Ejiro Umukoro, a multi-award winning Broadcaster and Investigative Journalist calls out Nollywood for its complicity in promoting, enabling and encouraging the culture of ritualism among young and alike by giving the act of Ritual practices a stature of style and elevated attainment that defeats the purpose of dissuading its hundred of millions of audiences.
Following her deep Investigative work into the lives of Yahoo Plus Boys that brought to light the source of money ritual in her Investigative report titled : Ritual Does Not Give Us Money, Yahoo Boys Confess, the first of its kind in the Nigeria media space to take unveil a perspective never written about, Ejiro, who is seated, her hands showing despair, asks: “Have you noticed the amount of Ritual movies spewed daily? It is a cause of concern. If the Nigeria Film and Censors Board won’t do their job, a ban is a go from the Federal and State Governments is a must. Note too that nollywood is promoting misinformation when it portrays rituals as giving money. That is the lie that needs to be stopped being promoted and perpetuated! The killers and babalawo admits that much and shows us exactly the source of their monies. It requires a scam (cash or property), which requires a gullible, or ignorant or greedy person go to fall for the so-called ‘power to control’. It is the power of emotional control which they manipulate once they can read you aka non-verbal cues. All con artiste in the world know how to exploit this craving gap. How many babalawos do you know who is on Forbes lists of the richest if it is that easy? Nollywood has got to change how it tells stories. From the research, which many of them hardly carry out – a bane in the quality and fact of their cinematic content and storytelling – to the script writers, characterisation, dialogue, historical context, metaphors, etc., used, all of these important aspects needs to be thoroughly vetted. Pedaling misinformation, disinformation and outright falsehood in the narration of storytelling makes them guilty of what Chimamanda Adichie once called the Danger of a Single Story. Nollywood can do better and carry out self-regulation over raking millions of Naira to the disembolment of its audiences. Nollywood needs to take responsibility and change its approach.
Our image as a nation has been on many occasions bastardised by uncensored movies churned out into the public spaces. There’s a small difference between being responsible and being a promoting enabler. The way Nollywood tell the stories and the hours they dedicate to telling how the monies are made only to devote a mere 2mins to the tragic end of the ritualist simply glorifies the process of ritual making. Nollywood actually perpetuates misinformation. It is not the ritual that gives money. Even the killers I interviewed didn’t shy away from the truth when they revealed to me that the ritual is the talisman of a belief system that makes them feel they can do anything and get away with it. That is a confidence booster. The babalawo attests to that when he made it clear that by killing their victims, these ritualists become victims of their own crimes; hence they keep silent about the how – that shows their blood guilt.”
Ejiro’s Investigative work titled: Ritual Does Not Give Us Money, Yahoo Plus Boys Confess, was first published in 2019 in The Guardian. Below is the full extract of her interviews with the ritualists.
In their desperation to join the ranks of scores of their compatriots who have been making millions of dollars out of online-scams, young Nigerian based wannabe scammers known as ‘yahoo boys’ are resorting to the use of traditional charms and mystical powers to charm potential victims into their scams.
Yahoo Boys are young men —usually aged between 22-29 years—who specialise in various types of cybercrime. Many of them may be undergraduates or college dropouts whose distinct lifestyles of fast cars, wealth and ostentation is the envy of many of their age-mates. The Yahoo Boys are not limited by geography— the internet is their home— and their victims are as diverse as there are naive and people ready to fall for get-rich-quick scams.
Yahoo Boys as also adept at cyber-enabled financial fraud. A six month operation wire wire conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service resulted in 74 arrests in the United States and overseas, including 29 in Nigeria, and three in Canada, Mauritius and Poland. The operation also resulted in the seizure of nearly $2.4 million, and the disruption and recovery of approximately $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers. Many of these scammers who were in Nigeria have since fled to other countries eg Ghana, Dubai ,South Africa, Gambia as the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes commission closed in on them.
There are numerous websites dedicated to providing tips for those interested in joining the growing ranks of Yahoo Boys. According to a research report, Understanding Cybercrime Perpetrators and the Strategies They Employ in Nigeria , the use of voodoo and charms for spiritual protection and to charm potential victims is very common among Yahoo Boys in Nigeria.
