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Cultists, ritualists turning Ogun to killing field

There has been a rise in incidents of ritual and cultrelated killings of late in Ogun State, making many people to wonder what may have given rise to such development. OLUFEMI ADEDIRAN takes a look at the development and what the relevant authorities are doing to put an end to the scourge.

Recent criminal activities by men of the underworld have put the once peaceful Ogun State on the edge. Almost every day in the last three months, there has been occurrences of one criminal activity or the other in the state. Ogun State has been synonymous with crimes ranging from ritual killing, kidnapping, rape, cultism, highway robbery, internet crimes, farmers/herdsmen clash and murder in the recent time. Investigations by New Telegraph revealed that, the state recorded a spike in criminal activities between October 2021 and March 2022. Between January and March, no fewer than 12 cases of kidnappings were recorded in different parts of the state raising concern about the safety of residents of the state. Despite the different security strategies put in place by the Governor Dapo Abiodun – led administration to combat insecurity, criminal activities continue to surge at an alarming rate. For instance, the government in an attempt to curb incessant farmers/herdsmen clash, had last year set up a Joint security Intervention squad (JSIS) while another joint security outfit, code-named, OP-MESA was launched in January to combat internet fraud, kidnapping, highway robbery and cultism, among other crimes. This is in addition to the establishment of the Ogun State Security Network, otherwise known as Amotekun also to fight crimes. But, more than 14 months after the launch of Amotekun in the state, the security outfit has failed to live up to the expectations of residents of the state. The impact of Amotekun has not been felt by the people of the state, though it has been attributed largely to the fact that the security outfit has been under funded by the government. Security agencies, including the police, Amotekun and the So Safe corps among others are having hectic time in combating crime in the state. Most appalling is the rise in cases of ritual killings and cult clashes in the state. No fewer than five cases of ritual killings were recorded in the state between January and February this year. While Abeokuta, the state capital, Sagamu, Ijebu-Ode and Ijebu-Igbo have been turned into a battle ground for cult groups.

Bloodbath, as cultists engage in supremacy battle

Incidences of cult killings is not new in the state, this is believed to be a fall-out of the fact that the state plays host to a number of tertiary institutions. Ogun State arguably has the highest concentration of tertiary institutions, both privately and publicly owned and this has always been one of the major reasons for cult clashes in the state. But, in the last eight years, the state enjoyed relative peace from cult clashes, until the last two years when cultists renewed their suprem-acy battle with several people killed or injured. According to data available to New Telegraph, no fewer than 64 persons were killed in various clashes between cult groups in different parts of the state between 2019 and 2022. In 2021, the then Commissioner of Police in the state, Edward Awolowo Ajogun confirmed that, at least 25 persons were killed in cult clashes in different parts of Ijebu-Ode. During the clash, a member of Aiye confraternity group, one Michael Jayeola was shot dead and had his right arm cut off by members of a rival group. Ajogun who disclosed this during a sensitisation programme to engage youths, community leaders and security stakeholders in Ijebu-Ode lamented the wanton destruction of lives and property during various cult clashes. Also in 2020, about 20 people were reported dead in various cult clashes between members of the dreaded Eiye and Aiye groups in Ijebu- Ode. A woman and her daughter who were in a commercial tricycle, popularly called Keke marwa were shot dead during a clash. It was gathered that, members of the rival cult group had targeted the rider of the tricycle who belonged to another cult group. Another victim of the clash was an apprentice whose identity could not be ascertained. The assailants, it was learnt cut off his hand after hacking him to death. The cultists reportedly engaged in daylight shooting of their rival cult group members and in the process stray bullets hit and kill some innocent persons in the area. In November last year, a commercial motorcyclist, popularly known as Okada rider was butchered to death in Abeokuta. The assailants attacked the Okada rider in broad day light in the full glare of passers – by at the popular Kuto under bridge in Abeokuta metropolis and left him dead. The hoodlums who were wearing masks and in convoy of about three motorcycles chased their target from the NNPC – under bridge, along Oke Mosan road, to the densely populated Kuto area, before pouncing on him. Some of hoodlums got hold of the victim at the Kuto junction while navigating the motor park route and inflicted machete cut on his head, leading to pandemonium in the area. However, cult clashes took a turn for the worse on Thursday, March 24 when a popular area boy, Tomiwa Adeliyi, popularly known as “Tommy Boy” was hacked to death at Panseke area of Abeokuta by suspected members of the Aiye cult group. In the last one week, no fewer than 15 people have been killed in a supremacy battle between rival cult groups in Abeokuta and Sagamu areas of the state. Prior to Tommy’s death, six others have been killed in different parts of Abeokuta. Findings by New Telegraph revealed that those that have been killed so far included: a cult leader, known as Scatter, School Boy, Alakanni, Tommy Boy, Azeez, Olaosebikan and Babajide. The killings, according to the source, took place, at seven places which are: a relaxation centre at Asero, another ones at Kugba, Ikereku, Panseke, Adigbe, Oke Ijeun and Isale Abetu, all in Abeokuta. But, the clash on Monday spread to Sagamu area of the state where no fewer than eight persons were reportedly killed. New Telegraph gathered that, some young men stormed the town, killing their targets. A source told our correspondent that one Akeem, an electrician was killed at Ajegunle area of Sagamu around 7am. “Akeem did not die immediately, but when they were rushing him to hospital, another bike hit them and he fell from the bike. That was how he died eventually. His intestines were coming out because he was shot in the stomach,” the source, who pleaded anonymity, said. It was also gathered that some of the victims were murdered in places like Soyindo, Ijagba, Ajegunle and Sabo; all in Sagamu.

