The scourge of ritual killings in Nigeria

Two months ago I posted on this site a cry from Nigeria, ‘Let the carnage of ritual killings stop‘. Unrelenting, the editors of the Leadership, a leading Nigerian newspaper, again draw attention to the alarming rate of ritual murders and related crimes in the country. I have repeatedly done the same on this place.

This site is entirely devoted to the crime of ritual murders, based on superstition and belief in witchcraft, fed by an insatiable greed for power, wealth or a good health, and facilitated by a weak enforcement of the rule of law, impunity, and in the worst cases, the connivance of people in high places who are put in this position by the people they are supposed to protect. Ritual murders are a flagrant and intolerable violation of the human rights of the victims, whereas a sovereign state is obliged, often by its constitution, to protect its citizens.

It is sheer impossible to report and react here on all ritual murders and other money-ritual related crimes which are surfacing and are being reported and published in various newspapers. It goes without saying that an unknown number of ritual murders are never discovered.

In the past six months I have collected numerous articles on ritual murders in at least 15 Nigerian states: Adamawa, Anambra, Bauchi, Delta, Edo, Enugu, Imo, Kaduna, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Rivers (which I have not yet been published on this site), although I have reported frequently on money-ritual related crimes in these states (from 2018 onwards). Moreover, I reported various cases of ritual murders and related crimes in other states: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Benue, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Kebbi, Kogi, Nasawara, Niger, Taraba. Hence, altogether, 26 out of Nigeria’s 36 states. When consulting the general folder ‘Nigeria’ the reader will find other articles, of a more general nature, on the scourge of ritual killing in Nigeria, the Yahoo boys, mob justice, and other atrocities.

The seemingly recent rise of ritual killings in Nigeria has been mentioned here earlier. I only wish to refer to a 2014 article which I published in December last year. In it it was alleged that ritual killings were everywhere in Nigeria. Older reports of ritual murders as far back as 2001 can be found here.

It must be emphasized, however, that nowadays an increasing number of Nigerian raise their voices against these outdated and revolting practices which are ritualistic murders (see the folder ‘Nigeria voices’), among whom the editors of the Leadership newspaper, who are to be commended for the article below (webmaster FVDK).

The Scourge Of Ritual Killings In Nigeria

Published: May 10, 2021
By: Leadership, Nigeria – Monday Column

Iniobong Umoren was a young woman in her early 20’s who lived in Uyo the Akwa Ibom State capital. She shared, on Twitter, her need for a job, and one Twitter user named Uduak Akpan asked her for a private chat concerning her application. According to police reports, Mr Akpan asked Ms Umoren to meet her at a particular location in Uyo.

When the unsuspecting lady got there, the sinister man raped her, killed her, and buried her in a shallow grave. Unfortunately for the serial rapist and murderer, the lady gave her friend the phone number of the person who invited her for an interview. This number led to the apprehension of the culprit after the lady was declared missing for days.

There were reports that Ms Umoren’s gruesome murder was not just a case of rape and murder but that it also involved ritual killing. Mr Akpan’s entire family is  said to be involved in the barbaric business of ritual killings.

Two weeks ago, a report indicated that in Kwara State, a next-door neighbour allegedly murdered a groom-to-be for ritual purposes. According to the account in Vanguard, the deceased, who was said to be a devout Christian, did not know that his neighbour with whom he used to eat together was a serial killer and ritualist who has twice served jail terms. This wolf-in-sheep-clothing neighbour allegedly killed his victim, removed some sensitive body parts, poured acid on his remains for speedy decay to prevent it from fouling the area.

Last February in Port Harcourt, a suspected ritual killer was arrested while attempting to sacrifice a nine-year-old girl in the Ibaa community in  Emuoha Local Government Area of Rivers State. According to a report in Punch newspapers, the girl’s parents had raised the alarm over her sudden disappearance after she went to dispose of refuse in a nearby bush. It happened that the suspect had taken the minor to an abandoned compound, tied her with white cloths, applied white clay on her body with a coffin already stationed for the ritual purpose. He was in the process of performing the ritual when he ran out of luck.

In 2019, Port Harcourt made international headlines in ritual killings with the case of Gracious David-West, Nigeria’s most celebrated ritual killer in recent times. From July to September 2019, David-West killed at least 15 women, mainly in the Rivers State capital city. After his arrest, he confessed to at least 15 murders.

Official statistics indicate that there has been an increase in the number of missing persons all over the country in recent times. Some are found, while others are not. There is speculation that majority of those who disappear perpetually without a trace are often victims of ritual killings.

