From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Wonders, they say, shall never end. A few weeks ago, the twin cities of Warri and Effurun, in Delta State, were thrown into confusion following a report that a woman vomited money weeks after her underwear was stolen by unknown persons. The incident attracted residents from far and near, who rushed to have a glimpse of the woman, around the popular JJC Bus Stop in the city.
Many people gathered at the scene, causing traffic snarl on the major Effurun-Sapele road and disrupting movement of those going to their various churches.
Six years ago, the nation was shocked over the gruesome murder of Miss Cynthia Osokogu, a beauty queen and daughter of a retired military officer, by Facebook friends suspected to be ritual killers.
Ever since the murder of Cynthia, a native of Agbor, Delta State, there have been many instances of ritually-motivated killings orchestrated by suspected internet fraudsters, popularly referred to as ‘yahoo plus boys’ or ‘G-boys’ in local parlance.
They were hitherto into advanced internet fraud and e-mail scams but have now veered from defrauding unsuspecting foreigners to carrying out ritual killings to make quick riches not guaranteed by internet fraud.
At the moment, suspected G-boys have saturated emerging cities in Delta State, and have taken the ignoble practice of killing for rituals some notches higher. Their activities have suddenly become uncontrollable in recent times.
In the past, the Otokutu Bridge in Warri, the commercial nerve centre of the state, was a notorious den of ritual killers, some of whom disguised as lunatics to pounce on their victims.
But today, ritualists disguised as G-boys no longer hide under the bridge; they rent flamboyant apartments or build eye-popping mansions, where they carry out fetish activities. They drive posh cars and even pay for security cover.
Investigations have revealed that the female folk are their main target. They abduct their victims without contacting distraught family members for ransom, and days later the mutilated or decomposing bodies of the victims are discovered in obscure locations with vital organs missing.
There have been alarming cases of attacks and disappearances of persons at Asaba, Jesse, Sapele, Abraka, Oghara, Ughelli, Ovwian, Ozoro and Warri in recent weeks.
Findings revealed an unprecedented influx into the state’s urban and semi-urban centres of strange fellows described in some quarters as diabolical agents.
Posing as tourists, wishing to enjoy serene and pastoral ambiance, and sundry attractions of the state but with sinister motives, they usually flock around tourist centres, where they display ostentatious wealth as bait for their female victims.
Such female victims easily fall prey to the antics of yahoo boys at the tourist sites, from where they are lured and abducted to unknown destinations, where they are murdered and their organs removed.
Some female victims are not killed, but are forced to surrender their panties for money rituals. In fact, in some parts of the state, the hunt for female undies has reached desperate proportions.
The suspects even engage the services of dare-devil criminals, who ambush middle aged ladies to dispossess them of their panties, with each pant costing as much as N250,000.
“These guys are desperate. They now pay people to steal female pants for them. And a pant is worth N250,000. Girls should be very careful how to hang their undies along cloths lines outside the house because people are looking for it at all cost,” a source said.
According to the source, “Yahoo boys have suddenly become very desperate, to the extent that if their agents discover that their victim is pant-less, they are forced to urinate in plastic bottles, which they disappear with.
“These guys are not taking things easy at all. They want to cruise around town with the latest Toyota Venza and all manner of latest sophisticated vehicles, and they are looking for whom to use.
“Another one died mysteriously at Shoprite early this week after she complained of peeing blood as a result of her encounter with one of the blood-thirsty youths, the so-called yahoo boys.
“It may also interest you to know that most of our beautiful sisters, slaying everywhere in town, are just slaying without womb. In fact, they are as good as dead bodies because their wombs have been used in exchange for Venza.
“The boys are everywhere, and they are deploying new tactics every day to lure girls into early graves, or put them in life-threatening conditions. We are no longer safe because of the desperation of yahoo boys.”
A resident of Asaba, Anthony Ogochukwu, who narrated the weird manner his female neighbour, Nkechi, died, said the lady, popularly known as NK, was a victim of ritual killers.
Ogochukwu said: “NK was a happening girl in the area but she died mysteriously. Could you believe that maggots were coming out of her private part before she died? It was when she was about to die that she confessed.
“She said she saw this handsome young man within the premises of Shoprite in Asaba, and the man promised her serious relationship that could possibly lead to marriage. She said on their first outing, the guy gave her a mind-blowing N350,000.
“When the guy called her on phone to come and meet him in a hotel, she did not hesitate; and after rounds of sex, she came back home feeling satisfied. But the following day, the ritual effect began manifesting when maggots started coming out of her private part.
“When they called the phone number of the guy, he answered and retorted that when NK was enjoying his N350,000 there was no hold back, insisting that she was simply suffering the consequences of the money. When they dialed the number again, it was switched off.”
In Ughelli, there was a report of a lady who alighted from a cab and suddenly collapsed, with her body parts swollen. It was an eyesore as she died soon after. When her bag was searched, N70,000 was found there.
Before now, the suspects did all sorts of things to make money, albeit diabolically. They were said to have improvised with human excreta as butter with which they ate bread as breakfast, lunch and supper, all in a bid to make money.