Police vow to arrest landlords harbouring criminals

Reacting to the killings, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi confirmed that there were killings in the state within the last week. Oyeyemi said, the command had made some arrest in connection with the killings. The PPRO however, disclosed that the command had resolved to go after landlords that harbour any cultist in their houses. He said the Commissioner of Police, Lanre Bankole has ordered that any landlord whose house was used as either meeting points or residential areas by cultists in the state would be charged to court alongside the criminals. Oyeyemi said, “We have launched a very serious operation on them. We are clamping down very seriously on them. “About 18 suspects have been arrested during the last encounter we had with them and we are not going to rest until we get the last person of these hoodlums, because, we cannot be watching anyone making life difficult for members of the public. “The Commissioner of Police has put on red alert, all Area Commanders and all tactical team commanders that they should go out and take the battle to the door steps of these hoodlums. We must fish them out one after the other. “Any house that is harbouring any of these criminals, the landlords of such a house will be seriously dealt with. They cannot continue harbouring them and now coming out intermittently to wreak havoc. Are they pretending as if they don’t know them? “They are meeting somewhere within the community. Once we fold our arms and keep quiet, they will continue to unleash terror. “The Commissioner has directed that any landlord who is harbouring any of these hoodlums is going to be charged alongside them whenever we get them arrested.”

