Lagosians are familiar with the notion of ‘one chance’, a practice in which a commercial vehicle would drive to a bus stop and announce to intending commuters that there is only one seat left. The message is that the bus is set to go.
Kidnapping and ritual killing seem to be on the increase in Lagos and around the country. Another way to express this is that there are more reports of abductions for ritual killings these days than we used to have them. Red Cross says that it has received reports of 10,480 missing persons in Nigeria. Every other week or we read reports about ‘ritualists den’ in Nigeria. Two channels, social media and personal testimonies do a better job reporting the incidents than mainstream media. While mainstream outlets can be controlled not to report the incidents (to give a good albeit false image of security) no one can really control reports in social media. The latter presents gory pictures of dismembered bodies. The most recent was that of a 200 level undergraduate at the University of Port Harcourt who butchered a neighbour’s seven year old daughter for ritual, removed parts of her body and attempted to dispose of the body in a garbage heap. Shocking! Horrifying!
In the last six weeks I have met two Lagosians who escaped abduction for ritual killing by the whiskers. Both incidents took place in commercial transport, the notorious yellow buses of Lagos. Both ladies boarded a bus, one in Onipanu bus stop and the other at Oniru on the island. The first lady boarded the bus to take her to Ikeja; she ended up in Ikorodu. The second lady jumped off a moving bus and saved her life. Somehow both managed to escape when it became clear that death was a few hours away. While the former was spared by the kidnapper/ritualists because of the coincidence of names (same State of origin as one of the ritualists), the former jumped her way out of the moving bus out of sheer courage. The other victims were taken away, never to be heard from again. Routinely we encounter citizens who have similar stories to tell from different parts of the country. One of my younger siblings Ejiro also miraculously escaped ritual killing in 1986.
While I was writing this essay a report came out that one Abdulahi was arrested in Ebute Metta in Lagos while trying to use a ‘four-year old girl for suya! What is the value of human life in Nigeria?
Lagosians are familiar with the notion of ‘one chance’, a practice in which a commercial vehicle would drive to a bus stop and announce to intending commuters that there is only one seat left. The message is that the bus is set to go. Often it is the sign of ritual kidnappers, a ploy to get desperate passengers and lure them to death. Late last year a namesake and contemporary of mine Hope Ejerovbo disappeared somewhere in Lekki/Ajah area and has since remained missing. He had taken a walk that morning in the estate where he stayed and never returned home. His family is yet to put a closer to his life, because of the deep uncertainty: will he show up some day? Was there an accident? Was he kidnapped for ritual?
There have been reports of mutilated bodies found in different parts of the city and around the country. In some cases the head, breast, the eyes, parts of the vagina, and limbs are severed. Some babalawos require human parts to make some idiotic fellow rich or powerful. We have also read reports about some so-called pastors who perform human rituals so that their congregation may grow! One so-called pastor was reported to have buried bodies in the foundations of the church building! How insanely fetish and madly desperate can some people be! There were warnings in some areas of Lagos, specifically Ikorodu recently about a festival that would hold from 26th of August to August 29. In part it said: ‘especially those who are not original indigenes of Ikorodu Town to stay away from coming into Ikorodu Township’. What is the import of this announcement in 21st Century Nigeria? Surprising that in the brave new world where festivals are being opened to all some primitive minds still believe that women should not see a masquerade in the name of a ‘god’. ‘See a masquerade and lose any chance of ever getting pregnant!
The sad truth is that traditionally human sacrifice has been a part of the human consciousness from the old times. In primitive societies the sacrifice of a human being was considered the highest form of sacrifice. Even in Europe this was practiced in the early centuries according to James George Frazer in The Golden Bough where he made reference to a certain king of Sweden who sacrificed nine of his ten sons to gain longevity! Whereas societies in the advanced world have moved on, some of our people are still stuck in time. There is the superstitious and fetish belief that the life of a child or a mother or a stranger can generate wealth. Perhaps it is possible, as the notorious ‘yahoo yahoo’ boys believe. But it is unscientific, wicked, barbaric and backward. Some have been reported to use their close relations for ritual. It has also been reported that some politicians also indulge in this inhumane act as a way of winning elections, maintaining power and getting on in life!
There is something barbaric about a mind which subscribes to the belief that if you take the life of a human being in sacrifice then prosperity would come. The world of computers, unlimited opportunities through hard work is the way to go. How many ritual killing have the Bill Gates, the Mark Zuckerbergs, the Mo Ibrahims done to make their billions? What ritual killing did the software developers in India or Silicon Valley perform to achieve such phenomenal success? Yet our wealth seekers subscribe to the narrative of ritual killing to stay afloat in their businesses. While researching this topic a friend cynically asked whether I thought it would ever be possible to stop ritual killings in Nigeria because some very powerful people have benefitted from the inhumane practice.
I had no answer and still have no answer!
The intelligence agencies working in concert with the NURTW should rise to the occasion and stop the mad ritualists in town. I recall that some security men once came from London to Nigeria because they found a headless body floating in the River Thames which had a link with Benin! Our officials in charge should be able to register ALL vehicles that ply different routes in Lagos. It is a huge task but it is not impossible. The vehicles with their clear registration numbers boldly written must be compelled to take off only from designated bus stops. Through intelligence some drivers and affected passengers will be able to give information on suspicious characters. Apart from the trauma which the immediate family suffers this practice makes Lagos unsafe for citizens. It is hardly reported, but it exists. I also have two friends who never got to put a closure to their mother’s life because in the 1990s she disappeared after getting to Lagos from Delta! As a beneficiary of God’s grace after being in captivity for 16 days this is my little contribution to humanity: stop the menace of kidnappers and ritualists in Lagos, and in the country. A task force by the Inspector-General of Police is in order!