Cult killings create chaos in Nigeria

The following figures are frightening. Watch out: I don’t want to be misunderstood. Not all of these killings were ritualistic murders, but many if not most of them were related to occult practices including ‘money rituals’.

Between April 2021 and April 2022, 281 people were killed in violent cult attacks across 20 states. Anambra state tops the list with 41 cult killings, followed by Benue state: 34, Lagos state: 29, Rivers state: 26, Delta state: 26, Cross River state: 23, Ogun state: 17,  Akwa Ibom state: 17, Osun state: 14, Bayelsa state:, 9 and Imo state 9. Notably, Anambra and Ogun states, in recent months, became notorious for cult killings.

In recent weeks, Ogun state became the epicentre of cultism and ritual killings. Between 2019 and 2022, at least 64 people were killed in various violent clashes among cult groups in Ogun state.

Nigeria is at a dangerous crossroads. Persistent state fragility increasingly leads to jungle justice. Poverty and poor perspectives provide powerful motives for the army of jobless young boys and girls to seek a better life in cult groups. The authority of the state is at stake (webmaster FVDK).

Halt rising tide of cult attacks, wars

Published: April 15, 2022
By: Editorial – Daily Trust, Nigeria

While some states in North West and North Central Nigeria contend with banditry and kidnapping, more than a dozen states in the southern part of the country suffer from cult killings. Between April 2021 and April 2022, 281 people were killed in fierce cult attacks across 20 states. The states include Anambra which tops the chart with 41 cult killings, Benue 34, Lagos 29, Rivers 26, Delta 26, Cross River 23, Ogun 17,  Akwa Ibom 17, Osun 14, Bayelsa, 9 and Imo 9. Anambra and Ogun states, in recent months, became notorious for cult killings.

In February this year, at least 20 people were killed when suspected cultists invaded a burial in Ebenebe, Awka North Local Government Area of Anambra State. They also desecrated the corpse of a suspected member, identified as Ozo, which had been prepared for burial. In recent weeks, Ogun became the epicentre of cultism and ritual killings. Between 2019 and 2022, no fewer than 64 people were killed in various violent clashes among cult groups in Ogun State.

In the latest onslaught, 16 persons were killed in Abeokuta including a kingpin identified as Tommy, who was hacked down at Panseke in a renewed cult war. Tommy ruled streets of Oluwo, Onikolobo, Adigbe and Panseke areas of Abeokuta. Tommy’s assailants tracked him to the chaotic Pankese area at night, stabbed him in the head and left him to die in the pool of his blood.

Responding to the clashes between the Eiye and Aiye cult groups in Ogun State that lasted for over a week, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, directed the police and other law enforcement agencies to confront groups seeking to destroy peace.

Governor of Ogun State Adedapo Abiodun had, in January this year, re-launched the state joint security outfit, code-named OP-MESA, where he threatened to make Ogun inhabitable for all criminals. In February 2022, Abiodun signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with his Oyo State counterpart, Seyi Makinde, in Abeokuta, where he declared that criminals were after his life because he was “making life unbearable for them”.

Cultism suggests nothing but evil. It involves the coming together of a group with  deviant  beliefs and practices that are not only exclusively kept away from the knowledge of others but such activities are carried out at odd hours of the day. Some plausible causes of cultism include peer group influence, parental background, drug and substance addiction, societal decadence, poor education standards, loneliness and the lack of recreational facilities.

In Nigerian tertiary institutions, for instance, Black Axe, Buccaneers, Vikings, Aro Mates, Supreme Eiye, Black Eye, Black Beret, Black Bra, Daughters of Jezebel are common names of cult groups. Their common features of identity include initiation through the use of blood or inscription of marks on the bodies of new members; oath-taking; and the use of specific colour as group symbol. It is in the character of cult members to engage in armed robbery, sexual assault, drug abuse, examination malpractice, harassment and bullying of students, and intimidating lecturers for grades.

Cultism has continued to survive partly because of the patronage from the society including politicians who use cultists either as hit men during elections or for assassinating political opponents. While some become cultists in their search for protection, others join cult groups to avenge an assault or a painful past. Some students become cultists out of the desire to become “Big Boys” and superior to their peers.

To halt the rising tide of cultism, parents must give more quality time and attention to their children’s moral development than they give to their businesses or office work. Good parenting requires bridging all communication gaps between parents and their children. To de-radicalise our youths, we call on the National Universities Commission (NUC) to make moral education a General Studies (GST) course for all students of tertiary institutions in the country.

