Has Ritual Killing Come To Stay? BY BLESSING OLA

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Ritual killing refers to the killing of an animal or a human being for religious reasons. Ritual killing is often mistaken for sacrificial killings. But, these are two different phenomena. The purpose of ritual killing is not to bring a gift to divinity, which is the core of sacrificial settings.

It is said that despite technological advancements and the wealth created using information and algorithm, there are, in Nigeria, people who believe that there is a means to making money or getting wealth by murdering people. Yet, this is the reality we have all found ourselves in. Unfortunately, some are even linking the murders to the effort to generate wealth from the internet by defrauding people and perpetrating other cybercrimes.

Some young men in ripped jeans are killing their girlfriends, husbands in overflowing agbada are killing their wives, and random men of every hue are killing women they met at a party or on the street and vice versa. It is so widespread that one wonders how men and women forge relationships in Nigeria and how society still functions when going out is now a risk. Whether you sell oranges on the streets of Ashiampe, Ukpah, or attend a posh party in an enclave in Lekki, Lagos, you are at risk of becoming a ritualistic’ victim.

In the closet, under the immaculate pillow, in the medicine cabinet, drugs such as codeine and chloroquine are stashed. In the stove compartment where kerosene goes, they have an otapiapia hidden and a sharpened machete ready to strike. Since they have no fear of human blood, they will grab you at the most unexpected time and slaughter you.

Worse still, society claims these folks, who hated biology in school, are harvesting organs like a surgeon. They have graduated from collecting women’s panties, menstruation pads, and discarded body fluids. The more disgusting the item was, the more potent, tales say, they were assured. So, they dug deeper and deeper. The first beheading was hard for them. But the second was a breeze.

But, the sum of the teachings of most religions practiced in this part of the world is love for one’s neighbor. One then wonders where the new religious practice of murder emerged from, as gory sights of mutilated bodies have kept filtering into our gadgets in recent times.

And, the fact, from reports, that those indulging in these dastard acts are youths under 35 years of age – some as young as 17 makes it more terrifying. Young girls have been the major targets, with the public often engaging in victim-blaming, an action that does not help the situation.

Is there no parental upbringing in homes anymore?

What led to the surge of this silly practice?

Are parents and guardians too busy to inculcate the values of tolerance, perseverance, and hard work?

Why are the young ones looking for means to make money fast?

It seems no one believes the adage of the patient dog and the fattest bone anymore. Why? The pressure to wear the latest fashion, hold the newest iPhone, live in a fancy room and early exposure to the internet are to blame. But, why are there no ritual killings on this scale in the western countries where the lifestyles are copied? Education is even viewed as a waste of time.

Our norms are disappearing from society. No place seems safe, including religious places, with clergymen reportedly participating in this devilish act that always leaves one benumbed.

In 2021, the General Overseer of Royal God’s Commandment Ministry aka “Obot Uboho” (Mount of Deliverance) located at Okon Edak street, off Atamunu Street in Calabar South Local Government Area, was arrested by the police. He allegedly killed an 18 month-old baby boy for ritual.

The police also arrested two suspects alleged to have killed a 17-year-old girl, Sofiat. They allegedly had sex with her before cutting her head to satisfy the get-rich-quick syndrome they adopted by engaging in a money ritual.

In Ogoja Local Government Area of northern Cross River State, ten girls were feared killed within six weeks during the 2021 yuletide. Locals found two bodies with some parts missing. This led to fears that cyber fraudsters, often known as “Yahoo boys,” had invaded the town.

The connection between these killings and the acclaimed wealth and affluence enjoyed by those who engage in this act has never been established. There have been attempts to liken it to some form of tithe-paying. But, even if that was the case, it demands some work to be done other than the act of killing another. That, in itself, is enough reason not to indulge in it. Why go to lengths to kill another person when you could have just worked harder?

But, could the commodification of our value system be blamed for this? There is this perception that money buys everything in our society nowadays. We need to search our inner policeman – our conscience, to ask ourselves whether our actions and inaction may not have promoted this despicable act.

Or, is it because almost no one is being held accountable for their actions? – not the politician, clergyman, or professor?. In a society where anything goes, there is bound to be a moral conflict when the child displays strange behaviors. Parents of children who come home with inexplicable wealth do not question their source, and constituents of politicians who display exotic wealth after serving six months in an office with meager pay, are rewarded with titles. It looks as if we have concluded that the end justifies the means.

We are all living in the bondage of a failed society that we created, sustained, and defended with our inaction and indifference. We only point at those caught with freshly cut bodies in their pockets and droplets of blood still splashed on their faces and call them ritualists. Truth is, we may all be ritual killers in one way or another.

Blessing Ola is an IT student from the University of Calabar with CrossRiverWatch.

NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Blessing Ola, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.

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