Incidents of ritual killings have assumed an alarming rate in Nigeria. There seems to be little or no effort by concerned government agencies to checkmate the trend. We expect that such cruel and barbaric act would no longer exist in our society given our level of exposure, enlightenment, and civilisation . Ironically, as our communities seem to be getting more religious given the proliferation of churches and mosques in all nooks and crannies of the country, it seems these heinous acts are increasing as the quest for filthy lucre pervades our society.

It is disheartening to point out that as developed societies invest in science and technology to keep abreast with a dynamic world, ours are still stuck in the mistaken belief that sacrificing human blood is the surest route to wealth, safety, and protection.

No doubt, ritual killings are performed to obtain human body parts for rituals, potions, and charms. Ritualists search for ‘human parts’ at the request of herbalists, who require these to make sacrifices or prepare various magical potions to give power and wealth to an individual. Some people engage in ritual killings to obtain charms that would make them invincible and protect them from business failure, illness, accidents, and spiritual attacks. Whether they succeed or not is open to debate. However, it is not easy to prove a link between such sacrifices and financial success or any type of success empirically.

Amongst a large group of Nigerians, including the well-educated and people from different faiths and social backgrounds, there is a strong belief in the supernatural and the effectiveness of rituals. This belief has a direct correlation to the prevalence of ritual killings. It is a well-known fact that some elite  in society indulge in ritual killings. Some people apprehended for ritual killings, and witch doctors who perform the sacrifices accused politicians, government officials and wealthy businessmen  as their  sponsors. They are said to use human beings for rituals to sustain their affluence and remain in positions of power.

Therefore, it is not surprising that there are usually  increased cases of mysterious disappearances and ritual killings during elections. Some desperate, fetish and superstitious politicians always consult herbalists and native doctors during elections to help them overcome their opponents. These spiritualists usually demand human heads and other body parts to perform hedonistic rituals.

Given the rate of increase of ritual killings, no one is immune from becoming a victim. But some people are at greater risk. People with mental illnesses and virgins are unique targets as the ritualists allegedly believe that their eccentrics and purity make for a more viable sacrifice. Also, people living with albinism have equally become victims of ritual killings, fuelled by the belief that their ‘body-parts’ could allegedly make one wealthy or prolong one’s life.

Sometimes, it is difficult to understand the mind of the ritual killer. How can someone take another person’s life in the quest for wealth, protection, and power? More worrisome is that sometimes it is not just an issue of a depraved mind but also a depraved group of minds.

Sometime in 2017, Lagos State, the country’s commercial hub, was gripped by Badoo ritual killings. According to news reports, over 50 people were killed by a Badoo Boys group, who moved about with an air of invincibility until the Nigerian Police routed them.

The Vanguard newspaper reported about the activities of the group thus: “Before the raid and subsequent arrest of over 200 suspected members of the cult group by the Police with the support of the Oodua Peoples’ Congress, OPC local vigilante and the Neighbourhood Watch Corps, Badoo Boys had been unleashing an orgy of killings, during which they crush the skulls of their victims. Their modus operandi included storming victims’ residences while they are asleep”.

People suspected that they usually hypnotize their victims, as none of them had ever been conscious of their presence. After that, they would smash the heads of their victims with a grinding stone and use a handkerchief to clean the blood and brain before leaving the scene.

During interrogation, one of the suspects confirmed that “they sold each handkerchief stained with blood for N500,000. He further revealed that they were mere errand boys for rich politicians within and outside Lagos state. But in their case, the blood and semen-stained handkerchief were used to prepare the spiritual defence for  some wealthy Nigerians.”

What are the root causes of ritual killings? How can society tackle this menace? What role should the government and relevant agencies play in ameliorating the negative impact of these dastardly acts?

Poverty and economic hardship in the land are reasons for ritual killings. However, these are not justifiable reasons to commit ritual murder.  Impunity encourages ritualists to commit murders because they believe they will not be apprehended or punished.

Another reason for ritual murders is the collapse in our moral values, ignorance and superstition, and lack of an adequate punishment system. We should also consider poverty and unemployment as a significant risk factor. If Nigerians have equal opportunities to earn income legitimately, there will be a reduction in horrific crimes such as banditry, human killings for ritual, and terrorism.

Besides, the inordinate quest and pursuit of quick wealth are said to be driving some people to resort to the use of human parts for rituals. And some usual suspects include fake clerics and herbalists who carry out the ritual practices for their clients.

