Rituals and sacrifices in Africa, particularly in Nigeria are as old as the world itself. However, concerns have been expressed over the spate of ritual killings being recorded regularly in the country. Fred Itua and Chalya Dul examine this trend.
Africa, in the eyes of some researchers and authors from the western world is that: it is a dark continent. A number of weird and funny reasons birthed this despicable assumption. Contrary to modern day reality, some countries, towns and villages in Africa are still involved in some ritual rites that involve the shedding of human blood. DR Congo, Ghana, Liberia, Uganda and a handful of other countries in the continent, still harbour some of these traditional exercises.
Back home in Nigeria, an unacceptable and morally disgruntled practice has continued to dominate public discourse, yet nothing serious has been done to put it under check or salvage the worrisome situation.
Ritual killing took a worrisome dimension in Nigeria since the inception of this democratic dispensation in 1999. While some have tied these killings to ambitious quest to gain political powers, others have argued that it is done primarily by poor and desperate people who against all odds are determined to amass wealth.
Reminiscent of the late 80s and early 90s when the fear of the popular ‘gbomo gbomo’ became the beginning of wisdom, parents used to admonish their wards never to accept gifts from strangers as there were cases of child kidnapping which was assumed were used for rituals. There were cases of lifeless children abandoned on the streets with some parts of their body missing.
These ritual killings are not the special preserves of any particular area in the country; every region, tribe and state has its own share of the scourge. From the deep valleys in Obudu, Cross River State to the ebullient city of Kano, this worrisome phenomenon has defiled any form of common sense. More troubling are the unsolved cases of these ritual killings recorded in recent years.
April 13, 2012 saw the lifeless body of a woman found along Katampe-Kubwa expressway in Abuja at about 7.30 in the morning. The corpse was headless, while some delicate body parts were severed from her body. Onlookers who were at the scene concluded that it was an act of ritual killing.
One respondent who spoke to LEADERSHIP WEEKEND said, “This is a ritual killing from all indications and based on my experience on the job. As I said, investigations just started, anything can still come out.”
In a similar scenario in Akure, the Ondo State capital, Samuel Olatunji was paraded by police authorities in January this year.
According to police reports, the 25-years-old suspect killed Adeoye Dovo, a hunchback SSS3 student for ritual. Samuel said his quest to cut corners and get rich pushed him into this mess. "I want to live big after seeing other young boys that are not even my age live in affluence, ride in good and exotic cars, live in good houses and enjoy the good things of life,” he said.
In May, 2011, police in Kagara, Rafi local government area of Niger State, apprehended four people in connection with alleged murder of the 13-year-old son of an Islamic scholar at Sabunga village.
The suspects, Yakubu Abaki; Musa Ahmed; Yakila Haruna, also known as Gambo, and Babaye Alhaji Maiburedi, all of Sanbuga and Kagara villages connived to kill one Shamsudeen Musa, son of the cleric, purposely for ritual.
According to reports, the suspects arranged with Ali Isa and Suleiman Bade, to assist a local but prominent politician in the local government area with charms to help him win 2011 election.
In the troubled Plateau State, an elderly couple was beheaded while their two grandchildren were clubbed to death by unidentified assailants in February 2011 in an apparent ritual killing. According to police reports, the alleged ritual killers went away with the head of the woman.
One of the most celebrated cases of a ritual killing for political gains happened on January 2010 in Jigawa State. A High Court in the state in the same year sentenced to life imprisonment the Information Commissioner, Alhaji Abba Umar Kukuma, during the administration of former Governor Saminu Turaki for an alleged involvement in the killing of two children.
The latest case is the killing of a 20-year old man Jacob Afolabi, who was allegedly beheaded by his close friend, Tobi Ojo in Osun State who also severed the private part of his victim. Ojo has since been arrested and remanded by the Nigeria Police, Osun State Command in connection with the murder.
Beyond these tales of ritual killings, another mindboggling atrocity is covertly being perpetuated by youngsters who hide under the guise of the internet fraud or what is popularly being referred as ‘yahoo business.’
This new trend is more prevalent in the southern states of the country. What was primarily traded by jobless youths who were eager to grab quick cash, has been turned into a cult activity. derground deals are now involved. Glaring examples of botched ritual activities litter many streets in many southern states as those involved have become lunatics roaming the streets.
In Abuja, the nation’s capital city, the popular highbrow suburb of Gwarinpa Estate houses a handful of young people involved in this new trade.
Ofeimun Odigie (not real name) who hails from Edo State recounted his ordeal and how he was lured into the trade by his friends.
“I came into Abuja four years ago during my One-year compulsory national youth service,” Odigie stated.
“I met friends in the city during my service year who were living in affluence. Foolishly, I was lured into their circle when I became curious and sought to know how I could grab such wealth. The rest of the story of what transpired is better imagined than recounted.
I am lucky to be alive because I backed-out of the deal at the dying minute when I couldn’t stomach the ritual which involves taking a human life,” he further confessed.
The sad, but true tale of Ofeimun Odigie is just a figment of an imagination of what goes on daily in Nigeria in people’s drive to amass wealth. The glaring truth is that succour is not in sight soon as authorities empowered to curtail these crimes have been fingered in some of these deals.
Sadly, this is one of such burdens Nigerians must live with pending when a super-natural intervention will suffice.