Ritual killings assume worrying state

On Saturday, January 29, four teenagers shocked the entire nation with the gruesome killing of Sofiat Kehinde, a girlfriend to one of them for money ritual. Residents of Oke Aregba community in Abeokuta, the State capital woke up to discover the bizarre act of the teenagers, namely: Wariz Oladehinde, (17 years), Abdul Gafar Lukman (19 years) and Mustakeem Balogun (20 years) and Soliu Majekodunmi (18 years). A community security guard, one Mr Segun Adewusi, had observed that the boys were burning something suspected to be human head in a local pot. The security guard immediately alerted the police at Adatan station, who went to the scene and arrested the suspects. In a shocking revelation, the teenagers confessed that they learnt how to make money rituals from the popular social media platform, Facebook. They confessed that they were inspired by the guidelines on how to make money ritual they read on Facebook. Narrating how the criminal act was carried out, Sofiat’s boyfriend, Soliu Majekodunmi stated that when the victim visited him on Friday (January 28), he strangled her and beheaded her immediately with the support from other accomplices. Majekodunmi explained they had contributed money and purchased other ingredients needed for the ritual while awaiting for the day they would pounce on the lady, who was introduced to him, just in December, last year. He blamed Mustekeem as being the arrow head of the heinous act, saying he was the one who brought the guidelines from the Facebook and pestered the group of friends to carry out the act. He said “Last year December, Mustekeem gave me her number that I should be dating her. The first time Sofiat came to my house, I informed Mustekeem that she was around and that she had agreed to my proposal for a relationship. “Also the second time Sofiat came I told Mustekeem, but he told me that Sofiat is not a good girl and advised that we should use her (for money rituals). Mustekeem said he saw a guideline for Oshole (Money ritual) on Facebook and he had a screenshot of it. “Since then, he has been disturbing me that we should use Sofiat for the ritual, but I didn’t agree with him. “In fact, on many occasions, I lied to Sofiat that I am not at home just to dissuade her from coming. “During the process, Mustekeem had ensured that we all make contributions towards other ingredients needed for the ritual. “So, eventually, Sofiat came to my house on Friday. I was inside my room with her while Mustekeem was outside. Later Mustekeem told me that we should go ahead and use her, after all, other ingredients for the rituals are ready.” Majekodunmi said he regretted his action and urged other youths who are eager to make money quickly to wait for their time. “I have regrets. If I knew it would end up like this I would not have gotten myself involved in the act. My advice to those who don’t want to wait for their time is that, they should please wait for their time,” he said. While Nigerians were yet to recover from the shock of the bizarre act carried out by the teenagers turned ritualists, another ritual killing crime was committed. This time, a couple: Kehinde Oladimeji (43 years) and his 35-year-old wife, Adejumoke Raji were behind the crime. The couple were arrested on Saturday, February 12 at their residence in Leme area of Abeokuta, the State capital in possession of fresh human body parts. The suspects were arrested following stench coming out of their room where they had kept the human parts. The victim who was said to be a friend of the wife had visited the couple. Speaking with journalists, the husband claimed the wife solely killed her friend, severed her body and sold the head to a merchant, identified as Omo Baale, a resident of Ibadan, Oyo State. Oladimeji, the husband said, the head was sold to his friend at the rate of N70,000. He said, “There was a day, my wife invited her friend, a lady to our house for a visit. The first time she came was a Tuesday, she came that particular day and went back home. “But the second day she came, it was on a Thursday. My wife on that day, cooked noodles and eggs for the lady which she ate, later, the lady went into the bathroom and showered. “But, when it was getting dark that day, I inquired from my wife when her friend would leave, but my wife said the lady said she was weak and she would need to lie down and regain her strength. I was sitting at the backyard, but when I returned to the room I realised my wife had killed her friend and dismembered her body. “When I asked her what happened, she told me the friend had offended her a long time ago. The person who bought the head came from Ibadan. His name is Oluomo. “I have a friend in Ibadan, who is popularly known as Omo Baale. He told me he needed human head, but I told him I didn’t have such connection of anybody who can help facilitate it. My wife heard the discussion and asked me how much the man would pay for it (human head), I told her he was ready to pay N70,000. I never knew my wife had made up her mind. “As you can see, I’m not a strong person. When the incident happened, I had wanted to kill myself, but, the wife denied killing the lady, saying “I know nothing about it. Stop framing me up.” However, she confirmed that her husband’s friend, one Michael had handed over a sack to them, which they later discovered contained human parts, after three days. On the same day of the crime, elsewhere in Oja-Odan in Yewa North Local Government Area of the state, an angry mob set ablaze two suspected ritualists who were allegedly caught with fresh human head The suspects: Idowu Afolabi and Johnson Adebiyi were earlier arrested and detained at Oja Odan Police Station. But, some irate youths forcefully broke into the police cell, drag out the two suspected ritualists and set them ablaze. An eyewitness who narrated the incident to our correspondent said, the youths, who were in their hundreds, dragged the suspects to an open space in front of the police station and set them on fire. “The youths caught the two men with a fresh human head. The police came to take the suspects away. But about an hour later, the youths, said the killers must be dealt with immediately. That was why they mobilised themselves in their hundreds to the police station in Oja Odan. “The youths forced themselves into the police cell, dragged the suspects to an open space in front of the police station and set them on fire,” he said.

Don’t blame Nollywood for ritual killings – Mr Latin, Pa Fatomilola insist

The President of Theatre Arts and Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN), Bolaji Amusan, popularly known as Mr. Latin and veteran Yoruba movie actor, Pa Peter Fatomilola have said, the government and bad parenting and not Nollywood should be blamed for increasing money rituals among the youths. Fatomilola in an interview with New Telegraph, he said, “mad rush for material things by Nigerian youths has been one of the major factors for youths engaging in quick ways of making money. “Young people these days are in a hurry to make money. They want to be rich at all cost and some of them are willing to do anything to acquire wealth and this has been the reason for the increasing rate of crime, not only ritual killings in our society. “Our moral fabric has been destroyed. Parents are no longer concerned about the welfare of their children. Youths no longer believe in education and hard work. “This is really a dangerous trend in our society and everyone must rise up against it, before it destroys our society completely,” the veteran actor said. Mr. Latin, on his part pointed out that for every money rituals in a Nollywood movie, there is always a consequence, which serves as deterrent for the audience. Amusa said, “Those who are pointing accusing fingers at us, that’s their own thinking. I have never seen a movie that anybody will do rituals without consequences. And our movies are being categorized 15, 18, P and G. If its categorised 15, it means if you are not older than 15 you can’t watch it. If it is 18, it means if you are not older than 18, you can’t watch it. “Can you say it is because American actors are shooting in their movies that’s why crimes are rampart in America? No. It is the society, parents and government. They have neglected alot of things. Some parents are not even taking care of their children. A 17 year old will come home with a car and the parents will not ask him where he got the car from? “If you watch a movie half way and you are telling us, it is those people that are celebrating crimes. Why don’t you watch the movie to the end to know what happened to the person who played the role? “So, nobody should blame the Nollywood actors. We are doing our jobs. The musicians are doing their job. It is left for the parents to take proper care and notice of their children. Some parents have never for once visited the school of their children.” He, however, promised that movie makers and actors would continue to play their roles as a mirror of the society in propagating morals and values in the country. “This is an era of social media and definitely we have to play our roles as the mirror of the society to correct what’s wrong and live a very worthy life worthy of emulation,” Amusan said.