Some analysts have recommended that government should investigate suspected pastors and imams and checkmate their activities because what they do under cover of being religious leaders sometimes leaves much to be desired.

o curb the increase in ritual killings, the government should thoroughly explore the intelligence-gathering approach and prosecute arrested culprits. Timely arrest and prosecution of arrested suspects would serve as a deterrent to anybody contemplating perpetrating ritual killing. Record of successful prosecution of ritualist  is not in the public domain. When there are not consequences for deviant behavior , it is incentivized.

For the public, commuters should always write down the identification markings of public conveyance vehicles they enter and make phone calls to loved ones to pass on the information. In the case of Iniobong Umoren mentioned earlier, the fact that she confided in her friend about the phone number of the person that invited her for an interview was instrumental in apprehending the culprit.

Most ritual murderers always wish to be unidentified.  They want to kill people but do not wish to be apprehended. Once information about them has been exposed to someone else, it becomes difficult for them to remain anonymous and perpetrate evil.

Commuters should also assess public transport vehicles before boarding in order not to board vehicles occupied by hoodlums. I advise ladies to carry whistles on them to raise the alarm if there is an attempt to abduct them.

In addition to these, people should avoid staying in isolated areas where criminals can quickly attack without being noticed, and everybody should be conscious of their immediate environment.

The spate of ritual  killings has become so problematic that our political leaders should declare a national emergency on the crises.  I call for stiffer jail sentences to deter potential perpetrators from engaging in ritual killings. Citizens should have trust and confidence to motivate them towards providing credible intelligence for security operators.

We should also make good use of whistleblowers. These are invisible law-abiding citizens whose primary function is to disseminate information that provides details towards the arrest of suspected ritual murderers. They should be anonymous, and the law-enforcement institution should not reveal them as their link persons.

The fight against ritual killings and other menaces in our society is for all. We should not rest until we create a culture where we always uphold the sanctity of life at all cost and the safety of everyone is guaranteed irrespective of social status, religion, or ethnic background. This task calls for authentic leadership. We must swim or sink together . Our only option is to swim to survive the social disaster we are becoming as a nation because of the collapse of morality, ethics, and law.

RELATED: Ritual Killing: Let The Carnage Stop

Source: The Scourge Of Ritual Killings In Nigeria

NB: This article was also published, under the same title, in ‘Premium Times’, signed by Dakuku Peterside. It is not clear which article is the original one. I apologize to the original author in case I haven’t attributed the article to the right author. (webmaster FVDK)
Source: The Scourge of Ritual Killings In Nigeria, By Dakuku Peterside

28-yr-old man in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, kills pregnant woman for N50,000 for ritual purposes (2016 article)

While working through old files of ritualistic murder cases I came across this article (below) reporting that – way back in 2016 – a 28-year-old man revealed to the Akwa Ibom State Police Command on how he was hired by a village council leader in Itu Local Government Area to kill a pregnant woman for ritual purposes.

For completeness sake (will I ever realize a complete overview of ritual murders in Nigeria? – I seriously doubt it), I am sharing it here, also to demonstrate that yesterday’s posting wasn’t about an isolated case. Akwa Ibom State, currently the highest oil- and gas-producing state in Nigeria, is a small but densely populated state, with a land area of 7081 km² and a population of over 5 million (webmaster FVDK).

28-yr-old man kills pregnant woman for N50,000

Published: January 14, 2016
By: Vanguard Nigeria – Tom Moses and Chioma Onuegbu

UYO—A 28-year-old man, Edet Stephen Asuquo, yesterday, made revealing statements to the Akwa Ibom State Police Command on how he was hired by a village council leader in Itu Local Government Area to kill a pregnant woman for ritual purposes.

Vanguard gathered that the suspect was arrested by the police on January 11 through the combined efforts of his brother and sister (names withheld) who reported the matter to the police, and the body was found by the police on a plantain farm.

Parading the suspect yesterday at the Akwa Ibom State Police Headquarters, Ikot-Akpanabia, Uyo, state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Cordelia Nwawe, said the suspect who was the victim’s customer, lured her to the market to buy oysters, later took her home to buy more, then killed and hid her body, hoping to harvest the foetus for rituals.

Nwawe said the suspect’s sister, who witnessed the act, reported to her elder brother who later alerted the police.

Suspect’s story

The suspect, Asuquo, told newsmen: “What brought me to the police station is because of the job given to us by a village council chairman. “He paid five of us to kill a pregnant woman so her head and her unborn child would be used for charms. “He said after we have carried out the job, he will give us N50,000 each. He did not give us any advance payment. After we had done the job, my brother became angry. “He said that this is not the kind of job I should have gotten myself involved in. He called my other senior and reported the matter to him.”

