The House of Representatives has called for the declaration of a state of emergency on ritual killings in the country, partly blaming the menace on the Nollywood industry and tasked all stakeholders to begin a national campaign to change the orientation of the people towards the crime.
At the plenary on Wednesday, the lawmakers unanimously resolved to “declare a national emergency on ritual killings in Nigeria and call on the National Orientation Agency, parents, heads of schools, religious leaders and the media to undertake a campaign to change the negative narrative that is bedevilling the society.”
The House also called on the Executive Director, National Film and Video Censors Board, Adedayo Thomas, to “rise to the mandate of the agency as the clearing house for all movies produced in the country,” while mandating its Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values to ensure that the resolution was complied with.
The committee is expected to report to the House in four weeks.
The House also called on the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, to “take urgent steps to increase surveillance and intelligence gathering, with a view to apprehending and prosecuting all perpetrators of ritual killings in Nigeria.”
The House Committee on Police Affairs was mandated to ensure that the resolution was complied with and its report ready in four weeks.
These resolutions were based on a motion of urgent public importance moved by the Deputy Minority Leader of the House, Toby Okechukwu, which was titled, ‘Need to curb the rising trend of ritual killings in Nigeria’.
Moving the motion, Okechukwu decried that the incidents of ritual killings had “assumed an alarming rate in Nigeria in recent times.”
He said, “The House also notes the upsurge in reported ritual killings with increasing cases of abductions and missing persons in different parts of the country, which in most cases, the culprits also rape, maim, kill and obtain sensitive body parts of unsuspecting victims for rituals.”
The lawmaker recalled that the Red Cross Society in 2017 reported that it received 10,480 reports of missing persons in Nigeria.
He also recalled that on January 22, 2022, three teenage suspects and a 20-year-old allegedly killed one Sofiat Kehinde, and had her head severed and burnt in a local pot in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The lawmaker added that the Ogun State Police Command, on Monday, reported that one of the suspects confessed that he learned the act of ritual killing from a video he watched on Facebook.
Okechukwu stated, “The death of Sofiat has attracted national outrage and condemnation, considering the ages of her killers. Merchants of such wicked acts often use social media as a ready tool to advertise their evil behaviours.
“Ritual killing has become a predominant theme in most home-made movies, which if left unchecked, our younger generations may begin to view it as an acceptable norm.
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“The House is further aware of several reports, where law enforcement agents arrested and paraded suspects of ritual killings, with gory pictures of human skulls and dismembered bodies. Fake clerics, Imams, herbalists and native doctors are often complicit in the heinous practices.
“The House is concerned that though our communities are getting more religious with the proliferation of churches and mosques, the ugly trend of ritual killing is on the rise as the quest for wealth at all costs pervades our society.
“The House is worried that while youths in other climes are embracing science and technology as a way of maintaining pace with our dynamic world, some of our youths seem stuck in the mistaken belief that sacrificing human blood is the surest route to wealth, safety and protection.
“The House is convinced that such cruel and barbaric acts should no longer be promoted in our society, given the demands of today’s world.”
The lawmaker also expressed worry about the growing rate of unemployment in the country and the moral decadence in the society, “a trend that has promoted the get-rich-quick syndrome among our youths.”
On Nollywood, Okechukwu said, “The House is mindful of the role of the Nigerian movie industry in moulding behavioural patterns in our society, vis-à-vis the mandate of the National Film and Video Censors Board as a clearing house for movies produced in the country.
“The House is cognisant of the fact that a lot needs to be done by the police and other law enforcement agencies to check this ugly trend.
“The House is mindful of the roles of parents, schools and religious leaders, and the urgent need to curb the increasing rate of ritual killings and other related vices.
“The House is also mindful of the role of the media as a tool for changing this wrong narrative among our youths.”