Ritual killing and brutal mass murder of citizens by dare devil gunmen have been on the increase in Nigeria, in recent times. These ritual killings are not special preserve of any particular area or group in the country; every region, tribe and state has its own share of the scourge. Ritual killing is an old tradition in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, however the increase in incidences of ritual connected killings in Nigeria should be of concern now to every citizen because civilization had proven such beliefs in ritual irrational and impotent and hence, there should be no need for the rituals and sacrifices anymore. Unfortunately, some Nigerians, Africans, still hold on to such beliefs and indulge in the use of human parts for sacrifices and rituals. These set of Nigerians are responsible for the increasing spate of ritual killings. There are four groups involved in these dastard acts:
- Those seeking political powers at all cost who believes that human hearts and other parts are vital in the making of charms that would either sustain them in power or make them ascend
- Those who desperately need to make money, and brainwashed into believing that using or getting the human parts will make them get so rich or to amass wealth.
- The traditional healers who believe that human body parts including eyes, genitals, breasts and tongues have mystical powers, with many believing they bring riches and other good fortunes.
- The final group is those who believe that performing a human sacrifice will bring good luck or atone for the bad deed they have done.
We, in the Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA), as humanists, are CONCERNED and WORRIED that the government is doing enough or taking seriously these wanton killings. INDEED, it won’t be wrong to say that nothing serious is being done to put the killings under check or salvage the worrisome situation. It is our sincere opinion that the ritual killings are the result of the belief in and efficacy of spiritual forces, which make people to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms and wanting to look outside nature for help and salvation.
A survey of the incidences of the killings leaves one puzzled as to the rationale for the need for such belief and practice, considering that it is crude man inhumanity to man and gross violation of victims’ right to life. For instance, on 6th February 2013, the Oyo State Police arrested one Gbenga Taiwo who conspired with his friends Ganiyu Lukman and Kareem Afeez to kill one Kalifat, his lover and a businesswoman for money ritual. She was lured, drugged and murdered in her sleep. Her body was then cut into pieces and set ablaze in a ritual rite. In another occurrence, some suspected ritualists in Eruemukowharien community of Delta State murdered a popular monarch in the area. The ritualists removed his, the monarch, genitals and intestine and deposited his body by a river bank. Also in Asaba, a female junior high school student was murdered with her pubic hair shaved off and her ears removed by the ritualists.
Another reported case of ritual killing is the one involving two brothers, Omotola Ajayi and Toyin Ajayi, both residents of Festac Town, Lagos. The brothers were arrested and under investigation when incriminating exhibits were found in their residence. Exhibits found include the decapitated body of a male victim, bowls containing blood and sacks containing human parts, one dry human skull and one fresh human skull. The decapitated corpse was found floating in the bath closet with the head severed, hands cut off and the feet severed from the knees. The brothers are suspected to be serial ritual killers.
On April 13, 2012 a lifeless body of a woman was 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. In another scenario in Akure, the Ondo State capital, a 25years old Samuel Olatunji was paraded by police authorities in January for killing Adeoye Dovo, a hunchback senior high school student for ritual. A similar 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. Ojo also severed the private part of the victim.
One of the high profile cases of a ritual killing for political gains was prosecuted in January 2010 in Jigawa State. A High Court in the state sentenced to life imprisonment the former Information Commissioner in the state, Alhaji Abba Umar Kukuma for an alleged involvement in the killing of two children for ritual. (Currently the judgment is under cross examination at the Appeal Court.)
In all of the cases, there is no justification for the killings. However, the rising case of ritual killings and human sacrifices says something about our humanity. Though, it might be difficult to explain but some Nigerians seem to have lost the humanness that is inherent in all men. With the current situation, the solution goes beyond looking unto the government and security agencies but lies in the citizens being renewed. Proper orientation concerning the value of individual lives and the fundamental human right to life of every Nigerian has to be guaranteed and jealously protected. Individual should be taught to appreciate the value of human life and be conscious that even in those extreme cases that they are desperate to gain power, amount wealth, attain physical and/or mental health; human life is and cannot be used as means to such ends. The attainment of a civilised and sane society filled with individuals who value human life and are committed to respecting human rights is what interests us as humanists and an organisation.
Humanists are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating social intolerance. The promotion and adoption of humanist ethics is a viable solution to the tumultuous situation in the country as humanist ethics is amenable to critical and rational guidance that enhances cultivation of the arts of applying reason to solving human problems. If we adopt the humanist principles of social coexistence, Nigeria and Nigerians will be better for it. INDEED, a humanistic and tolerant Nigeria is possible. We must WORK TOGETHER and RID Nigeria of ritual killers!
- Adeyemi J. Ademowo and Babatunde Elegbede , For HAPSTA
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