Nigeria: Chief Justice Ibrahim Muhammad speaks out against Nigerian students committing armed robbery, kidnapping, ritual killing, internet fraud

In Nigeria, ritual killing is not a small problem – at least, according to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Muhammad, who puts ritualistic murders on the same level as internet fraud, armed robbery, kidnapping and drug trafficking. The Chief Justice of Nigeria spoke at the 7th Convocation ceremony of the Nile University of Nigeria, in Abuja, urging authorities of the various institutions of learning to take necessary steps to reverse the unsavoury trend.

It is common knowledge that ritualistic murders – in Nigeria known as ‘money business’ or ‘money rituals’ – occur in many states. These heinous crimes are often committed by so-called Yahoo boys, but – according to Ibrahim Muhammad – also by university and college students.

One of the root causes of ritual murders is superstition, the belief that body parts used to make ‘juju’ guarantee success, power and wealth. One would expect that students in tertiary institutions are well educated and reject such superstitious ideas. The fact that this is not the case shows that something is fundamentally wrong in the Nigerian educational system. I sincerely hope that Chief Justice Ibrahim Muhammad’s speech  will serve as a wake-up call for the Nigerian authorities (webmaster FVDK).  

Chief Justice Ibrahim Muhammad speaks out against Nigerian students committing armed robbery, kidnapping, ritual killing, internet fraud 

Published: October 28, 2019
By: SaharaReporters, New York  

Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), has
lamented the increased rate of criminalities amongst students of the
country’s tertiary institutions.

The CJN, while speaking at the 7th Convocation ceremony of the Nile
University of Nigeria, in Abuja, urged authorities of the various
institutions of learning to take necessary steps to reverse the
unsavoury trend.

He said, “The Nigerian Judiciary will always be the hope of everybody,
irrespective of his or her status in the society. The various acts of
criminalities currently pervading our various university campuses
across the country is a sad commentary, to say the least.

“It is very unfortunate to now see our students engaging in armed
robbery, kidnapping, internet fraud, ritual killings, trafficking in
illicit drugs, and several other vices. It is a trend that must, as a
matter of urgency, be nipped in the bud.

“If our most cherished and celebrated future leaders are allowed to
wallow in such dangerous and inimical venture, then the future looks
very bleak. Our hope rests on you and you must not let us down.”

Muhammad added, “As I look through this beautiful convocation arena, I
can see the galaxy of stars that are poised to change the world for
the best and make indelible marks in their various professions, even
on the global stage.

“My candid advice to you all, this morning, is to shun crime and any
act capable of smearing the good reputation and image that the nation
has carved for you. As we all know, virtue is its own reward.

“Let me assure you that hard work attracts tremendous reward and with
concerted effort, your success in life will know no bounds.

“The sky will ultimately serve as your foot mat. From this moment on,
you should begin to walk towards the direction of your dreams. By so
doing, you can rest assured that failure will have no affinity with
you.”

Continuing, the nation’s chief justice stated, “Like I always say, the
Nigerian Judiciary will always be the hope of everybody, irrespective of his or her status in the society.

“We will, as usual, be pursuing the total adherence to the tenets of
the rule of law by all citizens because it has always been the bastion
of genuine democracy. Needless to say that disobedience of lawful
court orders is antithetical to a nation’s growth and progress.

“It is our passionate desire to place the Nigerian judiciary in that
strategic position where the country can occupy a pride of place among
the comity of nations.

“By the grace of the Almighty Allah, Nigeria will be great and we all
shall be very proud of our heritage.”

Source: Nigerian Students Committing Robbery, Kidnapping, Ritual Killing, Internet Fraud – Chief Justice Ibrahim Muhammad

Nigeria: From ‘Yahoo’ to ‘Yahoo-Plus’

‘Yahoo, in Nigeria,’ is not necessarily linked to ritualistic activities or – worse – murders. However, what ‘Yahoo’ has in common with ritualistic activities is the ‘get-rich-quick-mentality’. From the hijacking of email accounts and related ‘419 crimes’ to ‘money rituals’ is just one step. ‘Yahoo-plus’ represents this step. 

‘Yahoo-plus’ includes using diabolical means to get rich or become famous, and – according to the article produced below – usually involves the use of human blood. ‘Yahoo-boys’ now kill and use human parts for rituals. They use charms to get control over their victims who fear the ‘juju’ in the hands of these ‘Yahoo Yahoo boys’ (webmaster FVDK). 

