Five Nigerian men accused of exhuming a human skull to use for rituals “to get rich” were each sentenced to 12 years in prison after they admitted to the crime. According to BBC, the men were handed the sentences after they were found guilty of criminal conspiracy, trespassing on burial grounds and unlawfully possessing a human skull.
The prosecutor informed the court that the convicted men exhumed a body that had been laid to rest at a Muslim cemetery in the state of Niger. The men were later caught in possession of the skull, and it was disclosed that they had arranged to take it to a traditional doctor who informed them it was going to be used for rituals to make them wealthy.
“They said the herbalist informed and promised all of them that they would share the wealth from the said criminal activity and directed them to look for the human skull,” the Daily Punch newspaper quoted the prosecutor as saying.
Authorities, however, did not arrest or charge the traditional doctor. Voodoo, which is locally known as “juju” in West Africa, is said to be commonly practiced in Nigeria. A report by the Pew Research Centre in 2010 stated that many Nigerians practise “juju” alongside Christianity, BBC reported.
The belief that human body parts can be used for rituals to generate money has been the reason behind recent reports of gruesome murders in the West African nation. The victims usually killed are children, single women and disabled people.
Outside Nigeria, some people in central, eastern, and southern parts of Africa also believe albinos possess magical powers. Face2Face Africa in 2021 reported that human rights groups have continuously warned of the rising number of attacks on people with albinism by human traffickers who allegedly sell albino body parts to witch doctors and traditional healers.
Witch doctors reportedly use albino body parts for their magical charms and potions that some people believe can bring luck and prosperity.