For a better understanding of the article cited below it is highly recommended to read yesterday’s posting with useful background information on the cultural-historic background pertaining to this ritual murder case as well as background information on the three arrested suspects (webmaster FVDK).
Mankessim murder: Awakrom chief calls for arrest of ‘missing’ fetish priest, Ebusuapanyin
The following article contains two interesting aspects to which I would like to draw the readers’ attention.
First, I was struck by the public declaration of Chief Zoe, Ma Wrote Musa, to continue certain traditional practices of the ancestors, including the practicing of FGM, female genital mutilation. My interpretation of these remarks is that traditional values and behavior are still undisputed in Liberia, at least at the highest level.
Secondly, almost causal the Chief Zoe mentions ritual killings. Shocking, it’s a public acknowledgement that these age-old practices still occur in this West African country. I found it shocking – which it is not really, in the sense that everyone in Liberia knows of the existence of these crimes, based on greed, superstition and the disrespect of the rule of law and of the human rights of the victims – including the government. (FVDK)
Liberia: “We’ll Continue the Sande Bush Practice of Our Ancestors” – Zoes in Margibi Vow
“We will continue the Sande Bush practice of our ancestors in Liberia. We inherited this practice, and in no way, we are willing to end it. And, if the government and others want to force us, we will traditionally resist. If they want us to leave our ancestors’ practice, let them be equally prepared to let go other practices such as same-sex, the UBF, the Free Masons and ritualistic killings, etc,” said Chief Zoe, Ma Wroto Musa.
Published: August 30, 2022 By: Mae Azango – Front Page Africa
MONROVIA – Hundreds of Liberian school-aged girls and young women stand the risks of being initiated into the Sande Society, also known as the bush school, because, traditional leaders of Margibi County pledged to continue their ancestors’ traditional heritage.
Chief Zoe, Ma Wroto Musa, Chief Samuel Kollie and other traditional leaders in Weala Margibi County vowed to continue Sande activities admit the three-year suspension on the practice.
“We will continue the Sande Bush practice of our ancestors in Liberia. We inherited this practice, and in no way, we are willing to end it. And, if the government and others want to force us, we will traditionally resist. If they want us to leave our ancestors’ practice, let them be equally prepared to let go other practices such as same-sex, the UBF, the Free Masons and ritualistic killings, etc,” said Chief Zoe, Ma Wroto Musa.
Speaking in Weala Margibi County, during a recent town hall in meeting, organized by HeForShe Crusaders Liberia, the West Point Women for Health and Development Organization and Community Healthcare Initiative, the zoes, along with over 20 traditional leaders, said even though they are knowledgeable of the three years suspension on FGM activity in Liberia, but they will continue until same-sex and UBF is abolished as well.
During the ongoing dialogue, in affirmation of their support, all the invited traditional participants raised their hands in support of FGM continuation in Liberia.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs, which is the umbrella entity responsible for regulations of all traditional affairs, is unaware of the violation by many traditional leaders. When contacted regarding the wave of FGM activities going on after the three-year ban placed on the practice, Assistant Minister for Culture and Customs, Joseph B. Jangar, said he is surprised and shock at the same time such activities but promised to follow up with superintendents of the various counties that are said to be violating the three-year moratorium.
“The zoes and traditional leaders are all aware of the three-year suspension and not one of those zoes operating the bush schools will be able to show you any certificate from the Ministry of Internal Affairs because we are aware of the ban,” said Minister Jangar.
It can be recalled that in late February 2022, Chief Zanzan Karwor, Chairman of the National Traditional Council of Liberia, announced a three-year suspension of the practice of female genital mutilation in Liberia. The three-year ban which started with immediate effect came amidst campaigns by human rights groups for a total ban on the practice. But it seems since the declaration was made, many traditional leaders are openly violating the ban.
“FGM/C is not only a human rights violation, but undermines the peace and security of each and every female. Access to bodily autonomy is a right to every woman, end FGM and its not cultural but harmful suppression,” Saye Tamba F. Johnson, National HeForShe Crusaders Liberia. Johnson said Margibi County is the second county that has challenged the three-year suspension of FGM. The first was Grand Cape Mount in February of 2022. However, Lofa, Gborpolu, Grand Bassa, Bong, Montesrrado and Rivercess Counties are reportedly still carrying out the act, too.
According to this newspaper’s Nimba County Correspondent, two zoes in that county paid dearly for disobedience to the three-year ban when they were arrested in Sanniquellie, Nimba County, for forcing over 8000 school-going aged girls into the Sande Bush. The girls, who had gone to prepare for 2022/2023 school year, were all captured and forced into the Bush School by the two traditional leaders. And the report added that the practices are presently taking place in the 19 administrative districts in Nimba County.
HeForShe Crusaders Liberia, Lofa County Coordinator Boakai Yamah reported on the increase of FGM activities and listed towns and villages that are carrying out the practice during the three-year suspension.
“I reported earlier from Lofa County, on the increase in the numbers of Sande Bushes in operation across the county. Here are the names and locations where Sande Bush activities are ongoing.
2. Lawalazu Town, Lower Workor Clan, Voinjama District
3. Zawoadamai Town, Lower Workor Clan, Voinjama District
4. Borgondu Town, Quardu Gboni District
5. Korlelar Town, Quardu Gboni District
6. Kamolahun Town, Ngolahun Clan, Lukambeh District
7. Manena Town, Hembeh Clan, Lukambeh District
8. Lehuma Town, Wanwoma Clan, Wanhassa District.
However, for Lehunma Town all preparations have been put in place to take the children,” concluded Coordinator Yamah. Back to the Weala Meeting in Margibi, following the intense awareness on the importance of maintaining all positive attributes of the Sande Bush, making away with the circumcision aspect, the leaders and supporters disagreed. “Our leaders at the national level are seeking money and forgetting the values of our heritage. They are seeking their own personal interest and not us. They don’t consult us on issues; we only hear about them, which is a disservice to us. Hence, there is a need for you all to keep engaging us and let us know who are directly involved with the bush and speak out on what is possible,” said Chief Samuel Kollie.