As we recently reiterated on this page, only concrete security measures, not empty directives, would rescue the country from the security challenges confronting it. Government must demonstrate genuine political will to protect lives from cult attacks. The need to deploy modern technology in surveillance, intelligence and detective operations of security agencies cannot be more strategic than now when criminal elements have become more sophisticated.

If “an idle mind” as they say “is a devil’s workshop”, local governments in the country are advised to provide recreational and sports facilities that would keep the army of jobless young boys and girls in their localities busy. While we call on state governments to seasonally organise inter-schools or inter-LGAs sports competitions, we also urge them to support schools with basic sporting equipment. We encourage the NDLEA to sustain its ongoing offensive against drug peddling and abuse, just as we urge the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to, as part of its mandate; orientate the Nigerian public on the sacredness of human life.

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Source: Halt Rising Tide Of Cult Attacks, Wars

The prevalence of ritual killings amongst Nigerian youths

The cases of ritualistic activities, attacks and murders in Nigeria are too many to include here on a daily basis. I have stated this more than once. The article below not only confirms this. Some of the ritual murder cases referred to in the article have been previously reported on this site, some not. More importantly, the author of the article, Otuya Daniel, explains the reasons for this, seemingly, surge in what is popularly called ‘money rituals’. One of the contributing factors, he argues, is the example set by Nollywood movies idealizing the importance of a social status based on material wealth and the way one can ‘get rich quickly’: through a ‘money ritual’ which implies the use of someone’s organs and other body parts in a ‘juju’ ritual performed by local ‘herbalists’ who often are nothing else but criminals conniving in the act of murder.

For the interested readers: the article also explains the difference between Yahoo boys (internet fraudsters) and Yahoo Plus boys (ritual killers).

Warning: certain descriptions of ritual murders contain shocking, graphic details (FVDK).

The prevalence of ritual killings amongst Nigerian youths

Published: January 28, 2022
By: Otuya Daniel – The Street Journal, Nigeria

Never before have the quest to get riches by all means been so magnified among Nigerian youths than as it is now.

To satisfy the need for getting money, youths today have fully invested their time in learning and practising internet fraud popularly called Yahoo Yahoo.

They have created various ingenious ways to rip unsuspecting victims of hard-earned income.

As if that is not enough, the new wave amongst these fraudsters is to add killing of human beings for money rituals or as it is popularly called, Yahoo Plus.

While families and friends came together to celebrate this past Yuletide, it was not the case for two families who were thrown into grief as in two separate incidents, young girls were killed by their boyfriends in suspected cases of money rituals.

In one of the incidents, it was reported that a Yahoo boy simply identified as Osas who had recently returned to Nigeria from Ghana killed his girlfriend, Elohor Oniorosa for ritual purposes.

It was reported that the deceased and the suspect had gone out only for the young girl to be found dead with her throat slit and the fraudster went on the run.

A few days on, A 300-level student of the University of Jos (UNIJOS), identified as Jennifer Anthony, was found dead in a hotel room with her body mutilated and some body parts missing.

Jennifer was reportedly lured to the hotel by her 20-year-old boyfriend, Moses Okoh who drugged, killed her and proceeded to pluck off her eyes and other body organs before running off.

Such stories are not really new. In fact, in 2018, there was a public outcry in reaction to the gruesome way a student of Delta State University, Abraka, Elozino Ogege was murdered by some group of ritualists and internet fraudsters.

Not only was the poor girl killed, her organs were reportedly harvested while she was still alive.

The frequency of how these incidents has got many wondering, how did moral decadence in the Nigerian society get to the point where someone will unilaterally decide to kill, butcher and harvest another’s organs just for the sake of making quick riches.

Nigerian youths now consider the amount of money they have as the only accepted measure of success as such, they are ready to do any and all things possible to get it.

The ‘glorification’ of internet fraud in Nigeria is the root cause of this trend of ritual killings.

As a matter of fact, that it is called ‘Yahoo Plus’ depicts that many of these youths consider these killings as a necessity in the advancement of their ‘fraud business.’

Some days back, one of such fraudsters was arrested and his confession shocked many.

The 32-year-old, Afeez Olalere who was arrested by operatives of the Lagos State Police Command narrated how his mother encouraged him to kill his younger brother for money rituals.

His words, “My mother took me to a herbalist who told me if I want to be successful in the yahoo business, I will have to sacrifice one life and that person must be a sibling to me.”

Shockingly, the mother and son proceeded to kill a younger sibling for the stipulated rituals and were about to dump the body before they were apprehended.