Sapele youths march against Yahoo Yahoo boys

Published: September 18, 2019
By: PM New Nigeria

Youths in Sapele and its environ have staged a peaceful rally in support of the efforts of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to rid Delta State and the entire country of cybercrimes and other forms of economic and financial crimes.

The youths under the aegis of Save Sapele Group, carried banners and placards bearing various messages such as “Sapele Say No to Crime, Yahoo Yahoo, Kidnapping and Internet Fraud”, “Say No to Corruption”, “Protect our Youths, Daughters and Sisters – Say No to Yahoo Yahoo” and ” Say No to 419″, as they marched through the streets of Sapele. 

They also wore T-shirts with inscriptions condemning internet fraud popularly known as ‘yahoo yahoo’.

The youths said the rally which is coming on the heels of several arrests of cybercrime suspects in the city, was to demonstrate their disapproval of the activities of elements that engage in activities such as internet fraud, cybercrimes and kidnapping in Sapele. 

“We don’t want yahoo yahoo. We don’t want internet fraud, We say no to 419 and ritual killing”, a spokesman declared.

Tuesday’s rally in support of the Commission came few days after some youths in the area staged a protest against a sister agency, claiming that officers of the agency were instigating the frequent EFCC raid of Internet fraudsters in the city. 

Source: Sapele youths march against Yahoo Yahoo boys

From ‘Yahoo’ to ‘Yahoo-Plus’: Evil acts of Internet fraudsters

Published: September 19, 2019
By: Sun News Online

Internet fraudsters have intensified their means of operation by adding some diabolical features to their game. The perpetrators, who are mainly youths, now adopt all manner of conjurations to keep the cash coming their way. 

The development has become disturbing to all concerned Nigerians. Many pundits believe that the trend, popularly known as ‘Yahoo,’ is creating a lazy and purposeless generation that is desperate to get rich overnight without minding the inherent long or short-term consequence.

It is indisputable that this get-rich-quick syndrome is already denting the image of not just Nigerian citizens but the country as well. Many have expressed concern over the negative impacts the illicit activities are having on Nigeria. 

Gone are the days when the major means of getting funds by these yahoo boys was to hijack email accounts or email servers to intercept business transactions and redirect payments, or to spoof email addresses from external accounts pretending to be a company and authorising irregular payment transactions. Some of the fraudsters also used their victims’ credit cards to buy anything they wanted.

But it appears those tricks are no longer in vogue as their targets are in full grasp of virtually all the old gimmicks. Before their tactics were exposed, they had exploited many unsuspecting people, within and outside Nigeria. Their victims were fleeced of billions of naira and foreign currencies, as well as prized personal belongings. 

An undergraduate of the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State, told the reporter that two of his schoolmates were involved in ‘Yahoo-Plus,’ meaning using diabolical means to make wealth, usually involving the use of human blood. 

“People should no longer be deceived over Internet fraud. What the boys do now is killing and using human parts for rituals. Many of them also use charms to manipulate the minds and thoughts of their victims. Honestly, if you have experienced the use of juju, you will understand that it works on many people. The victims would lose control of their thoughts or actions. They would become puppets in the hands of their manipulators. It may not last for long, but for the short period it is in effect, the victims might give all they have to the fraudsters. 

“Recently, a student I know very well, who was in National Diploma 2, bought a car worth over N7 million. Everybody knew him as a yahoo boy. But something mysterious happened to his mother the last time he travelled to his hometown in Delta State. The news went round the campus of how his mother bled to death as soon as the boy stepped into their family house. 

“Some of his siblings quickly raised the alarm and out of the fear of being mobbed by his own people, he fled and has not returned till date. He didn’t also come back to the campus. He abandoned his studies and his property at the apartment that he rented,” he said. 

The source said the news did not come to most of the students as a surprise because the student in question had always boasted that he was making his money through the Internet. He stated that the student, who is now on the run, lived a flamboyant life and spent money as if it was going out of fashion. 

“There is also another student who allegedly used his younger sister for money rituals. But something seemed to have gone wrong along the line that resulted in the young man running mad. Some said that he confessed to have killed his sister to get rich. Meanwhile, everyone knew him in school as an Internet fraudster. 