The article below contains a number of interesting views – from various points of view – which throw light on the why and how of ritualistic murders and associated activities in Nigeria, commonly referred to as ‘money rituals’. It also mentions a number of recent ritual murder cases, some of them have been included in previous posts.
Personally I find the statement of a Catholic priest, Fr. Oluoma, perhaps the most convincing, simple as it was. He said that, had killing for money rituals been proven to have any form of potency, juju priests would have been on the World’s Richest Peoples list. Hilarious, simple, and convincing.
But another expert spoken to, the Chief Priest of Aroh Deity in Abagana community, Njikoka Local Government Area, Dr Paul Anieto, said that logic alone cannot explain the whole of life, including the accumulation of wealth.
Without mincing his words he stated that money rituals work. Nevertheless, he was quick to point out that there are various kinds of rituals for wealth.
According to the Aroh Deity Priest, some rituals involve the use of human body parts while others don’t. (…)
The native doctor clearly stated that he does not engage in the kind of money ritual that involves human body parts or blood, because it is criminal. Moreover, he said, it has deadly consequences for everyone involved: the instigator, the perpetrator, and the juju priest who executes the ritual.
Let’s hope he was sincere. (webmaster FVDK)
What we know about ritual killings for money, Juju priests, Imams, Pastors, others speak
• Money ritual real but there are consequences —Aroh Deity Priest • If money rituals have potency, juju priests would be on Forbes’ rich list —Fr. Oluoma … •Faulty parenting, poor education, bad governance driving youths to money rituals —Rev. Hayab … •Money rituals promoted by materialistic clerics – Sheikh Nuru Khalid … •Killing for money rituals, haram in Islam —Shi’ite cleric
These days, reports of certain killings in Nigeria, where the human body is decapitated and sensitive parts harvested are believed to be for ritual purposes. In some instances, especially, if the motive remains unclear, some people assume they must have been about money-making.
However, other people, including Christian and Muslim clerics, don’t believe in the efficacy of money rituals. By that, they mean there is nowhere in the history of humankind where anybody has made real cash appear through the means of magic. They simply describe such an idea as a mirage.
But the belief in the efficacy of money ritual killings continues to be rife, especially in a society like the Nigerian context where religion and the supernatural appear to be the opium of the people due to bewildering economic hardship and widespread poverty.
Investigations reveal that the ritual killings heighten around December and the year before general elections, because people need money to spend during the annual yuletide celebrations and other financially draining pre-election meetings and rallies.
As the gap between the rich and the poor; the haves and the have-nots widen across the country, the desperation to overcome the expanding class divide propel many citizens, particularly the youth demography to turn to the dark sides of the supernatural with the hope there will be a wealth redistribution in their favour through unseen support.
Recall the recent tragic drama in Ogun State where a 20-year-old lady, Sofiat Kehinde, was gruesomely murdered and her head severed for money ritual by four teenager suspects; Soliu Majekodunmi; 18, Wariz Oladehinde, 18; Abdulgafar Lukman, 19, and Balogun Mustaqeem, 20.
They conspired to kill Kehinde and played different roles in her murder. Her skull was severed in her lover’s( Majekodunmi) room after a passionate round of love-making.
Fortunately, the teenagers were apprehended by security men after they got wind that the boys were engaging in something sinister in a building located at Isale-Ijade, Oke-Aregba area of the State.
That is the nature of the Nigerian society where people, including kids who should be minding their studies and dreaming of a glorious future for themselves are pre-occupied with looking for metaphysical explanations to clarify otherwise simple phenomena of pervasive poverty in the land.
However, while some traditional religion practitioners speak of some fetish rituals some embark on for money-making, religious leaders, especially in Christendom and Islam agree to an extent that although life in general is guided by faith in the invisible, those who pursue wealth through the execution of any form of violent homicide are under an illusion, from a spiritual standpoint, that genuine help will come to them.
One of such clerics is Rev. Fr. Oluoma Chinenye John, a priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja who commands a following of 689,903 people on Facebook alone.
If money rituals have potency, juju priests would be on Forbes’ rich list — Fr. Oluoma
According to the Catholic priest, had killing for money rituals been proven to have any form of potency, juju priests would have been on the World’s Richest Peoples list.
In an exclusive chat with Saturday Vanguard, he blamed society’s emphasis on material prosperity for the pressure felt by those, particularly youths who resort to voodoo to make money.
Fr. Oluoma also chided fellow preachers who promote the perception that financial “seed-sowing” in religious houses would translate into miracle wealth.
“Two things I want to say are: First, ritual killing for money is an illusion, it doesn’t work. If it did, the Babalawo (juju priest) who is paid to do the rituals would have done it for himself and be living large. Even the governments would have been using prisoners condemned to death for money rituals instead of wasting their blood by hanging or firing squads. It (money rituals) is an illusion like magic.
“Secondly, preachers of the gospel should stop the prosperity gospel, they should teach people the values of honesty, diligence, generosity and hard work. The emphasis on material prosperity puts pressure on people who resort to any means to make it,” Fr. Oluoma, who shepherds a congregation at St. John Mary Vianney Catholic Church, Trademore Estate, Lugbe Abuja, said.
Faulty parenting, poor education, bad governance leading youths to money rituals —Rev. Hayab
For Rev. John Hayab, the Vice Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the 19 Northern States and the FCT, nowadays many people including minors seek supernatural solutions to basic economic issues that could be resolved through education and logic partly because of bad leadership and the faulty upbringing of children.
Speaking with Saturday Vanguard, the vocal preacher who is also the Country Director of Global Peace Foundation in Nigeria, also said people who traffic in stories of how supernatural power has prospered certain people do so largely to further mislead those who find it hard to accept that someone else can succeed through the ethics of hard work, prudence, and sheer ingenuity.
