The ritual killing of Master Pelumi

THESE are indeed terrible times. The times call to mind heartless acts recorded in the Holy Book wherein mothers connived with one another to kill and eat their offspring for want of food. Nigerians cannot but wonder what would make a mother to connive with her husband to kill her own son after bearing the brunt of carrying the pregnancy for nine months and then bringing him to life. But that was what reportedly happened in Ogun State recently. Policemen in Abegi, Ogun State, arrested a herbalist, Lajuwon Ogunleye, his friend, Fatai Sefiu and his wife, Adetutu Apalaya, for conspiracy and murder of her seven-year -old son, Pelumi, for ritual purposes. The boy obviously was fathered by an earlier husband.

According to reports, the boy, hitherto hale and hearty, suddenly slumped and died on the spot. The herbalist, with the aid of his friend and the mother, picked up the body and headed into the forest. Unknown to them, they were being followed by neighbours who later called the attention of the police to the mysterious burial. How could a father and mother make it their responsibility to bury their own son when they should be in deep mourning? What would their kith and kin be doing at such a time? The swift manner in which the body was interred aroused the neighbours’ suspicion. And as it turned out, their fears were justified.

The body of the boy was found decapitated and buried in an upright position, further confirming that there was something creepy about the whole episode. According to DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi, the Police Public Relations Officer, Ogun State, “On interrogation, the second suspect, Fatai Sefiu, told detectives that the boy was actually used for rituals by the stepfather (Ogunleye) in connivance with the deceased boy’s mother. He stated further that the couple had reached a conclusion before he was co-opted into the business.”

Truth be told, this incident is a reflection of the constantly declining morality and values in the Nigerian society. To say the least, the incident runs contrary to the cultural values that the Yoruba, and indeed all Nigerians, hold very dear. Pray, what level of poverty would push a couple to use their own son for rituals? Why did the mother not offer herself to be so used if she was so in love with her husband that she could not deny him anything he asked of her?

We cannot overstate the point that the country requires a radical overturning of its ethos and values. The craze for financial gratification has seized a large segment of the society, such that norms can no longer be taken for granted. This is alarming. Leaders at political, traditional and religious levels must lead the journey towards national soul searching and re-emphasise cultural and social practices that elevate the shared humanity of Nigerians. The flaunting of ill-gotten wealth, especially by the country’s political leaders, is a constant source of discouragement to hard-working youths who have yet make a headway in their various endeavours. If many in the society continue to see leaders flaunting wealth without obvious labour, the country will continue to witness horrendous crimes. This, if left unchecked, would lead to the total collapse of the society.

Indeed, religious leaders should encourage those giving testimonies of gargantuan financial breakthroughs to actually explain how these ‘miracles’ happened. This is to reinforce the fact that legitimate living is obtainable only through hard work and devotion to duty, persistence and perseverance in working for what is good. It is ridiculous that Nigerians do not match their expansive religiousity with moral rectitude. Yet part of the reasons religious institutions exist is to build morally upright, hard-working and law-abiding members of society.

We commend the neighbours of Lajuwon Ogunleye and Adetutu Apalaya for their watchfulness, and for inviting law enforcement agents to investigate the case without taking the law into their own hands, as some may have done out of emotions in similar situations. That is the way to go.  The couple and their accomplice must be made to face the full wrath of the law to serve as a deterrent to others who may be similarly minded to seek short-cuts to wealth. The point must be made in very clear terms that the Nigerian society would tolerate no short-cuts to wealth.



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