It is not just parents of fraudsters who ‘support’ them, young girls are also now encouraged by their parents to date these Yahoo boys despite the attendant risks just for the financial ‘gains’.

A lady in Edo State recently said “In Benin city, at least 90% of parents are aware that their daughters are dating Yahoo/ G- boys and they are 100% in support of it.”

She also revealed that parents will gladly give out in marriage their daughters to such Yahoo boys and will even shout the catchphrase “them get money?” when these fraudsters shower them with money.

Worse still, social media has been vehemently used to convey the misleading message of ‘get rich or die trying’ to the youths.

Pictures and videos of flamboyant lifestyles displayed over Facebook, Instagram, TikTok etc deceive these youths and sometimes serve as motivation or the final push to some who were having doubts about going into such business.

Celebrities and/or social media personalities who should know better are not even helping matters. Sometimes even, they themselves display these luxuries lifestyles.

Nollywood actress, Tonto Dikeh recently revealed the extent some of these social media personalities go to display fake lifestyles when she said some people would rent money from bureau de change operators just to show off.

Although many of these displays are fake and only done for social media engagements, it does not register as such to the gullible youths.

Earlier in the month, two 15-year-old boys were caught in the act trying to use a 14-year-old for money rituals in Bayelsa.

According to reports, they lured the girl with charms, cut off her finger and had already begun the ritual process when a passerby saw them, raised alarm and the boys were arrested. It begs the question, where do these kids learn such?

Nigeria music producer, Samklef has said that Nollywood movies are a contributing factor to the rising cases of ritual killings among young people.

The musician argued that by constantly promoting fetish-themed content, Nollywood movies have influenced a lot of young Nigerians negatively.

His words, “Igbo Nollywood, English and Yoruba movie are the reason why a lot of young boys are doing rituals. They keep promoting fetish stuff in all their movies.”

Considered, there is some element of truism in the words of Samklef. For a long time, making money through rituals has been the predominant theme of Nigerian movies.

In fact, just by seeing the cast of a movie gives away the plot as some actors it may seem are only cast to play such ritual roles.

The plot of the movies have always revolved around a struggling young man, who meets a rich friend who introduces the poor man to a group of ritualists and after someone is sacrificed, the poor man instantly becomes extremely rich.

Having been fed with this content for a long time, it comes across to youths that a sure way out of poverty is money rituals and so, it is a route a desperate youth is willing to take.

Peer pressure and the company of friends a youth keep are also contributing factors.

As the saying goes, birds of a feather, flock together. Constant exposure and association with fraudsters will actually have a knock-off effect on many youths considering the fact that at this stage of their life, they make many outlandish decisions.

James McCue of Edith Cowan University, Australia advocates for parents  to help guild their teenagers as “A teen’s developing brain places them at greater risk of being reactive in their decision-making, and less able to consider the consequences of their choices.”

In the same vein, Nollywood actor, Ime Bishop Umoh, popularly known as Okon Lagos has said that boy child needs urgent attention to stem the tide of ritual killings.

His words, “Let’s fix the boy child and do it ASAP. It’s a shorter route to decriminalising and putting an end to most societal vices in our fast decaying society.

“Let’s put a central and foundational end to all these killings of young girls by these Benz driving wannabe boys.”

Generally, society has to step up and the paradigm should shift towards appreciating good and honest labour than just money or riches.

Just as a commentator said we need to digress and abandon the mindset that making money by any means establishes fulfilment in life and until we get this right, this generation of youths and the ones to come will continue to do things that are inhumane without any remorse.

Source: The prevalence of ritual killings amongst Nigerian youths

More (the following murder case has been referred to in the preceding article):

Police arrest suspected killer of 300L UNIJOS student

Published: January 12, 2022
By: Otuya Daniel – The street Journal, Nigeria

The Police in Plateau State have arrested and paraded Moses Oko, a 20-year-old suspected Yahoo boy who allegedly killed his girlfriend, Jennifer Anthony.

Jennifer, a 300L UNIJOS Student was found on January, 1st, 2022 with her eyes plucked out and other parts of her body mutilated.

According to Vanguard, the suspect was paraded alongside personal effects of the deceased and exhibits from the crime scene which included a blood-soaked bedsheet and a blood-stained fork allegedly used to pluck the deceased’s eyes

The State Commissioner of Police, CP Bartholomew Onyeka who paraded Moses Oko,  stated Oko was arrested on Tuesday, January 11 in Benue State.