He said, “The way and manner many of our youths are deviating from moral values and embracing evil just to make money are dangerous for a peaceful future. There are many factors responsible for their going into ritual killings to make money instead of pursuing education that will lead them into researching and investing in science and technology.
“Other nations are doing well in these regard because they have laid a good solid foundation for both the educational, moral and spiritual growth of their nation and children.
“The Bible has admonished us to train a child in the way he should go so that when he grows old he will not depart from it (Prov 22: 6). So, what type of training and upbringing are many Nigerian children getting from parents, neighbors, and even leaders?
“Our society celebrates rich people without questioning the source of their wealth. Churches recognise the best-dressed worshippers and members with big cars not minding the source of all they flaunt around.
How will poorly brought-up children not think that money is everything and go after money anyhow just to be recognised and celebrated?
“Our society and our youths will reject the temptation of killing for money when parents bring them up in the fear of God and love for fellow human beings. Everyone should therefore take parenting seriously by helping to raised godly and responsible children.
“Also, the government must help to make sure our teeming youths have an equal opportunity like their counterparts around the world. A country where basic services are not available can make the youths who are not patient want to make money by all means just to afford some basic human needs.
“When you (government) give your youths poor education, they will use their half-baked knowledge to do wrong things. We should lead our youth by example.
“Likewise, faith leaders should preach sermons that will guide the young people right not misleading some of them with wrong definitions of prosperity. Prosperity is not just about having money. A healthy man, contented, and happy doing what he knows best for the glory of God and the good of all humanity even if he has not much cash in his account or pocket is a prosperous person.”
While there appears to be no logical link between wealth and rituals, the rising incidences of gory killings in our society by suspects who got into trouble with the law, because of their desperation for money are worrying and the society must be held to account for the phenomenon.
Money rituals promoted by materialistic clerics —Sheikh Nuru Khalid
The immediate past Chief Imam of the National Assembly Legislative Quarters’s Jum’mat Mosque, Apo, Abuja, Sheikh Muhammad Nuru Khalid who spoke to Saturday Vanguard from his location in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where he is currently observing the lesser Hajj, said the society has lost its sense of value; thereby, placing materialism above spirituality.
He also said that the ultimate goal of some people who engage in gruesome murders for money was the acquisition of political power in the country; stressing that greed also forms the basis of such gory killings.
Sheikh Khalid maintained that greed was condemnable not only in Islam, but in other religions.
The Islamic scholar, who also commands a mass following of 138,266 people on Facebook, stated: “We have to acknowledge that our society is in trouble. Values are lost. Gradually, we are becoming a valueless society. We glorify money and other forms of materialism above spirituality which is increasingly becoming absent in the mosques and churches.
“Materialism is taking the place of spiritualism in our preaching and actions, because the Imams and Pastors are less concerned about spiritual things. If you have a lot of money, you can garner a lot of respect in the society.
“Other issues responsible for the mad rush for money rituals are corruption and the get-rich-quick deceit. Our political system is also one of the factors fueling criminality in the form of money rituals, because without money, you don’t have power. People want money to acquire power. So, they are desperate in search money to reach the political position of power.
“But, if you put all these things together, they will tell you why all the religions are against greed. There are many verses of the Qu’ran and Hadiths of the Holy Prophet, cautioning people to desist from greed. That is why Islam is against inhuman activities that endanger lives, dignity, and the wealth of the common man.
“Above all, we need to do more to bring back the society to its normal sense, because abnormalities are becoming norms in our society.”
There is a telling example of this odd trend of abnormality becoming the norm in the story of 33-year-old suspected ritualist, Afeez Odusanya, who was arrested by operatives of the Osun State Security Network, codenamed ‘Amotekun’ for extracting teeth of dead bodies at a burial ground.
Odusanya, who said he did it for a money ritual when he was paraded at Amotekun command, Sabo area, Osogbo, disclosed he started his quest for money ritual in 2016 but it failed twice after extracting teeth from two different bodies in Sagamu, Ogun State.
Rather than accept that what he set out to achieve is impossible, the suspected money ritualist doubled down on his exhumation of buried corpse believing it would ultimately succeed if he added this and that to the process.
People like Odusanya have never seen the rituals translate into money or success, but they still attempt it anyway. By killing people, they get drawn into the relatively profitable trade in human body parts. They do not need to see it work; they just need to believe and start relating to the phenomenon as true.
Killing for money rituals, haram in Islam —Shi’ite cleric
But, a leading Muslim cleric of the Shi’ite sect in Sokoto caliphate, Sheikh Sidi Munir, maintains that tampering with the human body for ritual purposes whether efficacious or not is inglorious in Islam.
He, however, noted that the more killing for money ritual is hyped, the more people believe that others participate in it because it is perceived to be efficacious, and the more those who benefit in the trading of human parts oil the demand and supply chain.
In an exclusive interview with Saturday Vanguard, the Islamic cleric said: “In Islam, human dignity is a right given by God to all humans, who are referred to in the Qur’ân as God’s vicegerents on earth.
“Islam grants certain rights to humans before they are even born and others after their death. Whether dead or alive, the human body, created by God in the perfect shape, must be given dignity and respect.
“So, money ritual is condemnable in Islam, and the use of human body parts for making medicine, charms and amulet for any reason is haram (forbidden). It is unlawful in Islam to tamper with a human body, and a Muslim who persists in committing these kinds of rituals will find himself on a path that will eventually lead him into becoming a non-Muslim.”
On how to turn the minds of people, especially the youths from killings for money rituals, Sheikh Munir alluded to one of the Hadiths (traditions) to buttress the need for clerics to keep preaching repentance messages from the pulpits.
He said, “In one of the Hadiths of the Prophet Mohammad (SAW), a man was in the habit of digging up graves to harvest human body parts.
One day, he met a woman in a grave and had sexual intercourse with her. Afterwards, a great calamity befell him. He went to a Mallam who told him he would burn in hell fire, because his predicament was a result of his evil deeds.