They were also said to be scavenging at refuse dumpsites, hunting for ladies’ sanitary pads and used diapers, which they took to their spiritualists for sacrifices that would affect the health of the users of the disposed items.
“But those methods are gradually fading away, as it appears the yahoo boys keep evolving more weird ways of making diabolic money at the expense of human life,” said Mr. Jude Bienose.
Bienose said, apart from the killing of ladies and removing their vital organs, most yahoo boys also deliberately cause road accidents, using their cars to crash into people in order to spill blood to sustain their diabolic wealth.
“In such cases, if the victim survives, they will come out and show empathy, and even want to pick up the medical bills. And if they succeed in paying the bills, the life of that accident victim will never remain the same; he may even die in the process of treatment,” he said.
Although there have been a number of ritually-motivated killings in the state, the recent murder of a 300-level Mass Communication student of the Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka, Miss Elozino Ogege, seems to have attracted a flurry of condemnations.
Elozino was said to have left her apartment in search of a new apartment in Abraka, and never returned. She was abducted, and four days later, her mutilated body was found with the breasts and tongue missing.
According to her sister, Faith, who narrated how the victim was lured out of the apartment, a guy called her at about 8pm the day before she left home and repeated the call at 7.15am on the fateful day.
“From the tracking, we sent three numbers, which were the numbers she called on Wednesday before the incident. I was asked to check the three phone numbers if I knew any of them and I recognised two.
“One was Mrs. Elo and the other was her friend who finished from Abraka. When we traced the third number, the details showed that the guy called her at about 8pm on Wednesday and 7.15am the next day. We never knew that was the last of her,” Faith said.
Faith also narrated how the incident started, saying, “On Wednesday, two weeks ago, she called me about an accommodation inside the school, close to the lecturers’ lodge. She said someone in Site Three told her about it and that an Agricultural Science lecturer was in charge.
“According to her, a security guard in Site Three said, when he was through discussing with the lecturer, he would inform her. We then asked her to conclude arrangements about the house and when she was done, we would send her younger brother to confirm and make payments.
“My mother also asked her to inform the head of department, who was like a father to her. On Thursday, her neighbours saw her leaving the house and she even called one Mrs. Elo, who was like a mother to her and intimated her of the move to secure an accommodation.
“Mrs. Elo got several missed calls from Elozino, and then returned the calls, but found out that her line was switched off. Later on, she said she got a text message from Elozino that she would send an account number when she was ready to make payment.
“This made her perceive that something was wrong because there was no discussion of such before. Several attempts by her god-mother to contact her failed.
“Minutes later, a guy picked her call and a lady who claimed to be her sister picked the second call and said that Elozino had gone to school. So, Mrs. Elo called my mother who informed us and we went separately to Abraka.
“My mother then went to the police station to make a formal report. The police asked us to go home that a kidnap case needs 24 hours of monitoring. We could not sleep that night.
“The next day, we suggested to the Investigating Police Officer that with information technology we could track the phone numbers of those she spoke with before the incident.”
Reacting to Elozino’s murder, a lawyer and activist, Frank Oseya, said although it could be attributed to the handiwork of ritualists and yahoo boys, politicians cannot be completely exonerated from the demonic trend.
“Since we are in election season and the fetish ones are on the prowl to renew their ‘black power,’ ritual killings have become very rampant in recent times, coinciding with the worrisome upsurge in the number of very young boys riding very expensive cars, building mansions and flaunting unexplainable wealth,” he said.
The state chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) described the incident as terrible, and called on the security agencies to live up to their responsibilities of not only unmasking the killers but also putting adequate security measures in place to rid the state of ritual killers.
The party, in a statement by its publicity secretary, Ifeanyi Michael Osuoza, expressed concerns over the menacing presence of ritual killers, whose ostentatious and extravagant escapades were becoming more pronounced.
“We have observed with great concern in recent times a disturbing trend of an unprecedented influx into our cities of strange individuals and groups of young people, described as yahoo boys, who pose as tourists, displaying questionable wealth that defies legitimate explanations.
“The brazen manner Miss Ogege was abducted and murdered and the subsequent discovery of her mutilated remains suggests that a throbbing yet frightening cartel of ritual killers and diabolic groups of cultists is possibly thriving and operating unhindered.
“And this is with conniving complicity of the communities, which has led to reported disappearances of unsuspecting victims, observed with alarming frequency, since the arrival of the ‘yahoo boys’ in many parts of the state.
“While not accusing anybody or group as being responsible for the sinister occurrence, we wish to remind one and all of the sanctity of life, and state categorically that every Delta life matters. The murder of Miss Elozino Ogege, cut down so heartlessly at such a young age, is, therefore, a clarion call for justice to be done in unravelling and exposing her killers,” Osuoza said.
In separate reactions, the Delta State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, DELSU branch, condemned the incident, and called on security agencies to unravel the perpetrators of the act and bring them to book.
Immediate past governor of the state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who took to his Facebook page to react to Elozino’s murder, called for justice and attributed the incident and the general upsurge in crime to lack of parental training.
