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

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

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

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

Published: November 8, 2019
By:  Ejiro Umukoro

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

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

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

Two suspects: Emudiaga and Desmond 

Getting a Victim – The Kidnapping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of the victims: Elozino

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

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

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

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

Four suspects: Uche, Onoriode, Desmond and Obajero

ON MISSING GIRLS

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

The late Elozino-Ogege 

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

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

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

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

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

THE SCAM

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

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

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

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

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

Yahoo Plus Boys Onoriode and Desmond     

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

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

Q: Were you in business before?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are doing the yahoo yahoo.

Q: Where exactly in Ghana?

Kasoa.

Q: How long were you there for?

I was there like 8 months.

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

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

Q: Describe this your yahoo business for me.

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

Q: So you target women?

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll be chatting.

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

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

Q: What language do you speak to these women?

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

Q: When did you start Yahoo business?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: How does she send the money to you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What do you do with this money? 

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

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

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

Q: Why did you leave Ghana?

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

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

There was no money.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YES.

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

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

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

ONORIODE’S CONFESSION:

Q: How Old are you?

23 years

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

6 months. Sometime in May. Before June.

Q: Before this time, what were you doing?

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

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

Auxiliary

Q: What was your job in the hospital?

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

Q: Why did you want to learn about drugs?

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

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

2 years.

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

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

Q: What year did you learn all these?

2015 to 2018.

Q: So before 2015 what were you doing?

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

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

I was farming in Abraka.

Q: What kind of farming were you into?

Cassava farming.

Q: Was it your land or you rented it?

Family land

Q: How was the business back then?

It was okay.

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

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

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

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

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

I no get helper.

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

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

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

Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What is the friend’s name? 

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

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

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

Q: Are you a cult member? 

No.

Q: Who bailed you out from prison? 

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

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

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

Q: So when exactly did they recruit you?

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

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

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

Q: What do you mean by stroll together?

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

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

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

Q: Do you drug the drinks the girls take?

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

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

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

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

5.

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

Sometimes I get N50,000 or N100,000

The next question is directed to Desmond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes.

Q: What did you do with the money?

I used it to buy shoes and clothes.

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

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

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

Nobody.

Q: Not even your mother?

NO.

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

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

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

NO.

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

I use it to patch up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nods his head in the affirmative.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ONOS: No he’s not as rich.

Q: Where does the herbalist live?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What’s the supervisor’s name?

ONORIODE: Supervisor’s name is Uche Benedict Nwosisi

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

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

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

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

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

ONOS: e no bring money for me.

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

ONOS: No sense

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

AWKWARD SILENCE

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

DESMOND and ONORIODE: I don’t know.

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

DESMOND: Imprisonment.

Q: Is that the only thing you deserve? 

SILENCE

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

LIFE imprisonment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me, my friend and two other guys from Nigeria.

Q: Where in Ghana were you living? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nigeria: ritual killings of women in hotels in Port Harcourt?

Freedom from fear.

Ritualistic murders and alleged ritual killings are not only a violation of the law. They scare people. In many sub-Saharan African countries people fear what might never happen, but their fear is real. Too often they hear of children and adults who disappeared only to be found back ‘with several parts missing’. Reporting on alleged or real ritual murders is erratic. Not all cases are reported and very often we don’t hear what happened to the victims and their families – and the perpetrators. Even when caught and arrested, its is relatively rare to read reports about their trial, and subsequent sentencing when found guilty.

In Port Harcourt. Rivers State, Nigeria, a group of women took to the streets and demanded more protection of women and urged the police to take more measures to stop the recent wave of alleged ritualistic murders by one or more serial killers.
(webmaster FVDK)

PS Read my September 21, 2019 posting for further developments. 

Published: September 14, 2019
By: The Sun (Nigeria)

Irked by the ugly pattern of supposed ritual killings of women in hotels in Port Harcourt, a body known as Rivers Female Youths yesterday, on a protest, took their grievance to the state police command, demanding stronger measures to protect women. The youths, who displayed placards with different inscriptions, decried what they see as the deliberate targeting of women by suspected serial killers operating in the state.  Some of the placards read: “Hotel owners must be accountable and be responsible for their guests”, “She could be your sister, daughter, wife or friend” and “There is no life without women.”

Convener of the protest, Soibi Ibibo Jack, said that the female youths were at the state police command to demand stronger measures by the police to apprehend the killers. She said once apprehended, the killer must be made to face the full weight of the law, irrespective of his/her political or social status.

“There is a serial killer on the loose in Rivers State,” she insists. “We want to go out and return home without fear. We acknowledge the police for what they are doing, but we urge them to do more so that the killer is arrested, tried and made to face the full weight of the law.”

In her remarks, a protester, Cecilia Dikibo, urged the police to deploy more resources to ensure the safety of women in Port Harcourt. Also speaking, Peace Pepple from Opobo-Nkoro added that as the police works to secure women, there is the need for everyone to be careful. Bidemi Edward-Odoi suggested that the arrest and strict interrogation of affected hotel managers would help to compel others to take the security of their hotels seriously.

Source: Rivers female youths protest killing of women in hotels

“Traditional medicine, not body parts, is the way to go” (South Africa)

A refreshing sound. An honest voice. Though Dr Mbaimbai Hlathi was speaking on the theme of the day, which was ‘Traditional Medicine is the Answer’, his speech was more than a plea for traditional medicine. It also was a speech against age-old practices such as human sacrifices and muti killings – muti murders!

There is no place in a modern society for muti murders. Using traditional medicine means killing two birds with one stone: ending cruel practices such as muti murders which constitute serious human rights violations and preserving indigenous plants at the same time (webmaster FVDK).

Dr Mbaimbai Hlathi (right) leads guests and traditional healers during the ceremony.

Published: September 9, 2019
By: Elmon Tshikhudo – ZoutNet

A well-known traditional healer and president of the SADC Unified Ancestors Practitioners Associations, Dr Mbaimbai Hlathi, has called on traditional healers “not to tarnish their God-given skills of healing people with the use of herbs by using human body parts”.

Hlathi, who made a name for himself by helping many barren people have children, was speaking during a function to celebrate traditional medicine. The event took place on Saturday at the Giyani Stadium and was attended by many traditional healers from around the country, officials from the Kruger National Park, government officials and many community members.

The theme of the day was Traditional Medicine is the Answer.

In an interview, Hlathi said that celebrating and preserving traditional medicine as it had been used by communities for decades as an effective treatment was important. He further indicated that traditional healers should stick to their traditions and desist from killing people for ritual purposes.

“Our gods gave us a whole land for herbs that are used to cure the different diseases. Why should we go out and kill others for their body parts? We are saying it here that those who use body parts are not part of us. They are fake healers who are tarnishing our noble profession of healing people.”

He described them as “fly-by-nights” and said that they should be exposed and punished by the law. “Ours is the task to heal people and not to kill others in order to heal,” he said.

Hlathi urged traditional practitioners to take an effective part in preserving indigenous plants. He called on traditional practitioners to help save the rhino by not working with criminals, giving criminals muti to go and kill rhinos and committing any other crimes in communities.

Source: Traditional medicine, not body parts, is the way to go

IBAHRI denounces death sentence delivered against three in Malawi

Reference is made to a recent court decision to sentence three individuals to death for killing and dismembering a person with albinism in August 2015. See my August 20, 2019 posting for more details (‘Malawi judge sentences three to death for albinism murder.‘) According to research carried out by the Cornell Law School, Malawi operates a moratorium on the death penalty and last carried out an execution in 1992 (webmaster FVDK).