“The distressed man seized the Mallam and killed him. Then, he went to another Mallam who told him that if he would repent of his sins, the Almighty God will forgive him and take away his reproach. The evil man turned away from his evil ways and became a good Muslim. So, as clerics, we need to keep preaching repentance always.”
Money ritual is real, but… —Aroh Deity Priest
Meanwhile, the Chief Priest of Aroh Deity in Abagana community, Njikoka Local Government Area, Dr Paul Anieto, told Saturday Vanguard that logic alone cannot explain the whole of life, including the accumulation of wealth.
According to him, to say there is nothing like money rituals is to say there is nothing like mysticism in life. He said that to stretch the logic of that denial, implies that there is nothing like God, because many believe that there is a mystical side to the nature of God.
He explained that there are Christians who believe in the transubstantiation of substances i.e. the transformation of forms, for instance, of the water and the wine into the body and the blood of Jesus Christ once they are consumed in the Holy Communion.
Chief Anieto without mincing his words stated that money rituals work. Nevertheless, he was quick to point out that there are various kinds of rituals for wealth.
According to him, some rituals involve the use of human body parts while others don’t. However, the blood of certain animals like rams, bulls, and birds are required.
The native doctor clearly stated that he does not engage in the kind of money ritual that involves human body parts or blood, because it is not only criminal, but also has deadly repercussions for all the parties – the wealth seeker, his collaborators, and the juju priest who executed the ritual – involved.
Dr Anieto said: “Some ignorant juju priest make use of human beings as sacrificial materials for money rituals and lucky charms. But this is not what the African culture teaches.
“Rituals are basically an intercession between the mundane and the spiritual. It is unfortunate that what we see today are so many committing various forms of dangerous and inhuman acts in the name of money rituals.
“I don’t engage in human money rituals and you can never see any real adherent of Odinnani (Igbo traditional religion) engage in money ritual, because “Ani” forbids the shedding of human blood. Violating this taboo comes with devastating consequences, because all deities in Igbo culture requires tooth-for-tooth and blood-for-blood.
“To accumulate wealth requires hardwork and business acumen. This is what Odinaani teaches but it is unfortunate that today’s youths lack this important virtue. They want to succeed at all costs, not minding who gets hurt in the process. They are ready to kill and sacrifice human beings for money rituals without considering the consequences of their action.
“There is prosperity charm which does not require the use of human beings or human parts but you must first have a mundane source of income to make it work. Do not be deceived into believing that there is a spirit that brings money for anyone out of thin air without a mundane source of income even in odious money rituals where human blood and body parts are involved.”
Above all, a professor of psychology at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Oni Fagboungbe, said rituals for both money and success exist only in the perception of the people.
He explained that for those who do money ritual, it is their faith that makes the ritual for money work for them and not the incantation or the ritual itself.
To him, it is the law of perception that is at work in cases of successful money rituals. If you perceive a situation as real, it becomes real. That is it. It is not the ritual that brings money, it is their mind and the attachment they give to it.
Fagboungbe decried the spate of ritual killings for money among the youths, and said there are several psychological laws that explain these behaviours.
According to him, “There is the Destalk psychology that says the part can never be better than the whole. The children cannot do something that is not rampant in their country.
“There is also what is called observational learning. This is the most active form of learning. These youths observe what goes on and imbibe it.
“Additionally, the law of effect says any stimulus that brings pleasure will be maximised and the one that brings pain will be minimised. These youth see the society. They see politicians commit crimes and they also see them get out of them and all sort of things. They see how the society eulogise and applaud dubious characters.
“So, there are no deterrent variables available. People do as they like and get away with it. You will hear Yahoo boys say that if they give money to the police, they will be let off the hook.”
While Christian and Muslim religious leaders attempt to undermine the phenomenon of money rituals by appealing to reason and by pointing out how illogical such a belief is, some analysts say that both logic and the law are powerless to serve as the basis of dissuading those who would not be dissuaded from their culturally perception of life and their place in it, because the irrational often trumps the rational in the real world.
Legal prosecution of suspect may have the power to nip in the bud any attempt at senseless killing in the name of seeking wealth, but people will keep believing what they want to believe about the efficacy of money rituals.
Therefore, to effectively tackle the obnoxious practice of money rituals in the society, the government must entrench the practice of good governance and do all it would take to pull the economy out of the doldrums that has widened the gulf between the rich and the poor in the country.
Ritual killing is real, herbalist speaks too
By Evelyn Usman
According to him: ‘ I inherited this trade from my late father. Before he died, he warned me never to indulge in any rituals that involves human blood. He told me that some of his professional colleagues died miserably because they practiced money rituals.
“He also told me one of them lost seven of his children after killing a virgin for money rituals. My job is to prepare concoctions with herbs and soap for cure of diseases that are planted into individuals by wicked people.
“Unfortunately, some of us who do legitimate business in this profession are not rich, when compared to those who are into money rituals. While they could be paid between N500,000 and N2 million naira depending on the outcome of the rituals, the legitimate herbalists may die without having N100,000 in bulk .
“Blood is potent for money ritual making. It has several types . But the only thing those patronizing herbalists who practice money rituals don’t know, is that one killing may never be enough. Killing of one person is just the introductory part. As long as the person wants to be rich, he would be sacrificing human beings to renew that evil covenant because the demon in charge of money always requires blood.
“Unfortunately, most people who patronize these herbalists don’t also know they are destined to be rich. These herbalists only demand human blood to fast track their predestined wealth”.
Some recent ritual killings —Lagos
A vivid instance was the murder of 24-year-old Precious Okeke, who just concluded her National Youth Service Corp. The unsuspecting lady had paid a visit to her fiancé ,Maxwell Njoku, at his Ajah , Lagos abode, only for her decomposing remains to be discovered in the apartment three weeks ago.
Report had it that her supposed fiancé allegedly killed her for money rituals, with an instruction by his herbalist to keep her body in the apartment for seven days, after which he would transform into a multimillionaire. Unfortunately, a curious neighbour traced the disturbing stench to the apartment before the expiration of the seven days .Another bizarre incident occurred at Araromi Street in the densely populated Oshodi area of Lagos, following the alleged killing of a mother of five by her husband for money rituals.