The practice is referred to as “Yahoo Plus. According to the report, another level in the use of charms is known as Yahoo Plus Plus, which “involves the use of human parts and may need kidnapping other human beings for rituals, which is not necessary in ‘‘Yahoo Plus.’’ In Yahoo Plus Plus, the use of things such as victims finger nails, rings, carrying of corpses, making incision on their body, sleeping in the cemetery, citing of incantation, using of their fingers for rituals, and having sex with ghosts are common.”
I set out to interview a few of the Yahoo Boys who admitted to practicing Yahoo Plus Plus rituals. Covering an estimated distance of at least 78KM, a journey of about 1hour 27mins between Abraka to Otefe, Oghara in at least 10 instances (780KM) (870 minutes); including travelling back and forth from Abraka to Warri on at least 10 occasions to meet with the occultist who prepared charms, estimated distance of 490KM both ways, a total of 660 minutes; in addition to navigating their way from their home base in Abraka to Delta State University, DELSU, towards the expressway some distance from Obiaruka where they committed their last crime, a journey of at least 41KM both ways and roughly 50mins at the least. On average, it took them about 3 hours on each victim to extract the organs, an average total of 15 hours spent. In total, these men spent an estimated 1,311KM equalling a total of 1,580 minutes on the prowl looking for vulnerable women they can lure.
The men, in custody, were awaiting trial when this interview was conducted. During the interview, they were unemotional as they narrated how they kidnapped their victims and mutilated their bodies.
The car drives by in a lazy fashion. Its three passengers, all male – Macaulay Desmond Oghenemaro, Emese Emudiaga Kelvin and Onoriode Enaike are good spotters. They know a victim when they see one. The signs are usually obvious: a response to a cat-call, eye contact, a smile, a wave of the hand, a thumbs up or just the mere sight of their expensive car is enough to pull a vulnerable, or even, willing participant. This is their fourth recon for their next task. The last three girls they got had been easy catch, their names unremembered, their bodies long decomposed; each one, a girl on the lookout for quick money, free food, or free drinks in return for a one night, short term, or simply a girl keen on dating only men who drive cars.
The three of them sight a potential victim. She flags them down and gets in. She looks about twenty-years-old. She’s not a student; a fashion designer she tells them. They drive to the hottest spot in town for drinks, skewered meat and food. They continue to pour alcohol into her glass, ordering more bottles of beer. She guzzles down the beer as she feasts on the meat and other goodies that they push before her.
The night was about to be ushered in. Their day job as ‘Yahoo boys’ (online fraudsters) has taken a new twist. They are now Yahoo Plus Plus, a code name for ‘ritualists’ – or those who are in the business of getting human body parts for use in rituals and occult practices which are supposed to guarantee success of their internet scams. They signalled each other: it was time to take her out. They get her into the car in a drunken stupor then drive several kilometres to the outskirts of Oghara into a bush where they first plucked out one of her eyes while she was still alive. The young lady was crying, begging them to forgive her and let her go, but they went ahead and pluck the other eye, remove her breasts and heart before she died.
Three hours later they are done with her. They abandon her body out in the open, her hands and feet bound with thick polyester twisted ropes. Within three hours they cut off her organs: breasts, heart and eyes. Once they were done, they head for their next stop at the ‘Jazz Man’s’ shrine in Alegbo, Warri. His name is Ojokojo Robinson Obajero, a 63-years-old man, who though an expert in herbal medicines, mixes his craft with occult practices. They call him the ‘Jazz Man’ in pidgin patois. When the three men meet him and presented the human organs, Ojokoto tells them when to return. They leave. Four days later, Obajero summons the three men and hands over the burnt ashes of the deceased’s body parts he claims he used in preparing a “money ritual concoction”, which he tells them will guarantee that their online victims fall prey for their tricks to obtain money through fraud.
Several weeks later they returned to Obajero, disappointed and angry. Their business of internet fraud has not been booming as they expected. Instead, it seems that the online victims they have been targeting have become smarter and are no longer falling for their scams. It’s also been several months since they made any money from female victims looking for love on the internet.
They demand to know from Obajero why his ritual did not work. He tells them that he has been testing them – the first three victims whose body parts they brought to him for conjuring was a test to confirm they would not divulge his identity as the person making the charms. He tells them he is confident they will keep their mouths shut and demands that they must get a fifth victim whose body parts he will use to make a new charm.