A man was sentenced to death in Malawi for killing an albino teenager

Published: August 23, 2019
By: Our reporter (The Maravi Post)

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) is deeply concerned about the recent decision in Malawi to sentence three individuals to death for killing and dismembering a person with albinism in August 2015. The IBAHRI fully supports the enjoyment of all rights by persons with albinism and recognises the challenges Malawi is facing in curbing the heinous attacks against persons with albinism. Despite this, the IBAHRI maintains that the death penalty is not the solution to preventing such odious crimes and goes against the international trend towards its abolition.

IBAHRI Co-Chair, the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, commented: ‘To stop the commission of crimes against human rights, penalties that violate the same fundamental rights cannot be imposed. Attacks against persons with albinism must end, but the punishment that the perpetrators should face must respect international human rights law. We exhort the Malawi government to revise this judgement.’

On Tuesday 14 August 2019, at the High Court in the Mchinji district, Central Malawi, Judge Esmey Chombo passed death sentences on three individuals: Douglas Mwale, Sophie Jere and Fontino Folosani – who were found guilty of murdering and mutilating Priscott Pepuzani, who had albinism, in August 2015. In her ruling, Judge Chombo said the death sentences would send a strong message to other would-be offenders and put an end to such malpractices.

Since 1992, Malawi has had a moratorium on the death penalty, and the mandatory death penalty for murder was eliminated in 2007. African regional standards established by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, including General Comment No.3 on the right to life, Resolutions 42 and 136, as well as the Cotonou Declaration on the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Africa , call on State Parties to move towards the abolition of the death penalty. Nevertheless, this is not the first time in recent years that the death penalty has been imposed for this kind of crime. In May 2019, Willard Mikaele was sentenced to death for the murder of Mphatso Pensulo, another person with albinism.

In the denunciation of this recent judgement, the IBAHRI reiterates its recognition of the difficult situation for people with albinism, which is particularly worrying in Malawi and other countries of the region due to frequent ritual killings and trading of body parts. In its 2018 report ‘Waiting to disappear’ International and Regional Standards for the Protection of the Human Rights of Persons with Albinism , the IBAHRI suggests that the legal protection of the rights of persons with albinism needs to be dramatically improved.

The IBAHRI condemns all attacks against persons with albinism and the violation of their rights, but believes that the imposition of the death penalty infringes the universally guaranteed right to life and amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, contrary to both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

IBAHRI Co-Chair, Anne Ramberg Dr jur hc, stated: ‘The death penalty is amongst the worst of human rights violations, where the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment are completely ignored. The decision to resort to the death penalty is incompatible with a country that supports the rule of law and good governance.’

In 2008, the IBAHRI Council passed a resolution stating: ‘the Human Rights Institute shall in the future actively promote the abolition of the death penalty’.

Source: IBAHRI denounces death sentence delivered against three in Malawi

Sierra Leone: Albinism Awareness Day celebrations

This posting is NOT about ritual killings of people with albinism in Sierra Leone. It contains a public lecture by Rashid Dumbuya on the occasion of Albinism Awareness Day celebrations in this West Africa Country. However, also in Sierra Leone people with albinism face discrimination and barriers that limit their full participation in society on an equal basis with others.

In Sierra Leone, people with albinism are considered people with disabilities. Rashid Dumbuya concludes his public lecture with a number of recommendations to improve the position of people with albinism in Sierra Leone. (webmaster FVDK)

The picture presented here is not related to the article  below on people living with albinism in Sierra Leone

Published: June 19, 2019
By: The Patriotic Vanguard (Sierra Leone)

Albinism Awareness Day Celebrations in Sierra Leone

Public lecture by Rashid Dumbuya Esq

Them: Still standing strong; realizing the rights of Persons with Albinism in Sierra Leone.

General introduction

Due to the immense challenges that were being faced by persons with albinism coupled with the increased momentum and outcry for their protection across the world, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in 2013 (A/HRC/RES/23/13) calling for the prevention of attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism around the world.

Consequently, on the 18th December 2014, the United Nations General Assembly heeded to the call and adopted Resolution 69/170 proclaiming 13th June as International Albinism Awareness Day.

Following this Resolution, the UN Human Rights Council on the 26 of March 2015 in resolution 28/6 established the mandate of the Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism.

The work of the Independent Expert among many other things as provided in its mandate is to engage in dialogue and consult with States and other relevant stakeholders; to identify, exchange and promote good practices relating to the realization of the rights of persons with albinism and their participation as equal members of society; to promote and report on developments, challenges and obstacles relating to the realization of the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism and to make recommendations in that regard to the Human Rights Council.

On 3 July 2015, the Human Rights Council appointed Ms. Ero of Nigeria as the first mandate holder and Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism.

She assumed her duties on 1st August 2015 and in January 2016, she submitted her first report on Albinism to the UN Human Rights Council.

STILL STANDING STRONG has been chosen as the international theme for this year’s International Albinism Awareness Day Celebrations.

The theme is a call to recognize, celebrate and stand in solidarity with persons with Albinism around the world, to support their cause, their accomplishments as well as their challenges and to promote and protect their fundamental human rights.

LEGAL LINK is therefore proud to have associated and collaborated with the Sierra Leone Association of Persons with Albinism in commemorating this historic and symbolic day here today in Sierra Leone.

But why does the UN mark international days like this?

International days have been embraced by the UN because it affords an occasion to educate the world on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems; and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity.

They also serve as powerful advocacy tool to draw attention and make strong case for reforms.

What is Albinism?

Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition that affects people worldwide regardless of ethnicity or gender.

It results from a significant deficit in the production of melanin and is characterized by the partial or complete absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. In order for a person to be affected by albinism, both parents must carry the gene and, in that case, there is a 25per cent chance that a child will be born with albinism at each pregnancy.

What are the prevailing statistics on Albinism across the world?

The proportion of persons affected by albinism in the world differs from region to region.

In North America and Europe, it is estimated that 1 in 17,000 to 20,000 people are affected by the condition, while in sub-Saharan Africa,1 in 5,000 to 15,000 could be affected, with specific countries having a much higher tendency, including estimated rates of 1 in 1,400, and about 1 in 20 persons in the general population carrying the gene for albinism.

Other studies suggest that in specific groups in Panama or in the Pacific region, the rate of people affected could be as high as 1 in 70 to 1 in 125.13.

However, in Sierra Leone, a report done by OSIWA in 2018 puts the statistics at a little over 500 people affected by albinism.

What are the different types of albinism?

Albinism is of different types. The most common and visible type is oculocutaneous albinism (OCA), which affects the skin, the hair and the eyes.

Within this type, there are subtypes, which reflect varying degrees of melanin pigment deficiency in an individual.

The main subtypes of OCA are tyrosinase negative albinism (OCA1) and tyrosinase positive albinism (OCA2).

In OCA1, there is little or no production of melanin and it is often characterized by white hair and opaque or transparent irises.

In OCA2, which is more prevalent particularly in African countries, some melanin is produced and it is characterized by yellow-blonde or sandy-coloured hair and grey to light brown irises.

A less common form of albinism is ocular albinism which affects the eyes alone, while albinism accompanied by Hermansky-Pudlak syndromeis is another less common form, which is characterized by bleeding disorders, bowel (colitis) and lung diseases.

*What are the legal frameworks protecting the rights of persons with albinism?*

At the International level: 

  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political RightsUnited Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism.

All of the above international frameworks promotes equality and non-discrimination.

At the African regional level:

  • The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights
  • The Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa
  • Resolution by the Pan African Parliament to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of attacks on persons with Albinism

At the domestic level:

  • The 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone – (talks about protection from discrimination)
  • The Sierra Leone Disability Act of 2011.- (classify them generally as PWD’s)
  • The National Commission for Persons with Disabilities
  • The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone -(promote and protect their rights)
  • Sierra Leone Association for persons with Albinism- (umbrella body in SL)

Challenges and areas of concern

Persons with albinism face discrimination and barriers that restrict their participation in society on an equal basis with others every day.

