Culprits should be prosecuted and severely punished to serve as a deterrent

Increasingly, many Nigerians live in fear over growing cases of ritual killings. Last week, a 20-year-old man, Moses Oko, was arrested by the police for allegedly killing a University of Jos’ 300-level student, Jennifer Anthony, for ritual purposes. Jennifer’s body was found at a hotel with her eyes gouged out and some other body parts missing. Barely five days after, the body of another lady named Plangnam Solomon was dumped around the Plateau Radio TV Corporation in Rayfield, Jos South local government area of the Plateau State capital. Her eyes and some sensitive body parts were also removed.

The killings in Jos have become a source of concern to the government and citizens of the area. “I am deeply saddened by the activities of criminals who are trying to disrupt the peace of our state,” said Governor Simon Lalong. However, the Jos killings are not isolated incidents. While there may be no reliable statistics, the menace of missing persons and ritual killings across the country has become pronounced. Many of the missing persons are said to be victims of ritual killings. Indeed, it has become so obvious that a civil society organisation, ‘Enough is Enough’, has opened a website to document the trend.

In March 2014, the nation, for instance, was thrown into confusion when a kidnappers’ den was discovered in Soka community, Ibadan, Oyo State. After the den was raided by some commercial motorcyclists who were searching for two of their missing colleagues, human skulls, dried human parts alongside malnourished victims reportedly reserved for ritual purposes, were discovered. Since that incident, many other suspected ritual killings, have been reported. In August 2018, the Lagos police arrested one Taiwo Akinola, a suspected cult member, for allegedly attempting to kill his mother for money rituals.

But perhaps one of the most celebrated cases was that of the Port Harcourt serial killer, Gracious David-West, who reportedly lured seven young ladies with high-risk lifestyle across Lagos, Imo and Rivers State to hotels and murdered them, allegedly for rituals. Similarly, Ms Iniobong Umoren, a young graduate who was raped and murdered while searching for a job in Uyo environs, Akwa Ibom State, not long ago, was allegedly used for ritual purposes. But the gruesome murder of a 300 Level undergraduate of Delta State University, Abraka, Elozino Ogege by a gang of four yahoo boys was horrifying. One of the criminals told the police that they took the young lady to a bush where they plucked out one of her eyes while she was still alive. “She was even crying and begging us to forgive her and let her go, but we plucked the other eye, removed her breast and heart before she died,” he said.

But the questions inevitably arise: What are the motives? What could be the cause of these grim acts of violence against fellow human beings, and indeed, the society? The young man who allegedly killed the girl friend in Jos is said to be the son of a lecturer. Indeed, many of our university campuses have become breeding grounds for Yahoo boys and girls. What could account for these barbaric acts of violence even among the educated?

Many attribute the menace to the growing sense of desperation to acquire wealth, without work. Amid the prevailing poverty and joblessness in the land, many have resorted to doing anything, no matter how weird, for wealth. There is no proven link between the costly rituals and the instant wealth promised through magical potions by herbalists and voodoo practitioners. Yet, the society is ravaged by it. The surge in impunity will persist unless the society punishes stiffly and promptly all proven cases of criminality.