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  Ritual killing in Nigeria, West Africa, has reached an alarming crescendo. A few days ago, January 31, 2022, three boys and a twenty-year-old boy were paraded by the Nigerian Police Force in Ogun State for allegedly killing a teenage girl named Sofiat for ritual purposes. In another gory development before the Ogun incidence, between the Christmas and New Year season,  the city of Jos was thrown into distress when two girls were killed in succession within the space of a week.  The first was Miss Plagnang Solomon of the Congo Russia Community whose body was found around Rayfield by PRTV and the second, Jennifer Anthony, whose body was found in a hotel on Zaria Road, after being declared missing for days.
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The spate of ritual killings across Nigeria is what we can describe as the total breakdown of moral and ethical order. The quest to get rich quick among Nigerian youths has inadvertently led to the rise of ritual killing. Day in day out, news break out on abandoned bodies mutilated, after vital organs of the bodies have been harvested, found in open streets, abandoned buildings, and any open spaces.  The money ritual pandemic hit hard when four boys – Wariz Oladehinde, 17, and Abdul Gafar Lukman, 19, and the 20-year-old, Mustakeem Balogun, and the boyfriend of Sofiat, Soliu Majekodunmi, 18 – were apprehended by the Nigerian Police Force in Oke Aregba area of Abeokuta, Ogun State. The news threw the nation into lamentation. This dastardly act indicated how much the moral compass of the nation had deteriorated. According to the confession of the suspects, they had learned how to go about the ritual on Facebook where they saw the ingredients and procedures on how to go about it. The boys had beheaded the girl who happens to be the girlfriend of one of the suspects and had burnt the head in a calabash among other rituals. It was a vigilante who saw and suspected that something was fishy and alerted the police who botched the rituals. One of the suspects, Mustakeem Balogun, fled but was later caught by the police. The body of Sofiat without its head was discovered in an uncompleted building.  This news caused widespread outcry and outrage. Many reacted in unbelief and shock over how much young Nigerians are desperate to be rich quickly and would go to the extent of butchering their fellow human beings with the mysterious belief that such acts will make them wealthy in no time. On the other hand, many have claimed that such action is a result of society failing to uphold a strong moral compass. The rise of money rituals and ritual killings can be attributed to a society where money is worshipped by all. The notion of harvesting vital organs of humans as ingredients to create wealth through supernatural means with the empowerment of demonic and black magic and juju and all superstitious sorts can be unbelievable, but obnoxiously true. Several stories have been peddled around the rise of Yahoo-Yahoo, Internet scam, and its connection to ritual killings. Findings show that there are young boys who harvest human vital organs used in preparing charms to be successful in the business of defrauding unsuspecting victims through the internet. Daily, young Nigerians lodge into hotels or move in into 3-bedroom flats, living together as a group, armed with laptops, iPhones, androids, and even charms as they operate. These boys defraud people as much as $1,000 to $10,000,000.  The rise of these social vices has been traced to several factors. First, the worship of money by the Nigerian society and the flippant display of questionable wealth has motivated the rise of money rituals. Further, this display of wealth especially on social media platforms like Instagram has been responsible for the insatiable desire to make great wealth without hard work, without creating value. For example, the likes of Hushpuppi who is notorious for flaunting expensive Rolls Royces, private jets, Rolex golden watches, Gucci clothes and other expensive luxuries. Presently, Hushpuppi is cooling his feet in the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), however, his time on Instagram before his detention had influenced over a million Nigerians.
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Secondly, others have attributed the rise of money rituals and ritual killings to Nollywood’s consistent dramatisation of money rituals as a way of becoming wealthy. Since the inception of Nollywood in the 1990s, Nigerian homes have been graced with home videos of popular actors who rose from rags to riches through ritual killings. Popular faces like Kanayo O. Kanayo, Pete Edochie, Yul Edochie, Tony Umez, Zubby Michael, and other popular acts have trivialised ritual killing. For example, a 23-year-old suspect, Ayobamidele Kudus Ayodele, who allegedly abducted a six-year-old boy from his school in the Ojo Alaba area of Lagos, has confessed to his crimes, noting that he learnt his kidnapping skills from watching a prominent Nollywood actor, Zubby Michael.  Thirdly, religious bodies, most especially Christians, have lost their bearing in their incessant focus on the prosperity gospel rather than focusing on morals. According to several observers, the Church has placed so much emphasis on wealth by all means. The idea of preaching God’s faithfulness only in the area of prosperity has motivated people to do all manner of things to get wealth, while neglecting the real matter of Christianity, which is humility, righteousness, holiness, and love for God. The consistent flamboyant display of wealth by clerics have infused the spirit of Mammon – love for money – among believers. With Mammon on the pulpits, many are only driven by love for money and can do anything to be recognised on the grounds of wealth and questionable riches. Finally, the downplay of hard work and the celebration of questionable wealth in our society has heightened ritual killings for wealth. Stories have been told of how parents and relatives celebrate the sudden wealth of friends and family members. Also, there are cases where children are motivated by parents to follow the paths of their peers whose wealth are tied to scams, money rituals and other related activities.  The Way Out There are several ways to contain the rise of money ritual and ritual killings in Nigeria. First, the government and private sectors need to empower young people, most especially youths and graduates, with good jobs and offer them financial support in their various endeavours, most especially in their entrepreneurial pursuits. Secondly, there is a need for Nollywood to stop projecting ritual killings as a path to wealth. Movies should focus on the dignity of labour and reward for innovation and hard work. The movie industry should mirror the beauty of ingenuity and how it can grow and develop the status of the individual and the nation at large. Third, religious leaders should emphasise more on morality, uprightness, righteousness, and should shun evil under any guise. Religious leaders should stop flaunting their wealth that was gotten through manipulation and exploitation.  Finally, parents should rise to the challenge to be role models to their children and imbibe in them the sense of patience, the dignity of labour, hard work, and should not push their children into doing what will make them get involved in the life of crime to simply meet up with their peers. Featured image source: The Guardian Nigeria
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This article was first published on 21st February 2022 and updated on February 22nd, 2022 at 7:53 pm


Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.

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