In this case, the suspect Sogei Jafairu, who hails from Etsako Central Local Government Area of Edo state, was suspected to have poisoned his wife’s food and mistakenly ate it. While his wife did not survive it, he did and reportedly opened up on his deed.
Again in Lagos, One Sherifat Bello was arrested by the Police after he confessed to killing his wife and burying her remains in a shallow grave, for money rituals .
This barbaric act assumed a cannibalistic dimension following the arrest of a suspected kidnapper alleged to have killed one of his victims and used his intestines to prepare pepper soup in River State.
The suspect, Roland Peter, according to the Police in River State , abducted his victim from his house and was at the verge of eating pepper soup and yam porridge prepared with parts of the body of his victim’s when the police swooped on him and some accomplices.
Ogun State seems to be taking the lead in the report on killings for money rituals. Recently, three teenagers were allegedly caught burning the head of a girl they killed for money ritual purposes at the Oke Aregba area of Abeokuta in Ogun State.
The teenagers: Wariz Oladehinde, 17, and Abdul Gafar Lukman, 19, and the 20-year-old, Mustakeem Balogun, confessed during interrogation that the victim identified simply as Rofiat, was the girlfriend of one of them who was lured into their apartment, where they cut off their heads .
On why teenagers engage in money rituals remains a riddle to unravel.
Other arrests made by the Police in Ogun State involved Pastors and Islamic clerics allegedly involved in killings for money rituals.
There had been several other cases of killings for money rituals in the state .
In Enugu, the south-east region of Nigeria, the story is the same. A housewife, Mrs Ifebuchukwu Onyeishi narrated recently, how her husband, Chidi Onyeishi, a tricycle operator , in connivance with a nonagenarian Pastor, allegedly killed their seven-year-old son for a money ritual.
The list is endless, with the introduction of different devices to achieving the devilish act.
Speaking with Saturday Vanguard, the General Overseer, Apply Praise Ministry International and Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria, Jakande /Bungalow district of Ejigbo, Pastor Segun Olatunde , said killings for money ritual did not just begin today, adding that he met the ugly phenomenon while growing up as a child.
Asked if it worked , he replied affirmatively . According to him: “Yes, it works for them. Because if it isn’t, people will not be indulging it in the practice . It has been for a long time . I recall as a growing child , our parents warned us never to accept anything from strangers, especially when going to school.
Today, there are different versions of it. Some use human parts to prepare charms , while others use the parts to enhance their business. For some, it is to attract money and favour, to them. It is mysterious, just as money is mysterious and answers to blood.
“Recently some persons were arrested while they were burning some human parts to prepare charms for money rituals. I don’t know how they do it but those arrested said they were burning the human hand for money rituals. For some, the money must be spent in a day, for new ones to come and failure to finish it that day attracts dire consequences.
Killing humans does not guarantee being rich — Ifa Priest, Araba Ifayemi Elebuibon
By Shina Abubakar, Osogbo
A foremost traditionalist and Ifa priest, Araba Ifayemi Elebuibon has said that killing human does not guarantee being rich stressing that many spiritualists that embark on it are actually living a miserable life.
According to the renown Ifa Priest, “money ritual is in two ways, first, the popular gruesome killing of human with a view to using their body parts for money is more of magical than ritual. Over the years of my being a priest, I have never seen or heard any Ifa corpus about killing human for money rituals. It is not a certainty but magical. Many of the spiritualists involved in the illegality are themselves poor.
“If it is certain that once you kill someone and severe body part, mix it with certain things you start getting money, why are the herbalists still poor? Many of those caught after perpetrating the killings and used the body parts still complained that it didn’t work for them. So, it is not ritual but magic. Ritual is what you do regularly to sustain a level of flow of spirituality. In Yoruba tradition, the money ritual does not involve killing humans. It is called ‘Awure’, ‘Osole’. It involves mixing natural materials to enhance business and getting favours, it does not involve killing humans, it may involve using goats, pigeon etc. Those who are responsible for the act are mostly Muslim and Christian clerics. The records are always clear, most of those arrested by police and even paraded are either pastors of Church or Muslim clerics. “To stop the menace, parents must be responsible and train their children in the way of God. We must return to our values, placing integrity above materialism. Parents must be responsible for their children’s welfare and they should not be expecting their children to pay house rent and feed the family. Also, religious leaders must stop giving respect or title to those with questionable wealth. We must collectively eliminate the menace in our society. Killing humans does not guarantee being rich.
President Mnangagwa was speaking on the occasion of of the National Cultural Commemoration Day. He was accompanied by ZANU PF government officials and facing traditional leaders. Mnangagwa said the values of respect and honor must forever be cherished, but ritual killings and kidnappings have no place in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabweans are being confronted with a surge in ritual murders of both children and adults. People who believe ‘muti’ will bring them luck, power, prestige or good health, have been ruthlessly disregarding the sanctity of life for their own interests.
It is seldom that presidents, other high ranking government officials or cultural end traditional leaders are speaking out against these gruesome and age-old practices which have no place in a modern society where respect of human life and the rule of law must be the cornerstones of everyday life (webmaster FVDK).
Stop ritual killings: President Mnangagwa
Published: May 22, 2021 By: The Herald, Zimbabwe – Fungi Kwaramba in Gokwe
ZIMBABWEANS led by traditional leaders, as the custodians of the country’s culture, should shun ritual killings and live-in peace, unity and harmony enjoying the rich cultural diversity that the nation offers, President Mnangagwa said.
This comes as the nation has in recent months been witnessing a spike in gruesome murders of children with the murderers wantonly disregarding the sanctity of life. Apart from that cases of kidnapping of children are also on the rise.
However, such practices, the President said, have no place in Zimbabwe, a unitary state that values human life, tolerance, peace and unity which are all cornerstones of national development.
