Suspected ritualists have shifted their reign of terror from the living to the dead in Ipokia community of Ogun State as they now invade burial grounds, exhume corpses and chop off their heads. Over 50 cases have been recorded in the last three months, Daily Trust on Sunday reports.
‘To sleep like the dead’ connotes sleeping very deeply and restfully. But in the Ogun State community, even the dead could no longer sleep at ease.
For about three months now, the Ipokia community, the headquarters of Ipokia Local Government Area of the state, has been filled with the terror of demented group of ritualists who go about exhuming corpses and chop off their heads.
While residents are asleep, the hoodlums would storm graveyards, and in many cases, compounds where people buried their loved ones, to carry out their heinous crimes.
Residents of the community told Daily Trust on Sunday that in different parts of the town, hoodlums are said to have dug graves to exhume skulls and other human parts.
The locals explained that the ritualists started the act about two months ago and have succeeded in making away with scores of dry human heads.
Our correspondent gathered that nobody has been arrested since the act of exhuming corpses began in Ipokia town despite the presence of security operatives in the ancient town. Residents of Ipokia said it was unfortunate that security agencies had been able to track down those behind this despicable act.
Being the headquarters of Ipokia Local Government, the border town hosts a police divisional headquarters, an office of the Department of State Services (DSS), an office of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the So-Safe Corps, the Amotekun Corps and others. However, despite the security men’s presence, the suspected ritualists operate and get away with it.
A local said, “They sneak into people’s compounds, dig graves and remove skulls and any other part they need. They will do it in a manner that residents won’t wake up to know there is anything going on around them.
“You will just wake up in the morning to see that the grave in your compound has been dug and skull removed. Nobody has been arrested since two months ago when this aberration started.”
An indigene of the community, Ade Ashade, told Daily Trust on Sunday that more than 50 graves have been dug since the strange incident began, describing it as a tough moment for the town.
“I can confirm to you that more than 50 graves have been dug. At a point it became a daily occurrence. People began to rush down home to dig holes round the graves and put concrete in order to protect it.
“This crime is being committed every day in the town despite the presence of the DSS, police and other security outfits. No one has been arrested. Definitely, the perpetrators of this crime are indigenes, not strangers,” Ashade told our correspondent.
An elder in the community, Prince Samuel Adeyemi, also confirmed that two corpses were dug out in his compound, lamenting that “nobody is doing anything to stop the act.”
Adeyemi said the perpetrators were becoming more desperate in their bid to harvest as many skulls from tombs in Ipokia for reasons best known to them.
The nonagenarian said he had reported the incident to the police, urging the authorities concerned to act fast and bring the perpetrators to book.
“Dead bodies are no longer safe in Ipokia because some people want to become billionaires overnight. Please help us,” he lamented.
We are helpless – Ipokia monarch
The Onipokia of Ipokia, Oba Yisa Olusola Olaniyan, expressed concern over the incident, saying his community “is not getting enough support from security agents.”
The monarch told Daily Trust on Sunday that a suspect was arrested over the incident in November, but alleged that he was set free by the police.
He particularly regretted that the incident had caused a lot of families pain and “dented the image of the town.”
The Onipokia, however, explained that a meeting had been held by the elders and the council chairman over the incident, and a local security watch of vigilantes to be monitored by Ipokia Youth Council leaders was instituted.
Oba Olaniyan said, “What you asked me is true; and it has been going on for some time. Myself, the chiefs and elders have met over it, even with the local government chairman, who is the chief security officer of the local government.
“We instituted a local security watch of vigilantes to be monitored by Ipokia Youth Council leaders. Part of our problems is that we are not getting enough support from the security agents like the police and members of Amotekun. But we are hopeful that very soon, we will get them because some of them were almost caught about four nights ago in a compound when they came as usual to commit their evil act. They escaped into a nearby bush.”
Asked if he has been able to identify reasons behind this act, he responded, “I wish I knew who these people are so that we can hand them over to the authorities to face the wrath of the law. They are denting the image of this town and causing a lot of families pain, which I am not happy about.
“The police actually got a suspect while I was in the US in November 2022, but I heard that he was released from Eleweran, the headquarters of the police in the state headquarters, after a few days.
“Don’t ask me why they released him because the police are the ones who can give that detail.”
Also speaking with our correspondent, the president, Spotlight Club, Ipokia, Bankole Habeeb Oluwatobi said, “I will challenge the Nigeria Police Force. How come such a thing is happening and they are not able to nail it down to one or two people? I know they have the capacity for intelligence gathering to curb this act.
“When I heard that information I needed to quickly rush back home to see if it was true. And my findings showed that it was true. I hope the police would act appropriately to make sure that those behind this are brought to book.”
Why it is difficult to track down perpetrators – Police
Speaking with Daily Trust on Sunday, the police spokesman in the state, Abimbola Oyeyemi, described the development as a premeditated crime, which he said made it difficult to track down the perpetrators.
Oyeyemi submitted that it is wrong for the community to say they are not getting enough support from the police, saying, “except they are saying we should deploy policemen to all the burial grounds in the community.”
“People should be vigilant and report suspicious movements to the police, especially at night. We are on top of our games and anybody caught will be brought to book,” the police spokesman said.
Reacting to the allegation of freeing a suspect, Oyeyemi said, “Anybody arrested for such crime can only be charged for unlawful possession of human parts, not murder. They should not forget that it is a bailable offence. That you take a suspect to court and it grants him bail does not mean that the case has ended. The court only grants him bail so that he would attend trial from his house.
“If a suspect gets bail in court, it does not mean that the police are not doing their job.”