By Maria Famakinwa
Reports of killings in Nigeria these days where the human body is decapitated and sensitive parts harvested for ritual purposes is assuming a worrisome dimension. Hardly will a week end without cases of ritual killings being reported.
The belief in the efficacy of money ritual killings continues to be rife, especially in a society like Nigeria where religion and the supernatural appear to be the opium of the people due to bewildering economic hardship and widespread poverty. As the gap between the rich and the poor; the haves and the have-nots widen across the country, the desperation to overcome the expanding class divide propel many citizens, particularly the youth who are bent on becoming rich at all cost into money ritual.
In May 2022, a woman found in possession of a human skull was arrested by the police in Edo State. The suspect, a divorcee and a mother of four children claimed to be a dealer in “traditional items”. She said she bought the skull with N8,000 from a cemetery attendant which she sold for N40,000 to a male suspect who approached her for it.
In September, 2022, Oyo State Amotekun Corps saved Ganiyu Maruf and Bashiru Basit, from being lynched after they were found in possession of two human skulls.One of the suspects, Maruf, claimed to have bought the skulls, meant to be used by him and Bashiru for money ritual, at the rate of N30,000.
Recall that a 26-year-old Franklin Akinyosiyu, was recently arrested by the police in Ondo town and confessed to bathing with human skull for a month to boost patronage of his business. The suspect who made the confession when paraded by the police disclosed that he was instructed by the herbalist who gave him the skull to bath with it for increased patronage.
His words: “I am a photographer and I own a boutique as well. It was last year that my uncle took me to a herbalist when I explained to him that my business wasn’t moving well. He asked me to pay N200,000 to make a concoction for me which I paid within three weeks.
“After he was done, he called me to come over to pick it up and that was last year in November. He directed that I should be bathing with the human skull every Thursday at exactly 1am. I used it for a month but didn’t see any difference in my business. So, I had to call the herbalist and tell him to refund my money. I also asked him to come and pick up the human skull as well but he refused to come and pick it up, but he had started refunding my money because he already sent me N20,000. So, on that fateful day, I decided to go and throw it away, so I dropped it in my backyard. Unfortunately, I went out and before I could return, my landlord’s children saw it, informed their father and they ultimately called the police.”
To unravel the misconceptions surrounding the belief that bathing with human skulls or using human parts actually makes one rich, The Hope spoke with an Ifa Priest, Pa Ifaleye Ifagbemi, who explained that neither human skulls or parts bring money as people speculated. He added that it is a ploy by some people to exploit and defraud greedy persons who want to be rich by all means.
His words: “There are many fake herbalists who catch in on the economic situation to defraud youths who are bent on getting rich at all cost. They give them unrealistic tasks like asking them to bring human parts so that they will think the herbalist is real. Such herbalist charge them huge amount to further convince them that they are in the right place. Once the herbalist get the money which must be paid before he starts the work, that ends it. They only want to put their clients into trouble and run away if it backfires. Most of the herbalists go into hiding once they hear that their clients have been caught with human parts or skeletons they asked them to bring. They are fake herbalists looking for what to eat,” he said.
Another herbalist, Mr Jimoh Omole, who also debunked the belief that human skulls or parts could be used for ritual described the act as wickedness which has no basis in true traditional belief.
He said: “ Only Chimpanzee is used for money ritual instead of using human being. This is because Chimpanzee have human nature and have the same blood like human being but because getting Chimpanzee is not easy, those who are desperate to be rich resorts to using innocent souls. There is no way a person can kill another for money ritual that the culprit will not see the repercussions because human blood will always fight back. Money ritual is a scam otherwise, those doing it for others ought to be stupendously rich. Genuine traditionalists will never be involved in such because it has no basis in the tradition.”
Reacting, a pastor in Shield of Faith Ministry, Mr Olayemi Oluniyi, blamed society’s emphasis on material prosperity for the rise in ritual killings and chided fellow preachers for preaching prosperity sermon wrongly.
His words: “If killing for money rituals have been proven to have any form of potency, juju priests would has been on the World’s Richest Peoples list. Two things I want to say: First, ritual killing for money is an illusion, it doesn’t work. If it did, the Babalawo (juju priest) who is paid to do the rituals would have done it for himself and be living large. Secondly, preachers of the gospel should stop the prosperity gospel, they should teach people the values of honesty, diligence, generosity and hard work. The emphasis on material prosperity puts pressure on people who resort to any means to make it. The Bible has admonished us to train a child in the way he should go so that when he grows old he will not depart from it (Prov 22: 6). So, what type of training and upbringing are many Nigerian children getting from parents, neighbours, and even leaders?
“Our society celebrates rich people without questioning the source of their wealth. Churches recognise the best-dressed worshippers and members with big cars not minding the source of all they flaunt around. How will poorly brought-up children not think that money is everything and go after money anyhow just to be recognised and celebrated? Our society and our youths will reject the temptation of killing for money when parents bring them up in the fear of God and love for fellow human beings. Everyone should therefore take parenting seriously by helping to raise godly and responsible children,” he advised.
An Islamic cleric, Mr Abdulwaheed Alowonle, who blamed the society for social vices disclosed that any form of money ritual is forbidden in Islam. He added that we must acknowledge that our society is in trouble because values are lost and we are gradually becoming a valueless society.
He said: “We glorify money and other forms of materialism above spirituality which is increasingly becoming absent in our religious centres. Materialism is taking the place of spiritualism in our preaching and actions, because If you have a lot of money, you can garner a lot of respect in the society. Other issues responsible for the mad rush for money rituals are corruption and the get-rich-quick deceit. Our political system is also one of the factors fueling criminality in the form of money rituals, because without money, you don’t have power. People want money to acquire power. So, they are desperately in search of money to reach the political position.
“So, money ritual is condemnable in Islam, and the use of human body parts for making medicine, charms and amulet for any reason is haram (forbidden). It is unlawful in Islam to tamper with a human body and those involving in such will not go scot free,” he warned