By Kazeem Akintunde
At 22, she had already mapped out her career path. She wanted to be a fashion designer and she was ready to sacrifice her comfort to achieve her aim in life. With her choice of Lekki area as location of her shop and studio house during the week, to commute to Sango area of Ogun State to be with her parents and siblings at weekends, Oluwabamise Ayankole dreamt of rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty in the society. She knew that through determination and hard work, her dream would become a reality. That dream has, however, been cut short by ritualists who were allegedly working in collaboration with a BRT bus driver. Her 74-year old mother had believed, wrongly, that the BRT bus with the imprint of the Lagos State Government would be far safer than the rickety buses that dots the landscape of Lagos. How wrong she was that the same BRT bus she always told her last daughter to board would be where she would be decapitated and sent to an early grave.
Nigerians are angry by the manner she was killed and have called for a probe to reveal those behind her murder and justice for the bereaved family. Already, Andrew Nice Omininikoron, the BRT Bus driver involved has been arrested and remanded for 30 days by a Magistrate Court pending when Police would eventually arrest other culprits and arraign them in a High Court for them to face the law. Already, the culpability of Andrew Nice, who should actually be called Andrew ‘Bad’, is no longer in doubt to many Nigerians as two other young ladies have come out to allege that the same man actually raped them in the same BRT bus attached to him.
While Nigerians are yet to come to terms with the murder of Bamise, another young lady, Shakirat, also 22-yr-old, was found dead in Iwo, Osun State, with some of her vital body parts missing.
According to reports, the heartless killers dumped her body at the back of her mother’s shop at Oke-Oore in Iwo, Osun State. Remember also that the elder sister of Bamise also alleged that her sister’s private part was cut while she was still alive. Are the police also looking at the angle of organ trafficking?
Just this weekend, a Dispatch courier rider was caught with a young baby tucked inside his courier box, about to be ferried away.
Indeed, the spate of ritual killings and organ trafficking has assumed a dangerous dimension in Nigeria, particularly in the south west region, while the Federal Government seems to be helpless. On a daily basis, reports of missing persons have become the norm and the police won’t even listen to complainants until after 48 hours. By then, the unimaginable heinous deeds would have been done to innocent victims.
The ugly spectacle of ritual killings came to public consciousness in the South West on March 24, 2014, when a kidnappers’ den was discovered in Soka Community, Ibadan, Oyo State. The den was discovered by some commercial motorcyclists who were searching for two of their colleagues after they took two passengers to the community and never returned. After the den was busted, human skulls, dried human parts alongside malnourished victims, reserved for ritual purposes, were discovered.
Personal items like bags, shoes, and identity cards which appeared to be victims’ belongings were also seen at the den. Since the shocking 2014 discovery at Soka, there have been multiple revelations of suspected ritual killings, especially in the south-west of the country.
On October 7, 2017, the Ogun police arrested six members of a syndicate allegedly involved in killing people for ritual purposes at different locations across the state. The police said two members of the syndicate were caught with a bag containing fresh and dried human parts. On November 27, 2018, two brothers identified as Saheed Obadimeji and Ayodeji Obadimeji were said to have beheaded a teenage boy at an uncompleted building in Sapati town, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos. It was reported that the suspects cut off the boy’s head for the purpose of selling it for N200, 000.
Another ritualists’ den in Odo, Ado Ekiti was busted by the police. Two suspected ritualists were arrested after a tip-off from members of the community on suspicion of ritual activities in the area.
On June 20, 2019, Dotun Ogunlade, a prophet popularly called ‘Arole Jesu’, was arrested in Igboora area of Oyo state for the alleged murder of Bosede Ogunlade a 25-year-old housewife for ritual purposes.
The prophet was said to have lured Bosede, who hailed from Ilorin in Kwara state, with the promise of providing solution to her economic and marital problems.
On October 5, 2019, the Ogun police arrested two men, Emmanuel Aro and Anu Olofinju, both aged 25, with a human skull along Ijoun road, Eggua axis of the state. The two suspects were said to have been sighted at a cemetery, digging the grave of the mother of one, Amoo Bankole.
In June 2020, residents of Akinyele LGA in Oyo state were thrown into panic over the series of rape and murders that occurred in the area.
Within one month, three young ladies — Grace Oshiagwu, Barakat Bello, and Azeezat Somuyiwa, were murdered in their residences located in Akinyele LGA in a pattern that suggested ritual killings.
On the Akinyele killings, the police arrested one Sunday Shodipe, a 19-year-old suspect, who confessed that he received food and N500 for each of the six persons murdered in the area. He said he was sent on the mission by a 50-year-old herbalist, whom he claimed was his master.
Again on August 14, 2020, the Ondo police arrested one Festus Adebayo, a 65-year-old pastor alongside Gbemisola Olufusi for alleged involvement in ritual activities. The duo were accused of using the menstrual pad of one Oluwasemilore Iluyomade, a 20-year-old girlfriend of Olufusi for ritual purposes.
On 29 October 2020, Rotimi Olukoju, a guard with a microfinance bank was reportedly killed by suspected ritualists and his head cut off at Okia area of Oka-Akoko, Ondo state. The deceased met the suspected ritualists on his way to the farm.
On December 7, 2020, Osun police uncovered a ritualist’s den allegedly operated by two siblings identified as Monsuru Tajudeen and Lawal Tajudeen, located around Yemoja area in Iwo, Osun state. The suspects were arrested after a phone belonging to a missing person was tracked to one of the suspects. Corpses were also discovered in the suspects’ house — a development that made angry youths in the area raze the building.
On January 17, 2021, an elderly man, who according to residents, usually acts like a mentally unstable person, was arrested by the police for alleged kidnapping and ritual activities in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti state.
The police discovered some items belonging to his victims like cheque books, wigs, and ATM cards in an abandoned uncompleted building adjacent to the Ekiti State Teaching Hospital, where the suspect lived.
Again in February this year, Alhaji Fatai Olasehinde was kidnapped while working on his farm in Ogun State. Few days earlier, the farm had been set ablaze with crops and other valuables worth several millions of naira burnt to ashes. He was lucky to escape from the kidnappers’ den after six days of harrowing experience while the kidnappers were negotiating payment of N10 million ransom with his family. Olasehinde retired as Editor with The Sun Newspaper and had gone into farming to keep body and soul together. I could go on and on. Sordid as the tales may sound, it has almost become a new normal in our polity. When you leave home in the morning, there is no guarantee that one would return safely. Is this how we would continue as a NATION?
In addressing the sordid development, the solution will definitely have to begin from the home front. Parents need to be alive to their responsibility by ensuring that they give birth to children they can adequately cater for. Parenting should be the responsibility of all, while discipline should be instilled right from childhood. A review of our education policy that would make it to be in tune with modern reality should be worked out. Music and films that promote rituals should be banned by the federal government and thankfully, work is ongoing in that regard.
With most Nigerians youths not ready to work before they ‘blow’, it is certain that the spate of ritual killings will be a recurring decimal in our nation, but is the government ready and willing to tackle the scourge headlong? The murder of Bamise should serve as a turning point for the government in finding a lasting solution to ritual killings in the southwest in particular and the entire country in general. Already, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos, has promised to find a lasting solution to the scourge while his counterpart in Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun has met with traditional religious practitioners who have assured him of their willingness in working with the state government in ending the ritual killings in the state. It is only when these sordid tales become a thing of the past that the death of Bamise and many others would not be in vain. Good night to a lady with a beautiful soul and all the innocent souls lost senselessly.
See you next week.