The three scammers are not happy with this new request. Desmond tells Obajero that they had put in a lot of effort to get the body parts from their four previous victims, and yet they had not got any results. Desmond is angry that even though they had invoked the occult, they were not as successful in luring victims as they had been before they started engaging with Obajero. But this time, Obajero makes a firm promise: “This time you will make money through the death of the girl and the ritual I will do for you.”
The three men left wondering where to get their next victim. Less than 24 hours later, Onoriode calls Desmond and Emese. He tells them there is a possible victim — a student in Abraka University where he works as a security guard. The girl, Elozino Ogege is a 300 level Mass Communication student of the Delta State University who had a few days earlier, asked him if he could help her with information regarding available rooms for rent within the school’s staff quarters, and he had now has asked the girl to return the next day. He told his two accomplices this would be an opportunity for them to kidnap her and take her out of the school premises with the help of the head of security, Nwosisi Benedict Uche, who will be paid N30,000 for allowing them to pass through the gate without the boot of the car being subjected to a search.
Inside the Lecturers Staff Quarters, the three of them waylay Elozino, incapacitate her with a toxic fume, and dump her in the boot of the jeep they brought. While Onoriode waited behind at his guard post, the other two drove to Emese’s house in Umeghe and waited for Onoriode to join them after work hours. Once Onoriode arrived, they drive towards Abraka just before Obiaruku by the right when coming from Warri axis into a large expansive land thick with vegetation. They drive through the bush track of lined palm trees. The bush track leads to Ugunu Community but they do not drive inwards, parking the Corolla car a few metres from the expressway. It was already dark. They get their tools and torchlight.
Desmond had drank half a bottle of strong expensive alcohol but his two friends had no need to dull their senses before they mutilated the girl they had successfully kidnapped. Elozino was crying, begging them to let her go but they ignored her pleas. Two and a half hours later, they are done with the deed. They drive off and deliver the dismembered parts to the occultist who once again instructs them to return after two days when he would have completed preparing the charms.
Less than 48 hours later in the early hours of Saturday 10th November, all three men including the occultist were caught by the police. A tipoff from the victim’s family led to an investigation that helped the police trace the girl’s cell phone, a Tecno K7 Mobile, to the murderers. Elozino Ogege was their fifth victim.
ON MISSING GIRLS
A follow-up investigation into the other 4 missing girls was made. Reports from Police Missing Person data does not have any record of reported missing girls during this period when the acts were carried out. According to the Police IPO in charge of Elozino’s case, who followed up on the perpetrators’ confession, no bodies of the missing girls were found when they went to inspect the areas where their bodies were dumped in the bushes in Oghara.
When the police were asked why there was no missing persons’ report, one theory postulated was that since the bodies of the girls, according to the Yahoo boys, were left abandoned in the open, decomposition was fast and the decayed bodies and bones likely eaten up by animals.
The other reason he explained was that, as a rule, because police don’t trust anyone, many people prefer not to report such cases of dead or mutilated bodies found so they are not mistaken or held for being responsible for such deaths or incidences. To remedy this, he suggests that citizens, in general, can report such cases to NGOs whose focus covers such issues who will then bring the case to the police. That way, the person who made the report is at first protected until investigations into the matter are completed.
But most importantly, citizens should begin to take it upon themselves to report suspicious activities and suspicious persons to the police early on as a preemptive call-to-action. Neighbourhood Watch is a must in combating crimes, illicit and illegal activities in all communities, especially more so in the ‘ember’ months ahead, where end of year activities are highest.
Efforts were also made to reach the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) to give us data on activities surrounding violent killings of females within the context of Yahoo Plus Plus using the FOI Request but no response, over two months before this report was filed, was gotten from EFCC regarding this. Violence of any kind against women: yahoo plus plus, other occult related killings, rape, assault, etc., are human rights abuses that must not be condoned by society. Cases must be reported and speedy justice administered to stop the scourge and prevent future incidents.
As foreign law enforcement crackdown on online scams in a bid to protect their citizens from online fraud, it will become harder and harder for the Yahoo Boys to keep operating as they have in the past. Ritual killings and the belief that their victims body parts will create charms that will enable them to earn a living from scams are just one of the results from a population of young people who are turning to crime to make a living.
Nigeria’s youth unemployment rate averaged 36.5% in the third quarter of 2018, while the national average rose to 23.1%. With graduates entering the workplace in greater numbers, there needs to be a concerted effort by national and state governments to provide an environment that will enable job creation to give young people better choices.
