Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
For residents of Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State, June was a month they will not easily forget. It has been one month that ritual killers terrorised different communities in the council area, and dispatched many people to their early graves for ritual purposes.
The fear that gripped thousands of residents of the local government could literally be cut with a knife, as they could not sleep with their eyes closed. But they have now heaved a sigh of relief as the faces behind the ritual killings have been unveiled by the Commissioner of Police, Mr Nwachukwu Enwonwu.
Victims of ritual killings
The first recorded ritual killing took place on June 1, 2020, at Akinyele town. It involved Miss Baraka Bello, a female student of the Department of Science Laboratory Technology (SLT), Federal College of Animal Health and Production, Moor Plantation, Ibadan. She was reportedly raped and killed. The killer smashed her head at the back of her father’s house at Oloro, Kara in Akinyele town.
On June 5, 2020, ritualists also smashed the head of a 29-year-old woman, Mrs Azeezat Somuyiwa, who at the time carried seven months old pregnancy, with a big stone at Ijefun, near Ojoo. Also, on Saturday June 13, 2020, a National Diploma student of Oke Ogun Polytechnic, Saki, Grace Oshiagwu, 21, was killed at Idi Ori, Sasa, Ojoo, Ibadan.
On Monday June 22, 2020, a five-year-old boy, Mujib Tirimisiyu, was killed by a ritual killer, who reportedly hit the boy’s head with a shovel at Olorunsogo Phase II, Tose, Moniya, Ibadan, when he was defecating behind their house.
On Wednesday June 24, 2020, the life of 42-year-old Mrs Olusayo Fagbemi, who resided at Ajibade Street, Sasa, Ibadan, was cut short by ritual killers. She was attacked when washing plates in front of her residence in the morning and hit with a dangerous weapon on her head.
Investigation also revealed that a woman and her daughter were attacked at Balogun village, near Moniya, the headquarters of Akinyele LG by ritual killers three weeks before Barakat was killed at Akinyele.
Police arrest, parade seven suspects
But nemesis caught up with 19-year-old Sunday Sodipe, who allegedly killed six persons in the local government for ritual purposes. He was paraded by CP Enwonwu at police headquarters, Eleyele, Ibadan, on Friday, July 27, 2020. Also, paraded were one herbalist, Adedokun, 50, who allegedly sent Sunday to carry out the dastardly operations, and one Shehu, 20, who bought a phone stolen by Sunday.
The police also paraded another four-member gang of suspected serial ritual killers; including Abiodun, 35; Adeleke, 54; Bamiji, 65; and Ademola, 36.
Enwonwu said Sunday, the principal suspect, was arrested after Shehu was arrested in connection with the crime and the Techno mobile phone belonging to 29-year-old pregnant woman, Azeezat Shomuyiwa, murdered at Ijefun, on June 4, recovered from him.
He stated that after Shehu was interrogated, he denied his involvement in the crime but gave useful information, which subsequently led to the arrest of one “notorious hoodlum, who identified himself as Sunday.
“He confessed that he masterminded the crime and explained in details how he invaded the victim’s residence, where she was brutally attacked, robbed her before she was later murdered in cold blood.
“He explained that his modus operandi is to target females and attack them with dangerous weapons, robbed them before hacking them to death. He confessed to have also masterminded many of the killings in the local government.”
‘How I killed 6 persons for rituals’
Sunday confessed he killed Barakat Bello on June 1, 2020 and Azeezat Somuyiwa on June 5, 2020. He stole her Techno mobile phone, which he sold to Shehu. He also killed Grace Oshiagwu on June 13, at Idi Ori, Sasa, Ojoo, as well as five-year-old Mujib Tirimisiyu, at Olorunsogo Phase II, Tose, Moniya, Ibadan, on Monday, June 22, 2020.
He said his last operation was carried out on June 29, 2020, before his arrest when he went to Cele Alhaja, Moniya, Ibadan. He attacked a woman, Adeola Bamidele, 45, and her daughter, Dolapo, 23, with hand shovel after he entered their house through the ceiling, and stole their phones.
Sunday said he was sent to carry out the nefarious activities by Adedokun, an one herbalist, whom he said would fortify him with native insurance before each operation: “The herbalist would ask me to kneel down and close my eyes and put a fetish substance in my mouth.
“He would recite incantation before he would ask me to open my eyes and I would proceed on the operation. The herbalist would always warn me that if I open my eyes when asked to close them, I would be blind immediately.”
“The herbalist always told me to immediately after each killing say ‘Hah’ three times, go round each of the victims three times and thereafter stand at the scene for about five minutes, backing the victim. On many occasions, I would be at the scene when people were sympathising over the victims. They would not see me, and after the five minutes, I would leave the scene.
