There are strong indications that Nigeria, the most populous black nation in the world, is passing through hard times. While incidents of terrorism and banditry have made most of the northern parts of the country dreaded places to live in, cases of ritual killings for wealth, kidnapping, and internet fraud continue to send fear down the spines of people living in the southern parts of the country.
People are declared missing every day. This trend and the arrest of suspected ritual killers suggest that many of those declared missing may have been victims of ritual sacrifices. What is more frightful regarding the evil practice of killing for rituals is the sensitive involvement of the youths. According to police records, most of those arrested in connection to these ritual killings are youths, and that is what is keeping the communities permanently worried. Some are still teenagers, while most of them are in their early 20s.
Investigations, however, reveal that the southwest region of the country is the hub of youth perpetrated ritual killings, kidnappings, and internet fraud (otherwise known as ‘Yahoo-Yahoo) in Nigeria.
A local online news medium, The Cable reported recently how a den of kidnappers was discovered in 2014 in the Soka Community, Ibadan, Oyo State. According to the reporter, after the den was busted, human skulls, dried human parts alongside malnourished victims who were reserved for ritual purposes, were discovered. Since then, there have been multiple revelations of suspected ritual killings in the area.
There has been one case too many of ritual killings in Nigeria and this has become worrisome.
On Christmas eve 2021, a suspected internet fraudster (who is popularly referred to as yahoo boy), identified by the police as Osas was reported to have killed his girlfriend, Elohor Oniorosa in what was said to be a ritual sacrifice in Benin, Edo State.
A youth was also apprehended by the police, suspected to have killed his father, Michael Olagunju at a farm in Kajola, Odo-Owa, in Oke-Ero Local Government, Kwara State. He reportedly sold the father’s body parts, including two hands and a heart, to some ritualists.
Also, in Ikorodu, a mother and her son were arrested along Itamaga-Ikorodu Road, Lagos, during a stop and search operation for allegedly killing the younger sibling for a money ritual. The son, Afeez Olalere, told the police that his mother encouraged him to commit the heinous crime.
Reports of a missing 300-level student at the University of Jos in Plateau State ushered made waves on New Year’s Day 2022. Jennifer Anthony’s body was found to have been mutilated at a hotel along Zaria Road with some of her body parts including her eyes missing. The perpetrator of the act was her 20-year-old ex-boyfriend, Moses Oko, who was arrested a few days later.
News was also spread around that the Eyita Sabo Cemetery in Ikorodu, Lagos, southwest Nigeria was invaded in January by suspected ritualists who went to harvest organs of humans buried there.
Still, in January, the police in Bayelsa State, south-south Nigeria arrested three teenage suspects –Emomotimi, Perebi, and Eke, all 15 years old, for alleged attempted ritual killing in the Sagbama Local Government Area of the State. According to the police, the suspects accosted one 13-year-old Comfort and hypnotized her to follow them to Emomotimi’s apartment where they cut her finger and sprinkled the blood on a mirror for ritual purposes.
In Abeokuta, the capital city of Ogun State, southwest Nigeria, on January 29, a 20-year-old lady, Sofiat Kehinde was murdered in cold blood and had her head severed for an alleged money ritual by four teenagers who confessed to having committed the crime. The four teenage suspects; Soliu Majekodunmi, 18; Wariz Oladehinde, 18; Abdulgafar Lukman, 19; and Balogun Mustaqeem, 20 were arrested and had since been charged to court and remanded to prison custody.
They confessed to having conspired to kill Kehinde and played different roles in her murder. The victim’s skull was severed in her lover, Majekodunmi’s room, and burnt almost to ashes. Surprisingly, the confession of the teenagers bothered on how to get rich quick at an early stage of their lives.
More than ever before, the get-rich-quick syndrome among Nigerian youths has become alarmingly high with many teenagers and adults willing to do anything to cut corners in a desperate attempt to lead a flamboyant life, ride exotic cars, live in luxury apartments, and spend lavishly at functions.