More needs to be done to collect data on missing women in Nigeria, to better understand the scope of the problem and work towards making university campuses a safe space for female students.
Onoriode and Desmond are currently under trial in Delta State, and the status of their conviction is yet to be determined.
During the interview at the Delta State Command, Asaba, Desmond and Onoriode confess to their crimes. Their lead-man, Emese, was alleged to have slumped and died when the police were close to catching him. Sitting down on a short bench close to a hedge of plants, the sun shining overhead with a white plastic table separating us, this is an excerpt from the interview I conducted in the presence of the police:
What’s your name and how old are you?
Desmond. I’m 32 years. I Finished secondary school in 2008 (Urhuoka Secondary School, Abraka) but I was born in Lagos. I did my primary school in Benin and secondary school in Abraka.
Were you in business before?
Desmond: I was into photography work and sand dredging from high sea. My job was to pile it up. I dredged in Bayelsa and with Delta Glass for two years and six months. Photography was from 2006 to 2013. I was learning photography as an apprentice at the same time I was schooling in secondary school. After school I go to do my apprenticeship. I was good with snapping photos, creating handbills, all types of photo enlargements, making complimentary cards, CD plate transfers and so on. But after I finished secondary school I stop my apprenticeship and left the job. Because I didn’t have the money to open my own shop I decided to work for my boss. After a while I left the job because it wasn’t paying that well. So I went to Lagos to work for another construction company. But that too wasn’t paying me well.
So I approach my Uncle to help me with money to further my studies. So my Uncle put me in the line of dredging sand from 2013 up till 2016 when I now leave for Ghana. I left because the dredging contractors who supplied the sands to Beta Glass was not paying, they owed us for long periods. Life was difficult. When I complain to my uncle he no show concern; im own be say e don put you for line. His own is to build the barge, rent it out or sell it out. The weather in the place too was a problem especially when I was hungry. So I got fed up.
Why didn’t you learn how to make barges yourself from your Uncle? Or you didn’t want to learn how to make barges?
That’s not what I discussed with him actually. I told him I have finished my photography work and I just need money to finish my studies. My Uncle told me he does not have that kind of money. But the best he can do for me is put me in the line of working in the barge.
So how did you get into this other line of business?
When things got rough with the dredging business, I called my friend in Ghana to help me. It was in Ghana in 2016 my friend introduced me to ‘Yahoo’ a.k.a 419 Email Scam. We all live in Kasua. I was In Ghana for 8 months.
How long does it take before a woman gives in?
It depends on how long it takes for the woman to fall in love. In the past it used to take two weeks for her to ‘fall in love’. But these days it can take up to three years because many are now aware that there are scammers. So most of them are very careful. So if you tell her you love her, she will say no, because most of them have been played before. Those ones that have been played before will tell us so and so person did this to me. Those types of women, we leave them. No need wasting time with them. Once they tell you they’ve been played before its best to leave them because nothing you’ll tell that person will change them. You dump her and look for another one. Those who have money will give you.
What language do you speak to these women?
For English women, you speak English. For Spanish women, you download an App to translate English to Spanish or English to German or English to Portuguese.
When did you start Yahoo business?
January 2016. But my friend has been in it since 2013.
How much do you make on a weekly or monthly basis?
Money doesn’t come in like that. But within a month, if you meet a woman who fall for you, you can get as much as $3,000 – $4,000. Once she pays you that money, you leave her for some time so you can build trust. Else if you demand too quick after the first one, she will not believe you.
What do you tell her that moves her to give you such money?
The type of work I’m doing is what I used to get her. I tell her I’m an engineer. I pose as an engineer working at sea into rig drilling. That’s the only way to get a vacation from my boss. Then I’ll tell her to write to him because he’s the only one who can grant me my vacation since I’m not due for leave yet. And the only way to get out of the sea is through a helipad. If she can pay for that, plus other expenses like ground transportation, accommodation and feeding, then I can be with her fast fast. So the cost will be like $3,000 to hire the helipad plus another $1,000.
But how does she know which company you work for?
I design a website that looks exactly like a popular offshore drilling website company but my pictures will not be on it because once she sees who I really am, she won’t fall for it. So I will send the company email to her which I have already created. She now writes to by ‘boss’ using that email. But the email is coming back to me. I will now reply to the email as the ‘boss’ telling her that “the message she sent has been received. And will get back to her in a few days.” After she has received this first email she’ll now copy it and send it to me to say this was the response she got from my boss.