The CP said, “The Command through my leadership has put together a lot of strategies to prevent crimes in Plateau State. But whenever crime occurs, we put in all efforts to arrest the perpetrators for them to face the consequences of their criminal actions.

“Sequel to the gruesome murder of Miss Jennifer Anthony, a 300 level student of the University of Jos whose lifeless body was found mutilated on 01/01/2022 at Domus Pacis Guest House, Jos by a man named Moses Oko ‘m’, aged 20 years, suspected to be her boyfriend who fled after committing the crime, the Command in a bid to arrest the perpetrator launched an aggressive manhunt on the suspect and tactically trailed him to Benue State where he was arrested by hawked-eye police operatives of the Command.

“The suspect will be arraigned in court as soon as investigation is completed.”

Source: Police arrest suspected killer of 300L UNIJOS student

And – referring to the same ritual murder case:

Suspected yahoo boy kills girlfriend for rituals in Edo

Published: December 27, 2021
By: Otyua Daniel – The Street Journal, Nigeria

A suspected internet fraudster popular called Yahoo boy who was simply identified as Osa has allegedly killed his girlfriend identified as Elohor Oniorosa, for ritual purposes.

It was reported that the incident happened in the Egor Local Government Area of Edo State near Benin on December 24, 2021.

It was gathered that the suspect, who recently returned to Nigeria from Ghana, allegedly killed the girl for ritual.

According to the report by Daily Trust, the deceased went out with the suspect but was found dead with her throat slit with a knife even as the suspect absconded.

The details of how it happened are however still sketchy at the moment.

Meanwhile, the Edo State Police Command’s Public Relations Officer, Kongtons Bello, who confirmed the incident, said the suspect is on the run.

He said that the father of the deceased, William Oniorosa, reported the case to the police and investigation is on to arrest the suspect.

The PPRO said, “The suspect’s name is Osas and his surname is unknown, who is a boyfriend of Elohor Oniorosa, daughter of one William Oniorosa, who also reported the incident to the police.

“Investigation is on while the suspect is on the run. The Incident happened on the 24th of December 2021,” the PPRO added.The Street Journal earlier reported how a sex worker developed a strange sickness and started vomiting blood after an encounter with clients suspected to be yahoo boys in Ondo.

Source: Suspected yahoo boy kills girlfriend for rituals in Edo

Nigeria: wife of the Bayelsa State governor, Dr Gloria Diri, leads campaign against ritual killings

Let me first of all state here that Bayelsa State isn’t an exception in Nigeria when it comes to ritualistic murders. My impression is that these heinous crimes occur in every state of Nigeria. But it is, however, exceptional, that high placed people raise their voices against such practices. 

In the past I have posted several articles on ritualistic activities including murder in the southern state of Bayelsa, see eg. my May 11, 2021 posting ‘The scourge of ritual killings in Nigeria‘ which included ‘money rituals’ in Bayelsa; furthermore, ‘Ritualist’ lynched in Bayelsa state‘ (May 24, 2019) and ‘Confession of Yahoo Plus Boys: “Ritual does not give us money‘ (November 11, 2019).

The year 2022 started promising in Bayelsa State when the wife of the Bayelsa State governor, Dr Gloria Diri, led a coalition of civil society organization to campaign against ritual killings and the harvesting (as it is called locally) and trafficking of human organs in some parts of the state. Moreover, she called on state security agencies to step up the protection of innocent children. The campaign started with the slogan “No To Ritual Killings.”

My congratulations to Dr Diri for this initiative and I wish her and her fellow Nigerians success in their endeavors to end ritualistic killings, at least in Bayelsa State! 
(FVDK)

Diri’s Wife Leads Campaign Against Ritual Killings, Others

Published: January 21, 2022
By: Osa Okhomina – Leadership, Nigeria

Wife of the Bayelsa State governor, Dr Gloria Diri, has led a coalition of civil society and girl-child welfare advocacy groups to campaign against ritual killings and harvest of human organs in some parts of the state.

She called on security agencies to step up the protection of the girl-child in the state. The campaign started as early as 7am with an estimated 12-kilometre road walk to publicly declare “No To Ritual Killings.”

The various groups and stakeholders under the umbrella of the State Gender Response Initiative Team (GRIT) noted that though two cases of attempted ritual killings have so far been detected in the state, the state would no longer condone the mysterious killing of young girls.