An incident involving a group of four teenage girls who were said to be students at a secondary school in Lagos was reported on Tuesday, February 8th. The girls were caught with human parts concealed inside their school bags for alleged money rituals.
According to reports, the young girls were discovered after a taxi driver who carried them raised an alarm that he perceived foul odour from his cab. The driver is said to have handed the girls to the gateman of the school and when their school bags were checked, human heads were found inside. Law enforcement officers reportedly swung into action and the girls were arrested.
Meanwhile, the alarming rate of cases of kidnapping and killing for rituals forced a Church in Anambra State, southeast Nigeria, the Grace of God Mission International in Onitsha to hold prayer rallies around the commercial city against cultism and drug consumption.
Interestingly, worshippers of different traditional religions on the platform of Traditional Religion Worshippers Association, Ibadan Branch in Oyo State absolved the association and its members from being part of the perpetrators of the ritual killings. They urged the Federal Government to order a clampdown on perpetrators of these “wicked and murderous acts” all over the country.
The Chairman, Ibadan Branch of the Traditional Worshippers Association of Nigeria, Adefabi Dasola, and the Secretary, Mogaji Dr. Fakayode Fayemi Fatunde, said in a statement that no Yoruba deity was recorded to have used human beings or parts of their bodies for riches.
They said the current situation in Nigeria and Africa where some youths exhibit tons of cash, jewelry, posh automobiles, and other material wealth on social media, thereby inviting unsuspecting members of the public to subscribe to the same venture, is horrible and should be stamped out by the Federal Government.
Traditionalists claim that the daily reports of killings and kidnappings for ritual purposes is traceable to the belief that wealth could be made by sacrificing human lives.
A former Nigerian senator, Ben Murray-Bruce, has also condemned the growing tendency of ritual killings among young people.
The former Senator, who represented Bayelsa East Senatorial District, claimed in a tweet that young people who are regarded as the future “leaders of tomorrow now engage in unimaginable crimes just to become millionaires overnight.
“What has suddenly gone wrong with young people who now believe that rituals involving human blood will make them rich?
“So many Nigerians go missing daily, and many are never found. Some are found dead with body parts missing. We must work to stop this trend. The narrative that poverty and unemployment get young people into ritual killings must not be accepted,” he warned.
The embattled former lawmaker railed that “We must return to our traditional family values where charity begins at home. The family remains where the teachings of ethics begin. This is where moral instructions are imbibed in children. This is where discipline and good morals are instilled in children regardless of their religion. We must rebuild our families and inculcate love and tolerance among our children.
“The government must do more to encourage young people to use their knowledge of technology for productive ventures. With this, I’m calling on the government to establish tech hubs and tech sharks to train young people in information and digital skills aimed at making Nigeria and the world a better place. We must teach them good virtues, hard work, and patience.”
In unison with millions of other Nigerians, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce had this message to Nigerian youths: “I want young people to know that there is no shortcut to being wealthy without hard work. Killing a human being for ritual purposes will not make you rich overnight. It will only take you to hell.”
Turning his attention to the political class and law enforcement, the Senator said “Our politicians and elites must show restraint in the way they flaunt their wealth both publicly and on social media…The Nigeria Police and other security agencies should also deploy intelligence and apprehend the perpetrators of these acts and bring them to justice. While our worship centres must focus more on encouraging young people to embrace hard work diligence and patience.”
While speaking on the menace of ritual killings in the country, the Minister of the Interior, Rauf Aregbesola was quick to blame the upsurge in crime amongst youths in the country on parents’ faulty upbringing. It lamented the rate at which young people engage in the ritual killing under the pretext of looking for quick wealth.
“What is obviously lacking is the insufficient parental guardian. Let us address parental issues, parents must be encouraged to properly groom their children and grooming is not just about discipline, it goes beyond that. It involves correcting any vices, malpractices, misbehaviors among others,” Mr. Aregbesola pointed out.
He added that: “When parents are sensitive to what their children need to the company they keep, definitely we are going to have well-groomed and disciplined children.”