The former governor wrote: “There seems to be a consensus that what happened to Elozino in the hands of ritualists is a collective failure of government, parents, uncles, aunties, the church, and the schools, among others.
“We all must take responsibility to prevent our joy from being cut short. Many parents today pay very little attention to the upbringing of their children. Many believe it is all about money.
“We do not bother about our children’s progress academically or morally in school. We do not know who their friends are. We seem not to care when they start smoking or drinking. Fathers are worse.
“Fathers have left the upbringing of their children in the hands of mothers. All they do is probably to provide the funds. Some don’t even bother to ask after the children for years.
“This has to change. Parents have to be more responsible. Schools have to inculcate more discipline. Churches have to change their focus. It is sad to see a lot of our children roaming around during school hours, with some even hawking.
“The children are easily recruited into all sorts of vices, especially drugs consumption and abuse. Something has to be done quickly. Our security agencies must be more alive to enforce the law to stop the menace of yahoo-yahoo boys, ritualists, cultists and other rising criminal activities in the society.”
A social commentator, Ijeoma Uba, concurred with Uduaghan, saying that society was to be blamed for the murder of Elozino, even as she queried the sort of public respect for boys who flaunt illegitimate wealth.
“Why won’t the yahoo boys continue when we hail them as ‘illustrious’ sons? Why won’t the ‘G-boys’ go on rampage when we promote them? We have all, in one way or another, encouraged what is happening.
“Imagine a landlord giving out an apartment of over N700,000 to a 21-year-old man, who has no physical means of survival; who with his friends drive the latest models of Lexus, Mercedes, Range Rover and stays indoors most of the day, goes out around 6pm and comes back by 2am. In Asaba! And you tell me he isn’t complicit? Who are the neighbours of these people?” she wondered.
Uba, in her submission, faulted politicians, journalists, school authorities, teachers, parents, peer group and security agencies for failing, at one point or the other, to inculcate moral values on the society.
“We killed Elozino and others with our complacency, carelessness, greed, corruption, deceit, and overzealousness. It is not too late though. We can repent today and save other Elozinos who could be our fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, friends and colleagues,” she said.
Bemoaning the spate of ritual killings in the state, Mr. Joshua Okpanefe expressed disgust that many youths still believed in quick wealth, irrespective of the consequences, concluding, however, that the yahoo-yahoo syndrome was poor people’s response to the affluence being displayed by the rich, especially politicians.
His words: “A young man told me that it is not how long a man lives but how well he lives. That goes to show the extent the boys can go to make money. That is why we have different stories of stealing pants at gunpoint, eating human excreta and others.
“For me, the desperation of yahoo boys is their own kind of response to the opulence of some politicians and their children. If you look at it very closely, the children of the rich are hardly involved in yahoo business.
“It is the children of the poor who are desperate and impatient in life that take to money rituals so as to measure up and avoid intimidation by their peers, who are privileged to have rich parents.
“Just imagine a young man becoming a political aide today, and in the next one or two months, he is living large. So, the poor who cannot get appointment because of lack of ‘connection’ are simply finding a way to equalise by taking to yahoo-yahoo, irrespective of the consequences.”
Meanwhile, Delta State governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has ordered a crackdown on the activities of yahoo boys in the state, just as he condoled with the family of the late Elozino Ogege as well as the management of DELSU.
Okowa, in a statement by his chief press secretary, Charles Aniagwu, said he was greatly distraught by the incident, noting the disturbing activities of suspected ritual killers, whose obtrusive and flamboyant escapades were becoming more conspicuous.
He said, “On behalf of the government and people of Delta State, it is with a heavy heart that I write to express our profound commiserations to the family of Miss Elozino Ogege, the Isoko nation, and her friends, both within and outside the university community.
“I am glad that the security agencies have made serious progress in the investigation into the murder and I can assure Deltans and Nigerians that justice will be served on the perpetrators of this dastardly act.”
The governor appreciated the solidarity exhibited by Deltans and Nigerians in condemning the killing and urged security agencies in the state and country to commence a massive crackdown on criminal elements known as yahoo boys.
“As a government whose primary responsibility is the protection of life and property, as well as the welfare of her citizens, I urge Deltans and Nigerians to partner the government and report to security agencies the activities of the gangs, with a view to assisting the society get rid of such dangerous groups. Never again, as a people, shall we condone the activities of these known criminals, as we all seem to agree that enough is enough,” he said.
Although the police claimed that four persons, including a native doctor, two yahoo boys and a security guard have been arrested in connection with Elozino’s murder, a cross-section of youths in Asaba are enraged by the activities of ritualists.
One of the youths, who preferred not to be named in print, said: “From the way these guys are going about taking human lives, we may be forced to adopt jungle justice if any of them is caught.
“We may consider burning them alive instead of handing them over to the police because of the lack of confidence in the security agents. There are cases in the past where suspects were handed over to the police, the suspects bought their freedom.
“I can confidently tell you that in Ovwian, a boy of about 19 years old was caught attempting to have sex with his neighbour’s wife. He was handed over to the police. But today, the boy is walking free.
“So, we may be tempted to adopt jungle justice in dealing with this new security challenge.”