Due to those many challenges, persons with albinism throughout the world are unable to enjoy the full range of human rights and the same standards of equality, rights and dignity as others.

While some of those challenges are global, others have predominantly been identified in certain regions.

In the Independent Expert’s report of 2016, some of the challenges identified include human rights violations such as attacks, desecration of graves, trafficking of body parts, displacement, discrimination against persons with albinism, as well as human rights violations based on disabilities, deprivation of the right to the highest attainable standard of health and the right to education.

1. Witchcraft and related offences

It has been widely reported and documented that persons with albinism are hunted and physically attacked due to prevailing myths such as the misbelief that their body parts, when used in witchcraft rituals and potions or amulets, will induce wealth, good luck and political success.

Other dangerous myths that facilitate the perpetration of attacks are those linked to perceptions of their appearance, including misbeliefs and myths that persons with albinism are not human beings, but ghosts, that they are subhuman and that they do not die, but disappear.

An increase of those attacks, referred to as “ritual attacks”, has been reported by to have been high in Africa especially during periods of political elections.

2. Brutal and deadly nature of the Attacks on PWA’s

In Africa, it is reported that, attacks directed at persons with albinism are usually carried out with machetes, resulting in severe mutilation or death.

In most cases, the persons attacked are dismembered; body parts such as fingers, arms, legs, eyes, genitals, skin, bones, the head and hair have been severed from the body and taken. In several of those cases, body parts have been hacked off while the person was alive.

Reportedly, there is a corollary witchcraft belief that it is preferable to harvest body parts from live victims because screams increase the potency of the potion for which the parts are used.

Since 2007, civil society organizations have reported hundreds of attacks against persons with albinism in 25 countries.

All of those physical attacks appear to be, at least in part, related to the erroneous beliefs and myths linked to witchcraft practices.

3. Lucrative Trade and markets for the body parts of persons with albinism.*

It has been reported that there is a market for body parts of persons with albinism. The body parts are reportedly sold both locally and across borders.

The prices of body parts reportedly range from $2,000 for a limb to $75,000 for a “complete set” or a corpse. Civil society reports indicate that, motivated by those prices, family members and communities have sold, or attempted to sell, persons with albinism, thereby fuelling the supply side of this macabre trade.

Recent cases of body-parts trafficking that were brought to the attention of the Independent Expert by civil society include cases where law enforcement agencies acted promptly and were able to prevent the sale and save the persons with albinism involved.

In a few other cases, however, the body parts were harvested and have still not been recovered.

4. Forced migration

Attacks against persons with albinism in some areas have caused hundreds of persons, particularly women and children, to flee their homes and seek refuge in temporary shelters.

Most of these shelters were neither designed nor prepared for an influx of persons with albinism, and are also not equipped to address the special needs of persons with albinism. Reports show that inhabitants with albinism are exposed to early skin cancer risk and various forms of abuse.

5. Discrimination and stigmatization

One of the main barriers to the implementation of the human rights of persons with albinism is discrimination and stigmatization, both of which are historically and culturally entrenched. Information on discrimination against persons with albinism is a common reality around the world. However, the expression and severity of the discrimination faced by persons with albinism vary from region to region.

In sub Saharan Africa in particular, bullying of school-age children owing to their appearance is on the increase.

Also, discrimination takes more extreme forms, including infanticide, physical threats and attacks.

Lack of information on the condition facilitates the spread of myths to explain albinism, most of which are erroneous and in some cases dangerous, including myths that people with albinism are ghosts or the result of conception during menstruation or the result of a general curse.

Challenges faced by persons with albinism in Sierra Leone

Though not severe and deadly like those encountered in East and Southern parts of Africa, Persons with Albinism (PWA) in Sierra Leone also face huge challenges in the realization of their rights.

Firstly, they have been largely excluded and sometimes forgotten by government, civil society, donors and development partners in the democratic and governance agenda of the country. Issues affecting them have generally gone unnoticed and has resulted to deep engraved stigma, exclusion, discrimination and sometimes violence against them.

Furthermore, they have little or no voice compared to other marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities, children and women.

Also, there is little activism on the part of civil society as well people living with the condition to advocate for the promotion and protection of their rights and wellbeing which may be a consequence of lack of knowledge and understanding and/or interest.

Other challenges include access to justice, education, health, employment and even political representation in the democratic governance architecture of the country.

More negative still, the lack of effective, functional and genuine bodies, organizations or CSO’s in Sierra Leone to help advocate on the rights of PWA’s has also left them vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous persons and organizations.

Finally, the challenges encountered by Persons with Albinism in Sierra Leone could be best summarized in the words of the Founder and Executive Director of Sierra Leone Association for Persons with Albinism, Mohamed Osman Kamara aka Jay Marvel, as posted on their Facebook page.

*‘’We Demand Action to be taken Now! We Crying Since Yesterday Night…… About the Demise Of Mahid Jalloh, Who Was Also Admitted At Connaught For Skin Cancer With The Late Ruth. He Was Transfered To The Shepherd Hospital At Tombo. There He Passed Away On The 23rd At Around 12:00pm. We Are Calling On the Sierra Leone Government, And All Organizations Around the World… Skin Cancer Is Killing Us. These Are Just The Two ( 2) Known Cases.. Who Knows How Many Persons With Albinism Are Dying From Skin Cancer In The Country? , Because We Lack Proper Health Care. This is a Serious National Issue. Every Citizen Should Be Concerned and Try in His or Her Own Way.!!! Ministry Of Health, National Commission For Persons With Disability, Ministry Of Social Welfare Children and Gender Affairs etc YOU SHOULD TAKE THE LEAD IN THIS CASE! Rest In Peace Our Beloved Brother! We Love You Both and Pray the Government Puts An End To Skin Cancer Affecting Persons With Albinism In Sierra Leone.!’’*

Recommendations

From the above points raised, it stands to reason that human right abuses and violations of the rights of persons with albinism is still commonplace in Sierra Leone.

*LEGAL LINK* therefore joins the Sierra Leone Association for Persons with Albinism in calling on the government of Sierra Leone to adopt and implement the Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa as well as the newly adopted resolution by the Pan African Parliament to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of attacks on persons with albinism and further ensure effective education and awareness training on the human rights of people with albinism.
Also, we call on the government and Parliament of the Republic of Sierra Leone to pass a specific law that will adequately protect the rights of albinism in the country.

Furthermore, we call on the government to ensure that victims and members of their families have access to appropriate remedies.

More significantly, we call on the government, the human rights commission, the National Commission for persons with disabilities and other civil societies organizations with human rights mandate to increase education and public awareness-raising activities on the rights of persons with albinism so as to deconstruct stereotypes and existing myths.

We further call on government to ensure that PWA’s are not discriminated in schools and are provided with scholarship support to pursue their education to the highest of levels. Free healthcare for PWA’s must also be guaranteed so as to help address the problem of skin cancer.

The Government of Sierra Leone should also ensure that PWA’s are included in the three arms of government as well as the public service and other sectors crucial for the running of the affairs of the state. This will help to de- mystify myths and erroneous beliefs about PWA’s not being human.

Finally, inclusion of information on the situation of persons with albinism in reports submitted by the Government of Sierra Leone to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights under article 62 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and also to the UN Human Rights Council under the UPR, is good practice in the protecting and promoting of the rights of persons with albinism.

Conclusion

Persons with Albinism have faced and continue to face, ongoing hurdles and challenges that seriously undermine their enjoyment of fundamental human rights in Sierra Leone and the world at large. From stigma and discrimination, to barriers of access to health and education as well as marginalization from socio-political and democratic institutions in the country.

In addition, PWA’s have also become subjects of attacks for ritual killings and political power in many parts of Africa.