In his address on the occasion of the National Cultural Commemoration Day, that is marked globally on May 21, the President said the values of respect and honour must forever be cherished.
“The values of respect and honour must be promoted while our chiefs and traditional leaders must continue to dissuade our people to shun these so-called ritual practices. The killing of our children is not acceptable,” the President said.
He added that the convergence of people from all walks of life at Chief Njelele homestead is part of the African tradition of approaching life communally and must forever be observed as it defines, not only Zimbabweans but Africans at large.
“I want to express my profound gratitude to Mambo, Chief Njelele for allowing the nation to gather here at his homestead and to share this important day with the great people of this area.
“This tradition of communities visiting one another and celebrating important events is in keeping with our African culture and tradition. As a people, let us never lose our communal approach as we continue to build peace and cohesion among our communities and within the nation,” he said.
This year National Cultural Day commemorations were held at the homestead of Chief Njelele, under the theme “Resilience in safeguarding creativity and diversity,” an apt theme that speaks to the needs to preserve the country’s rich heritage.
The President who was accompanied by Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, who is also the ruling party Zanu PF national chairperson, Youth, Sport, Art and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry, Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu, State Security Minister Owen Ncube, Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo and other senior Government officials, toured colourful exhibitions, where traditional cuisine, medicine, and instruments were on display as Zimbabweans in their diversity showcased their creativity.
The day also saw traditional artistes entertaining the gathering that thronged Chief Njelele homestead to celebrate Zimbabwe’s culture.
“I want to commend stakeholders for the magnificent cultural exhibitions and displays we toured earlier. These demonstrate the universally recognised fact that as African people, we have rich arts, customs and practices. As we have seen today, these are expressed through crafts, clothing, cuisines, music, dance, folklore (ngano), religion and languages,” he said.
But such a history can only be preserved if it is passed from one generation to another because a people without a culture is like a tree without roots, the President added.
“In line with my Governments quest to build strong cultural identity, values and ethics, I challenge families, communities and institutions to diligently nurture a society that recognises our rich cultural heritage while embracing our diversity. These must be passed on from generation to generation.
“As one philosopher once said, ‘a people without the knowledge of their past history. Origin and culture are like a tree without roots.’ While another said, ‘to know your future, you must know your past’.”
The President also saluted First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa for the role she is playing in coming up with the National Dress Fabric and reviving the Nhanga/Gota/Ixhiba.
“These programmes sustain our social cultural systems, a people premised on the African philosophy of Ubuntu/Hunhu which says, ‘I am, because you are’.
“I exhort families and communities to continue implementing these cultural practices towards protecting the youth from immoral vices and alien values,” he said.
In line with history and cultural preservation, Zimbabwe is in the process of honouring its heroes and heroines who sacrificed life and limb to defend the country’s traditional values.
“This year’s cultural commemoration entails that we also reflect on our liberation war heritage. The rich heritage interests. Research must consistently enrich studies in heritage, arts and culture with the view of informing the course for a more prosperous future. We can only ignore our history at the detriment of future generations.
“Meanwhile, I commend the youth for their determination, towards developing, publishing and broadcasting our rich liberation war heritage. This will go a long way in enriching the discussions around the country’s liberation heritage from our own.”
The President, who is also the Commander-in Chief of the Defence Forces, commended players in the arts sector for the broadcasting of the story of the iconic national heroine Mbuya Nehanda and the publication of the zography on Comrade Herbert W Chitepo, among other literal and artistic works.
“It is in this vein that on Africa Day, May 25, we will also honour and remember Mbuya Nehanda, who is one of the great authors of our revolution for national independence. I urge the youth, academia and professionals to be actively involved in the ongoing memorialisation of our heritage.
“Projects such as the establishment of the African Liberation War Museum, upgrading of our liberation battle sites, detention and restriction camps must interest our young people.
“These sites include Kamungoma in Masvingo Province, Pupu in Matabeleland North Province and Sikombela here in Gokwe District, among others.”
Meanwhile, the President promised the arts sector, which has not been spared by the crippling effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, that Government recognises the role that culture and heritage can play as a catalyst for sustainable socio-economic development, national, regional and continental integration.
“To this end, the creation of an enabling regulatory and policy framework for the development and growth of the cultural and creative sector is on-going. Cabinet has since approved the enactment of the Arts and Culture Bill which seeks to promote arts and culture as a vehicle for empowerment and employment.”
One of Liberia’s leading newspapers, the Daily Observer, today pays attention to the gruesome murder of Mordecial Nyemah and subsequent events: the protests of women in Pleebo, the vandalization of the Harper Prison Compound by protesters, the attack on the property of Bhopal Chambers, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the curfew imposed to quell the unrest. Most remarkable however is the elaborated overview of ritualistic murders in the country (without going into details of specific cases), in the aftermath of a visit of the Peace Advocates of the Maryland/Gbenelue Chapter of Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. (DATI). The delegation visited the family of the late Mordecial Nyema on Monday, April 19, 2021 in Pleebo City, Maryland County.
Both the DATI peace advocates and the Daily Observer newspaper editors are to be commended for their frankness and their plea for the rule of law and to end the medieval practices which are human sacrifices. The following article gives a rare insight in the occurrence and background of ritualistic murders and human sacrifices in Liberia. It is highly recommended reading!
Notwithstanding the foregoing, a footnote seems warranted. In the Daily Observer article it is explicitly mentioned that in Liberia ritual killings are mostly if not only occurring in Maryland and Montserrado counties. This, however, is not in line with what has been reported elsewhere. Honesty commands me to say that this has been based on my own research and experience in Liberia.
Nonetheless I agree with the main conclusion and plea of the article which is presented below. Respect for human life is an essential human right. The rule of law is basic to a 21st country. A civilized nation and people respect human life (webmaster FVDK).
RIP Mordecial Nyemah!
