•Why they do it
By Sunday Ani [email protected])
On August 14, 2017, Mrs. Kwaseve Fagal was delivered of a bouncing baby boy in her home at Gakerko village, Keana Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. But the 38-year-old woman did the unthinkable. She took the tot to a secluded area and killed it. Thereafter, she collected its blood in a clay pot and dumped the remains in a stream.
When her sin was found out, Fagal volunteered that she acted on the instruction of a native doctor, who promised to deliver her from the bondage of poverty.
She said: “Life became very difficult for my husband and I, to the point that having food daily became a problem, not to talk of catering for the two children we already have. The kids were not eating well; we go hungry for days because we don’t have money to buy food.
“Though we are farmers, things didn’t just work well for us. That was why, when the Baba (Alhaji Loko), who hails from Kaduna State, approached me with an offer to lift the burden of abject poverty, I gladly accepted.”
On August 23, 2017, a cleric from hell, Pastor Anthony, who heads a church in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, and some people allegedly kidnapped and slaughtered one-year-old Success Ime. They removed her heart and used it for ritual in the church. When policemen went to the church, they saw the girl’s heart in a basin.
In Rivers State, eight-year-old Victory Chikamso Nmezu was murdered after being defiled by her cousin at Eliozu Close in Obio/Akpo Local Government Area on August 18, 2017.
The suspect, Ifeanyi Dike, a 200-level part-time student of the University of Port Harcourt, was alleged to have lured the little girl into his room, defiled and murdered her before removing her breasts, private part, eyes, tongue and two fingers.
Also in August, a 73-year-old woman, Mrs. Adetutu Ajayi, was murdered by assailants suspected to be ritual killers in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State. She was alleged to have been found in a pool of blood in her three-bedroom bungalow by her church members. The killers drained her blood and made away with it. They also cut off her fingers.
August 28, three men killed three female students of Adeyemi College of Education in Ondo State and removed their breasts and hands. One of the suspects confessed when he was apprehended: “They promised to give us N5 million for a left breast and we were able to send three different sets to them but they had not sent the money before the police nabbed us. We killed the three girls and removed their breasts and buried their remains in the forest. We gave the parts to the Alfa.”
On August 17, a shrine in the Iwaya area of Lagos, where children are used as sacrifice, was discovered. On the same day, the Ogun State Police Command arrested a 77-year-old pastor, Samuel, in connection with the discovery of human parts buried in his church.
Such examples are many. Almost daily in Nigeria today, there are reports of ritual killings across the country. The situation is such that the president of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), Dr. Ona Ekhomu, has called on the Nigeria Police to “reinvigorate its efforts at combating ritual killings in Nigeria, as the frequency of ritual murders is becoming too high.”
Urging the police to set up special anti-ritual murder squads in various state commands to focus on investigation, detection, arrest and prosecution of ritual killers, Ekhomu said that the high incidence of ritual killings demanded urgent action at the level of the police high command. According to him, citizens were rapidly losing faith in the ability of the police to detect and punish ritual killers. This, he said, was responsible for the increase in lynching of suspects, as the public resort to violence and self-help to get redress for the heinous murders.
Ekhomu said that the human rights of vicitms murdered by ritual killers “must be restored by security agencies through diligent investigation, detection, arrest and prosecution.”
He said: “The conscience of Nigerians should be troubled by reports of recent ritual murders, including that of one-year-old Success Ime in Calabar whose heart was ripped out from her small body for ritual purposes and was discovered in a church along with other items for occult rituals. There is also the case of Pastor Samuel Okpara in Ahoada East LGA who was kidnapped, killed and cannibalised by ritualists. The pastor was reportedly beheaded and his liver and intestines used for pepper soup and plantain porridge. What a horrific occurrence!”
The security expert also decried the excesses of the Badoo murder cult in Ikorodu, Lagos State, that specialised in smashing the skulls of its victims with grinding stone and dropping white handkerchiefs as calling cards.