Two days later, the ‘boss’ will now write back to me saying: “We have granted the vacation. Since this is not his normal vacation time, it will require a helipad to take him out from the sea.”
She will now copy this and send to me. That is when I will now tell her it would cost $3,000-$4,000 to pay for the helipad that will take him out of the sea to land including expenses for hotel, feeding and accommodation.
How does she send the money to you?
We keep a collection of women on the internet for different reasons. Some we propose marriage to and keep promising them that to keep the relationship going but tell them we’re struggling in Nigeria with a business we want to grow so that when need for her arises like in transferring money from one European country to another, she provides the bank account needed for the transaction.
By this time I would have told her I only trust her and I have a big contract in Nigeria worth $300,000 that is going to run for a year and six months (or whatever time I like to give her), but because I don’t have all the money yet to execute it, I will tell her I’m asking money from friends and families within and outside Nigeria to help me with some money so I can succeed in the business.
Then the monies would be sent to her account and after the contract is done, the entire money will be paid into her account then we can be together. I will now ask her to assist too since the other monies will be dropping into her account. Because the woman sees herself as wife to be married to me, her future husband she believes me.
So when I get a new client ready to pay money, I will reach out to my ‘wife’ who now provides me with the bank account and the money is wired in it. Already I’m posing as a non-Nigerian. And although I am in Nigeria, I’m working as a contractor but don’t have an account yet. I will now tell her to send the money to my supervisor who is a black man. Then I will provide her with my own account details. Or any other account needed for the purpose.
Is the pickup woman part of the yahoo team?
No she’s not. She’s just like the other women looking for love too who I have already proposed to.
Why send the money through her? Are you not worried she will keep it for herself?
There’s a lot of problems that will come up if I give her my account. Money transfer from inter country takes 6-7 days. And if you use your own account, your face as a black man will show and that will terminate the transactions.
At what point does the woman know that she’s been deceived?
She cannot know. She does not know. The only time she begins to think so is when her daughter, friends or even husband tells her that the person she’s dealing with is scamming her.
From the point she sends in the first money, how long does it take from that time for her to know she’s been scammed?
It takes a while. Even after the first payment, some of them will send more money again as long as she doesn’t realise. But once she realises, she would stop. In the past it used to take four years of continuously sending money before she realises she’s being scammed. But these days it may not take up to two years.
Since 2016 till December 2018 I only succeeded in getting two women to give me money. But I have spoken to many women who think I’m in love with them. Many of them are genuinely in love but don’t have money. The reason being that once you mention money even after you have proposed to them and keep promising love, some will tell you they don’t have or will just stop talking to you.
How much have you made since 2016-2018?
We split the money into 60/40. So the money that has come to me is up to N3.5 million naira.
What do you do with this money?
I use it for myself and give my sisters too. I also have cousins I share it with.
Do they know that this is how you got the money between 2016 and 2018? They didn’t ask you?
I told them I was travelling. And even after I came back to Nigeria and continued, they don’t know what I do. I don’t stay with them. I stay with my friend and we live very far from them even though we’re all in Abraka. They call me whenever they need money and I send it to them.
Q: Why did you leave Ghana?
My friend asked us to come back to Nigeria with the promise that we will return to Ghana. But to my surprise, he said we were no longer going back. He deceived me. I was very angry at him because his attitude towards me changed. It wasn’t about money. I quarreled with him. Another friend of his, a guy in the same line of business came between us. I was very angry with my friend so I left him. Later he came to beg me and I went back to stay with him.
Why didn’t you just go back to Ghana on your own?
There was no money.
At what point did you now add ‘ritual killings’ to your business?
It was after we got to Nigeria when the money was no longer coming in again like before. That was one of the reasons I quarreled with my friend. Nigeria wasn’t favourable. I even went back to loading tipper and dredging sand to see if I can raise money but I wasn’t even making enough money to save so that we can use it to go back to Ghana.
My friend, Emese, who was here with us in the prison. But he’s dead now.
How long have you been a security man in Abraka?
6 months. Sometime in May. Before June.
Before this time, what were you doing?
I was studying nursing at a private hospital in Eku. Life Care Hospital.
