THE Osun State Commissioner of Police, Mr Fimihan Adeoye, has said that his command has adopted intelligence gathering and due prosecution of culprits as an approach to stemming the tide of ritual killings in the state.
For the past few months, residents of Osogbo, the state capital, have lived in constant fear over the growing cases of missing persons and ritual killings.
Since late last year, suspects have been arrested by the police virtually on a monthly basis for alleged involvement in killing people for ritual purposes.
Adeoye told Saturday Tribune in a telephone interview that: “We are thoroughly exploring intelligence gathering approach, prosecution of arrested culprits to frontally tackle the increasing cases of ritual killings in the state. We believe that timely arrest and prosecution of arrested suspects would serve as deterrent to anybody contemplating to perpetrate ritual killing and we are also embarking on sensitisation of the people of Osun State on how to avoid falling prey to suspected ritual killers.”
Desperation for quick riches is said to be driving some people to resort to the use of human parts for rituals in achieving this inordinate desire. And the usual suspects have been people believed to be clerics, popularly called alfa, and herbalists who carry out the rituals for their ‘clients’.
In December 2016, a 400 level female student of the Osun State University (UNIOSUN), identified as Rofiat Damilola Adebisi, was declared missing after attending a religious programme in Ikoyi town, off the Ibadan-Ife Expressway. After days of frantic search by her friends and family members, her corpse was found in Iragbiji in Boripe Local Government Area of the state. But after investigations, the police arrested two suspects in connection with the student’s murder. The suspects, Elijah Oyebode (22) and Yusuf Ajibade (25) were later remanded in Ilesa prison by a magistrate’s court sitting in Osogbo. They were said to have been remanded due to the gravity of their offence.
Oyebode, a commercial driver, had confessed to hypnotising the deceased who had boarded his vehicle from Ipetu Ijesa to Osogbo. He explained that he subsequently delivered her to the herbalist, one Mr Jelili, who paid him N10,000 for the job. Oyebode added that the herbalist had given him a charm to use on a young lady who had never given birth before. The second accused person allegedly received one Apple Iphone 5 valued at N100,000 stolen from the deceased after she was killed.
Similarly, four students of the same university who were declared missing late last year are yet to be found, even though the commissioner of police, Mr Adeoye, told Saturday Tribune that efforts were still on to find the undergraduates.
However, the recent case of a final year student of the institution, Oluwafemi Shonibare, angered his colleagues who embarked on a violent protest, in Osogbo, of the kidnap and killings of their colleagues for money rituals. The decomposing body of Shonibare, who was declared missing on 26 June, 2017 by his colleagues, was discovered in a bush within the town.
A number of concerned residents of Osogbo, on July 27, besieged the palace of the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun, to protest the high incidence of ritual killings and kidnapping in the state capital and other parts of the state. The protesters, mostly women, implored the monarch to find a way to check the wickedness. Brandishing leaf branches and chanting sorrowful songs, the aggrieved residents were not able to have audience with the monarch as the palace guards told them that Oba Olanipekun had travelled to Offa, Kwara State, to attend a function.
One of the protesters, a market woman at Oluode market identified as Mrs Olanike Ajibola, informed Saturday Tribune that the situation had become terrible in the last few weeks as ritualists were on the prowl in the town looking for preys. Ajbola, who spoke in Yoruba language, said: “We are now living in fear. Our children are not free anymore. Just a few days ago, a man was caught after turning a resident to a snake at the Tanishi area of Osogbo. Also, in our market at Olu-Ode on the 26th of July, a man escaped after being suspected of trying to abduct a boy in the market. This is getting out of hand and we can’t take it anymore. That is why we are here to ask Kabiyesi (the monarch) to find an end to it.”
Saturday Tribune learnt that since the state police command paraded some suspected ritualists caught with human parts in Osogbo, there have been tension in most parts of the town as residents now go to bed earlier than usual.
The state police chief recently paraded three persons in Osogbo for allegedly beheading Shonibare for ritual purposes at the Oke Baale area of the town. Adeoye disclosed that the suspects conspired and hit the victim with a mortar-pestle on the head before beheading him. His hands were cut off and his remains dumped in the bush. He said investigations by the police led to the arrest of a 19-year-old herbalist’s apprentice, Sakariyahu Abdulrafiu and two of his accomplices, Ayuba Ibrahim, 24 and Yusuff Kareem, 18, with the police on the trail of one other suspect who was at large.
In a related development, the police, in June, paraded a suspect, Ajibade Rasheed, who was in possession of fresh human parts which he intended to use for ritual purposes. The suspect, who claimed to be a cleric, said someone had brought the human parts to him to make money rituals.
About two weeks ago, residents of the Tanishi area of Osogbo almost lynched a man for allegedly turning a resident to a snake. The mob beat the suspect until he became unconscious. The intervention of a soldier was said to have prevented the suspect from being killed. After the suspect was rescued and rushed to a police station, the mob was chased away by some armed policemen. A police officer, it was learnt, later informed the mob that the suspect was a lunatic. Some residents also claimed that there had been cases of abduction attempts on children in the town.
Even churches in the Oke Bale area have shifted the time of their programmes to daytime in order to forestall ritualists who use the cover of darkness to perpetrate that dastardly act. It was gathered that most residents who have witnessed attempted kidnapping or ritual killing have resorted to going to bed early while the area usually become deserted around 9.00 p.m.
When Saturday Tribune visited the palace of the Ataoja for his reaction on Wednesday, the monarch expressed concern over the rising cases of ritual killings but contended that the ugly incidents were not peculiar to Osogbo. Asked what could be the solution to the menace, he said that was up to the police and declined further comments on the issue.
Efforts to get the statistics on the cases of missing persons and people believed to have been killed for ritual purposes in the state from the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mrs Folasade Odoro, proved abortive as she said the information requested could not be readily made available because she was attending a training programme.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr Adeoye, in his chat with Saturday Tribune, contended that his command was making progress in nipping such acts in the bud. “I have mentioned it at various fora that the people should avoid staying in isolated areas where criminals can easily attack without being noticed and everybody should be conscious of their immediate environment”, he said.