspect and his cohorts with armed robbery and kidnapping, before the Lagos high court.
Before then, the Ondo State Government had invoked its sovereign powers to deal with the challenge of insecurity. On September 21, 2015, Chief Olu Falae, a former Secretary to the Federal Government was kidnapped by a gang of kidnappers on his farm at Ago Abo in the outskirts of Akure, Ondo State. The criminals demanded a ransom of N100 million, for his release. President Muhammadu Buhari who was embarrassed by the report of the incident, directed the Inspector-General of Police to rescue Chief Falae without further delay. The Chief regained his freedom three days later, after the payment of an undisclosed ransom. The seven kidnap suspects (Abubakar Auta, Bello Jannu, Umaru Ibrahim, Masahudu Mohammed, Idris Lawal, Abdulkadir Umar and Babawo Kato) were arrested and paraded by the Police at Abuja, in the Federal Capital Territory.
As soon as the investigation was concluded by the Police Headquarters, the then Ondo State Government decided to take over the case in exercise its constitutional powers. Since the case had disclosed that the offence of kidnapping was committed in Ondo State, the then State Attorney-General, Mr. Tayo Jegede, SAN requested the Police to transfer the suspects to Akure, together with the case file and the exhibits recovered during the investigation of the case. As soon as the suspects were brought to Akure, they were charged with conspiracy and kidnapping before the Ondo State High Court. At the end of the marathon trial, the presiding Judge, the Honourable Justice Williams Olamide found the Defendants guilty as charged, convicted and sentenced them to life imprisonment.
No doubt, by prosecuting the dangerous kidnappers and armed robbers, both Attorneys-General of Lagos and Ondo States have demonstrated that State Governments are not encumbered from maintaining law and order in their areas of jurisdiction. It is my strong belief that it is the failure of other Attorneys-General to enforce relevant criminal and penal codes, that has led to a breakdown of law in several States of the Federation. Even though hundreds of suspects have been arrested in several parts of the country by the combined teams of Police and Army personnel for abducting several people including children, they have not been brought to book by the Attorneys-General of the affected States. Majority of critics who are not aware that it is the exclusive constitutional responsibility of State Attorneys-General to prosecute suspects indicted for the offences of kidnapping, armed robbery and culpable homicide, have continued to blame the Federal Government for not prosecuting herders who have been arrested by security agencies.
Welfare of the People
Since a country cannot be secured by a Government that is not prepared to attend to the welfare of the people, the Constitution has outlined the socioeconomic rights of the people and embodied them in Chapter two of the Constitution. The said socioeconomic rights are otherwise called, the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy. Even though the ruling class has made them not justiciable, the workers in alliance with other progressive civil society organisations have compelled the Government to enact a number of laws to promote the welfare of the people. But, the welfare laws have not been implemented due to alleged lack of ,funds in spite of the nation’s enormous wealth. On account of the failure of the Government to fund welfare programmes, Nigeria is said to have the largest number of poor people in the world.
The economic paradox has been fuelled by large scale looting of public funds, by the ruling class. Most of the problems at the root of insecurity in Nigeria, are traceable to the implementation of neoliberal policies imposed on the nation by imperialism. Over 25 million young people including university graduates, are in the unemployment market. In addition to that figure, there are over 10 million children of school age who are roaming the streets, which is said to be the highest figure in the world. Not unexpectedly, such street kids are easily recruited by terrorists, bandits and other criminal gangs to unleash mayhem on the people. The hijack of the recent #EndSARS protests by hoodlums and other criminal elements, has confirmed that the nation is sitting on a keg of gunpowder.
Since armed robbery, kidnapping and murder or culpable homicide are State offences, we have pointed out that State Governments ought to be blamed for failing to end impunity, by prosecuting the herders and other criminal suspects arrested and indicted for kidnapping and killing of innocent people. Instead of engaging in ethnic profiling, concerned citizens should be organised to prevail on the Federal and State Governments to discharge their constitutional duty of protecting the life and property of every citizen. The Governments should also be compelled to put an end to the perennial violent conflicts between farmers and herders, which have needlessly claimed many lives and the destruction of properties worth several billions of Naira in many States of the Federation. As a matter of urgency, herders and bandits should be disarmed by the Federal Government. Having embraced ranching as a permanent solution to the clashes between herders and farmers, the Federal Government and State Governments should proceed to establish ranches in a number of States.
Femi Falana, SAN, Human Rights Lawyer, recipient of the prestigious Bernard Simmons Award of the International Bar Association
Yesterday a posted an article entitled ‘Curbing the menace of ritual killings in the southwestern states‘. Appropriate as it was to draw the attention of our readers to this worrisome and frightening situation, it nevertheless seems useful to paint a more general picture of the security situation in Sub-Saharan Africa’s most populous country.
Everyday Nigerians are facing an extremely dangerous situation consisting of political and criminal violence, ritual murders (‘money-rituals’), abductions, kidnappings, ransom cases, by terrorists, bandits, political thugs, ritual killers, cultists, criminals, and traditional herdsmen. A personal experience in this respect may illustrate the foregoing.
A couple of years ago I visited Nigeria for professional reasons. My employer, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, had made the use of a special, armored car mandatory for government officials when traveling in Abuja or the rural areas. The only other countries with a similar precaution and obligation were Iraq and Afghanistan. No wonder, that last year the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) ranked Nigeria the third most dangerous county on earth, after Afghanistan and Iraq.