But despite all of these challenges, PWA’S have remained undaunted and are STILL STNDING STRONG!
WE CAN DO BETTER FOR THEM BY ACCEPTING THEM AS HUMAN BEINGS THAT DESERVES TO LIVE, ENJOY EQUAL RIGHTS, DIGNITY AND RESPECT WITH US!

Thank You

Rashid Dumbuya ESQ

Executive Director – LEGAL LEGAL LINK

Christian Lawyers Centre (a.k.a LEGAL LINK) is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of Sierra Leone as a non-profit legal advocacy group comprising of lawyers, law students and human right activists that seeks to provide legal assistance to religious communities and vulnerable groups in Sierra Leone through legal advocacy, public interest litigations, state and private sector accountability, enforcement of the rule of law and respect for domestic and international laws that guarantee fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Source: Sierra Leone: Albinism Awareness Day celebrations

Opinion: Insecurity in Ondo state, Nigeria

In this features article, Legit.ng’s regional reporter in Akure, Oluwadamilare Moriyeke, writes on how tackling insecurity in Ondo state is becoming more difficult for the security agencies.

I have earlier reported on the growing insecurity situation in Ondo state, notably the alarming increase in number of ritualistic killings. See my posts dated April 19, 23, 28, 29 and May 2 of the current year.
The cases mentioned below are no new cases, but the purpose of this post is to demonstrate the growing uneasiness (read: fear) of the population of Ondo state. One of the unalienable human rights is the right to be without fear. It is an obligation of the state to protect its citizens and to guarantee a peaceful life. To realize this, the rule of law is indispensable. 
(webmaster FVDK)

Opinion: Insecurity in Ondo State

Published: May 15, 2019
By: Wale Akinola – NAIJ.com 

(….)
But now, it is more pronounced in gruesome murder, arson and abduction for ritual purposes as the state records nothing less than five incidents within the past five weeks.

In Ondo city, the headquarters of Ondo west local government, a 62-year old woman with hunchback, Ibironke Abodunde, was reportedly abducted by some gunmen and all efforts to find her were to no avail. There were rumours that her son sold the mother to ritualists for N7 million but there arose a heated argument between the ritualists and the said son, who was asked to return the money after the purpose for her hunchback failed. According to report, they threatened to kill him if he did not refund their money and he too insisted that they should return his mother, who was kidnapped while selling fish, before they could get their money. However, the first child of the woman out of two, Monsurat, refuted the report and revealed that their mother did not have any son, adding that the only male child by the woman died at infancy some months after birth. Nonetheless, a source within the family pointed out that the son might be mistaken for one of her tenant, who is a herbalist and had disappeared since the incident happened.

Without leaving the vulnerable group, a septuagenarian mother of five, Medinat Ala, was killed at her residence by suspected ritualists, who removed her womb, vag.ina and brea.sts at Okeagbe area of Ikare, the headquarters of Akoko north east council. The landlady, Ala, was attacked in the wee hours of the day and clubbed to death with pestle before they removed those vital organs from her body. It was learnt that a neighbour who wanted to rescue her was attacked too and later died in the hospital. According to sources, one of the tenants, Moses Olaniyi, is now in the police net as prime suspect to the crime, while the youths and community leaders are on the watch to stop a re-occurrence as there were two cases of such incidents in recent past.

Similarly, a 80-year old Mrs. Kajosla Mogaji, was also killed under same gruesome circumstance as her head was battered and found dead in a pool of blood the next morning.
(….)

Source: Opinion: Insecurity in Ondo and concept of ‘Abiku’ by Oluwadamilare Moriyeke

Mozambique – Events of 2017 (Human Rights Watch)

Pedro Francisco César continua à espera de notícias sobre o rapto do seu irmão /
Pedro Francisco César still hopes to get news about the kidnapping of his brother four years ago 

Published: 2018
By: Human Rights Watch

Attacks on Children and Adults with Albinism

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.

Source: Mozambique – Events of 2017 (Human Rights Watch)

Political map of Mozambique

Nigeria: Yahoo ritualists narrate how they killed DELSU first-class student Elozino Ogege

Published: November 29, 2018
by: Motolani Alake

Warning: You are about to read graphic details of the ritual killing of Elozino Ogege

Elozino Ogege
She approached them that she was looking for a house and they exploited her.

A few weeks ago, Pulse reported the death of Elozino Joshualia Ogege, a 300 Level First Class student of Mass Communication at Delta State University, after she was missing for two days. It was one of the many bad news emanating from DELSU over the past few weeks. 

When her body was found, her tongue and breasts were missing. Upon a search, it was revealed that two yahoo boys and a security guard had been arrested as suspects to her death. Today, the suspects, chief of whom is Onosa security guard have confessed to killing Ogege in graphic details.

According to Punch Metro Onos narrated, “I was contacted by Desmond (one of the Yahoo boys) and another to provide a female student for Yahoo ritual.

“So when Elozino approached me that she was looking for accommodation, I saw it as a good opportunity. I contacted Desmond who told me to tell her to come back the next day. So the next day, they brought a Toyota Corolla car; and when Elozino came, they used something on her face which made her unconscious.

“We took her to a bush where we first plucked out one of her eyes while she was still alive. She was even crying and begging us to forgive her and let her go, but we plucked the other eye, removed her breast and heart before she died.”

Onos also implicated one Uche Nwaosisi, his supervisor whom he revealed posted him to DELSU to carry out ritual killings like this. While Onos claims this is the fifth killing they have jointly perpetrated, he insisted that Ogege was the first killing around DELSU and Abraka. The first four victims were abducted at Oghara, Delta State, according to Onos.

Nwaosisi, employed by a security company attached to the DELSU, denied all the allegations.

Onos adds, “Each time we kill, we remove the vital organs and take to the herbalist Robinson, who usually would ask us to come back. Robinson used to burn the heart and pound it to make powder substance out of it. It is the powder that he gives us, which we apply before speaking to our victims to make money from them. Any big woman we approach obliges us and provides money for us.”

Reports claim that the second Yahoo boy slumped and died as the Police . Delta State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Andrew Aniamaka, revealed the suspects will soon be arraigned in court.

Source: Yahoo ritualists narrate how they killed DELSU first-class student

Related article:

3 days after DELSU student was declared missing, she is found dead with tongue and breast missing

This infamy happened three days after she was declared missing.

Published: November 19, 2018 – Refreshed November 20, 2018
By: Motolani Alake

A few weeks ago, Pulse reported the death of a beautiful woman with vital organs missing, while a wailing child was beside her. Three days ago, “missing” posts and news surfaced across Twitter and Facebook that Delta State University student Elozino Ogege could not be found. 

Over the past 24 hours, news made the rounds that Elozino Ogege had been found by residents along Ekrejeta road in Abraka Community, Ethiope-East Local Government Area of Delta State with her tongue and breasts missing.

According to Wuzup Naija, Delta State Acting Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Andrew Aniamaka said, “The family of the girl is going through excruciating pain. They have not been informed.”

With the complaints of ritual killings, murder, kidnappings, armed robbery, rape, and other issues on the rise in that vicinity, students suspect Ogege might have been killed for ritual purposes.

Chairman of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) Comrade Prince Kehinde-Taiga used the Daily Post to call for the redeployment of the state Commissioner of Police, CP Muhammad Mustafa whom he says has been sleeping on duty while atrocities have continued raging.

Taiga says, “The perpetrators must be brought to book without any form of compromise. The CP must wake up from his slumber because justice must be served.”

Investigations are still ongoing.

