Nigeria: 166 ritual and cult related killings in the South West in 2023

Nigeria has an immense security problem. Boko Haram and other terrorists, armed criminal groups, bandits, kidnappers, communal clashes, political killings and – last but not least – ritual and cult-related murders terrorize the population of this West African country.

When President Bola Tinubu assumed office on May 29 last year he promised to end or reduce the insecurity in Africa’s most populated country (an estimated 225 million people in 2023). One year later we have a quick look at some data. The result is frightening.

On this site I focus on murders for ritual purposes, therefor I will skip the other atrocities here (though mentioned in the article below). In 2023 there were reportedly 166 people murdered in ritual and cult-related killings in the South West. Presumably the author of the article, Jeph Ajobaju, refers here to the South West geopolitical zone.

The Federal Republic of Nigeria is divided into six geopolitical zones commonly called zones.

The six geopolitical zones of Nigeria

The South West geopolitical zone consists of  of EkitiLagosOgunOndoOsun, and Oyo States (6 out of Nigeria’s 36 states) with an estimated combined population of about 50 million people (2023).

Based on Ajobaju’s information that in the South West in 2023 166 persons died as a result of ritual and cult related killings, I estimate that in Nigeria at least one person a day dies as a result of ‘money rituals’, murder for ritual purposes. And this is a conservative estimate.

Insecurity rubbishes Tinubu’s inaugural speech to spew mass atrocities

Bola Tinubu, president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (May 29, 2023 – present)

Published: June 3, 2024
By: Jeph Ajobaju – The Niche, Nigeria

Bola Tinubu marked one year in office on May 29 as President against the backdrop of major concerns over insecurity he promised to end or reduce during the hustings last year.

Historical data plus new reports of abductions, kidnappings, and attacks show terrorists’ invasions persist despite more money being poured into security architecture.

Abuja in 2020 deployed technology to track and close the bank accounts of peaceful EndSars protesters who did not commit a fraction of the atrocities terrorists have inflicted on citizens, but it fails to also use the same apparatus to track and prosecute kidnappers.

Tinubu promised in his inaugural speech that “security shall be the top priority of our administration because neither prosperity nor justice can prevail amidst insecurity and violence.”

However, data from various tracking institutions shows an upsurge in mass killings by criminals as well as other forms of criminal conduct.

All demographics – old, young rich, and poor – live in fear of non-state actors who perpetrate violence on a large scale.


Daily Post writes that verified media reports and confirmation from security agencies show up to 500 people and counting have been kidnapped in mass abductions in the North so far in 2024.

February 2024

Up to 200 women and children were kidnapped from an Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Gamboru Ngala in Borno.

March 2024

287 schoolchildren were snatched by bandits in Chikun in Kaduna.

Some 15 children were taken from a Tsangaya school in Sokoto.

61 people were kidnapped by gunmen in Kajuru in Kaduna.

November 2023

Coordinated attacks by armed groups saw the kidnapping of 150 people from four villages in Zamfara.

December 2023

At least 190 people were killed and over 300 injured between 23 and 25 December in attacks on at least 20 communities in remote parts of Plateau.

North West

Armed Conflict Location & Events Data (ACLED) also found between 2019 and 2023, the North West witnessed 662 kidnapping-related incidents.

South East

The South East recorded 533 insecurity-related incidents in 2023, according to ACLED, with over 224 people killed by gunmen between January and May 2023.

South West

Media reports show 166 people were murdered in ritual and cult-related killings in the South West

Global Rights through its on-site tracking, recorded more than 6,945 mass atrocities across the country in the first 11 months of Tinubu’s tenure.

May 2023-April 2024

Between 29 May 2023 and 23 April 2024, Global Rights found 3,707 killings and 3,238 abductions.

A minimum 4,416 innocent civilians were killed along with 262 security personnel.

Zamfara led the numbers – mainly abductions – at 636 in 2023, followed by Plateau with 627 killings.

Figures compiled by Global Rights

A recent report by Global Rights said in 2023 alone

  • 1,781 people were killed by bandits
  • 637 by ISWAP or Boko Haram
  • 524 died in communal clashes
  • 475 died in herdsmen attacks
  • 118 were murdered through political killings

Figures collated by Nigeria Mourns

  • 2,423 killings between 29 May 2023 and 26 January 2024
  • 1,872 abductions in the same period

‘‘Global Right’s data is what we call the minimum. If you look at the various data from SBM Intelligence, from Data 5, from Nestia, and others, you will see similarities,” explained Global Rights Programme Manager Edosa Oviawe, 

“It just shows that even though we are all doing it independently, we are reporting the same issues. We have backup documents for all of these.

“We are not just putting out numbers, we have the locations, we have the names of victims.”

Oviawe warned the efforts of the government may never be appreciated until it tackles insecurity.

“Doing other things, the economy and the rest are good, but security is paramount.

”If the people are dying and are being killed, every other thing you are doing makes no sense for Nigerians.

“If a man cannot live in safety, if he doesn’t have that assurance that as he steps out of his house, he is not going to become one of the numbers we are counting, then every other thing you are putting together as a government makes no meaning.’’

Souce: Insecurity rubbishes Tinubu’s inaugural speech to spew mass atrocities