Five Nigerians jailed for exhuming skull ‘to get rich’
In Nigeria, a group of five men has been sentenced to 12 years in prison each for the unlawful exhumation of a human skull. Their intention was to deliver the skull to a traditional healer who claimed it was necessary for a set of rituals that promised to bring them wealth. The individuals admitted their guilt when apprehended with the skull concealed in a bag.
During the court proceedings, the prosecutor revealed that these men had excavated a body interred three years prior in a Muslim cemetery situated in Nigeria’s north-central Niger state. The prosecutor further stated, as reported by the privately owned Daily Punch newspaper, that the herbalist had not only informed them about this criminal undertaking but also promised them a share of the riches that would supposedly result from it, ultimately instructing them to seek out the human skull.
In early September, security personnel apprehended a group of young men, ranging in age from 18 to 28, while they were transporting the remains under the guidance of a traditional healer. The arrest occurred as they were en route to deliver the remains to a third party.
A court in Minna, the capital of Niger state, found these men guilty of multiple charges, including criminal conspiracy, trespassing on burial grounds, and the unlawful possession of a human skull. Notably, the traditional doctor involved in the case was not arrested or charged.
In Nigeria, the belief in “juju,” also known as voodoo or magic, is relatively prevalent, often practiced alongside either Christianity or Islam, as highlighted in a 2010 report from the Pew Research Centre. These beliefs, which sometimes involve the notion that human body parts and charms can generate money from a clay pot, have contributed to a recent surge in gruesome murders in Nigeria, frequently targeting vulnerable individuals, including children, single women, and people with disabilities.
Such beliefs, especially that human body parts and charms can produce money from a clay pot, have led to a recent wave of gruesome murders in Nigeria, often targeting individuals seen as vulnerable, including children, single women and people with disabilities.
Local authorities have also said that body parts are sold and used in rituals believed to generate wealth.
Money-making rituals in Nigeria have also been fuelled by mounting economic desperation, in a country where four out of 10 people live in poverty, according to World Bank data.