“There are many others who are driving exotic cars on campus but they can’t take such vehicles home so that they won’t be questioned by their parents on their source of wealth. We know these people very well and many of them don’t hide their identities. They also belong to a clique and they don’t fail to intimidate others with their ill-gotten wealth. 

“Yahoo-Plus is the reigning thing now. Some would travel to as far as Ghana only to return within a few months and begin to spend millions of naira. They call it ‘Ghana connection.’ They organise parties now and then for no tangible reason. Any lady they want is at their beck and call, because money is there to throw around. They would disturb their neighbourhoods by blasting music,” he said.     

Different security agencies are now waging war against these breed of criminals, but they keep devising different techniques and coming out strong. It was learnt that most youths who are into this ignoble act are ready to take their chances of being caught rather than to remain poor. 

But some observers have opined that the fight against them should be intensified, urging all stakeholders, including parents and guardians, to contribute their quota to correcting societal ills. 

Investigations also revealed that some of the youth who engage in these nefarious activities are as young as 15 years. Immediately they finish their secondary education, they begin to explore the world of quick wealth. At the moment, one significant thread runs through the operations of these fraudsters: almost all of them are believed to have one form of spiritual backing that enables them to entice their victims.

Some of these fraudsters have vowed that they would not mind dying for a chance to get rich quickly through any available scheme.

“If you don’t belong to the new system, you cannot make a huge amount of money. Everybody is now into the ritual aspect because the old techniques have been exposed,” a vehicle mechanic, Eric Udoh, said in Lagos.

A Benin-based trader, who is in her 60s, Mrs. Eunice Efewedo, told the correspondent that the rate at which young boys were embracing Internet fraud and other illegitimate means of making money was alarming. 

She expressed worry that, with the way things were going, only a few youths would be enthusiastic to pursue a degree at higher institutions or learn a legitimate trade.

Said she: “The other day, one of them, who could not be more than 20 years old, bought a car for his mother. But his father quickly condemned the move by questioning his son’s source of money. The youngster just secured admission to the University of Benin that same year.

“The father insisted on getting to the root of the matter and threatened to summon an extended family meeting to discuss the issue. But before anyone knew what was happening, the boy bought a house in Government Reservation Area and relocated his mother there. 

“Sadly, the mother died two weeks after moving into the new house. The boy refused to attend her burial but he gave the family five million naira for funeral. He lied that he had an international competition to attend. Everybody became afraid of entering the well-furnished house that he built for his mother.”

She added that some of the fraudsters who have soiled their hands in diabolical ways of making money would never give out physical cash to anyone. She said those categories of people would prefer to make an online transfer or buy whatever gift using the credit card. 

“The new yahoo boys in town won’t give you money by hand but they can buy any expensive gift for you. They are doing all sorts of charms but feigning to be Internet fraudsters. Unfortunately, some parents are not rebuking their children to desist from such evil ways,” she said. 

Many have argued that the expansive spread of Internet fraud could be attributed to multiple factors, such as weak moral values among youths, peer pressure and youth unemployment, among others. But some others have countered such assertions, insisting that such crimes have no justification, as there were many acceptable ways youths could make ends meet in Nigeria, irrespective of harsh economic conditions.

A pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Province 27, Lagos, Mr. Albert Wilson, told Daily Sun that the home and society have failed in raising children with high morals. 

“The quest to possess material things by all means at the expense of contentment has caused us a lot of damage. Except we begin to have a reorientation and set our priorities right, there will continue to be a moral decay. What we preach on the pulpit, act as films, sing and discuss in politics go a long way to shape us.

“If you shield your child or relative, it means that you are part of the societal problem. We need useful information from the general public about people who engage in such acts and can be relayed to the law enforcement agencies for prompt action to be taken”, he said.

Source: From ‘Yahoo’ to ‘Yahoo-Plus’: Evil acts of Internet fraudsters

Nigeria – political map

Liberia: ‘Devils’ and ‘Dragons’ – defendant details victim’s death

The case presented below refers to a posting of early this year, on January 26, entitled More women in ritualistic killings in Sinoe County (published by The New Dawn, January 25, 2019). As noted in the article below it is a bizar, strange story and there is no proof that any of the defendants in the murder trial speaks the truth. However, the trial clearly establishes that traditional societies in which witchcraft and juju medicine play an important role still exist in Liberia. It is only one step further to the criminal practices of ritualistic killings. Did the father of the late Willette Nyewallah make this step?