Source: 3 days after DELSU student was declared missing, she is found dead with tongue and breast missing

Nigeria – Delta State (in red)

Previous ritual murders, attacks targeting albinos in Burundi

Burundi has an ugly past with respect to the safety of people living with albinism – like other countries in the region, e.g. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Swaziland. I have counted more than 20 registered (!) attacks on albinos in Burundi since 2008, often deadly, but very likely the real number is much higher. Arrest of culprits and prosecution of accused are rare, possibly because of – according to rumors – the involvement of politically powerful people and rich businessmen and because some murderers commit their heinous crimes on command of principals in neighboring countries, notably Tanzania.

I have reproduced a number of these murders and other incidents. Burundi is a francophone country and many articles are in French. Therefore I have provided a summary in English of the French reports and articles. Unfortunately, a number of articles have disappeared from the web since 2008.

I have omitted ritualistic murders committed before 2008 in the overview presented below.(webmaster FVDK)

Ritual murder of albinos back again!
(In French)
Summary in English:
After one year of no murders, a 15-year old albino girl named Chantal has been found murdered in the Kabezi community, south of the capital Bujumbura, on May 6. Her death and mutilation brings the total number of reported cases since 2008 to over 20.
(…..)
According to the president of the organization ‘Albinos without borders’ (‘Albinos sans Frontières’) the killers slit the girl’s throat and dismembered her. A neighbor, Kassim Kazungu, affirms that Chantal is the 18th person murdered for ritual purposes in the community since 2008. The government of Burundi is blamed for doing nothing to protect its citizens and for being too passive after the escape from prison of a number of convicted ritual killers.
(….)

The original article, in French:

Le retour du meurtre d’albinos

Published: May 7, 2012
By: RFI

Au Burundi, après une année d’accalmie, un albinos a été tué dans la nuit de samedi à dimanche 6 mai dans la commune de Kabezi, au sud de Bujumbura. Chantal, une jeune fille albinos de 15 ans a été tuée par un groupe de criminels, puis affreusement mutilée. L‘association Albinos sans frontière, qui a déjà dénombré une vingtaine de crimes rituels d’albinos depuis 2008, condamne et met le gouvernement en face de « ses responsabilités ».

Ces tueurs, armés d’un fusil, de machettes et de lances, sont d’abord passés au domicile des parents de la jeune fille albinos, une dizaine de kilomètres au sud de Bujumbura. Ils ont obligé sa mère à les accompagner chez un de ses fils, où la jeune Chantal avait trouvé refuge.

Sous la menace, la mère a demandé à son fils de lui ouvrir, qui tout naturellement s’est exécuté. La suite est racontée par le président de l’association Albinos sans frontière, sur place hier matin. « Ils ont pris la fillette. Deux kilomètres après, ils ont égorgé la fillette, et ils ont décapité ses jambes et ses bras, on a trouvé la fillette jetée dans un fossé par ces malfaiteurs ».

Frustration, colère, désarroi. « Le choc est rude  », explique Kassim Kazungu après ce meurtre, le dix-huitième qui touche sa communauté en moins de quatre ans au Burundi, d’autant explique-t-il, que tous les assassins d’albinos, condamnés et regroupés dans la prison de Ruyigi dans l’est du Burundi, se sont évadés en 2011.

« Depuis 2008 au mois d’août jusqu’aujourd’hui, nous comptons dix-huit enfants albinos déjà massacrés. Nous pensons que l’Etat est impuissant, parce que s’il était puissant, à Ruyigi comme vous le savez, il y avait dix-huit personnes qui étaient condamnées, mais aujourd’hui il n’y a plus personne. Tous se sont évadés de la prison et nous, nous pensons que c’est eux-mêmes qui continuent ces massacres d’albinos. Nous demandons à l’Etat – où sont ces gens là qui avaient été condamnés à cause des massacres d’albinos ? »

Très gênées, plusieurs autorités burundaises contactées par RFI ont refusé de s’exprimer, en se réfugiant derrière le secret de l’instruction.

Source: Burundi : le retour du meurtre d’albinos

Then…. two years later:

Another ritual murder of an albino child in Burundi:
Nouveau meurtre rituel d’un albinos au Burundi

Albino children in parts of Africa are targeted by groups who believe their body parts bring luck (stock image)

Published: October 4, 2010
By: RFI Afrique / RFI

A 8-year old boy has been found dead and mutilated in the province of Ruyigi, near Tanzania. This brings the
total to eight murdered albinos and one still missing in the past four months.
(…)
Last May a 28-year old mother together with her 4-year oldd son were killed and mutilated for ritual purposes in the community of Cendajuru, also near the Tanzanian border.
(…)
SInce September 2008 14 albinos have been murdered in Burundi.
(…)

The original article:

Les albinos du Burundi sont sous le choc. Il y a un peu plus de 48 heures, un garçon albinos de 8 ans a été tué puis démembré, alors que les autorités pensaient avoir mis fin à ces crimes rituels qui avaient frappé jusqu’ici la province de Ruyigi, frontalière de la Tanzanie. Le président de l’association Albinos sans frontière du Burundi, Kassim Kazungu, exprime la terreur qui anime désormais les albinos et entend agir pour ne plus voir ce genre de crime.

Au Burundi, six albinos ont été tués et un septième porté disparu au cours des quatre derniers mois. Chacun des membres de cette communauté vit désormais dans la terreur d’être le prochain sur la liste. Aujourd’hui, des dizaines d’albinos ont fui leurs collines pour les villes où la sécurité est mieux assurée.

Selon Kassim Kazungu président de l’association Albinos sans frontière du Burundi  « il y a au moins 80 albinos qui sont déplacés de chez eux. Ils sont regroupés dans les chefs-lieux de communes et chefs-lieux de provinces».

Mais jusqu’ici, assure le président de l’association des Albinos sans frontière du Burundi, seules quelques associations leur viennent en aide alors que certains responsables administratifs menacent de chasser ces albinos. Kassim Kazungu affirme que « le gouvernement burundais ne fait rien, seulement des promesses et qu’il ne tient pas ».

Après ce nouvel assassinat d’un jeune albinos, un garçon de 8 ans tué à coups de machette puis amputé de ses bras et jambes, Kassim Kazungu ne décolère pas. Il appelle le pouvoir burundais à prendre exemple sur le voisin tanzanien où l’on est parvenu à mettre fin à ces assassinats rituels.

« En Tanzanie, le président lui-même a pris la situation en main. Les albinos de Tanzanie sont mieux traités, dit-il. Alors pourquoi pas chez nous ? Je demande alors au chef de l’Etat d’aider ces albinos. Si nous ne sommes pas les enfants de cette nation qu’on nous renvoie là d’où nous sommes venus ».

Huit personnes accusées au Burundi d’assassinats et tentatives d’assassinats d’albinos ont été condamnées à des peines allant de un an de prison à la perpétuité en juillet 2009.

L’ONG canadienne « Under the same sun » (Sous le même soleil) a dénoncé en mai dernier l’assassinat et la mutilation le 2 mai d’une mère de 28 ans et de son fils de 4 ans, tous deux albinos, dans la commune de Cendajuru, près de la frontière tanzanienne, portant à 14 le nombre d’albinos tués au Burundi depuis septembre 2008. Ces albinos auraient été victimes d’un trafic d’organes vers la Tanzanie voisine où certaines parties de leurs corps serviraient à confectionner des charmes qui apportent la richesse à leurs possesseurs.

De son côté, le chanteur Salif Keita préside l’Association solidarité pour l’insertion des albinos du Mali. La mission de cette structure est de chercher des solutions aux problèmes que rencontrent les albinos dans la société. Son action se fonde sur l’égalité des chances et la solidarité.

Les albinos souffrent d’une maladie génétique caractérisée par une absence de pigmentation de la peau, des poils, des cheveux et des yeux. Ils sont victimes de discriminations dans de nombreuses régions d’Afrique.