What kind of nurse were you? Auxiliary or Regular?
What was your job in the hospital?
I learn how to stitch people. I can stitch. After that, we learn pharmacy, to know more about drugs. I go chemist go learn drugs. You can discuss with the person to do apprentice for 6 months or 1 year.
Why did you want to learn about drugs?
Because nurses just treat and do stitches and put drugs into drips using injection but don’t know drugs. That’s all they know. But when you go into pharmacy, you know more drugs. That is the reason why I go to pharmacy, to know more drugs.
How long did you practice as an auxiliary nurse?
How many hospitals did you go to learn this auxiliary nursing?
Nursing was in Eku, Life Care Hospital. I Learn how to treat, how to pass drip. But I do pharmacy in Obiarukwu.
What year did you learn all these?
2015 to 2018.
So before 2015 what were you doing?
I wasn’t doing anything then. I finished my secondary school in 2007.
So between 2007 and 2013, what were you doing these 6 years?
I was farming in Abraka.
What kind of farming were you into?
Was it your land or you rented it?
How was the business back then?
It was okay.
So why did you leave it to enter nursing?
I cannot just rely on farming every time. I must look for something to do.
Was the farming not a good business? If it was paying, why leave it?
I always love nursing. That’s why I go for the nursing.
Why didn’t you study for JAMB (Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board conducted exam for every student seeking entrance to university), pass your exams and go to university to learn it instead?
I no get helper.
Are you the first child? How many are you?
My father has three wives. Out of the three wives children, I am the last. My mother has 5 children and my stepmother has 6 children. And the third wife has 2. But my father is late. He died in 1995.
But you do everyday business? And you make some money too?
Why didn’t you use the funds to help you further your education if you made money from farming?
What I plan before as I finish the nursing, na to open chemist so better income will help me further my education.
What now happened that you didn’t open the chemist or go to school, but instead became a security man? What happened between this time?
I go to the chemist union. Dem tell me that before I fit open a chemist shop, I must be a union member as they cannot allow me run chemist shop without joining association first. That was when they tell me I have to register with N300,000, plus I will buy drinks and kill goat as part of the registration process before they will allow me stock my store with medicines, apart from the money to rent the store, employ a store keeper, and so on, so I gave up and tell myself to focus on other things or business until I can meet up with the requirements.
So how did you get into this business of using human parts?
It was Desmond’s friend who introduced me to it. We all live in the same community in Abraka.
What is the friend’s name?
Mudiaga Emese. He is from Umeghe. I am from Ovuso/Abraka. Mudiagha who is boss to Desmond came to meet one day like that asking if I remember him. I said yes. That was when he told he will teach me about his business so I can join him. He asked me if I didn’t admire him for how he has money? I said yes, I’ll like to. He now said he will put me in line so I can learn how to make money like him.
Police record shows that before you got your job as a security guard in Abraka University you were put in jail. How did you get to be in prison?
I was arrested sometime in January/February of 2014 and released in December 2015. What happened was that there was a party in my compound. Someone brought a car into the compound with another person but by morning that person died. So what happened was that police raid the area and pack all of us into cell. They charged us to court then sent to prison. This happened when courts go on strike. So when I was supposed to get bail, court did not sit. So that was how I was kept in jail for one year. The court was waiting for DPP advice, so they kept me there in jail in Sapele Prison.
Are you a cult member?
Who bailed you out from prison?
My mother and older brothers get lawyer for me. I am the youngest of my mother’s children.
When you came out of prison, what happened before you became security guard in Delta State University (DELSU)?
It was after I came out of prison I went to learn nursing work.
So when exactly did they recruit you?
2017. But they only approach me to join them for ritual killings after I started work as a security guard in DELSU.
During this time you were ‘moving about’ with them, what were you guys doing?
Because Mudiagha had money, he will come to and take us in his car and then we all stroll together.
What do you mean by stroll together?
We go to beer parlours to drink, carry girls, tour the town then go back home.
When you carry girls. What do you do to them?
If it is a girl Mudiagha wanted to use, we carry the girl, get her drunk, take her to the bush and thereafter take the parts we want.
Q: Do you drug the drinks the girls take?
No we don’t drug their drinks. Is just a simple thing we do. We get in the car, girls see us in this beautiful car and they agree to join us then we go to a beer parlour and just get her drunk.
Which kinds of girls do you target? How you know if you speak to a particular girl she will do your bidding?
