The Money Ritualists By Timothy Faboade

IT is common to read news about the activities of miscreants and daredevils who believe so much in shedding and spilling human blood before they can earn a fortune. They are aware that the members of the public know that they do not have lucrative jobs to bestow on them unfathomable wealth. Hearing the ungodly incidents, even from those who will inflate them, may not really move one to tears. But seeing the gory sights of the victims of these wicked souls will further show how desperate, callous and devilish they can be. They have no interest in goats, hens, rams or cows. They have their focus on butchering human beings in secluded abattoirs. It is quite unfortunate that empathy, which should be a feature of human beings, has been substituted with avarice which is obviously manifesting in this country, Nigeria. The number of churches and mosques ceaselessly rises, yet one of the greatest sins, avarice, will never diminish.

Cases of ritualists often litter the national newspapers and social media. It is not surprising that the Wikipedia has an interest in the Ibadan forest of horror generally known as Soka, the area in which the forest was located. There many people were starved, tortured and slaughtered. Nothing much was heard afterwards. Then, more people venture into the illicit business of selling human parts. Some of these evildoers are native doctors specialised in fetish things. One Ajibade Rasheed wasted a “special” lady in Aagba Community in Boripe Local Government Area in Osun State. He and his colleagues in crime were nabbed by the police. Earlier this year, Saheed Adeyemi and Michael Edemba, after they had been apprehended, confessed to their involvement in money rituals using human heads.

Many of these ritualists disguise as priests (Christian or Muslim) to perpetuate their heinous deeds. Nurudeen Adeniyi was alleged to be an Alfa. He conspired with Tunde Banjo to snuff life out of the innocent 16- year -old – girl, Olayinka, in Ogun State. Two human hearts were also found with the alfa and herbalist. That means that the girl was not their only victim. One Pastor Ernest Nwankwo kidnapped and killed about 10 people, just because of money. Several decomposing bodies were discovered in the foundation of a church in Enugu. People go to any length to amass wealth because this is what determines greatness and success usually in Nigeria. Chioma Anoruo confessed to kidnapping and selling 19 kids to ritualists. Then, the vice is not limited to men alone. The value of human beings decline stealthily.

All these incidents seemed to me like incredible stories until an incident happened in Gbongan, the place of my birth. The town which lies along the Ife-Ibadan expressway was thrown into pandemonium when a den was discovered, surprisingly at the heart of the town, the headquarters of Ayedaade Local Government Area. There, fresh blood, severed body parts were amazingly found. Nobody could have suspected that such an ungodly and illegal business was going on there. This is because there is a big mosque in which Muslims in the town gather to observe the Jumat prayer. The sermon at the mosque should have convinced and changed the suspect. Also, there is a night mini market directly opposite the building in which human beings were slayed. Therefore, the house is not in isolation. Yet the suspect could still muster courage to do evil.

What then makes human beings unique when that which should be exclusively found in them is lost? Like refuse, charred human bodies litter the floor and the mud house, releasing offensive odour that allegedly exposed the old man, an expert in slaughtering human beings. These ritualists portray the human race as a species with no dignity. They prove that the desire for wealth will be satisfied irrespective of the cost. Sometimes, the harbingers of evils sell bodies piecemeal at ridiculous prices, cheaper than a cow.

The economic crisis is considered as a factor pushing people to the nefarious deal. It is said that when people begin to live from hand to mouth, they are frustrated and they take certain impious steps, including ritual money-making. This is actually not true. When the economy of the country was fairly okay, people still engaged in the business. It only increased when recession rekindled it. What baffles me the most is that those butchers live in extreme poverty. Their lives are ironies of what they do. Poverty in its crudest form is always written on their faces. This is because they sell their consignments for mere peanuts. They are exploited by the gluttons who ride in sophisticated cars, visiting the wretched just to renew their filthy fortune. For instance, the suspect in Aagba community sold the stuff to a chief from Niger State. Recession is not enough a reason to dismember human bodies. Cruelty best defines the beasts’ attitudes.

Compounding the confusion is the fact that people may not be declared missing in the communities where the ritualists operate. Therefore, nobody would raise an eyebrow. This means that they are probably kidnapping their preys in other towns that may not be necessarily near. While members of Gbongan community were recovering from probably the rudest shock ever, it became known the following day that the suspect had an annexe elsewhere in the town. Of course, he was not alone in the crime; he had accomplices. The police should endeavour to unmask them all and make them face the wrath of law. This is the best compensation the dead could get.

Faboade writes in from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State.