An analysis on the nexus between kidnapping and ritualism




  1. Background of the Study

Nigeria, generally acknowledged as Africa’s “giant,” has seen unparalleled levels of insecurity as a result of bandit organizations, kidnappers, assassins, secessionist groups, armed robbery attacks, abduction, and, more recently, the rise of ritual killers. According to Asuquo (2009), the term “kidnapping” is difficult to define precisely because it differs from one state to the next and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It is the unlawful custody, seizure, and removal of a person against his or her will. It is a common law offense, and the most important aspect is that it is an unwelcome act on the victim’s side. It is a restriction of someone else’s liberty that breaches the provision of freedom of movement inherent in the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s constitution, from which all other laws are derived.

In particular, numerous types of kidnapping can be seen in Nigeria. Recent research to characterize abduction in Nigeria based on the differentiating qualities of the offenders have been compelled by the growing desire to comprehend the behavior of the kidnappers in relation to the destiny of the hostages. Kidnappings in Nigeria have therefore been linked to bandits, ritualists, scammers, baby factories, insurgents, pirates at sea, and terrorists (Oyewole 2015). Kidnapping in Nigeria is often motivated by ritual sacrifice, commercial or political activities, according to Osumah and Aghedo (2011). Shujaa (2009) defines ritualism as “a set of patterns or prescribed processes and orders for performing religious deeds or rites.” He went on to say that ritual killings are a particularly brutal and extreme form of criminal homicide in which the slayers remove the victim’s vital organs for use in “holy” rites involving human sacrifice. Human sacrifice is a blood sacrifice that involves the killing of a living creature as a ritual offering to a deity or spirit, usually in the hope of receiving good fortune in the form of general good fortune or the fulfillment of a specific supplication (La Fontaine 2011). Whole or severed human body parts, such as the head, genitals, breasts, eyeballs, intestine, arms, and legs, as well as excavated dead bodies or their severed parts, are some of the items of sacrifice for this rite. This is frequently used as a “faith tactic” to obtain money, fortune, fame, favor, glory, power, and safety from threats. Whatever the criminals’ motivations, ritual kidnapping is on the rise in Nigeria today and has become a pain in the flesh of citizens that has to be addressed immediately.

1.2 Statement of the problem

The concept of kidnapping for ritual in Nigeria and other part of Africa can be deconstructed as a nexus between kidnapping and ritual sacrifice.Unfortunately, the activities of ritual killers have accelerated the threat of kidnapping in Nigeria.. The process often involves victims that are charmed and made unconscious by the abductors at the point of capture. More victims die rather than survive their experience after being abducted for ritual. This experience can turn victims mad, dead, poor and deformed, and some as mobile corpses (Gbinije 2014).According to Oyewole (2016), Kidnapping for ritual is an unlawful seizure of a person in order to kill and/or sever part of his or her body for the purpose of ritual sacrifice.

Conversely, there has been over 4,000 cases of kidnapping reported to the police without any traces of the victims in the last decade (NBS 2013). It is suspected that the majority of these victims were abducted for ritual rather than ransom or any political objectives. Kidnapping for ritual involves killing or severing the body part of abducted persons for the purpose of using it as an object of ritual sacrifice aim to acquire ritual-money, favour, fame, success, power and protection. Nevertheless, this phenomenon has received little academic or policy attention. Furthermore, even though extant literature on kidnapping in Nigeria has been dominated by concerns for the incidents motivated by ransom and political ends (Badiora 2015; Onuoha 2014 and Osumah and Oyewole 2015), none has focus on Kidnapping for ritual purposes.Thus, is upon this backdrop that this study seeks to present an analysis on the nexus between kidnapping and ritualism

1.3 Objective of the Study

The broad objective of this study is to examine analysis on the nexus between kidnapping and ritualism. Specifically, the study seeks:

  1. To determine the prevalence rate of kidnapping in Nigeria.
  2. To investigate determining factors propagating kidnapping activities in Nigeria.
  3. To ascertain if ritualism contributes as a reason for kidnapping in Nigeria
  4. To examine whether there is any significant relationship between Kidnapping and Ritualism in Nigeria.

1.4 Research Question

  1. What is the prevalence rate of kidnapping in Nigeria?
  2. What are determining factors propagating kidnapping activities in Nigeria.
  3. Does ritualism contributes as a reason for kidnapping in Nigeria?
  4. Is thee any significant relationship between Kidnapping and Ritualism in Nigeria?

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.

1.6 Scope of the study

The scope of this study is to present analysis on the nexus between kidnapping and ritualism. The study will further determine the prevalence rate of kidnapping in Nigeria. It investigated factors propagating kidnapping activities in Nigeria and ascertained if ritualism contributes as a reason for kidnapping in Nigeria. More so it will examine whether there is any significant relationship between Kidnapping and Ritualism in Nigeria. The study is however delimited to Uyo Metropolis in Akwaibom State.

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 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 Uyo Metropolis in Akwaibom 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.

Oyewole, Samuel. 2015a. “The Fate of Hostages: Nigeria’s Conflict Theatres in Comparative Perspective,” African Security Review, 25(2), 193-207.

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

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