We don’t target the girls! Girls dem too like cars! They like to flex, have fun, party. So when they see a young boy with a car they like to hang out with you. We don’t even spin them before they just jump into the car because they assume that before you can own a car, it means you’re loaded. You have money. So they just follow you.
So how many girls have you gone and targeted like that with Desmond and Mudiagha that you were a part of?
How much have you made from this online money since you started 2 years ago?
Sometimes I get N50,000 or N100,000
The next question is directed to Desmond
Is that how much you give him, Desmond?
DESMOND: It depends on how the money comes. Sometimes Onos gets N200,000.
ONORIODE: You have never given me up to N200,000 at once.
DESMOND: Yes we have. 200,000 up to N300,000 sef. Will I lie against you (he turns to look at Onoriode).
ONORIODE: But I don’t have a say on how they share the money. They are the bosses that does the sharing. So whatever they give me as my share I simply take it.
So how many times did you collect N50,000 and N100,000 separately?
ONORIODE: I was given money 5 times. I collected N100,000 on three different occasions. Then N50,000 on 3 different occasions too.
Between 2016-2018 you made at least N550,000?
What did you do with the money?
I used it to buy shoes and clothes.
Did you give any of the money out as gifts to anyone? Family? Friends?
NO. I flex with the money: beer parlours, nights in hotels, buy suya, spend money on restaurant food, and so on.
Out of the N550,000 you made, who did you share part of the money with?
Not even your mother?
Why didn’t you give anybody out of the money?
You know, when money is in your hands, all you think of is have your bath, think of the next place to go and spend money and just flex around. You hear there’s a birthday party, and other such things and you’re there. Just like that that’s how I spent the money.
Q: This period you didn’t extend any money gift to your mother or sister like a way of showing care or supporting them?
Why did you take the security work in Abraka since you’re already making money through this?
I use it to patch up.
Who recommended you to the management of Abraka to hire you?
Abraka na my area. I know it well and I am part of the community so they know me. I already know the man in charge of security too. So I approached him for the job and got it.
What other reason did you have for applying for this security job?
To gather myself up to raise enough to start my chemist shop.
Why did you go after Elozino, the last girl?
It was just a coincidence. We already get a plan to get a girl for the next ritual as the jazz man tell us to do. So our mind is set to look out for a girl that will provide the parts for us. So when the opportunity just show the day after we had discuss, and this girl approached me two days before na then I make up my mind that she go be the one. So I tell my guys. So when she show up the next day we kidnap her.
Q: In what condition were you guys when you carry out this act? Do you take any drink?
DESMOND: Yes. I take a lot of alcohol and spirits before we go out to do it. I take up to half bottle…
ONORIODE: Me I no dey take anything. No drink. No drugs. No smoking of any kind.
Q: So you do it with clear eyes, Onos?
Nods his head in the affirmative.
Why do you take drink before you start, Desmond?
I take it so that when I feel the pain of what I’m doing to a human being like me too, I need the alcohol to embolden me to give me the strong mind to finish the work.
Onos, you said you do it with your eyes wide open, no weed, no alcohol or drugs to douse your senses. And you have done it 5 times like that?
It was because the Baba said when we did this, we were going to get money. So na the stuff naim make me fit do am.
So you don’t feel sorry for the girls you’re doing this to as long as it’s money you’re after?
It’s not as if I don’t feel sorry for them. I feel sorry. But based on the fact that I have struggled to get money and haven’t succeeded, I just focus on the work so I can get the money.
But you already have a job as a security guard. Why did you have to take this girl’s life?
ONORIODE: Wetin be N20,000? That one na money?
Onos, since you started this ritual business, have you made money?
ONORIODE: No. no. no. I have not made money.
So if after all this time, you didn’t make money, why did you continue?
ONORIODE: It is because the Baba, the Jazz Man, promise that this last one will bring us money.
But the man promised you this, 1st time, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th time, yet did not fulfil this promise and the money you’re looking for you didn’t get it, why go for the 5th one?
ONORIODE: The Baba promise that this 5th one is what will give us the money.
So why didn’t the others give you money?
ONORIODE: The Baba said he was testing us to see whether we will reveal the secret and now that he’s sure we will not do so, he then promise us that this 5th one will bring us the money. He said if we follow through on this one we will get money from it.
