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The impact of ritualism on national security

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The impact of ritualism on national security




  1. Background of the Study

Security concerns are taken seriously all across the world. It is acknowledged as one of the most fundamental tasks of a state. Security has historically been a component of human life and sustenance, and it can be described as freedom from threats or violence that could result in the loss of lives or property. In other words, security refers to a scenario in which citizens are safeguarded against threats to their lives and livelihoods, such as bodily harm, disease, unemployment, and human rights violations, regardless of where they are in a sovereign nation. A country cannot develop unless it first works for human security (Otto & Ikpere 2013). Thus, in international relations, the absence of security in a state gives rise to notions such as failed states, failing states, and collapsed states. It might be claimed that an insecure state loses legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens and foreign community.

Surprisingly, Nigeria, usually recognized as Africa's "giant," has endured unparalleled levels of insecurity as a result of bandit organizations, kidnappers, assassins, seccessionist groups, armed robbery attacks, abduction, and, more recently, the rise of ritual killers. A ritual is a series of patterns or procedures and directions for carrying out religious deeds or rituals (Shujaa 2009). He went on to say that ritual killings are a violent and extreme kind of criminal homicide in which the slayers remove crucial organs from the victim for use in "holy" rites involving human sacrifice. This entails giving up something valuable in exchange for something more valuable (Ayegboyin 2009:). Human sacrifice is a blood sacrifice that involves the killing of a living creature as a ritual offering to a god or spirit, usually in the hope of receiving a return in the form of good fortune, whether generalized or as the fulfillment of a specific prayer (La Fontaine 2011). The skull, genitals, breasts, eyeballs, intestine, arms, and legs, as well as an excavated dead body or its dismembered parts, are some of the objects of sacrifice for this ceremony. Ritual sacrifice is a "faith method" for acquiring money, fortune, success, renown, favor, grandeur, power, and protection from perils.

    1. Statement of the problem

In Nigeria, the occurrence of ritual killings has created a sense of insecurity and distrust among individuals. A sense of insecurity pervades a setting where ritual killings occur on a regular basis. Hundreds of Nigerians have died as a result of ritual killers, sometimes known as "Head Hunters," according to Nwakanma and Abu (2020). The ritual killers roam around looking for human parts such as heads, breasts, tongues, and sex organs, which are needed by witch doctors, juju priests, traditional medicine men and women, and/or occultists for dubious sacrifices or the manufacture of various magical sections (Igwe, 2010). In today's Nigeria, ritual killing has taken on a whole new meaning. The scene has been dubbed the "Reign of the Ritualists" by many publications (Elesho 2004). Ritual killings, according to Salisbury (2012), are seen as acts of spiritual fortification by those who engage in them. The utilization of human body parts for therapeutic purposes, as well as the idea that human body parts hold supernatural qualities that provide prosperity and protection, are all motivations for these acts. Many young people still believe, according to Igwe (2010), that charms and ritual offerings can spiritually strengthen them, improve their fortunes in business and during elections, or protect them from damage, disease, poverty, accident, death, or destruction. These beliefs have been linked to some youngsters engaging in ritual murders in order to placate deities, ask for supernatural favors, ward off misfortune, or produce magical wealth, putting their moral growth at risk.

Bizarrely,the ritualists always go scott free without being apprehending by the security agents. This puts the citizens at a constant feeling of anxiety and insecurity. Lack of trust among individuals even among close relatives is heightened by the incidence of ritual killings. Relatives fear each other because of lack of trust which is as a result of ritual killing. In such a case, the children are restricted from going to some areas which is viewed as a den for ritualists. Consequently, these challenge have made security a pivotal issue that has culminated into national concern owing that no serious measures has been taken by the government towards putting an end to this anomie. More so, is the fact that people can no longer go about their activities due to fear of their lives all of which has foiled the propensity of the country for socio-cultural tranquility. Therefore it is against this backdrop that this study seeks to examine the impact of ritualism on national security.

    1. Objective of the study

The broad objective of this study is to examine impact of ritualism on national security. Specifically, the study seeks:

  1. To ascertain the reason of youth engagement in ritualism.

  2. To investigate factors that leads to youth involvement in ritualism.

  3. To whether youth involvement in ritualism undermine the social tranquility of the society.

  4. To determine if ritualism will have any significant effect on national security.

1.4 Research Hypothesis

HO1: Youth involvement in ritualism does not undermine the social tranquility of the society.

H1: Youth involvement in ritualism undermines the social tranquility of the society.

HO2: Ritualism does not have any significant effect on national security.

HI: Ritualism has a significant effect on national security.

    1. Significance of the study

The result of the study will be of relevance to policy makers, Nigeria Youths and religious bodies. To policy makers, findings of the study will enlighten policy makers on the need to establish guiding principles to curtail ritual killing and establish punishment for those caught in this devilish act. To government, the study will also emphasize on the need to introduce poverty alleviation program, employment opportunities and support of entrepreneur as this will go a long way in reducing criminal behaviour among jobless youths. More the study will emphasize the need for to intensify teaching of moral education in schools, universities and as well encourage teachers/lecturers that teach moral education to be role model for our youths among others as this will reduce the rate of ritualism in Nigeria. Empirically, the study will add to the body of existing literature on ritualism as serve as reference material to scholars and student who wishes to conduct further studies in related field.

1.6 Scope of the study

The scope of this study borders on the impact of ritual killings on sociocultural deterioration in Nigeria. The study will further discuss the nature and purpose for ritual killings perpetuated by Nigeria Youth. It will investigate if youths’ involvement in ritualism contributes to loss of social tranquility in society and if high rate of ritualism contributes to national insecurity. The study is however delimited to Asaba metropolis in Delta State Nigeria.

1.7 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 sociocultural deterioration. 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 Asaba metropolis, Delta 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

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.

Insecurity: insecurity entails lack of protection from crime (being unsafe) and lack of freedom from psychological harm (unprotected from emotional stress resulting from paucity of assurance that an individual is accepted, has opportunity and choices to fulfill his or her own potentials including freedom from fear.

National Security: National security or national defence is the security and defence of a nation state, including its citizens, economy, and institutions, which is regarded as a duty of government


Aiyetan, D. (2003, December 29). Reign of the Ritualists. Tell, p. 25

Ayegboyin, Deji. (2009). “Human Ritual,” in Encyclopaedia of African Religion edited by Molefi Kete Asante and Ama Mazama. California: Sage Publications, Int.

Elesho, R. a. (2004, August 23). Gory Rituals. The News, p. 18.

Igwe, L (2004), Ritual Killing and Pseudoscience in Nigeria. Skeptical Briefs. Volume 14 (2). Accessed 29th January 2015 at 3.59pm

Igwe, L (2010), Ritual killing and human sacrifice in Africa. International Humanist and Ethical Union. African Commission on Human and People’s rights — 48th Session November 10-24, Banjul, The Gambia.

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

Nwakanma, Emmanuel & Abu, Owapiriba. (2020). Cultural Issues In Violence Against Women And Ritual Killings In Nigeria: Assessing The Implications For Sustainable Development. 18. 15447-15457.

Otto, G., & Ukpere, U.I. (2012). “National Security and Development in Nigeria”. African Journal Business Management 6(23), 6765-6770.

Salisbury M. (2012). “Human Sacrifice in Nigeria” in Encyclopaedia of Psychology and Religion, edited by David A. Leeming, Springer Science +Business Media LLC.

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

This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research


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