Source: 28-yr-old man kills pregnant woman for N50,000

Four nabbed in Akwa Ibom State for beheading woman for ritual purpose (Nigeria)

The following report, see below, is a bit fuzzy but nevertheless I want to share it with you. The chief perpetrator of the heinous act, who was caught, may not have been fully responsible for his deed because of his (unstable) mental state (but this is up to the judges to rule) and not all details are clear or have been confirmed by the authorities, however, the youth who supported the police which led to the arrest of the suspects merits to be applauded. A good example of how it should be – no mob justice, but the rule of law! (webmaster FVDK).

Four nabbed in Akwa Ibom for beheading woman for ritual purpose

Published: March 8, 2020
By:  Vanguard Nigeria – Harris Emanuel

Tragedy struck at the weekend at Oku Abak community in Abak Council Area of Akwa Ibom, as a woman simply identified as Eka Sammy was reportedly beheaded in her farm and the head dumped in front of her house.

Vanguard gathered that the woman fondly called Mma Iko Mbakara was ambushed in her farm while harvesting cassava by a young man, one Lucky Michael from Delta State, working hands in gloves with three others.

An eyewitness account averred that the suspect was caught by the irate youth of the community when he dumped the head of the woman in front of her house and immediately stripped himself naked before taking the youth to the farm where the lifeless body of the woman was found.

One Augustine Ekwere said, ‘’the youth of this village caught him and called on the police after their own assessment. The police then arrested his and his accomplices.

Continuing, Ekwere said the suspect confessed to the crime at Abak Police Station, saying that a prophetess contracted him for a fee of N15, 000 to bring human head for rituals.

According to him, although the suspect did not mention the name of the prophetess, he had already received the cash payment to carry out the dastard acts.

‘’At the Police station, the boy confessed to beheading the woman in the farm because he was paid a N150, 000 by a prophetess to do so. I fear that such crime is coming to my community, my stress and our house’’, he said.

Police Public Relations Officer, Fredrick Nnudam, Chief Superintendent of Police confirmed the incident and applauded the youth of the community for supporting the Police which led to the arrest of the suspect and his cohorts.

The PPRO who did not mention the number of suspects arrested hinted that the matter was being investigated at the Police Headquarters, Ikot Akpanabia, but source informed our reporter that about four suspects were nabbed by the police.

‘’I am in a picture. A woman was beheaded in the farm on Saturday while working there. Some youth joined the police to comb the bush and some suspects were arrested.

‘’I can’t give you the exact figures, but some persons were arrested especially the principal suspect’’, he said. 

On whether the prophetess allegedly said to have masterminded the killing for ritual purpose has been arrested, he said, ‘’as at now information is still sketchy but investigation is ongoing, so, I can’t say if somebody like that is involved.’’

Source: Four nabbed in Akwa Ibom for beheading woman for ritual purpose

Related article:

Suspected ritualists behead 82-year-old woman in Akwa Ibom

Published: March 8, 2020
By: Vanguard Nigeria – Chioba Onuegbu – Uyo

TRAGEDY struck last Saturday in Akwa Ibom state as suspected ritualists behead 82-year-old woman popularly known as Mma Iko Mbakara in Ibesit community in Oruk Anam local government area of the state.

It was gathered that the unsuspecting octogenarian was ambushed in her farm in Ibesit, Oruk Anam while she was harvesting cassava.

A reliable source in Abak local government area who spoke to Vanguard in confidence yesterday said the news of the sad incident filtered through the whole Abak town early Sunday morning.

“Actually the incident happened in Ibesit community in Oruk Anam local government area, but the principal suspect is from Oku Abak, in Abak local government area. I learned that the police have already arrested him and his accomplices. ”

I was told this morning (Sunday morning) that the principal suspect identified as Lucky Michael and his accomplices have been arrested by the police”, he simply added.

An eyewitness identified as Ekwere said Michael was caught by the youths of Oku Abak community who stripped him naked before asking him to take them to the farm where he committed the crime.

Ekwere added that the youths later called the police to arrest him and his accomplices, adding that it was at the Abak Police station that he (Michael) confessed that he was paid the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand naira ( N150,000.00) to bring a human head for ritual.

Contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, CSP, Frederick Nnudam confirmed the incident, noting that some suspects however have been arrested in connection with the crime.

The PPRO who did not mention the number of suspected arrested said, “The story is true. Some of the suspects have been arrested and the head of the woman was also recovered. “The principal suspect one Lucky Michael was in possession of the head of the 82-year-old woman. The matter is under investigation”

Source: Suspected ritualists behead 82-year-old woman in Akwa Ibom

Map of Nigeria showing Akwa Ibom State