The baba who is promising you all these riches, how rich is he?
No he’s not as rich.
Where does the herbalist live?
In Warri. Alegbo Axis. He lives in the last street before Alegbo Primary School.
Do people in the area know him for his ritual activity?
DESMOND: No. I’m not sure. But we hear people address him Doctor. They call the Baba Doctor. The man na herbalist.
What is the role of your fellow security man who is in custody? Many feel you just named him to rope in.
ONORIODE: See the matter. He did not join us in any ritual cutting. But the thing is that anybody who drives into the school with a car must have the car searched and because he is head of security at the post he must search and approve any car passing at the main gate. So there was no way my guys can leave the school without being searched after we have capture the girl in the car. So I tell him about the deal and told him one of my big bros is a Ghana Burger and he has money. I discuss this with him two days before we get the girl.
So you told this senior security man that this your boss is a Ghana Burger and he has money?
Yes. So I told him we cannot do this without his permission, and he’ll get his cut after we succeed. He asked me what I mean. So I explain to him that the person we wanted to carry is within the school premises and since he’s the one always at the gate, we need his help as the supervisor to allow our vehicle pass out of the gate without check. That we need him to pass the order so that the junior security men at the post will allow the car pass through without being held up.
Once he give the order to raise the bar at the gate, nobody will challenge it because he’s the supervisor. Any order he gives they must obey him. After I explain all this to him he accept the offer and promise to do his part. The other part of the arrangement was for him to post me on my next shift to the lecturer’s lodge area the next day since I had already made arrangement with my guys to call the girl to meet me where she had met me the day before. If I no reach arrangement with him, he will post me elsewhere. Because the lecturers lodge is very far we can carry our plan and nobody will see us. Any other security post by the roundabout or near the school gates is not a good hiding place. So the supervisor agree.
How much did you promise to give the supervisor, the head of security?
ONORIODE: I did not mention bulk amount to him. But I told him he will get some huge cash. I tell am say better money go enter eim hand. And I know too that once we made the money the supervisor could get up to N30,000 to N40,000.
What’s the supervisor’s name?
ONORIODE: Supervisor’s name is Uche Nwosu.
From your experience now, does ritual killing actually bring in money?
DESMOND: No. Na circumstances they make everything correct, just rhyme.
ONORIODE: I be follow follow first. I never sabi.
DESMOND: Onos know everything already. Na the yahoo dey give us money.
But since you do the ritual e bring money for you?
ONOS: Ritual no bring money for me.
If e no bring money for you why you kon dey do am dey go till you kill 5 girls? Sense dey the thing?
ONOS: No sense
So why did you continue doing it when you realised there was no sense in continuing killing more girls?
So what will happen to you now? Do you know what will happen to you going forward?
DESMOND and ONORIODE: I don’t know.
What do you think you deserve to be done to you for what you both did to those 5 girls?
Is that the only thing you deserve?
What about you Onos? What do you deserve for all the atrocities you committed?
If you’re to give advice to people who think ritual brings money, what would you say to them?
DESMOND: That it is not how to make money. You make money with your hands, and make money from the right source, not quick money. If you have opportunity fine. But if you don’t have, you wait until God blesses you.
What if you get hungry, is it enough to do this kain thing?
DESMOND: If you’re get hungry then you die. But I know that hunger does not kill somebody.
ONORIODE: it is better to build with your hand than to do this.
How many were you in this yahoo ring in Ghana?
Me, my friend (Emese) and two other guys from Nigeria.
Where in Ghana were you living?
Kasua. Many Nigerians are into yahoo in Ghana. We are many. They are still there. We all stayed in a popular estate, Obolu Estate in Kasua. Kasua is big. Take a bike and tell them you want to get to Obolu estate. They’ll take you there. They will ask which of the estate. So you tell them but I can’t remember the exact name of ours. But when you say Obolu estate, they will take you there. The man Obolu has many estate. So you’ll have to tell them the specific estate because the Obolu estate is very big and there are different estates there too.
The police think ritual killings with yahoo boys started from Ghana. Except you don’t know it?
DESMOND: People do it here in Nigeria before them go Ghana. They are the ones who introduced it in Ghana. A week, two weeks they have made money then they now come back to Nigeria. But when I was there in Ghana for eight months (2016 to 2017), there was nothing like ritual killing.
This story is supported by WanaData a project of Code For Africa