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An examination of factors contributing to kidnapping for rituals in Nigeria(south east perspective)

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  1. Background of the study

The idea of abduction for ritual in Nigeria and other regions of Africa may be analyzed as a nexus between kidnapping and ritual sacrifice. Unfortunately, the operations of ritual murderers have intensified the problem of kidnapping in Nigeria. Asuquo (2009) stated that the terminology “kidnapping” is difficult to define clearly, since it differs from State to State and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. However, It can be defined as the forced seizure, taking away and illegal detention of a person against his/her will. It is a common law crime and the crucial aspect is that, it is an unwelcome conduct on the side of the victim. It is a limitation of someone else’s liberty which breaches the guarantee of freedom of movement as established in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where every other legislation draws its inspiration from.

According to Osumah and Aghedo (2011), Kidnapping in Nigeria is typically motivated by ritual sacrifice, and commercial or political ventures. Writing on ritualism, Shujaa (2009) state that ritualism is a set patterns or defined methods and instructions for carrying out religious deeds or rites. He also noted that ritual murders is a violent and severe sort of criminal homicide in which vital organs of the deceased are removed by the slayers for use in “sacred” ceremonies utilizing human sacrifice. Human sacrifice is a blood sacrifice that entails death of a live being as a ceremonial offering to a deity or spirit, generally in hope of a return in the shape of good fortune, whether generic or as the granting of a specific plea (La Fontaine 2011). Some of the items of sacrifice for this ritual include complete or severed parts of human body, such as the head, genitals, breasts, eyes, intestine, arms and legs as well as the dead corpse or its severed pieces.

Conversely, the threat of ritual killing nowadays has become an issue that the globe notably African is coping with. Listening to the mainstream media,cases of ritual slaughter among other crimes against humanity is getting widespread. There has been over 4,000 incidents of abduction reported to the police without any signs of the victims in the recent decade (NBS 2013). It is assumed that the bulk of these people were kidnapped for ritual rather than ransom or any political purposes. Kidnapping for ritual means murdering or cutting the bodily part of kidnapped individuals for the goal of using it as an object of ritual sacrifice objective to achieve ritual-money, favour, renown, success, power and protection. Nevertheless, this phenomena has garnered little scholarly or policy attention. This is typically developed as a “faith strategy” to achieve money, fortune, success, celebrity, favour, prominence, power and protection from perils. Whatever the purpose of the culprits be, abduction for ritual is on the increase in Nigeria today and has become a thorn in the flesh of citizen which need to be quickly handled .

1.2 Statement of the problem

Kidnapping for ritual purposes has been a disturbing factor for many Nigerians due to the catastrophe that most victims face. The victims may go insane, die, become destitute, deformed, or become a mobile corpse (Gbinije 2014). According to The Sun (2013), over 90% of recent cases of missing persons were not located, and the bodies of a small subset of those who were eventually found were abandoned on roadsides, bush pathways, or within gutters, mangled, and their essential organs taken. Several motivations have been attributed to the rising cases of ritual killing, such as the desire for power by humans in order to achieve fame, love for materialism, sorcery for yahoo boys-(internet fraudsters) using diabolic means to scam people online, and get-rich-quick motive to sponsor flamboyant lifestyles and mental depravity in people who find pleasure in shedding human blood. According to Oyelowe (2016), factors contributing to this anomie include government failure to provide employment, poverty, ailing health care, family background, peer pressure, and thus these jobless people summit themselves as tools in the hands of power hungry politicians, pastors, and imams who are demanding body parts from their customers for one fetish portion or the other, distorting social tranquility, loss of cultural sanctity, and an increase in value deteriorating.

Although the existing research on kidnapping for ritual in Nigeria has been dominated by concerns for events motivated by ransom and political purposes, few have focused on the factors perpetuating this heinous crime and addressed it explicitly.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of this study is to investigate factors contributing to kidnapping for rituals in Nigeria (south East perspective). Specifically, the study seeks to:

  1. To examine the extent at which kidnapping for ritual is prevalent in South-East

  2. To determine the motivation behind people engagement in Kidnapping for ritual

  3. To investigate factors contributing to kidnapping for rituals in South-East.

  4. To ascertain the implication of kidnapping for rituals in the Society.

1.4 Research Questions

The research will be guided by the following research questions:

  1. What is the extent at which kidnapping for ritual is prevalent in South-East?

  2. What is the motivation behind people engagement in Kidnapping for ritual?

  3. What are factors contributing to kidnapping for rituals in South-East?

  4. What are the implication of kidnapping for rituals in the Society?

1.5 Significance of the study

The result of this study will be relevant to government, policy makers and security operatives. It will raise the government's awareness of security flaws and the necessity to develop credible and implementable measures to stem the onslaught of attacks on the ordinary man and strengthen national security. More so, this research will educate security personnel in Nigeria on the need of being exposed (through periodic training) to internationally tenable best practices and know-how of counter-abduction methods in order to improve their operational efficiency in countering violent crimes, terrorism, armed robbery, and kidnapping. The study will also contribute to the general body of knowledge and sever as a reference material to scholars and student who wishes to conduct further studies in related field.

1.7 Scope of the study

The scope of this study borders o factors contributing to kidnapping for rituals in Nigeria (south East perspective).. The study examined the extent at which kidnapping for ritual is prevalent in South-East. It will determine the motivation behind people engagement in Kidnapping for ritual, investigate factors contributing to kidnapping for rituals in South-East and ascertained the implication of kidnapping for rituals in the Society. The study is however delimited Anambra State.

1.8 Limitation of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scantiness of literature on implication of ritualism on national security. discourse. Thus much time and organization was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection. Also the study is limited in period as the study covered only South-South region with reference to Oyo State. Therefore findings of this study cannot be used for generalization for other regions or State which creates a gap for further studies.

1.8 Definition of terms

Abduction: Abduction is an act of taking somebody away illegally, especially using force.

Kidnapping: Kidnapping is a criminal offense consisting of the unlawful taking and carrying away of a person by force or fraud or the unlawful seizure and detention of a person against his will.

Ritualism: Also known as Ritual killings is a violent and extreme type of criminal homicide in which vital organs of the victim are excised by the slayers for use in “sacred” rites.


Asuquo, M. E. (2009). The Upsurge of Kidnapping and Its Influence on Public Order in Akwa Ibom State. Unpublished Term Paper, Department of Sociology/Anthropology, University of Uyo, Uyo, Akwa Ibom StateNigeria.

Badiora, Adewumi Israel. (2015). “Regional differences and developmental implications of Bsecurity challenges in Nigeria: The case of Kidnapping.” African Security Review 24(1):55-62.

Gbinije, Bobson. (2014). “Politicians, voodoo and power.” Vanguard December 21.

La Fontaine, Jean. 2011. “Ritual Murder?” Interventions Occasional Paper Series #3, Open Anthropology Cooperative Press.

Onuoha, Freedom. 2014. “The Evolving menace of Baby Factories and Trafficking in Nigeria.” African Security Review 23(4): 405-411.

Osumah, Oarhe and Iro Aghedo. (2011). “Who wants to be a Millionaire? Nigerian Youths and the Commodification of Kidnapping.” Review of African Political Economy 38(128): 277-287.

Oyewole, Samuel. (2016b). “Kidnapping for Rituals: Article of Faith and Insecurity in Nigeria,” New Zealand International Review, 41(1), 25-28.

Shujaa, Mwalimu J. (2009). “Rituals,” in Encyclopaedia of African Religion edited by Molefi Kete Asante and Ama Mazama. California: Sage Publications, Int.

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