Why they do it
A clinical psychologist, chairman of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Enugu State, Ezekiel Omeh, attributed the menace to psychosis and drug abuse.
He said: “The psychological makeup of some of the ritual killers and those who are involved in the act could be termed as psychopath. Psychopaths are those who derive joy in the suffering of others. They have no morality or conscience in their social relationship with others. So, the cries, agonies or pains of the people they kill do not touch their hearts, otherwise it is unthinkable and unimaginable for one to kill his fellow human being for ritual or whatever purpose. So, it is lack of morals on one hand.
“Another reason could be the influence of hard drugs. Substance abuse is on the increase and those who are involved have lost touch with morality, conscience and the people. They have no empathy any longer for anybody. Their focus is on getting money, especially when their source of income to continue with the cycle of constant buying of more drugs is dwindling; the tendency is that they must get money by all means.
“With this kind of mindset, you find that they can go to any length to kill in order to get money because the drugs have already suppressed or made them to lose touch with social realities such as empathy, morality and all that.”
Also speaking on the psychology of ritual killers, a psychiatric nurse and lecturer at the School of Health Technology, Nsukka, Enugu State, Dr. Louis Ezema, argued that a normal, sober mind would see ritual killing as a sacrilege, an impossible task.
He said one of the psychological mindsets that help ritual killers to commit such heinous crimes without any qualm is delusion, which he said is false belief.
“Delusion makes them believe that what they are giving to their gods, deity, charm or whatever is worth doing. They believe that shedding blood is nothing to worry about,” he said.
Next to delusion, is what he termed mechanism of nihilism, which gives them the false impression that God doesn’t even exist.
“Nihilism means not believing in any superior entity. In other words, they believe that the world is for the fittest. They don’t believe that there is some supreme being that regulates what we do here on earth,” he said.
He also identified psychosis, a personality trait, as another factor that enables ritual killers carry out their evil activities: “Psychopaths are those who have personality defects and behave abnormally. They could be aggressive or creative psychopaths, but they may not obey the norms of society; they deviate to do abnormal things.
“There is also what we call hallucination, which is another form of false belief. Somebody gave birth to a baby and smashed the baby on the ground, claiming that she got a message to do that before 12 noon so that the baby could make heaven. So, some people can commit certain dangerous crimes under the influence of hallucination.”
He also did not forget about the influence of drugs, which he referred to as the father of all other causes. He said: “Most people who commit such crimes first numb their sensibilities by the use of drugs, so that while butchering human beings, it would seem as if they are killing fowls.”
A member of the National Elders’ Council of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Lagos, Pastor Ayodeji Olulani, said ritual killing is unbiblical.
“It is of the devil and it has no scriptural backing,” he said.
He described the act as the utmost level of wickedness, stressing: “Man killing man is an abomination. It is unacceptable and should be totally condemned and anyone that is involved in such acts must pay the price. I am of the opinion that there should be consequences because it is an abomination, unacceptable and unscriptural.”
For the General Overseer, WordBase Assembly, Pastor Humphrey Erumaka, nobody gets wealthy by killing another person.
“As far as I am concerned, it is a myth. People are just being deceived unnecessarily. Native doctors are just exploiting them; giving them conditions. What gives these people money, even at the level of cult groups or gangs, is networking. For instance, when people form a cult group, they bring a bank manager, a lawyer, importer and others. The bank manager will bring money; importer imports with it and they give loans to themselves. But, the truth is that nobody prospers by killing another person, it is just a psycho,” he argued.
He attributed the increase in the incidence of ritual killings to hunger in the land. He said: “As the economy is getting tougher, people are getting desperate and they are going into all kinds of things. That’s what I feel; I may not be perfect but I belong to the school of thought that doesn’t believe that killing and drinking human blood or doing anything with human flesh can make anybody rich. I don’t believe that.”
Also lending his voice, an Islamic cleric and a lecturer at Yusuf Bala Usman College of Legal and General Studies, Daura, Katsina State, Dr. Sirajo Dalhatu Abubakar, attributed the scourge to materialism.