We may never know the answer. However, we will continue to follow up on this story and, in case new developments occur, will inform you accordingly (webmaster FVDK).

Featured photo by Sampson David

Published: August 29, 2019
By: Sampson David – The Bush Chicken

BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – A suspect in the Sinoe gang rape and murder trial has testified in court, accusing the father of the late Willette Nyewallah of ordering his daughter’s murder.

Moses Solo is one of ten suspects the government is trying for torturing and gang-raping three women accused of witchcraft and murdering one of them.

Solo, who acknowledged being a member of the traditional society and called himself the spokesperson for the ‘devil,’ testified last week accusing the victim’s father, Amos Nyewallah, of being the acting traditional chairman of the district.

He said when the three women were turned over to the traditional society because they had been accused of witchcraft, Amos Nyewallah called the devil to come take the women away. The town crier then asked all those around to go indoors, he said.

Solo said once all townspeople were indoor, the devil took the three women to the boundaries of the town. He said it was then that Amos Nyewallah ordered the devil to take away his daughter and extract a body part of hers to use in ritual to solidify his position within the traditional society.

“He told us that he wanted something from his daughter’s body to correct his medicine because the position he currently occupies is someone else’s position, but the person was suspended and if the suspended traditional chairman pays his fine, he could come back to his position,” Solo explained, noting that the victim’s father asked for her left eye.

In a bizarre twist of an already strange tale, Solo said the pain brought on by the removal of the victim’s eye drove her to get angry and she transformed into a dragon to attack the devil. Provoked, the devil then knocked the victim down, killing her. Solo said she was buried near a small creek at 6:30 p.m.

Although activities occurring within the traditional society are meant to be completely secret, Solo said he could not hide anything because the matter has reached to the court.

He also claimed that members of the traditional society were less likely to have raped the women because a traditional law had been passed by the devil that would fine anyone found guilty of rape US$50 and one bag of rice.

He said the two survivors do not know the identities of their rapists, but he knows them. Solo added that of all the suspects on trial, only he and Alex Carpeh, who was also on trial, were members of the traditional society.

On Tuesday, August 27, Amos Nyewallah, the victim’s father, took the witness stand to deny Solo’s allegations that he ordered his own daughter’s death.

While he acknowledged being a member of the traditional society, he said he held no position there and warned that Solo’s statements could damage his reputation.

Nyewallah noted that he worked through the commissioner’s office as chairman of Nomorpoe District, where he is responsible for settling disputes between residents and the Golden Veroleum concession company.

Nyewallah further said he was not present when the incident occurred, but when he returned, he went on the scene at about 6:00 p.m. to where the women were being held to ask the traditional people to release his daughter. His request was, however, refused.

Nyewallah said he then went to the commissioner to complain, but the commissioner told him to continue to plead with the traditional people.

The following day, Nyewallah said he was informed by one of the survivors, Florence Tarkleh, that his daughter had been killed and buried. He said when that happened, family members of the defendants took large sums of money to him to appease him over the death of his daughter, but he told them that the matter was now before the government.

For his part, the district commissioner of Nonorpoe, Alfred Jawolo, corroborated Nyewallah’s story that the victim’s father attempted to get the district commissioner to assist in releasing his daughter.

On the first day of the trial of the case, the Criminal Services Department commander for Sinoe, Joseph Doeplay, also testified that Amos Nyewallah had reported to the police that his daughter was being beaten along with two others. Doeplay said it was because of Nyewallah’s complaint that the suspects were charged and sent to court.

Meanwhile, the court has jailed a man for interfering in the trial by signaling to defendants who have been testifying. Dickson Brown, a resident of Greenville, Sinoe, was first caught signaling to defendants on August 19 when the defendants first began testifying. However, he was pardoned by the court based on the intervention of authorities from Sinoe who were also watching the trial.

The next day, Brown repeated his actions, prompting the court to charge him with contempt of court. He was placed behind bars at the Upper Buchanan Prison Compound from August 20 until August 27. After he was released, authorities directed him to avoid the premises of the Second Judicial Circuit Court until the case has ended.

