Ritual killings and trade in body parts is one crime that has refused to go away in Nigeria. So far, not less than 55 suspects have been arrested in the past one year for human parts-related crimes in states such as Kebbi, Oyo, Kwara, Osun, Lagos, Ogun, Kogi and Nasarawa.
One of the most recent took place in Nasarawa State, where three men were arrested by the Nasarawa State Police Command for allegedly being in possession of human parts. They were reported to have, on November 1, exhumed a freshly buried corpse from a cemetery at Mararaban-Akunza and chopped off an arm.
Then in Ankpa LGA of Kogi State, neighbouring communities have had long-drawn cases of abductions, ritual killings, harvests of human parts, deadly cult activities and gruesome murders. Alarmed, some locals lodged complaints to the police. After months of discreet investigations, the Inspector General of Police Special Tactical Squad first busted a 10-man gang that allegedly specialized in selling human parts, also responsible for various crimes perpetrated in Ankpa and environs sometime in September 2018.
The kingpin of the gang, 39-year-old Yakubu Hamidu, had prior to their arrest held positions of Secretary of the Local Vigilante Group for five years and was its chairman for one year in Ankpa LGA where he hails from.
Hamidu told the police that in his capacity as leader of the vigilantes, he had access to arms and ammunitions with which he hunted down victims for human parts, especially male and female private organs. He also revealed how they killed four local vigilante men and a police officer in Ofu LGA during one of their operations.
But following the mop-up of arms and ammunitions by the police as directed by the IGP, the crime business nosedived, thus forcing Hamidu to resort to recruiting youths in the community to resuscitate the human parts trade. He had allegedly promised handsome rewards to those he recruited, but the bubble burst when he failed to keep his promise. One of the gang members, 18-year old Ubile Attah decided to turn in the group to the Inspector-General of Police Special Tactical Squad.
Following the arrest and revelations made by the 10-man gang, the police High Command made further arrests of those allegedly behind the killings and human parts trade.
Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Jimoh Moshood who paraded the suspects in Abuja, said the police began investigation into the group’s activities following repeated cases of abduction, killing, and removal of vital body parts of victims which were reported in Ankpa town and environs as well as the killing of a Police Inspector, Abdul Alfa, at Ejule Police outpost in Ofu LGA while on foot patrol on November 28, 2017. A total of 16 suspects alleged to be responsible for the criminal activities were paraded in Abuja by the police.
The suspects are: Abdulahi Ibrahim Ali, Alhaji Shaibu Adamu, Yakubu Hamidu, Ubile Attah, Julius Alhassan, Shehu Haliru, Abdullahi Tijani, Akwu Audu, Alhaji Abdullahi Zakari, Sale Adama, Musa Abdulahi, Yakubu Yahaya, Adama Shagari, Baba Isah, Isaac Alfa, and Idoko Benjamin. Arms and ammunition recovered from them, according to police, include one pump action rifle, two locally fabricated single barrel guns, and three short axes.
According to Moshood, Hamidu, 39, who is gang leader and native of Ankpa, and the vigilante leader in the community, along with his vigilante guards “are the hit-men responsible for the killings and removal of mostly male and female organs of several victims, including other body parts, such as the head, kidney, and other vital body organs, which they sell within and outside the state for rituals.”
According to the Police spokesperson, Yakubu and his members confessed to the crime and admitted that they were working for one Abdullahi Ibrahim Ali a.k.a Halims and Alhaji Shaibu Adamu a.k.a Aye-Marina, whom they sold the body parts to.
Moshood noted that Ibrahim has allegedly “used the proceeds of crime to build and own many properties, including big hotels and several filling stations in Kogi State, while Alhaji Adamu who is without any known profession or means of livelihood was suspected to have built mansions and four filling stations in Ankpa, and another four at Onyangede in Benue State with the proceeds of the crime.”
According to him, the suspects further confessed to the killings and removal of body parts of victims whose names they gave as James, Christopher, Mohammed, Small Case, Omu and one Inspector Abdul Alfa who was ambushed and axed to death in Ofu.
Some of the suspects confessed that they paid N500,000 for female organs and N300,000 for male organs by those that contracted them. The police have since charged the suspects before a Kogi Senior Magistrate Court in Lokoja.
Ibrahim, who was alleged to be one of the ‘contractors’, however said that he knew nothing about the said crime, adding that his ordeal was orchestrated by his political enemies. He is currently the All Progressives Congress’s (APC) House of Representatives candidate for Ankpa/Olamaboro/Omala constituency in the 2019 general election.
In the meantime, Ibrahim, Adamu and Ukubile had been granted bail by the court while the other suspects were still being remanded in police custody in Abuja. Hearing on the matter comes up at the Magistrate Court in Lokoja, on November 12.
The cases continue to pile up nationwide: On August 13, a suspected ritualist, Ganiyu Idowu, 62, confessed he connived with one Alfa Bamigbola Edun, to use his apprentice for money rituals. The two were paraded by the Ogun State Police Command alongside another accomplice, Matthew Odunewu, at the state police headquarters, Eleweran, Abeokuta for allegedly kidnapping Ganiyu Akanni for money rituals.
Idowu, a herbalist, said Edun asked him to provide one person for a ritual that would yield N11 million. But Edun denied the accusation, saying he only engaged the herbalist in a mutual exchange of knowledge.
The Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Iliyasu, said the suspects were arrested at the Ogun River bank in the act of preparing to slaughter the victim for a ritual. “On interrogation, they confessed that the polythene bags found with them were to be used to collect their respective shares of the victim’s body parts after killing him,” he said.
Lagos is also not left out: In August this year a ‘mentally deranged’ couple who resided under a bridge at Cele NICA bus stop, Ojo in Mile 2, Badagry Expressway were nabbed by detectives attached to Ijanikin Police Station of the Lagos State Command, who found them in possession of various human parts.
Another case is that of an Ilorin group of eight suspects allegedly responsible for kidnapping, murder, ritual killings and exhuming dead bodies. They were also said to have been removing and trading in human skulls and other human body parts in Ilorin, Kwara State by police spokesman DCP Moshood. He narrated that during a search operation, eleven human skulls, some pieces of human bones, human hair, and powder suspected to be ground human bones and charms were recovered.
Moshood said the suspects confessed and admitted to have sold 31 human heads to some personalities in Ilorin, other towns in Kwara State and neighbouring states.
Some locals spoke to Daily Trust Saturday, expressing fears that cases will only increase, as the general elections approach. “Some of them believe in arcane things, and subscribe to fetish activities,” one of them said. “They think ritual killings or severed human parts and organs will help them win elections, but they’re wrong. They’re just monsters, with a taste for human life,” he added, “And God will certainly visit his wrath on them.”
– With data compiled by Hassana Yusuf