“The fundamental reason is that people now worship money and the society encourages that because, if you don’t have enough money, you won’t be recognised in your locality. So, for such people that need such recognition, they opt for ritual killing to be able to accumulate as much wealth as possible and get the desired recognition,” he said.
He noted that the Quran clearly states that whoever kills a human being intentionally should be killed.
“In this instance, ritual killers are intentional killers, so, according to the Islamic religion, such people should be killed when caught. And Allah promised to put such persons in hell fire, where they would remain forever,” he said.
For him, there is no justification to kill another human being, since it is condemned in Islam.
Reverend John Akachi Ahamzie of the Holy Fire Overflow Ministry, Ikeja, Lagos, also described ritual killing as Satanism. He added that ritual killing was an indictment on the religious system in the land: “Satanism involves blood and people that subscribe to it are fooled into believing that one life is made better by ending another life. That is an indication that, spiritually speaking, we are at the a very low ebb right now. Darkness is upon the land and there is a big darkness upon the people.
“Again, it is an indictment on the spiritual life and religious system. People appear to be more inclined to worldliness than deep spirituality of prayer, intercession.”
The spiritual link, according to him, is that the church needs to rise up in intercession, love and boldness, and in spreading the real truth of the gospel “not materialism; not lies; not just prophesying and not witch-hunting.”
“That is what is going on in a lot of religious bodies and as long as that is going on, it is a rat race that we are supposed to displace with the grace of Christ. If we fail to do that, the bloodletting will continue.
“We are supposed to arise in intercession, love, prayer and in boldness, boldness in speaking the truth, no matter whose ox is gored; not being afraid of death and all that,” he said.
Ahamzie equally attributed the rise in the scourge to the harsh economy in the country. He said: “It is prevalent in our society now because of the economic downturn, coupled with the fact that we are approaching December, when a lot of people want to go home and display ill-gotten wealth. Of course, nobody is going to ask them how they got the wealth; they are just going to worship them because they want to get part of the money. So, it is a sign of a failed system and the fact that you can hardly hear that anyone who has been apprehended by the security agents was ever taken to court and sentenced to jail about all these things. It does appear that our society is a dark society that condones evil in the highest places.
“Secondly, the darkness that has crept into the church locked us out of our values and out of the position that God has given to us. It is going to take the light of God to push back the darkness that is creeping upon the whole world.”
However, the man of God has a message of hope, as he said: “God is going to turn things around so that we have societies that will look at people and begin to ask them, where did you get your money from, rather than asking them, can I have part of it? Our society can only be salvaged when we rise up and begin to pray and intercede and be bold about telling people the truth and not just about materialism or false message of prosperity.”
Sociology of offenders
A sociologist, Mr. Isaac Otumala, said there are many reasons that make people to get involved in ritual killings. He said people engage in the crime in order to make money and become known and influential in society because, to them, the end justifies the means, just as in politics.
He also said some others engage in ritual murder so as to sustain the power that they have already acquired.
“For instance, most politicians get their power from occultic kingdoms and, in order to maintain such powers, they have to continue sacrificing either human beings or blood,” he said.
Otumala blamed the quest for fame as being partly responsible for the scourge. He said: “Many people achieve fame by getting power from the devil and once that is done you need constant sacrifices to maintain it. That is why you find that people who are already rich keep on sacrificing blood or human parts to various occultic kingdoms.
“Others have idols that they worship in their closet and such idols might be demanding human beings. So, in order to keep the shrine working for them, they pay people to get human beings or human parts required for them to carry out such sacrifices, which are mostly done in their closet.”
Otumala differed with those who attributed the increase in the menace to economic hardship. He argued that people have abandoned the institutionalised means of acquiring wealth in the society and that accounts for rampant incidents of ritual killings.
“Once people cannot achieve what they want, like wealth, through the laid down principles in the society, they resort to devilish means of getting their goals achieved, such as ritual killings,” he said.