Source: ‘Devils’ and ‘Dragons’ – Sinoe Gang Rape Case Progresses as Defendant Details Victim’s Death

Zimbabwe: life in jail for 24yr old man who murdered fellow villager for body parts

There is a difference between ritualistic murders which are intended to gain more wealth and/or prestige or increase one’s chances to win elections and the cold-blooded murdering of people to sell their body parts. However, both types of crime have in common that the murdering of innocent people is based on the superstition that the juju or muti which result from these heinous practices works. The following example illustrates this.
(The editor FVDK).

Published: July 5, 2019
By: ZimEye

A 24-year-old man from Chimanimani who killed a fellow villager and harvested body parts for ritual purposes has been slapped with a life jail sentence after he was found guilty of committing murder with actual intent.

The suspect, Victor Dinga of Munaka Village under Chief Chikukwa, showed no remorse since the trial began. He struck the victim with a machete, took several body parts which he then placed in a bag and later asked his brother-in-law to refrigerate.

While reading out the sentence, Senior Mutare High Court Judge, Justice Hlekani Mwayera, said Dinga was supposed to hang for committing the crime and was only lucky due to the ongoing debate around the death sentence.

During trial Dinga left court officials in a state of disbelief as he gave a chilling account on how he committed the grisly murder.

He told the court that he planned the murder because he wanted to sell the body parts in South Africa and then buy a house and a car from the proceeds.

However, his plan hit a brick wall after his brother-in-law refused to refrigerate the body parts and subsequently sold him out to the police.

Ms Jane-Rose Matsikidze prosecuted.

“Dinga and the deceased Cephas Mubarenyana lived in seperate villages and the deceased stayed alone,” she said.

“On September 24 last year in the morning, the accused person approached the deceased at his home and asked him to help carry some planks from Martin Forests for a fee. Unknown to the deceased, the suspect had a machete hidden inside his pair of trousers.”

On arrival in Martin Forest, the accused suddenly pulled out the machete and struck the deceased on the neck and above the left ear, killing him instantly.

He then dragged the deceased’s body into a bush before proceeding to harvest certain body parts. He took the body parts to Chikukwa Business Centre where he asked his brother-in-law, Aaron Mashava, to refrigerate them for him.

“Having refused to refrigerate the human body parts, the brother-in-law later mobilised other villagers leading to the recovery of the body parts and the arrest of the suspect. A post-mortem examination concluded that the death was as a result of severe head injury and exsanguinations,” said Ms Matsikidze.

Mashava told the court that he was inside his shop when the suspect approached him asking him to refrigerate the bag containing the body parts.

He became curious when the suspect told him that the bag should not be opened. On being asked about its contents, the suspect told him that it contained human body parts.

Suspecting that the accused person had killed a person, Mashava informed his neighbour who in turn called the councillor and the trio then approached Constable Blessing Muroda.

The quartet went to the suspect’s house where he led them to a disused toilet where the bag and its contents were hung.

Source: Life In Jail For 24yr Old Man Who Murdered Fellow Villager For Body Parts

Provinces of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: MP Shocked As School Kids Made to Research Ritual Murders

The reproduced article below is interesting as it refers to the occurrence of the phenomenon of ritual murders in Zimbabwe and the removal of private body parts to practice juju though it does not cite a particular case. I found the news relevant enough for the purpose of this site. Definitely, not all cases of ritualistic killings are discovered or reported and what we know of these atrocities is only the top of the iceberg. Since the original article published  by the Zimbabwean news site NewZimbabwe.com could not be accessed I have used the reproduction by allAfrica.com. The reader should know that articles on the latter site disappear behind a paywall after a certain lapse of time.
(webmaster FVDK)

Zimbabwe: MP Shocked As School Kids Made to Research Ritual Murders, Vows to Fight for the Withdrawal of the New Curriculum

Published: February 4, 2018
By: NewZimbabwe.com

Zanu PF legislator, Joseph Tshuma, has taken a swipe at the education curriculum, describing the new syllabus as retrogressive and shocking.

The MP for Mpopoma-Phelandaba also vowed to fight for the withdrawal of the curriculum in parliament.

“I was shocked to hear of some of the contents of the new education curriculum when I visited various schools with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on a fact finding mission this week.

“For example, the new curriculum requires students to carry out research on how people practice juju by killing other people and get their private body parts. What values are we inculcating in our young people?” asked Tshuma.

