When a society is on the inexorable path to Sodom and Gomorrah, something unbelievably bestial and savagely subhuman usually happens to shock the populace back to the path of rectitude.
We have been having so many killings all over the country that we were getting used to them. We were becoming unshockable. Then Hanifa happened. Shocked out of their lethargy, Nigerians are now asking how such depravity could have been allowed to happen under our very uncaring anosmic noses.
Hanifa Abubakar was only five years old. She was kidnapped by the proprietor of a private school in Kwanar Dakata Nasarawa LGA, Kano State — the same school in which she was a pupil. Her parents struggled to pay the ransom of six million Naira demanded by the kidnappers but that was not enough to prevent her death as the lead kidnapper, Abdulmalik Mohammed Tanko, realised that the little girl had recognised him. Afraid of being exposed, he made her ingest rat poison and conspired with one Hashim Isyaku to bury her in a shallow grave at Kwanar ‘Yan gana, Tudun Murtala Quarters, Nassarawa LGA of Kano State.
When a society feeds its innocent children with pesticide, you know that the world has turned upside-down! Innocence is no longer a shield against man’s quest for quick money. In the midst of so many grotesque happenings, Hanifa’s murder was a new low. The nation has risen up as one to condemn the vile act, even as many more terrible occurrences indicate that we are gradually losing our humanity.
From Oke Aregba area of Abeokuta, Ogun State, came the horrid news of the interdiction of four male ritualists — 17-year-old Wariz Oladeinde, 19-year-old Abdulgafar, 20-year-old Lukman and Mustakeem — who conspired to kill a girl and harvest parts of her body for money-making rituals.
The teenage murderers confessed in a viral video clip that the girl, Rofiat, was lured by her boyfriend named Soliu to an uncompleted building where she was murdered by four of them, after which they cut off her head and packed the remains in a sack. They had learnt about the ritual on Facebook. It was while they were burning the severed head in an earthenware pot that a vigilant security guard nabbed them and called the police.
Before that incident, residents of Boluwaji area of Ibadan had been shocked out of their wits when members of the security network, Operation Amotekun, arrested three suspected ritualists who were in possession of the body parts of a 73-year-old man. The suspects confessed that a Muslim cleric named Alfa Salam Salam, asked them to get some human body parts for money-making rituals.
The craze for quick money has no age barrier. What is more worrisome is that it appears to be more prevalent among the young. We are now breeding a generation of children whose ambition in life is to be ritualists, cyber-criminals or whatever else that can guarantee wealth without hard work.
Take the case of the three children in another viral video that has left many mouths agape. A man behind the camera asks the stranded children what their mission was. They replied that they wanted to join ‘Yahoo hustle’. The interviewer enquired what kind of hustle they meant. They said they were interested in only Yahoo and not Yahoo-Plus. (For the uninitiated: Yahoo is straight cybercrime while Yahoo-Plus has horrid ritual content.)
The boys were accosted in Edo State, far away from their parents who lived in Delta State. Young children in their formative teenage years who should be under parental supervision have unleashed themselves on society by way of a pilgrimage in search of the underworld. Apparently they have been exposed to the current social philosophy which says the end justifies the means. Therefore, they are prepared to do just about anything as long as they can make money. I shudder to think about what and where those children will be in five years’ time if allowed to embark on their journey to the darker side of life.
What is happening now is but an exponential increase of a crime that had been with us all along.
We have always had ritualists. Remember the Otokoto incident in Owerri in 1996? A local TV station had shown a man holding the severed head of a child and appealed to the public to help identify the child. Suddenly, the arrested suspect mysteriously died in detention. The public smelt a coverup. The police raided the popular Otokoto Hotel where the suspect worked and unearthed the headless body of the child from the hotel grounds.
Bedlam ensued. The gathering crowd soon became a mob, burning the hotel and all the cars within the premises. Many supermarkets, hotels and mansions whose owners were suspected of harbouring ritual skeletons, were similarly torched. Rumours went round that a roasted human corpse had been found in the residence of a popular young millionaire and that human meat pepper-soup had been found in the premises of the church where he worshipped. Both the millionaire’s house and the church were burnt. It took a strictly enforced curfew to stem the tide of violence.
The incidence of ‘missing genitals’ was rife in the Southwest for a while. You’d find an irate crowd gathered round a man accused of stealing the genitals of a fellow passenger. “Return his genitals or we’ll kill you!”, they would yell.
In a milieu where fiction was liberally treated as facts and superstition given the pride of place over everything else, it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. While acknowledging that there are powers of darkness all around us, it seems stupid, I think, to believe such totally unscientific tales.
Woe betide the country whose children worship at the altar of mammon while their counterparts in other parts of the world are making breakthroughs in science and technology. Does anyone need to tell these misguided fools that he who conquers the physical space will eventually possess your mind too?
Our society is in serious need of a rebirth. As I have said on this forum before, nothing short of a moral resurgimiento is required. All over the country, traditional moral values have broken down. A good name is no longer considered more precious than silver.
The older generation, too, seems to have misplaced its compass. The larger society now accepts stealing as normal. Thus, when a man whose salary can hardly buy a bicycle arrives in his village driving a luxury car, no questions are asked. He is celebrated. His mates who are poor teachers living within their means are treated with scorn.
Look at our politics. It’s all about money. Godfathers and sponsors are monied people. Many of them have no verifiable means of livelihood. Most times, our billionaires just happen — like a comet!
A pure water hawker disappears from the streets only to show up riding a flashy car after joining a Yahoo ring. For every successful internet scam, there are families elsewhere in the world whose world has collapsed. But our guy is living it up to the adulation of society. It makes crime so fascinating to impressionable young minds.
I have also heard prosperity preachers tell their congregation that their God is not a God of poverty. They tell their followers that poverty is a sin and that their millions are on the way. Lies! If only these charlatans will just face the business of ministering to the spiritual needs of the people as espoused in the Holy Book.
We pride ourselves as a nation of religious people. Another lie. We worship God like the pharisees— to give the impression of religiosity. But it’s all a show without any spirituality.
Why would any sane person, no matter his level of desperation, believe an Alfa, marabout or witchdoctor who promises to transform a severed human head to a wardrobe full of money? If he had such powers, why is he wearing rags? Does he hate himself so much that he would rather help others while he continues to wallow in poverty?
Sadly, there are advertisements about satanism all over the internet, Lucifer’s adherents are harvesting the souls of the unwary who want quick money. One such advert says: “Attract money into your life or business using money attraction spells, Money attraction spells to banish all your debts & win lots of money.…”
This craze for quick money, if allowed free rein, will spell our doom. For the sake of little Hanifa and other victims of our lunatic lust, I make a humble plea: All men and women of good conscience should rise up to the challenge for, if you think deeply about it, all our children are potential Hanifas.
- Wole Olaoye is a public relations consultant and veteran journalist. He can be reached on email@example.com, Twitter: @wole_olaoye; Instagram: woleola2021