By Kayode Ketefe
The stunning revelation of the kidnappers’ den in Soka community, a suburbs of Ibadan, Oyo state (now famously referred to as “Ibadan forest of horror”) which was widely reported in the dailies after being uncovered by the police on March 22, 2014, is a confirmation of the reality of cannibalistic sub-culture we have always known to exist among us.
At the locus which was said to be adjacent to a plastic manufacturing factory, the police discovered scores of human corpses profligately dumped in dungeons, and about 15 surviving victims, some of whom looked like skeleton having been kept without food for long. Some of the suspected kidnappers are said to have landed in police nets while the Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi, has announced the revocation of the certificate of occupancy of the land.
The Inspector-General of Police from Abuja has also ordered the forensic experts to besiege the place to uncover evidence before the place is demolished.
The development is just a reminder of the ever-existing, if not growing, culture of ritual killings in the country.
It is a practice that has unfortunately become regular occurrences. Few months ago, we read the chilling report of a cold blooded ritual murder of a young woman in Ifo area of Ogun State. The woman’s corpse was deposited in the middle of the road after the head had been cut off; her stomach had been ripped open apparently to extricate organ considered useful for ritual purposes.
The poor woman’s corpse showed that her left ankle was also amputated. One Morufu Olanrewaju, whom a serendipitous observer allegedly saw depositing the mutilated corpse, had been arrested.
What about the sad a case of a 100 level Accounting student of the Ladoke Akintola University (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, Miss Oluwaseun Adaramoye, who was declared missing for a few days only for her corpse to be found behind a popular guest house at the Under-G area of the town on Friday 20 June, 2013. Again, many parts of her body, including her brain, vagina, and breast had been removed by her killers.
The cases of ritual-inspired cruel murders are just too rare to mention. Apart from proven murder cases, we have also had numerous incidences of sudden disappearances where victims were never seen or heard of again. We could all remember the famous Otokoto saga in Owerri in1996 where the police successfully smashed an underground syndicate headed by, Chief Vincent Duru. After seven years of trial, Otokoto and his fellow ritual killers were sentenced to death by hanging.
But the problem is far more rampant that we used to envisage. The truth is this: In almost every major market in the country there is a thriving underground market that runs parallel to it which specialises in purveyance of human body parts.
These range from head, heart, brains, tongue to breast and even private parts.
Because these items are purveyed in virtual market rather than the real market (though the physical location may be the same) the uninitiated who want to purchase them for whatever purposes may be prowling the market from morning till night without seeing anything to buy.
Without the use of coded language and signs, the dealer would not budge an inch even if she had full stocks of contraband human parts. In most cases the dealers would sell only to accredited agents.
This practice of ritual killings is inextricably tied to the belief that these human parts are vital ingredients for money-making ritual or acquisition of some mystical powers. Some politicians also patronise the human parts black market for the latter purpose. It is an indictment of Nigerian moral character that despite the proliferation of churches and mosques, this illicit practice of callous killings of fellow beings for envisaged selfish gains, keeps soaring.
Really, the strange belief that human parts could be used to procure money in some supernatural way or procure electoral advantage or attain some super human feats in any way is a belief rooted in outright ignorance.
Unfortunately, it is this irrational belief itself that is sustaining the market rather than the potency of the ritual. It is pure superstition thriving on lack of enlightenment.
Many perpetrators of this horrifying practice have been arrested, prosecuted sentenced to long term imprisonment, or death, and many have been executed to serve as deterrent to others. But the fact that the problem remains intractable only goes to prove that the best approach to eliminate this wickedness should not be restricted to legal alone, more importantly, there is need for proper education and enlightenment.
Once people are made aware of the fact that dead human body parts would simply decompose as they have no inherent powers in them and that nobody would get rich or obtain any power by making use of these parts in some god-forsaken primitive rituals, the practice would gradually disappear.
Nonetheless, the legal option should be exploited to the fullest as the practice is a crime. It has been criminological established that certainty of detection is the greatest disincentive to criminality. Therefore our law enforcers must not rest on their oars; they must work in synergy and employ the appropriate technology stamping out this senseless culture of human immolation.
This development also calls for consideration of community policing system. Our extant centralised policing system which constitutes a behemoth that has its brain in Abuja is most unsuited for effective policing across the length and breadth of Nigeria. A system featuring states and community policing would be appropriate in combating most kinds of crimes as people are apt to be vigilant and trust law enforcement agents they know and identify with.
We would also call on the Federal Government to institute credible judicial commission of inquiry that would unearth all the facts in connection this forest of horror and made useful recommendation on how to remove this kind of horrendous tragedy from our society.
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