He also criticised the new education programme for burdening students, especially those at primary school, with various research projects.

Tshuma and his committee visited various schools to gather information and views on the new curriculum.

“The parliamentary portfolio committee on education is on a fact finding mission to find out the effects of the new education curriculum and other related matters. The committee wanted to find out how the education curriculum is being viewed as well as the challenges which students and teachers are encountering in implementing this syllabus,” added the Zanu PF legislator.

On Tuesday last week, the committee visited Entumbane High school, Mpopoma High, Mpumelelo Primary School, Milton Junior and Petra High in Bulawayo.

The committee has also visited some schools in Norton, Gweru and Chegutu. The team is also expected to visit some schools in Matebeleland South and Matebeleland North.

The new education curriculum, introduced by former Primary and Secondary Education minister, Lazarus Dokora, has faced stiff resistance from parents but Dokora has defended it.

Dokora’s predecessor, Paul Mavhima, has promised to review some aspects of the controversial education programme although he said it was going to remain.

Sierra Leone: The country where children fear election time

WARNING: Readers may find this story disturbing

Mabinty Kamara – she was found murdered with several parts missing

Published: March 31, 2018
By: BBC

When elections come round in Sierra Leone parents are warned to take extra care of their children, as it’s feared that candidates or their supporters may abduct them and use their organs in black magic rituals. Olivia Acland reports on troubling signs that the rumours may be true.

At 10:00 on Friday 16 February, less than a month before Sierra Leone’s presidential, parliamentary and local elections, 14-year-old Mabinty Kamara clambered down the rocky path outside her house in Freetown. She was wearing a knee-length black skirt and grey polo shirt, and was swinging two plastic jerry cans.

The water pump was about 800m away – just a few minutes’ scramble down and up the stony mud lane carved into the hillside. With her mother away visiting relatives, Mabinty had been told to fetch water by her 25-year-old sister, Alimatu, who was at home finishing up the other morning chores. As Muslims, this was the first day of their weekend.

Alimatu swept the floor of their scruffy, tin-roofed house and shook out the bed sheets. She cooked some rice for her younger brother, sister, and cousin, and washed up the pans. After a couple of hours, though, she started to wonder why Mabinty had not returned. She scrambled down the path, shouting her sister’s name, expecting to find her sitting with friends and gossiping.

At the water pump a gaggle of women said that they hadn’t seen Mabinty, so she started knocking on neighbours’ doors and questioning people on the streets. After hours of fruitless searching she went home and waited, thinking that perhaps her sister had returned to the house when she was out, and since left again. Anxious hours passed and finally at 18:30 Alimatu went to the police station to report her sister missing.

“A policeman told me to go home and that he’d call me if they found her,” she says, twisting one of her short dreadlocks. “I couldn’t sleep at all that night, it’s not like her to stay out. I was very worried.”

The room where Mabinty lived with Alimatu, another sister and a younger brother

Alimatu spent the next four days wandering all over Freetown, checking areas where runaway children are known to sleep rough. She showed a zoomed-in picture of Mabinty, which she had downloaded to her phone from Facebook, to more than 100 strangers.

Five days later she had reached Waterloo, a traffic-clogged industrial suburb an hour’s drive from her house, when she received a call from one of her neighbours. He shouted down the phone that Mabinty had been found: her dead body was wedged between some buildings at the back of the Ministry of Education. She was identifiable by her black skirt, grey top, and the two empty jerry cans lying beside her. Her right leg had been cut off at the knee.

But she was missing more than just a leg, says Dr Owiss Koroma, Sierra Leone’s only pathologist. On examining her body he found that her tongue, ovaries, intestines, womb, fallopian tube and vagina had also been taken. Someone had removed them with surgical precision. The case, says Koroma, has all the hallmarks of a ritual killing.

These murders, carried out so that body parts can be used in black magic rituals, usually involve child victims, whose younger and healthier organs are thought to be more powerful than those of an adult.

“People use body parts for fame, wealth, or to gain power,” says Ibrahim Samura, head of media for Sierra Leone’s police force. The parts can be used in different ways, depending on the purpose. Tongues are thought to empower a person to speak well, for example. A juju man will say, “I need a female breast,” Samura says. “It will be used as a charm or a sacrifice.”