Among the groups which participated in the 12 kilometer walk against ritual killings are the coordinator, Committee for Democracy and Environmental Dividends ( CODED ), Mr Keme Opia ,the chairman Collins Cocodia Foundation  and special adviser , political to the state governor, High Chief  Collins Cocodia, wife of the chairman of the State Traditional Rulers Council, HRM,  Mrs Josephine Diette-Spiff, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA),  Women Wing of Christian Association of Nigeria, the chairman of the state chapter of the NUJ, Comrade Samuel Numonengi, Gloria Diri Foundation, Do foundation, Child Protection Network, Ethanrose Foundation, National Council of Women Society, Medical Women Association of Nigeria ( MWAN), Do Foundation international, Starrz Safety initiative and others.

The women groups were armed with placards with inscription such as “save the girl child from ritual killings”,  “Together we CAN”, “Join GRIT to stop senseless killings”, “Bayelsa is peaceful not for harvesting human parts”, and “ Our girls ,our pride.”

Mrs Diri, who expressed concern over the strange cases recorded and the alleged participation of young boys in aborted cases in the state, said the land of Bayelsa rejects such dastardly act and that by the peace walk, the stakeholders in the state reject such acts.

She also called on the mothers and the men to protect the girl child against such evil acts, “For everyone that enters the state, the gods of the lands and the security agents are watching. Let us watch and protect one another against ritual killing. For those caught in the act, we will ensure that the law takes its course. We are also now against out-of-court settlements and we want the law to punish the perpetrators.  Ritual killing is a distraction because if a child goes missing, government will abandon what they are doing and go in search of the missing child.”

Source: Diri’s Wife Leads Campaign Against Ritual Killings, OthersDiri’s Wife Leads Campaign Against Ritual Killings, Others

More:

Bayelsa First lady leads public campaign against ritual killers, ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’ boys

Published: January 20, 2022
By: Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa – The Sun, Nigeria

Disturbed by the recent cases of attempted ritual killings in Bayelsa State, the wife of Bayelsa governor, Dr Gloria Diri on Thursday led other groups on a public campaign against ritual killing and activities of Yahoo-yahoo boys in the state.

A Niger Delta University (NDU)student, Deborah Emafidion and a 13-year-old girl (name withheld) were recently rescued from suspected ritualists in the state.

The public campaign put together by the Gender Response Initiative Team (GRIT) and Committee for Democracy and Environmental Dividends (CODED) and other groups armed with placards with inscription such as ‘Save Our Children from Ritualists’ ‘No to Ritual Killings,’ Join GRIT to stop senseless killings’, ‘Bayelsa is peaceful not for harvesting human parts”, commenced with a 12 kilometre walk and distribution of flyers from Ekeki Park, Azikoro road to the Peace Park, opposite the Bayelsa State Government House.

Dr Diri, who incidentally is the initiator of GRIT, expressed concern over the strange cases recorded and the involvement of teenagers in attempted ritual killings in the state.

“The land of Bayelsa rejects such a dastardly act and by this peace walk, the stakeholders in the state reject such acts. The youths and women of Bayelsa reject it. I urge everyone to be their brothers’ keeper. If they try it in other states, Bayelsa will not condone it any longer. For everyone that enters the state, the gods of the lands and the security agents are watching. Let us watch and protect one another against ritual killing. For those caught in the act, we will ensure that the law takes its course. We are also now against out-of-court settlements and we want the law to punish the perpetrators,” she said.

The Chairperson of GRIT, Dise Ogbise, pointed out that with the peace walk against ritual killings; Governor Douye Diri led prosperity Government has once again made history by bringing together key actors in its fight against ritual killings and cultism in the state.

“The state Government has once again reiterated its resolve to end all forms of violence in the state as perpetrators of ritual killing and cultic groups will be prosecuted,” she said.

hairman of the Collins Cocodia Foundation and Special Adviser, Political to Bayelsa Governor, Chief Collins Cocodia, also expressed concern over the cases of ritual killings and called for a concerted effort to nip it in the bud.

Queen of Twon Brass Kingdom and Chairperson, Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Wives Association, Bayelsa, Queen Josephine Diette-Spiff said the case of Deborah underscored the danger facing girls and women in the state.

While commending GRIT and CODED for putting the campaign together, she called on security agencies to step up operations to be able to track perpetrators of all forms of violence.

Other groups that participated in the solidarity walk include International Federation of Female Lawyers (FIDA), Gloria Diri Foundation, Collins Cocodia Foundation, Do foundation among others.

Source: Bayelsa First lady leads public campaign against ritual killers, ‘Yahoo-Yahoo’ boys

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