Dire Need to Respect the Sanctity of Human Life in Liberia:
Peace Advocates Visit Family of Mordecial Nyemah in Pleebo
Published: April 22, 2021 By: Daily Observer, Liberia
Peace Advocates of the Maryland/Gbenelue Chapter of Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. (DATI) visited the family of Mordecial Nyema on Monday, April 19th, 2021 in Pleebo City, Maryland County. The high-powered DATI delegation was led by its Maryland County Director Meshach Sieh Elliott. During the solemn ceremony, the youths of Dehkontee Artists Theatre’s Maryland Chapter expressed their deepest condolences to Ms. Mary Nyemah, the surrogate mother of slain youth and commercial motor cyclist Mordecial Neyma and his family, for their irreparable loss. Mordecial Nyemah was a twelfth-grade student of Pleebo High School.
DATI also presented a humble consolation package to Ms. Nyema and her family to help defray some of the funeral expenses for their son. During the ceremony, libation was poured to acknowledge the presence of the spirits of our forefathers so they would bless the gathering. Mr. Thomas Kuwait Nyemah expressed gratitude on behalf of the family. He stated that what DATI did to reach out to his family was heartwarming. He thanked Dr. Gbaba and the DATI team for a job well done. Ms. Mary Nemah, aunt of the deceased also thanked DATI for their general support.
What Really Happened in Maryland?
Recently, Mordecial Nyema was gruesomely murdered in Pleebo, Maryland County by twenty-eight-year-old suspect named Roland Appleton and three other individuals identified as Moses Malmah, Francis Clarke, and Daniel Wesseh—all youths. According to the April 9, 2021 edition of “The Bush Chicken” online magazine, Mordecial Nyemah was murdered along the Maryland-Grand Kru Highway in Gbolobo-Bessiken, Pleebo Sodoken Statutory District. As a result, concerned citizens, including mothers, youths, and students organized a peaceful protest and marched from Pleebo to Harper City to seek timely justice and redress from County authorities regarding the death of their slain son and colleague.
However, observers reported that the crowd turned angry when the Acting Superintendent informed peaceful protesters Mordecial Nyemah’s murder would be addressed during the August court term while the protesters had hoped their grievances would be addressed by carrying out a speedy investigation and trial. Consequently, angry protestors burned down and vandalized several private and public properties including but not limited to the home of Borfur Chambers, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Liberia, the Harper Central Prison Compound, and vehicles, while expressing their frustrations for the continual ritualistic killings that occur in Maryland with impunity.
In response, the government of Liberia imposed a dusk to dawn curfew and arrested several individuals and youths, including students from Tubman University. They were incarcerated at the Zwedru Palace of Corrections. Those arrested have not been arraigned and/or no fixed court dates have been set for their trial. In addition, the Liberia National Police confirmed that the
The Sanctity of Human Life
Human life is very sacred. It cannot be manufactured in a scientific laboratory, neither does man have the power to create a human being, except Almighty God. Though man plays a role through sexual intercourse during the procreation process, yet, that process of itself is a divine plan which can only occur when a male sperm mates with a female egg. Therefore, to emphasize the essence of human life God included “Thou shall not kill” as part of his Ten Commandments he gave to the Children of Israel.
Furthermore, to make himself very clear regarding the issue about the sanctity of human life, God rescued Isaac’s when God tested Abraham and asked him to sacrifice his only child. When Abraham raised the dagger to sacrifice Isaac, God miraculously intervened and changed what would have been a human sacrifice to one with an unblemished lamb. God performed this miracle because he wanted to teach mankind that we do not need human sacrifice to please him and/or to get or retain big government jobs. Ever since then, it became customary and the acceptable norm of every civilized society to slaughter an animal if one desires to make a sacrifice, whether to appease the dead, or to seek greater fortune in life.
The slaughtering of human beings is a barbaric act. It dates to barbaric eras when there was no rule of law. During those dark eras, man naively believed that offering another human being as an ultimate sacrifice would bring them fame, wealth, and success in life. However, when man became civilized and began to conglomerate there was a need to put an end to ritualistic killing because there is no scientific proof that killing another man makes you to become successful in life. In most instances success in life derives from hard work, steadfastness, and a firm determination to make ends meet. Therefore, ritualist killing and/or snatching another man’s life away in the darkness of the night is wrong and should be discouraged at all levels of society.
Ritualistic Killing Is Not Kwa or Grebo Culture and Not Liberian Culture Either!
Ritualistic killing is not Kwa or Grebo culture or Liberian culture either. It is mainly prevalently carried out in two specific regions of Liberia—Maryland and Montserrado Counties. This does not mean that ritualistic killings do not occur in other parts of Liberia. Nevertheless, when it comes to the frequency with which ritualistic killings occur in Liberia, these two regions rank top on the list. Hence, in my view and observation ritualistic killing as a foreign cult or custom was imposed on the Liberian people through the introduction of foreign cults or secret ‘societies’ in Liberia. Below, I submit some reasons for my assertion and observation as a cultural researcher.
Throughout the narratives that were told by our Kwa ancestors I have not heard any mention made of people being brutally killed outside of tribal wars like the way ritualistic killings have taken place in Maryland and Montserrado Counties over the past century. Centuries back, the Krahns were referred to by their Grebo, Kru, Bassa brothers and sisters as “Pineyoun” (Rich People). As descendants of biological brothers, members of these Kwa ethnic groups travelled to one another’s countries (territories) frequently. The Krus, Grebos, Bassas came on pilgrimage to Mount Gedeh to see the Oracle at Putu and the Krahns or Pineyoun travelled by foot to go to Gbenelue (Cape Palmas) or Zinonqlee (Krus call it Siloklee) in Sinoe County, just to see the Atlantic Ocean or to purchase salt, tobacco and other foreign goods that were not produced in the hinterland of Liberia.
