Federal Lawmakers Move Against Ritual Killings
Worried over the spate of ritual killings in Nigeria, the House of Representatives has declared a national emergency to stem the evil scourge, Udora Orizu writes
At plenary last week, members of the House of Representatives declared a national emergency on ritual killings in Nigeria, and called on National Orientation Agency (NOA), parents, heads of schools, religious leaders and media to undertake a campaign to change the negative narrative that is bedeviling the society.
In recent times, incidents of ritual killings have assumed an alarming rate in the country. The killings are performed by obtaining human body parts for charms. Ritualists search for human parts at the request of herbalists, who make the sacrifices. Some people are believed to engage in ritual killings to obtain charms that would protect them from spiritual attack, illness or accidents, while a majority do it to acquire quick wealth. Statistics indicate that there has been an increase in the number of missing persons all over the country in recent times. Majority of those who disappear without a trace are often believed to be victims of ritual killings.
As reported cases of ritual killings surge in many parts of the country, law enforcement agencies keep arresting perpetrators with gory pictures of human skulls and dismembered bodies.
In 2019, Port Harcourt, Rivers State 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.
Also in Rivers State, a suspected ritual killer was arrested February last year while attempting to sacrifice a nine-year-old girl in the Ibaa community in Emuoha Local Government Area. According to reports, 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 clothes, and 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.
On March 24, 2014, the nation was thrown into a moment of confusion when a kidnappers’ den was discovered in Soka community, Ibadan, Oyo State. The den was discovered by some commercial motorcyclists, who were searching for two of their colleagues after they took two passengers to the community without returning. After the den was busted, human skulls, dried human parts alongside malnourished victims which were reserved for ritual purposes, were discovered.
Also, in 2016, the Ogun police discovered a ritualists’ den located within an abandoned filling station at Iyana-Ilogbo axis of Sango-Ota of Ogun State, following a tip-off from a member of the community. The police arrested two suspected ritualists in connection with the activities carried out in the den.
On August 30, 2017, two people were killed by a mob in the Mushin area of Lagos State over alleged involvement in kidnappings and ritual killings.
Aside peer pressure, Nigeria’s movie industry is believed to have played a role in influencing the minds of the youths who have imbibed the negative mindset of get-rich-quick syndrome. Without any doubt, Nollywood films with its replete themes and scenes of ritual murder, magical and spiritual powers have been attributed to the prevailing belief system that ill-gotten wealth can be made through the diabolical means of ritual killings, hence the rising menace among youths in the society.
An instance was seen when Ayobamidele Ayodele, a kidnap suspect who was recently nabbed by the security operatives in Ogun State for abducting a six-year-old, Ebube Eze, confessed that he had learnt the act of kidnapping by watching the films of Nollywood actor, Zubby Michael.
Ayodele was reported saying, “Zubby Michael is my favourite Nollywood actor and he is good at kidnapping roles. I decided to try out some of the methods used by Zubby to kidnap children and adults in the movies. I started by visiting several schools around Ojo to see the possibility of picking children without anyone noticing”.
Many Nigerians are heartbroken to see developed societies invest in science and technology to keep abreast with a dynamic world, while their fellow compatriots are stuck in the foolish belief that sacrificing human blood is the surest route to wealth.
It is expected that such evil and barbaric acts would no longer exist in our society given our level of exposure and civilisation.
The Legislative Declaration
As security agencies tries to checkmate the trend, the federal lawmakers in the House of Representatives in a bid to stem the evil act, at the plenary on February 9 declared a national emergency on ritual killings.
The House also called on the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, to take urgent steps to increase surveillance and intelligence gathering with a view to apprehending and prosecuting all perpetrators of ritual killings in Nigeria.
It further called on the Executive Director, National Film and Video Censors Board to rise to the mandate of the agency as the clearing house for all movies produced in the country.
The resolutions of the lawmakers followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by the Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu at the plenary, last Wednesday.
Moving the motion, Okechukwu lamented that incidents of ritual killings have assumed an alarming rate in Nigeria in recent times.
He noted the upsurge of reported ritual killings with increasing cases of abductions and missing persons in different parts of the country, which in most cases, the culprits also rape, maim, kill and obtain sensitive body parts of unsuspecting victims for rituals.
He said the House is aware that ritual killing has become a predominant theme in most home made movies which if not checked, the younger generation may begin to view it as an acceptable norm.
The Deputy Minority Leader, recalled the grievous killing of Iniobong Umoren, a young woman in her 20s; after being lured to a particular location in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State for a job interview, as widely reported in the national dailies.
He expressed concerns over the moral decadence in the society, a trend he said that has promoted the get-rich-quick syndrome among youths.
While pointing out that fake clerics, imams, herbalists and native doctors are often complicit in the heinous practices, the lawmaker further expressed concerns that although communities are getting more religious with the proliferation of churches and mosques, the ugly trend of ritual killings is on the rise as the quest for wealth at all cost pervades the society.
He advised that such cruel and barbaric acts should no longer be promoted in the society given the demands of today’s world, adding that there’s a lot to be done by the police and other law enforcement agencies to checkmate this ugly trend.
Okechukwu said, “Further Notes that the Red Cross Society in 2017 reported that it received 10,480 reports of missing persons in Nigeria. Aware that on January 22, 2022, three teenage suspects and a twenty year old reportedly killed one Sofiat Kehinde and had her head severed and burnt in a local pot in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
“Also Aware that Ogun State Police Command on Monday, February 7, 2022 reported that one of the suspects confessed that he learned the act of ritual killing from a video he watched on Facebook. Mindful of the role of the Nigerian movie industry in moulding behavioral patterns in our society vis-a-vis the mandate of the National Film and Video Censors Board as a clearing house for movies produced in the country. Also aware that merchants of such wicked acts often use the social media as a ready tool to advertise their evil behaviours.”
He added, “Aware of several reports where law enforcement agents arrested and paraded suspects of ritual killings with gory pictures of human skulls and dismembered bodies. Worried that while youths in other climes are embracing science and technology as a way of maintaining pace with our dynamic world, some of our youths seem stuck in the mistaken belief that sacrificing human blood is the surest route to wealth, safety and protection. Also worried about the growing rate of unemployment in the country. Mindful of the role of the media as a tool to change this wrong narrative among our youths.”
Adopting the motion, the House mandated its Committees on Police Affairs, Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values to ensure compliance and report back to the House within four weeks for legislative action.
Culled from Thisday