Therefore, I consider it useful to get to know the observations and warnings of Dr. Ona Ekhomu, a well-known Nigerian security expert, when reading about and analyzing ritual murders in the Nigeria. As repeatedly said before, Nigeria ranks number One with respect to ritual murders in Africa, but this should nevertheless be judged against the background of an alarming security situation in general (webmaster FVDK).
Insecurity: Government must keep its end in this social contract, says Security expert, Dr. Ona Ekhomu
Published: January 2, 2021 By: The Guardian News, Nigeria
I REALISTICALLY expect the security situation in Nigeria to worsen this year. Given that the national and sub-national governments have not taken the time to understand the scope of threat and risk spectrum, there is no serious effort to resolve the security conundrum.
The authorities have continued to rely on intuitive thinking in a situation that requires critical thinking and complex problem-structuring and problem-solving methodologies.
Therefore, the security situation will worsen because a wound that is not treated becomes an ulcer. In research design, we say that past is prologue to the future. So, what is the evidence of insecurity in Nigeria? Amnesty International recently published that in the first six months of last year, over 1,126 persons were killed mostly in the rural areas where “the authorities have left communities at the mercy of rampaging gunmen.”
According to Dataphyte Nigeria, over 70,000 Nigerians have been killed in the last nine years in acts of criminal violence. The Boko Haram/ISWAP insurgency has killed over 37,500 persons, displaced 2.5 million and created 244,000 refugees. In the first quarter of 2019, Nigeria recorded over 685 kidnap for ransom cases.
Clearly, this statistic will pale into insignificance when you consider 4th quarter of last year, where in one fell swoop, over 344 students were abducted in Kankara, Katsina State.
In December alone, about 26 travelers were seized by bandits along Benin-Auchi road and marched into the forest at Igieduma in Edo State. The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad III, at the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council meeting in Abuja in November last year, warned that the security situation in northern Nigeria had gotten out of hand and bandits (terrorists) had overrun the region.
He said in some parts of the north, bandits walk around openly carrying AK47 rifles without being challenged by security agents. The Sultan revealed that 76 persons were killed in a Sokoto community, yet it went unreported. The frequency of kidnappings, killings, murders had become high that it was not news worthy anymore.
The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) for last year ranked Nigeria the third most terrorism impacted nation on earth. With this ranking, Nigeria is rubbing shoulders with Afghanistan and Iraq.
The security scorecard for Nigeria last year is very poor. Government performed below expectation in its most important duty of keeping citizens safe, as kidnappers, bandits, killer herdsmen, cultists, ritual killers and political thugs had a field day at the expense of citizens.
The Northwest terrorism (euphemistically referred to as banditry) intensified with several communities in Zamfara, Katsina, Niger, Kaduna and Sokoto states deserted due to incessant attacks and wanton killings and kidnappings by the aggressors. The so-called bandits have resorted to levying farmers millions of naira to harvest their farms. The situation in the Northwest is likely to trigger a food crisis in Nigeria this year.
In the Northeast region, Boko Haram/ISWAP insurgency continued to flourish, with terrorists attacking targets at will and shedding blood of innocent citizens without compunction.
The chief driver of insecurity in Nigeria is the incapacity of security agencies to prevent attacks against soft targets. The philosophy of the security agencies is to take casualties and then counter-attack.
The agencies are supposed to design an architecture that will prevent attacks in the first place. However, due to severe resource constraints and leadership factors, they adopt the counter-punch strategy. In other words, the authorities are adopting a law enforcement approach to a terrorist threat.
In dealing with terrorism, the best approach is prevention and disruption of plots. Any time a terrorist attack occurs, the effects are devastating. Every incident of terror (mass kidnap of travelers, mass abduction of school children, suicide bombing, roadside bombing, attack on traditional rulers on the highway, brutal rape of female travelers, killing of farmers in the bush, even cannibalism by killer herdsmen, etc.) is a statement of grave insecurity.
Many Nigerians avoid road travels because of fear of terrorist attacks along the Kaduna-Abuja highway, Lokoja-Okene highway or Benin-Auchi highway. These are killing fields where bandits emerge from the foliage and open fire on total strangers, not a targeted attack to rob them and then kidnap the survivors of the initial attack for ransom. Those unable to pay ransom are liable to be executed. In some instances, ransom is paid and the victim is killed.
The unfortunate trends in insecurity will continue and probably be exacerbated. What are the trends? There would be an increase in highway kidnappings. It is a low risk and high yield venture that government does not seem willing to confront head on.
There would be an intensification of Northwest banditry, as the vast landscape is largely ungoverned. A situation where bandits could hide 344 students in Rugu Forest is unfortunate.
The Northeast insurgency is likely to intensify. The new leadership of ISWAP is quite bloodthirsty and would continue to tax communities and kill persons without justification.
Attacks on Army Supercamps by ISWAP will continue. Having succeeded in overrunning military bases and posts, the terrorists would take on the more hardened targets, like Supercamps.
Ansaru terrorist attacks would multiply and flourish in Kaduna and Kogi states. These terrorists are likely to infiltrate south into Edo and Delta states. Security planners in those South-South states are urged to be forward thinking.
The epidemic of terrorist violence would continue with piracy and illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta region. The IPOB agitators would continue to attack Police personnel and soft targets in the Southeast.
Cult violence would continue to claim lives in Edo, Delta, Rivers and Cross River states. Ritual killings would continue to flourish in the Southwest states.