Due to their fraternal relationships, those days a Krahn man traveling to Maryland or Sinoe or Grand Kru or Bassa could stop for days or weeks in any family house along his journey trail without any questions asked. They would accommodate themselves when the hosts were on the farm and when the hosts arrived, they would warmly greet their guests and accommodate them until it was time for them to leave. Not once did I hear the old folks say anyone got ‘mysteriously missing’ or was ritualistically murdered while traveling through Grebo, Bassa, or Kru land. In addition, it is also safe to say that even in the Mel and Mande territories of Liberia (western, northern, central Liberia) people roamed about freely without any incidents of ritualistic killings in Nimba, Bong, Lofa, Bomi, Barpolu, Grand Cape Mount, except for Montserrado where such diabolical act is also rampant!
Therefore, individuals who are members of the “Gboyo Cult” in Maryland must stop tarnishing the reputation of the Grebo people. Ritualistic killings are not an inherent attribute of Grebo or Kwa culture. It is a custom derived from the imposition of a foreign cult that is mainly prevalent in Maryland and Montserrado Counties.
Conclusion of DATI Peace Advocates Visit with the Nyemah Family in Pleebo
During DATI Peace Advocates’ visit with Mordecial Nyemah’s family, Ms. Mary Neymah, aunt and surrogate mother of the deceased, bitterly wept for the loss of her son and nephew. She said Mordicial’s biological parents passed when he was a child and she reared him. She lamented that he would not be graduating from high school when his colleagues successfully complete their secondary education.
However, despite the pain she and her family are going through, the Nyemah family is appealing to the Liberian government to please release those that are imprisoned as a result of their involvement in the peaceful protest that turned violent. Ms. Nyeman was speaking on behalf of her family on whose behalf thousands of citizens (mothers, fathers, students) took to the streets to protest and to march many miles from Pleebo to Harper City to present their grievances to the authorities. She says the Nyemah family regrets that what was intended to be a peaceful march turned into vandalism. However, she is also appealing to His Excellency George Manning Weah, to please release Tubman University students who are incarcerated so they can return to school. Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. also condemns the violent act perpetrated by individuals to derail the good intent of the peaceful march by the women of Pleebo and pray that our farsighted leader will ensure justice is served and that those who paid teenagers to perpetrate such violent ritualistic act will have their day in court.
Published by Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. Public Relations Section
Further to my previous post – on Seth Kwame Boateng’s breathtaking account of a journey to an orphanage in Sirigu, in Ghana’s Upper East Region, in 2011, I find it heart-warming to read about the valuable work which is being realized by the non-governmental organization AfriKids. In Northern Ghana, AfriKids runs a centre in the village of Sirigu and another in nearby Bongo district. Though I am not sure, it looks as if Afrikid’s Sirigu center for disabled children and pregnant women is the same as the Mother of Mercy Babies Home visited by Seth Kwame Boateng in 2011. Joseph Asakibeem is AfriKids project manager in the Upper East Region. He and his team are doing a great job. Read about their work below (‘AfriKids: Ghana’s haven for ‘spirit’ children marked for murder’).
Joseph Asakibeem hails from the Kassena Nankana district (in the Upper East Region) where the superstition in the power of spirit children is most widespread. AfriKids and OrphanAidAfrica have been fighting against infanticide for many years.
In 2013 the two non-governmental organizations were joined by Anas Aremeyaw Anas, an investigative journalist and filmmaker. Anas’ film Spirit Child ‘promised’ to become a U-turn in the fight against infanticide. In the aftermath of his investigation, local leaders in the Kassena Nankana region banned the ritual killing of ‘spirit children‘. However…., a recent follow-up to Anas’ 2013 investigative report – see my post dated June 4, 2018 – shows that the practice of infanticide still exists in the region. (webmaster FVDK)
AfriKids: Ghana’s haven for ‘spirit’ children marked for murder
Ghana, Upper East region – This Catholic Sister has dedicated her life to protecting babies and children and plays a precious role in the fight against infanticide in the region — Afrikids
The act of killing babies who were born with disabilities was until recently widely practised in some parts of northern Ghana. These children were labelled as “spirit children” with the belief that they brought bad luck. They were killed to “save the lives of their parents and family”.
These children were basically taken to medicine men who would give them a poisonous potion and lock them in a room. The belief is that if you die from the potion, it means you are indeed a spirit. The children are then buried in an isolated place far away from the village.
This traditional belief was highly practised in some parts of the Kassena-Nankana West District in the Upper East region but thanks to AfriKids, a child rights Non-governmental organization (NGO), the practice has declined even though it is believed to be still ongoing in some parts of northern Ghana. The NGO has so far been able to save a number of children perceived to be “spirit children” in some parts of the Upper East Region.
Joseph Asakibeem is the project manager at AfriKids. The 41-year-old was recently awarded the Bond Humanitarian Award 2018 for his work in saving many disabled children who would have been killed due to the traditional practice.
Growing up in the Kassena Nanakana district where the belief in spirit children was deeply entrenched, Asakibeem told Reuters that he and his team at AfriKids started talking to chiefs, parents, opinion leaders and medicine men about the need to change the perception they have about children born with disabilities.
Asakibeem explained to them that there were medical reasons for these disabilities – poor nutrition and health care during pregnancy, and the inability to get access to medical help during labour resulting in complications.
AfriKids has a centre in the village, Sirigu, and another in nearby Bongo district, where they provide help for disabled children and antenatal care for pregnant women. Mothers, through Afrikids, have also been able to acquire small loans to grow their businesses.
The main challenge for the child rights NGO has been trying to change the mindset of concoction men and other community members about “spirit children”, but interestingly, many of them have now joined the fight against the practice.
For 10 years, no child has been killed for being deformed in Kassena Nankana, but Asakibeem said the act is still being practised in other areas. Babies whose mothers die in childbirth, or who are born after the family has been hit with an unfortunate incident, have the risk of being labelled spirit children.
As AfriKids continues to expand its activities to the whole of northern Ghana, Asakibeem is hopeful that the practice would be effectively abolished in 15 years.
In 2013, Ghanaian investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas published “Spirit Child”, an undercover investigation film on the ritual killings of deformed children. Two concoction men were charged with attempted murder and another three men charged with conspiracy to commit murder.