8th August, 2012
By Isaac Asabor
It is not absurd to say that the issue of ritual killing is usually waved aside whenever it is mentioned for discussion. The reason for this cannot be far-fetched. Like witchcraft, the issue of ritual killing is treated as a joke by some educated, urbane and sophisticated Nigerians.
In my view, it is foolhardy for most of us to be waving the issue of ritual killing aside. For the fact that its existence is beyond our ken does not mean there is nothing like ritual killing.
I must confess that I was inspired to write this piece against the backdrop of the alarming rate at which innocent Nigerians are being declared missing. A visit to any police command information unit would authenticate this view. It is no more unusual to read news stories on people testifying to the goodness of God on how they escaped from the hands of ritualists.
There is no denying the fact that some newspapers and soft-sell magazines in the recent past had seemingly buttressed the fact that ritual killing exists when their revealing headlines are taken into consideration. Some of the headlines are: “Ritual Killers Behead 7-year old over N250,000.”, “Police Parade 29 Suspected Ritual Killers, Robbers”, “Kwara State University Student Escapes After Four Days In Ritual…”,”How Young Girl Fell Victim Of Ritual Killers – Jerry Adesewo” , “My Three Days Hell Inside Ritualists’ Den – Survivor”, among other similar headlines.
In the same vein, in its Sunday, August 4, 2012 edition, a Lagos-based entertainment newspaper, Sunday Express, gave an “insider’s account about the hatred and maltreatment meted out by hard-hearted young men to their blood brother before they eventually killed him for ritual.”
Also, ardent listeners and viewers of TV would tell you how often they were regularly informed through public-paid announcements about innocent people that were declared missing by their families and the police authorities. The situation is so appalling at the moment that one can opine that it is already posing a threat to public safety.
Many Nigerians would not forget in a hurry the widely condemned “Otokoto” saga that made Owerri, Imo state, a reporter’s delight in 1996. The saga dragged for months with the key suspects, Mr. Duru Otokoto and Innocent Ekeanyanwu (now deceased) in the eye of the storm. As if the “Otokoto” controversy was not enough, a similar ugly incident was replayed in Lagos by Mr. Clifford Orji as the prime suspect. Prior to the discovery of Mr. Orji’s secret “abattoir” located adjacent to a block factory and Charity bus stop along Apapa/Oshodi Expressway, he mischievously feigned insanity that not a few Lagosians were literally caught in a web of consternation when he was arrested with expensive brands of mobile phones.
Given the foregoing analysis, it may sound unbelievable and superstitious to say that some wealthy ones among us apparently acquired their material wealth by using some vital organs of other innocent ones to “mint” bank notes or better still to conjure the spirits of money.
Unfortunately, many scientists, “born-again” Christians and some egg-heads in our today’s society may not quickly believe this fact that is shrouded in superstition and mystery. But the fact still remains that the development of African religion, rituals and customs that are replete with the wrath of invisible, and threatening powers are beyond the understanding and interpretation of scientists and their like. The Bible in Ephesians chapter 6 verse 12 further attests to this fact when it says, ”For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.
The foregoing view point should not, in the least, suggest that this writer is superstitiously or supernaturally inclined. Rather, he is trying to express his view that the society at large, particularly our security personnel and legal experts, should not treat suspected or arrested ritual killers with kid gloves. And also to alert the public and concerned authorities that our public safety is under the threat of ritual killers.
At this juncture, one would ask, how did we arrive at this sorry situation? It is not an exaggeration to say that the unbridled quest to “make it” among some Nigerians actually brought us to this sorry situation where people move on daily basis with their hearts in their mouth. Materialism and illiteracy: these preceding words are inarguably the root of any imaginable crime in our today’s society. For the government to successfully alleviate the problem of crime in our society, the problem of crass materialism and illiteracy have to be strictly addressed through a rigorous and concerted campaign in the media. This is to change the mindset of millions of ignorant and materialistic Nigerians. All change agents like Pastors, Imams, traditional chiefs and youth leaders should begin to educate the masses on the dangers of being overly materialistic.
One may not be totally wrong to opine that the quest for material wealth is already a threat to our internal security and public safety. Everybody’s language is now money! money!! money!!! Believe me, every speech we make now has materialistic and hedonistic undertone. You are a nonentity before your kinsmen if you are not rich. The seeming maxim now is: If you are rich, you are a hardworking man, but if you are poor you are a lazy man. While no one can deny that ritual killing is back on the crime track, it would be germane to point out some tips on how to avoid being a victim of ritual killers.
On the part of the police and other security agencies more effort is needed in their job. In my view, the police authority should beam its searchlight on the bestial activities of ritual killers, and in that light train its men to specialise in the techniques of bringing the problem of ritual killing to an end.
I would suggest that if you are the type that easily mixes freely with people, perhaps through your drinking habit or keeping late nights, you should be cautious in honouring people’s invitations to their homes or impulsively escorting people from one place to the other without the consent of any of your relations, colleagues or close friends. Again, stop patronising unpainted taxi cabs as you may not be lucky everyday. If you must patronise unpainted taxi cabs, always do that when it is not rush hour since the probability of asking an innocent looking accomplice to stand with other commuters at the bus stops is crystal clear.
Moreover, do not enter into discussion with strangers for too long since those who commit crimes are known to believe so much in “African Remote Control”. They can easily hypnotize their victim so that he/she may completely or partially lose his/her senses.
Added to these tips, no child should be left jay-walking like sheep without shepherd. Children and women are more vulnerable as victims of ritual killings. Also, children should be advised not to go anywhere with any “strange uncle” as children are wont to regard anybody as uncle.
Finally, some flirtatious ladies should be careful in literarily falling for any man that comes their way because they could end up in the arms of ritual killers.
•Asabor writes in from Lagos. E-mail: [email protected]