Ibrahim Samura: Parents should not allow unaccompanied children to the beach or to parties

It’s thought that the juju man’s clients could be local or national politicians, or anyone with a strong interest in the outcome of the vote – and that the body parts may sometimes be eaten.

Koroma says cases of ritual killing occur in Sierra Leone every so often, even when elections are not approaching, but he is aware of three cases in the last six months – significantly more than usual.

The first of the victims was a 10-year-old girl in Western Freetown, whose remains were found in a large, checked bag made from thick plastic. She was missing her left ear, left leg, left arm and part of her vagina. After this case, he examined Mabinty Kamara’s mutilated body, and most recently – on 15 March, after the first day of voting but before this weekend’s elections – the dismembered body of a four-year-old, found in a forest in Port Loko, in the north-west of the country. The child had been decapitated, and every organ had been removed, except for the liver. There were two holes in the back of the cranium. Koroma says he is alarmed by the precision of the surgery, as it suggests that someone with significant medical experience was involved.

Police also say there has been a spike in reports of missing children – though they are unable to provide statistics – and have responded with a nationwide publicity campaign.

“We use community radio stations right across the country to alert parents and community leaders about the trend of crime relating to missing children,” says Ibrahim Samura. We tell them that they shouldn’t allow their children under 18 to go to the beach or to parties unaccompanied.”

The message seems to have got through.

A shy schoolgirl told me last week that she is now scared to walk the 4km from school to her house in the village. Anxious parents have said that they are warning their offspring to be particularly cautious – not to accept sweets or lifts from friendly-looking strangers.

Outskirts of Freetown – Sierra Leone

But rumours can swirl out of control. When two children were found dead in the back of a car in January, an online newspaper reported that “cannibalistic rituals, by “devilish politicians” had long been a problem at election times. Pathologist Owiss Koroma examined the bodies, though, and says the children died from carbon monoxide poisoning; there was no evidence of ritual killing.

Those most at risk of abduction are children sleeping out on the streets. Jorge Crisfulli, country director for the Don Bosco Fambul child-welfare organisation, says that between 20 and 25 children have approached his staff seeking shelter in Freetown in recent weeks and that others have returned to their villages.

Twelve-year-old Abdul says he narrowly escaped a ritual killing after climbing on to a neighbour’s roof to retrieve a lost football. The occupants of the house seized him and started beating his head against a step, accusing him of trying to steal from them. He was then held for days in a room, where he was tortured and drugged, he says, until he overheard a chilling conversation between two of the men.

“One of the brothers said let him kill me, cut the parts that you want, and put the rest into black plastic bags to throw in the gutter,” Abdul says.

That evening he escaped and went to the police, who called Don Bosco asking them to take him into their care.

Adia Benton, a cultural anthropologist at Northwestern University in Chicago who has studied Sierra Leone for years, says ritual killing, or at least rumours of ritual killing, “escalate around elections, or times of power struggle”. She remembers hearing similar stories during elections in the country in 2007. The alleged victims were always children.

The country’s most notorious court case, however, involved an adult and was not election-related.

In 2015 a DJ, known as DJ Clef, was invited to play a set at a party in the house of famous herbalist Baimba Moy Foray. Clef, whose real name is Sydney Buckle, was later found dead, missing his genitals, toes, fingers and nose. It’s rare for anyone to be arrested and prosecuted in ritual killing cases, but Baimba Moy Foray and an accomplice were convicted and sentenced to death by hanging – though this was later changed to life imprisonment.

Nobody has yet been prosecuted in connection to Mabinty’s case. Thirteen suspects were rounded up and then released on bail. Alimatu is one of them.

“Every day I must report to the police station to sign in,” she says.

She would normally spend her days selling oil and rice to make money to support her younger siblings, but lately she’s just been sitting listlessly on the steps of her house.

“I don’t feel like selling now, I don’t feel good,” she says.

“It makes me so sad. Only God knows what happened to my sister.”

The police officer who was initially in charge of the case, A S P Mansaray, says three of the suspects were guards from the Ministry of Education and another nine were a random selection of Mabinty’s neighbours who were around at the time of the crime.

He hoped that even if they were not the killers they might be able to provide useful information. However, so far no leads or evidence have emerged. It looks set to be another unsolved crime.

Photographs by Olivia Acland

Source: BBC, 31 March 2018