In an opinion shared by Abimbola Adelekun, she said, “I find highly frustrating in discussions of certain killings in Nigeria is the assumption that the deaths were about “money rituals.” In instances of violent murders where the motive remains unclear, people allege ritual killings, The Punch reports.
The tendency to immediately conclude that certain instances of homicides are ritual killing could, unfortunately, be providing an alibi for other forms of psychopathic violence. Labelling disparate instances of homicide as ritual killings could also be fueling the sensationalism that further aggravates those incidences.
“First, there is nothing like money rituals. By that, I mean there is nowhere in the history of humankind where anybody has made cash appear through magic means. As I stated in a previous article, the belief in the efficacy of ritual killings is typically rife within the context of bewildering economic precarity and the concomitant increase in social inequality.
According to Abimbola Adelekun, as reported by The Punch, as the gap between the rich and the poor widens in a society, the desperation to overcome the expanding class divide drives people to engage in all sorts of activities they hope will redistribute some of the wealth in their society in their favour. That is why—and this has grown worse in the past few years—many Nigerians have been serially scammed through various Ponzi schemes that promise humongous returns on investment.
That is not even counting the kalokalo economy promoted in religious houses where all kinds of seed-sowing are supposed to translate into miracle wealth.
If it were possible to conjure money as our people believe, Africans would be the wealthiest people in the world. We are the poorest and the perennially backward continent partly because we seek supernatural solutions to issues that can be resolved through logic. Look at the recent drama in Ondo State where some people believed that some white clothes fell from heaven.
Even when the textile owner insisted that a mere gust of wind blew the materials from where she hung them, people insisted they fell from heaven! That is the nature of our society—people looking for metaphysical explanations to clarify otherwise simple phenomena.
No magic whatsoever makes a business enterprise successful either. Africans who traffic in stories of how supernatural power has prospered certain business people do so largely to rationalise their economic situation while someone else within their community succeeds.
They find it hard to accept that someone else, other people can succeed through the ethics of hard work, prudence, and sheer ingenuity, and so they reach for supernatural explanations to self-justify. While there is no logical link between money and rituals, the rising incidences of “ritual murders” in our society are worrying and we must account for the phenomenon. I have been compiling news articles on so-called ritual murders for a while now, and I have two observations.
The first is that our people are always quick to allege “money ritual killings” in instances where the murder was violent. Our society does not indulge in a critical study of criminal psychology. The only eye through which we know to filter every incidence of a gory killing is to allude to “rituals.” Elsewhere, trained forensic analysts analyse a dead body to insightfully speculate the nature of the killer and the circumstances of the killings. In Nigeria, even though we could be dealing with serial killers, copycat killers, or even mentally-disturbed people, our society does not have a language for such psychopathy. We just allege ritual killings. We do not even have the resources to investigate those crimes in detail, so every victim of violent death potentially died through “ritual killing.”
When the unfortunate news of the death of Iniobong Umoren first broke, some people were sure it was another case of ritual murder. A reporter even contributed to the rumor-mongering by asserting that everyone in the alleged perpetrator’s community confirmed that his entire family are killers. We see a similar trend in the story of Timothy Adegoke who died in a hotel in Ile-Ife. That his death allegedly happened in a hotel run by a billionaire made his own case even ready-made for accusations of “money rituals.” Nothing that has unfolded—so far at least—suggests that this was a case of ritual killings, but some people have preempted police investigations and foreclosed other possibilities.
“My second observation as I reviewed those news articles is how those arrested for ritual killings explain their actions. Because, most of the time, there is no further inquiry by the investigating reporter into the activities of those suspects beyond their confessional statements, it is hard to detail what else lies beyond these activities. Nevertheless, I find it interesting that while most of these suspects can account for their part in the human parts trade, they never talk about the “success” of those rituals. Whether the rituals were about conjuring cash or achieving business success, by their own account, they have not worked yet. Rather than accept that what they set out to achieve is impossible, these ritualists double down on the killings believing it would ultimately succeed if they add this and that to the process.
“There is a telling example in the case of two people arrested in Osun State, in August and reported by The PUNCH. Two men, Ifadare Afolabi and Ifaseun Afolabi, allegedly conspired to kill a 35-year-old man and used his body parts for ritual purposes. In his confession, Ifadare stated, “I used the head and legs of the deceased for a charm to draw clients to my temple, but it failed. Ifaseun kept other parts and gave them to people who needed them. I can’t explain why the charm did not work. I didn’t know the victim before we used him. I have never used any human part before. I just attempted it. I planned the killing with my friend, Ifaseun.”
“I cannot definitively ascertain how many of these ritual murders are like this one—those attempting it merely based on the popular belief that it works—but their story is similar to the others I encountered. People like Ifadare have never seen the rituals translate into money or success, but they still attempt it anyway. By killing people, they get drawn into the relatively profitable trade in human body parts. So while the “ritual” itself does not bring them money, the trade in human body parts among their fellow seekers of magic money becomes the point of repeating the process. By killing as many people as possible, sometimes just to discard their bodies, the trade gets hyped. People do not need to see it work; they just need to believe and start relating to the phenomenon as true. Like the Ondo people who believe that clothes fell from heaven, no evidence to the contrary can persuade them.
“There are multiple journalistic accounts of mortuary officials retailing clothes that dead people had worn. According to one of these reports, the more violent the circumstances of the death of the people stored in the mortuary, the higher they price their garments. When you look beyond the spectacularism of the reporting, what you also see are poorly-paid mortuary officials spreading morbid myths that draw attention to them as a repository of human body parts available to be sold to those who do not have the means to capture and kill live humans.
“Just like the rumor circulated a couple of years ago about ladies’ panties being used for money rituals, the sensationalism of those stories generates the economy of the belief that further enhances the trade. The more instances of the yet-to-be-investigated violent murders we attribute to rituals, the more intense the belief in rituals. That is because people reasonably take the exaggeration as further proof that those rituals must be working for those who know how to perform them. Several analysts note that the ritual killings heighten around December because people need money to spend during Christmas and other financially draining end-of-the-year activities. Yes, but the money they generate does not come from any magic. Those into the trade make their money through the law of supply and demand that comes into play when those who believe in the nonsense furiously start looking for human body parts to buy. When you think about it, you find no magic anywhere that has generated money or success for anyone. What we have are simply deluded people frantically looking for what was never lost.