Ogun to register herbalists, alternate medicine practitioners

Ogun State government, as part of efforts to curb ritual killings set up a 42-man Advisory Committee to register herbalists and alternate medicine practitioners in the state. The government, through the Ogun State Alternate Medicine Board (OGAMB) set up the committee to ensure the promotion of genuine and quality service delivery, through regular monitoring and screening of alternate medicine practitioners before being certified. The chairman of the board, Balogun Nurudeen Olaleye who inaugurated the committee in Abeokuta, said the move would enable the board have a well-coordinated and verified record of practitioners in accordance with the rules and regulations guiding its conduct. Olaleye, who decried the increase in ritual killings said, it had affected the socio-economic growth of the country, noting that the board would not sit back and watch some fake practitioners and miscreants bastardise alternate medicine practice. He vowed to fish out uncertified traditionalists who are in the habit of rendering evil services to perpetrators of ritual killings and other social vices. Olaleye said, part of the committee’s responsibilities were to recommend qualified practitioners and certify them as members, detect quacks, as well as those who indulge in money rituals, among other corrupt practices. “The present administration in the state is striving to improve the health sector towards providing affordable and quality healthcare services to the people of the state within their localities. “We have decided to inaugurate this committee to guide the practice of alternate medicine and to sanitise what our forefathers consider to be precious to them. We will not fold our arms and allow some deviants to tarnish the image of this profession,” he said. Responding, a member of the Committee, the Oluwo Ifa of Ogun State, Chief Ifashola Anipupo commended the state government for its effort in the health sector and for recognising alternate medicine and its practitioners, assuring that the committee would perform accordingly.

Abiodun, Police, other stakeholders express worry

Governor Dapo Abiodun has expressed worry over the spate of criminal activities, especially ritual killings in the state and vowed to deal decisively with anyone involved in the heinous crime in accordance with the relevant laws. The governor who also expressed worry over the involvement of youths in the dastardly act, wondered when the decline in moral uprightness became the norm. “We won’t be identified by these notoriety. We have emplaced security measures in schools and all the villages, hamlets and towns to ensure zero-tolerance for ritualists.

We will trail them, apprehend them, investigate them and make them serve as examples for those harbouring such sinister routes to wealth acquisition,” the governor was quoted as saying. Ogun, he added, has always been defined by integrity, hard work, service, valour and diligence, saying all hands must be on deck to arrest the moral decadence, particularly, among the youths who are deceived that there is a short cut to success. While reiterating his administration’s commitment to providing necessary logistic support to security agencies in the state, Abiodun, called on religious leaders to intensify their efforts towards delivering sermons on moral rebirth. The governor also urged parents and guardians to ensure they inculcate right attitude into their wards, and always be a good moral compass to their children.

He, however, warned that anybody caught engaging in ritual killings and other crimes will be made to face the wrath of the law. The Commissioner of Police, Lanre Bankole, had raised the alarm over the high rate of youth involvement in kidnapping, ritual killings and other crimes in the state. Bankole raised the concern at the Security Summit, organised by the state chapter of the Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC) in collaboration with the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) The Police boss who lamented the serious involvement of youths and young adults in various crimes in the state, called on all stakeholders, including parents, Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and religious organisations to join hands with the Police and other security agencies to tackle the menace. According to him, the rate at which youths and young adults now engage in criminal activities is terrible. Bankole said, “The involvement of our youths in criminal activities is indeed very worrisome and something has to be done. “We want to remind the youths about how involvement in criminal activities is making big impacts in their lives. “You stand the risk of your eternal life being dislocated when you are being prosecuted by the full wrath of the law.”

The State Chairman of PCRC, Dr. Samson Popoola, warned youths against get-rich-quick syndrome, saying, “The rising wave of ritual killings and the get rich quick syndrome that has held our youths and young adults hostage is the erroneous belief that rich and wealth are the same. “Unfortunately it is not so, that is why we have so many rich people around us, but very few wealthy people.”

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