Source: Nouveau meurtre rituel d’un albinos au Burundi


Jail over Burundi albino killings
Published: July 23, 2009, 6:23 GMT
By: BBC News

One person has been sentenced to life in prison and eight others to jail in Burundi over the murder of albinos whose remains were sold for witchcraft.

Three other suspects were acquitted by the court in Ruyigi province over the the killings of at least 12 albinos.

The victims were mutilated and their body parts sold in neighbouring Tanzania for use in potions.

In addition to the killing of albinos in Burundi, more than 40 have been killed in Tanzania.

In addition to the life sentence, those convicted were jailed for between one and 15 years.

The trial is believed to be the first linked to a spate of albino killings in East Africa since 2007.

Witchdoctors in the region claim potions made with albino body parts will bring those who use them luck in love, life and business.

An association campaigning for the rights of albinos in Burundi says the authorities are now taking the killings seriously, but more needs to be done.

At least 200 people have been arrested over the trade in Tanzania, but none has been convicted.

Source: Jail over Burundi albino killings


Regional parliament decries albino killings

Published: May 30, 2009
By: The Citizen, Tanzanian online newspaper

The East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) has decried the killing of albinos in the region and urged “tougher measures” to stop the ritual murders and protect albinos. (…) At the ongoing meeting of the regional parliament in Bujumbura, Burundi, MPs from the five EAC member states called for regional cooperation to protect albinos victimised by superstitious fortune seekers.
(…)
The killings are rampant in some parts of Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania.
(…)
The legislators said while “considerable progress” had been made on human rights issues in the EA region, the current killings and hostility portrayed towards the albino community showed there was still a long way to go in achieving the full respect for human rights.

Source: Regional parliament decries albino killings
Unfortunately, the original article has disappeared from the web.


Alleged albino killers on trial in East Africa

Published: March 20, 2009 (updated 12:23 am)
By: Africa correspondent Andrew Geoghegan

Eleven people accused of murdering 12 albinos in East Africa have gone on trial.

A recent spate of albino killings has seen at least 50 people across East Africa murdered and those on trial in Burundi are accused of killing 12 of them.

There is a widespread belief in the region that African albinos, who lack pigment in their skin and appear white, are cursed.

Some witchdoctors have encouraged the killings and police believe body parts are traded for use in witchcraft.

Human rights campaigners have accused police of failing to act on the murders.

Two hundred people connected to the trade in body parts have been arrested in Tanzania but no one has been convicted.

Source: Alleged albino killers on trial in East Africa


Burundian albino murders denied
Published: May 19, 2009
By: BBC News


The trial has begun in Burundi of 11 defendants accused of attacking and killing 12 albino people, starting with the murder of a young girl.

It is thought to be the first trial linked to the recent spate of albino killings in East Africa, which has claimed more than 50 lives.

The 11 denied charged of murder and attempted murder.

Police believe albino body parts are smuggled out of Burundi and sold in Tanzania, to be used in witchcraft.

Magic potions

If convicted, the defendants could be sentenced to life in prison.

Witchdoctors in the region tell clients that potions made with albino body parts will bring them luck in love, life and business.

In addition to the killing of albinos in Burundi, more than 40 albinos have been killed in Tanzania.

An association campaigning for the rights of albinos in Burundi says the authorities are now taking the killings seriously, but more needs to be done.

At least 200 people have been arrested over the trade in Tanzania, but none has been convicted.

Source: Burundian albino murders denied


Burundi: Progress in the ‘albino cases’

Translated:

Burundi: Des progrès dans les “affaires d’albinos”

Published: March 15, 2009
By: ? (see: ‘Source’)

Huit personnes trouvées à leurs domiciles en possession d’ossements humains censés provenir d’albinos assassinés ont été arrêtés dans la province de Ruyigi, dans l’est du Burundi. Selon le parquet local, les personnes interpellées ont été dénoncées par deux autres suspects arrêtés ayant avoué avoir assassiné deux albinos.

Deux pays d’Afrique des Grands Lacs notamment – le Burundi et la Tanzanie voisine – connaissent ces derniers mois une vague de meurtres rituels d’albinos alimentée par un commerce macabre. Les organes d’individus souffrant d’albinisme – absence de pigments colorants de la peau – sont très recherchés des sorciers et autres fétichistes parce qu’ils sont censés porter chance en amour et en affaires notamment.

Source: Burundi: Des progrès dans les “affaires d’albinos”
Unfortunately, the original French article has disappeared from the web.


Burundi arrests eight for albino killings

Published: March 15, 2009
Reporting by Patrick Nduwimana, editing by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura / Reuters

BUJUMBURA, March 15 (Reuters) – Burundi has arrested eight people found with human bones suspected of belonging to albinos, a government official said on Sunday.

The tiny east African nation and neighbouring Tanzania have been convulsed by a spate of ritual albino murders fuelled by a body parts trade. Witchdoctors tell clients that albino parts will bring them luck in love, life and business.

“Before arresting them, we did a search and found human bones in their houses,” said Nicodeme Gahimbare, a public prosecutor in the eastern Ruyigi province.

“The eight were denounced by two other detained people who have already confessed to killing two albinos,” Gahimbare said.

Albinism is a condition that causes a lack of pigment in the eyes, skin or hair, which makes patients especially vulnerable to skin cancer and burns, and makes life particularly difficult in sun-drenched Africa.

Since last year, 11 albinos have been killed in Burundi. Forty others have been murdered in Tanzania since mid-2007.

Kazungu Kassim, the head of a Burundi albino association, said: “Authorities have now realised that the killing of albinos is a serious matter which needs concrete action.

“We urge the government to double efforts in protecting albinos, because what we are witnessing here is a planned extermination of the albino community.”

There are about 200 albinos in the nation of 8 million people.

Source: Burundi arrests eight for albino killings


Albino boy killed
Un garçon albinos tué

Stock image

This article is only available in French. It is preceeded by a short abridged version in English.

Bujumbura (AFP) – Another albino boy was murdered, this time in the Muruta community, in Kayanza Province (about 90 km north of the capital Bujumbura. “The people of the region found the body of a boy of eight or ten years old who was killed and whose legs and arms had been cut off. (….)”. On February 24, a six-year-old boy had been murdered and dismembered in the same Kayanza Province.

The recent killing brings the total number of ritual murders of albinos to nine in the past five moths.
(…)

Below the original French version:

Burundi: un garçon albinos tué

Published: March 9, 2009

Bujumbura (AFP) — Un garçon albinos a été tué et mutilé dans le nord du Burundi, dernier cas d’une série de meurtres rituels visant les albinos dans ce pays et en Tanzanie voisine, a-t-on appris lundi de source administrative. Ce nouveau meurtre a eu lieu dans la commune de Muruta, dans la province de Kayanza (environ 90 km au nord de la capitale Bujumbura).
“La population a découvert hier (dimanche) le corps d’un garçon albinos de huit à dix ans, qui a été tué et dont les bras et les jambes ont été coupés”, a rapporté à l’AFP Geneviève Ntawiha, administrateur de la commune de Muruta.

Unfortunately, the original French article has disappeared from the web.

Another murder case:

Au Burundi, la traque des albinos
The hunt for albinos in Burundi

This article is only available in French.
It relates of the plight of the albinos in Burundi where since September 2008 five albinos have been murdered for ritual purposes.

Nicodème Gahimbare, in Ruyigi, in the east of the country, tells how seven bandits invaded the house, and while three of them threatened the family with their AK-47, four bandits dismembered the albinos of the family – alive – in a horrific scene. They started with the arms, then the legs, and finally the head.