“I could not complete the ritual during my last operation before some night guards made attempt to arrest me. Two night guards, who initially came to rescue the woman and her daughter did not see me and I was there standing.
“As the night guards were leaving, one of them looked back suddenly and flashed his torchlight at me. I took to my heels, though I had not recited what the herbalist instructed me to say. I had not stood there backing the victims for five minutes.
“I don’t use any clothes to wipe the blood of my victims. Baba (the herbalist) has been the one sending me to kill people. But he did not tell me the particular thing he has been using the killings for.
“Whenever I went out for killings, Baba would have prepared amala for me before I returned, and after eating, he would give me N500. At times, he would buy rice for me, and after eating, he would give me N500.
“But I have not been removing any part of my victim’s body. I have not also been having sexual intercourse with my victims. It was the ‘Isinku Orun’ that has been having sexual intercourse with them as Baba told me.”
But how did he know that those people he killed were alone? He responded: “I would not know. But when I knelt down before Baba, and I closed my eyes, anywhere I went, I would meet only one person there. I have been using shovel to kill them. I used to walk to the places where I had carried out operations.”
I never sent Sunday to kill – Herbalist
But the herbalist said he did not send Sunday to kill anybody: “His mother brought him to me so that I could help treat the sickness afflicting him. His mother told me that he did not complete his apprenticeship in carpentry and that he was not staying at home like a vagabond.
“I did a charm for them (Ose eyonu) and they left. After two months, his mother and his mother’s elder sibling brought him again to my place to learn how to become herbalist like myself.
“But I don’t know about what he has been doing on killing people. He only spent six days with me when he came to learn about herbal medicine. He left my place in August 2016 and I did not set my eyes on him again until the police came to arrest me on July 5.”
The herbalist admitted that he denied knowing the boy when he was at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) office because he did not know what has become of him since he sent him away in August 2016.
Mother of alleged serial killer speaks
Mrs Bisola Sodipe, mother of the alleged serial killer, told Daily Sun: “We sent him (Sunday) to learn carpentry work. He would be wandering all about without staying in the workshop of his boss. We put him in three different places one after the other, but he did not stay there. It was in the struggle to rehabilitate him that somebody took us to the herbalist so that he would help us solve the problem with his charms.
“When we got there, we asked the herbalist to help us cure him and at the same time help us train him to become herbalist. After two weeks there, the herbalist sent him packing then. It has been long.
“After leaving, we took him to a place where he would learn about bricklaying. He would go in the morning and come back in the evening. But we never knew he has gone back to meet the herbalist. He did not come to sleep at home for two weeks.
We looked for him and we could not find him, until the police brought him to our house at Aponmode, Moniya, Ibadan, recently. I was surprised because he has never done that in the past.
“In our house, we heard the news about serial killings in Akinyele LG and we were very sympathetic with the bereaved families. My son (Sunday) too would come home and, together, we would sympathise on the unfortunate incidents in our local government, without knowing that he was the one behind the killings. He is my second child.”
The CP said: “The second gang killed 42-year-old Fagbemi, on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. Abiodun was arrested with a white handkerchief on June 28, 2020.
“He purportedly attempted to kill two other women.”
Abiodun the gang leader said he roped one Ademola, a cabinetmaker at Sasa into the case because he had a score to settle with him. But two other suspected members of the gang, Moses and Bamiji, who introduced themselves as pastors, said Abiodun lied against them.
Abiodun had said he used white handkerchiefs to wipe blood of their victims after hitting them with a cudgel on the head, and he would return the handkerchiefs to Moses and Bamiji for ritual purposes.
The pastor in charge of Christ Apostolic Church, Oluwatedo, Idi-Ori, Sasa, Ibadan, Ishola Kayode, the church being attended by the family of the late Grace Oshiagwu, said: “We know for sure that the dead cannot come back to life. But we just wish that justice should be served accordingly.
“These people cannot be killing for fun. Is it not deeper than what we are seeing? I think it is somehow deeper than what we are seeing. Let the security agents intensify more efforts. They should do more. I pray Almighty God will help them to reveal the hidden secrets there.”
In separate interviews, father of one of the victims, Pastor Benson Oshiagwu, and husband of one of the victims, Adewale Shomuyiwa, as well as the victims of the last operation carried out by Sodipe before his arrest, Mrs Adeola Bamidele, and her daughter, Dolapo, commended the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies that worked on the ritual killings in Akinyele Local Government Area. But they demanded justice as they noted that the ritual killings were for some purposes and no stone must be left unturned to get to the roots of the matter.