Au Burundi, la traque des albinos / The hunt for albinos in Burundi

Stock image

Published: December 22, 2008
By: Pierre Lepidi – ENVOYÉ SPÉCIAL BUJUMBARA (Le Monde)

Dans la région des Grands Lacs, on les appelle “les enfants du soleil” : ils portent chance. Leurs corps sont recherchés par les sorciers. Cinq meurtres ont été commis depuis septembre, dans d’effroyables conditions

Cette nuit-là, les machettes étaient aiguisées. “Sept bandits ont fait irruption dans la maison, raconte Nicodème Gahimbare, procureur de Ruyigi, province située à l’est du Burundi. Trois ont menacé la famille avec des kalachnikovs, pendant que les quatre autres découpaient l’albinos, qui était toujours vivant. Ils ont commencé par les bras puis ont tranché les jambes et enfin la tête. L’un d’entre eux recueillait le sang dans un bidon… Puis, ils sont repartis en laissant dans la pièce ce qui restait du corps.” Depuis septembre, les albinos du Burundi sont victimes d’une traque effroyable, sordide et insensée. Cinq meurtres, plus abominables les uns que les autres, ont déjà été commis. Hommes ou femmes, garçons ou fillettes, les albinos sont devenus bien malgré eux les cibles d’un marché fort lucratif.

On ne compte plus les légendes africaines qui entourent les albinos, victimes d’une maladie génétique qui se caractérise par une absence de pigmentation de la peau, des poils, des cheveux et des yeux. Mi-hommes, mi-dieux, selon les régions, leur “blancheur” pourrait apporter toutes sortes de pouvoirs, bénéfiques ou maléfiques. Au Cameroun, au Mali et dans d’autres pays du continent, on attribue à ces “enfants blancs” nés de parents noirs des forces surnaturelles. “Ici, dans la région des Grands Lacs, nous sommes considérés comme les enfants du soleil, de la chance, explique avec un air de dégoût Cassim Kazungu, président de l’Association des albinos du Burundi. Alors, certains sorciers, principalement originaires de Tanzanie, racontent que s’ils mélangent nos os et notre sang à certaines potions magiques, ils seront capables de confectionner des gris-gris pour obtenir de l’or, de la chance ou une éternelle jeunesse. On nous assassine pour des histoires de sorcellerie…”

C’est principalement sur les bords du lac Victoria que seraient nées ces légendes. Autour du plus grand lac africain, on raconte, par exemple, que verser du sang d’albinos sur une mine d’or pourrait suffire à faire jaillir des pépites, sans même avoir à creuser la terre. Chez les pêcheurs, on soutient que le fait d’appâter les eaux du lac avec un bras ou une jambe découpée sur un corps d’albinos permettrait d’attraper de gros poissons, le ventre gorgé d’or…

En attendant, c’est l’appât du gain qui nourrit ces massacres humains. “L’un des bandits qui a été arrêté après un meurtre a dit qu’on lui avait promis 1 million de franc burundais (650 euros), explique Cassim Kazungu. La peau des albinos vaut une fortune et nous sommes dans un pays où les gens ont faim… Il faudrait que le gouvernement prenne des mesures très sévères à l’encontre des tueurs.” Deux hommes ont déjà été condamnés à la peine capitale, mais celle-ci est en passe d’être abolie, ce qui accroît l’angoisse des albinos.

Sur les rives du lac Tanganyika, où l’espérance de vie est de 43 ans, où l’indice de développement humain (IDH) classe le pays à la 169e place mondiale (sur 177), la guerre civile, qui a opposé les ethnies hutu et tutsi entre 1993 et 2006, a fait près de 300 000 morts. La tension ethnique est aujourd’hui retombée et, jour après jour, la paix avance. Jeudi 4 décembre, un accord de cessez-le-feu, conclu avec tous les autres mouvements rebelles en 2006, a été signé entre le gouvernement et le FNL (Forces nationales de libération), le dernier groupe en activité. Mais les massacres ethniques ont laissé des séquelles psychologiques irréversibles, inquantifiables, et une économie en lambeaux. Le soir, dans certains quartiers de Bujumbura, la capitale, on raconte qu’il suffit de “10 000 francs “bou”” (6,50 euros) pour acheter la vie d’un homme…

C’est en Tanzanie, pays de 40 millions d’habitants qui borde le Burundi à l’est, que les premiers meurtres ont été commis. Depuis le début de l’année, il y en aurait déjà eu une trentaine, alimentant des réseaux dirigés par certains notables. Le Parlement européen a adopté, le 3 septembre, une résolution condamnant “vigoureusement” l’assassinat d’albinos dans ce pays.

Les autorités tanzaniennes ont pris des mesures de protection, comme l’instauration d’un recensement et la mise en place d’un service d’escorte pour les enfants se rendant à l’école. Le gouvernement a surtout annoncé que des sanctions très sévères, allant jusqu’à la peine de mort, seraient prises contre toute personne mêlée à ces crimes rituels. Quelques trafiquants et une cinquantaine de sorciers auraient été arrêtés dans la foulée.

L’apparition de cette traque sur le sol burundais pourrait résulter des mesures prises en Tanzanie. Les frontières sont poreuses, surtout lorsque les trafics génèrent des sommes colossales… “Le gouvernement tanzanien a agi rapidement en faisant du meurtre des albinos un crime puni de la peine capitale, a déclaré Olalekan Ajia, responsable de l’Unicef au Burundi, le 19 novembre. Du coup, les sorciers et autres charlatans sont partis pour le Burundi.” Le retour de 100 000 réfugiés burundais vivant dans des camps le long de la frontière tanzanienne est une autre hypothèse avancée.

Jusque-là épargné, le Burundi, qui recense près de 150 albinos sur une population de 8 millions d’habitants, déplore donc aujourd’hui 5 meurtres et un disparu. Début décembre, un homme en tenue militaire armé d’une machette a tenté une agression. Il a été arrêté par le père de l’albinos, qui a été sérieusement blessé lors de l’altercation. Roué de coups par les gens du village, l’agresseur est décédé le lendemain.

Les albinos du Burundi vivent la peur au ventre. “Je ne sors plus de chez moi car, même si la capitale est pour l’instant épargnée, je me sens en insécurité, lâche Pascal, 28 ans, un habitant de Bujumbura. Mais je suis bien obligé d’aller faire mes courses… Sur le trottoir, les gens disent en me regardant : “Regardez, le beau paquet d’argent qui déambule !” D’autres stoppent leur voiture à ma hauteur et me menacent : “Tu vaux l’équivalent de trois camionnettes, on va te vendre en morceaux…” Nous vivons un véritable cauchemar.” Quelques ruelles plus loin, Nathalie, 25 ans, n’est guère plus sereine. “La situation est très difficile et j’ai peur, dit-elle. Mais je suis surtout très inquiète pour ceux qui vivent à l’extérieur de la capitale.”Rien n’arrête les tueurs. Pour découper les membres d’une adolescente de 16 ans, tuée quelques jours plus tôt, certains sont allés jusqu’à déterrerdeux fois son cadavre…

Lorsque les premiers meurtres ont été commis, dans la région de Ruyigi, à mi-chemin entre Bujumbura et la frontière tanzanienne, Nicodème Gahimbare, procureur de la province, a parcouru la région pour proposeraux albinos de les héberger chez lui. L’homme a pris des risques pour assurer leur protection. Il a payé de sa poche, aussi. “Il fallait vraiment faire quelque chose pour ces gens, dit-il. Les atrocités des attaques se propageaient à travers les villages, et ils vivaient de plus en plus dans l’angoisse… Dans une même famille, je me souviens qu’il y en avait quatre ! Plus loin, un curé a accepté que je lui en confie quelques-uns… Pendant une semaine, j’en ai hébergé huit. Très vite, on a atteint la vingtaine ! Il en arrivait presque tous les jours des villages alentour…”

Le gouvernement s’est alors penché sur leur sort. Les ONG, les pouvoirs publics et la communauté internationale se sont mobilisés. L’ambassade de France a été l’une des premières à réagir en envoyant des vivres et des matelas dans la maison. L’Union européenne a fait parvenir à Ruyigi des vêtements et des chapeaux pour protéger leur peau, sur laquelle se forment des croûtes après des expositions prolongées au soleil. “Ils vivaient dans des conditions d’hygiène déplorables, confie un Français qui a fait quelques visites à Ruyigi dans un but humanitaire. La maison, qui n’avait ni eau ni électricité, possédait seulement 3 chambres. J’y ai compté 34 albinos…”

Début décembre, une nouvelle demeure a été trouvée. Elle n’est toujours pas raccordée à l’eau et à l’électricité, mais elle est plus spacieuse puisqu’elle compte 10 chambres. On y trouve 39 “enfants du soleil”, âgés de 6 mois à 62 ans, auxquels il faut ajouter 6 accompagnateurs (parents, frères ou soeurs). Le loyer est pris en charge par le gouvernement et non plus par l’Association des albinos, “dont les comptes sont totalement vides”, indique le président.

L’Etat s’est engagé à prendre à sa charge les 8 policiers, contre 4 auparavant, qui assurent la sécurité de la maison. “On pensait que la situation durerait quelques mois, mais elle perdure, déplore Nicodème Gahimbare. Un jeune albinos est retourné dans son village, mais il s’est fait attaquer dans sa propre maison. Ceux qui sont sous notre protection ont tellement peur de rentrer qu’ils ne veulent plus repartir…”

Le gouvernement burundais, avec l’appui de la communauté internationale, vient de lancer plusieurs campagnes de sensibilisation à travers le pays. Mais s’il faudra du temps pour enseigner la tolérance, il en faudra encore plus pour faire taire les croyances. “Autrefois, on disait qu’un albinos qui naissait de parents noirs portait forcément malheur, car il était l’enfant d’une mère volage, lâche Cassim Kazungu. Il était rejeté et vivait comme un marginal, un laissé-pour-compte. Maintenant, on fait croire aux gens que nous portons chance. Alors, on nous massacre !”

Source: Au Burundi, la traque des albinos


6-year-Old Albino Girl Killed for Body Parts

Published: November 19, 2008
By: ? See below (‘Source’)

The following is an excerpt from the original 2008 article which has since disappeared from the web:

(…)
In Ruyigi province, Burundi, a 6-year-old girl, named Cizanye, was murdered in front of her family because she was an albino. A gang of armed bandits broke into the family home; they tied up the girl’s parents and shot the little girl in the head. They then cut off her head and both her arms and legs and left with the body parts. The attack took place at the family’s home in Bugongo, more than 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of the capital Bujumbura. Police said they suspected criminals of hunting albinos to sell their organs and limbs to witch doctors in Tanzania who use them for lucky charms.

“This little girl is the third albino victim of such barbaric crimes in our province since September. We are doing everything we can to find the killers,” Ruyigi province prosecutor Nicodeme Gahimbare said.
(…)
In the meantime, officials in eastern Burundi said that 24 albinos have fled their villages and gone into towns for fear of slaughter. Msembo said many albino children were dropping out of school for fear of being kidnapped. Many albinos have sought refuge in urban centers, which are relatively safer. She said “They are cutting us up like chickens” while pointing to a picture on a wall in her cramped office of a limbless body with the skin on its face peeled off from an incident in 2007.

Source: 6-year-Old Albino Girl Killed for Body Parts 
(linked disappeared in cyberspace)

The following BBC article refers to the same incident:


Albino girl killed for body parts

Published: November 17, 2008
By: BBC News

A six-year-old albino girl in Burundi has been found dead with her head and limbs removed, in the latest killing linked to ritual medicine.

Albinos in the region have been targeted because of a belief peddled by witchdoctors that their body parts can be used for magic potions.

The girl, who was attacked on Sunday, was the sixth person with albinism to be killed in Burundi since September.

There have also been a number of attacks in neighbouring Tanzania.

The latest attack took place in Burundi’s eastern province of Ruyigi.

The BBC’s Prime Ndikumagenge in Burundi said the child and her family had only just returned to their family home.

Armed attackers broke into the family home and tied up the girl’s parents before shooting her in the head, local officials say.

They had been among a group of about 50 people with albinism to have fled to a provincial centre because they feared for her safety.

The head of the Burundi Albinos’ Association, Kasim Kazungu, says people with albinism had not suffered any discrimination until other Burundians heard about the lucrative trade in albino body parts in neighbouring Tanzania.

Last week, police in south-western Tanzania arrested a man who was attempting to sell his albino wife to Congolese traders.

Two mothers in western Tanzania were also attacked with machetes after gangs failed to find their albino children.

Source: Albino girl killed for body parts

eSwatini: Security fears keep 250 pupils away from school (Swaziland)

Swaziland King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch, has renamed his country ‘the Kingdom of eSwatini’.

On April 18, 2018 King Mswati III of Swaziland announced that he was renaming the country ‘the Kingdom of eSwatini’. The new name, eSwatini, means ‘land of the Swazis’.

King Mswati III is Africa’s last absolute monarch. He is being criticized by human rights organizations and activists for not allowing political parties and discriminating against women. See e.g. Richard Rooney’s blog.

King Mswati is known for his many wives, 15 – though this is much less than the number of wives his father, King Sobhuza II, had: 125 – and for his adherence to traditional dress (see picture below).

Ritual murder especially of children is a common experience in the Kingdom of eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland. The number of ritual murders increases at election time. As reported earlier (see my June 19 posting), in 2003, King Mswati III urged Swaziland’s politicians not to engage in ritual killings to boost their chances. Five years later, Prime Minister Absalom Themba Dlamini issued a similar warning (2008).

We’re now in 2018 and apparently nothing has changed. The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) has issued a statement recently, saying it is “(…) deeply alarmed and distressed by recent media reports of abductions and kidnappings resulting in mutilations and killings. Children, both girls and boys, are especially targeted (…). The fact that there are widespread speculations on whether or not these abductions are for ritual purposes linked to the upcoming Parliamentary elections in Eswatini cannot be ignored.”

So far, about 45 people have been abducted, killed and mutilated in countrywide attacks that are believed to be associated with ritual activities ahead of parliamentary elections later this year (read article below).

(webmaster FVDK)

King Mswati III, centre, has ruled the country for more than 30 years (since 1986).

eSwatini: Security fears keep 250 pupils away from school

Published: June 18, 2018
APA News, Journal du Cameroun.com

Some 250 pupils from one community in eSwatini have abandoned school over fears linked to the recent spate of ritual kidnappings and murders.

Residents of Mafutseni, about 50km from Manzini, decided to withdraw their children from schools following incidents of attempted murder in the space of two weeks.

“At least residents pulled their children out of school and did not take the law into their own hands by hunting and killing the murder suspects,” said community headman, Mamilela Maphosa.

The first incident occurred two weeks ago when a 15-year-old boy was captured by three men and his throat slot in an attempted murder apparently over ritual purposes.

The boy escaped and is currently admitted to a hospital.

The other case involved a community policeman who fled from an attack by three men whom he believed wanted to abduct him last week.

The two incidents forced parents of pupils at a nearby primary school to keep their children at home until they were assured of their safety.

On Tuesday residents held a march around the area carrying placards that condemned such acts.

So far, about 45 people have been abducted, killed and mutilated in countrywide attacks that are believed to be associated with ritual activities ahead of parliamentary elections later this year.

Source: eSwatini: Security fears keep 250 pupils away from school
JournalDuCameroun, June 28, 2018.

Also read my June 18 (2018) posting.

Swaziland, or ‘the kingdom of eSwatini’ as the country is being named since April 2018, is a landlocked country and smaller than the US state of New Jersey.