Jail for five Nigerians who extracted a skull in order to “get rich”
Five men have been sentenced to 12 years in prison in Nigeria after being found guilty of extracting a human skull.
They had planned to take it to a traditional doctor who told them it was needed to perform a ritual that would make them rich.
The men pleaded guilty after they were caught with the skull in a bag.
The prosecutor told the court that the men exhumed a body that had been buried three years ago in an Islamic cemetery in north-central Niger state.
“They said that the herbalist informed them and promised them all that they would share the wealth from the said criminal activity and ordered them to search for the human skull,” the private Daily Punch newspaper quoted the prosecutor as saying.
Security officers had arrested the young men, aged between 18 and 28, at the beginning of last September, while they were transferring the remains to a third party, based on the instructions of a traditional doctor.
A court in Minna, the capital of Niger State, declared the men guilty of criminal conspiracy, trespassing on burial grounds and illegal possession of a human skull.
The traditional doctor was not arrested and charged.
Belief in juju – sometimes known as voodoo or witchcraft – is fairly widespread in Nigeria, with many combining it with Christianity or Islam. According to a 2010 report from the Pew Research Center.
Such beliefs, especially that human body parts and amulets can produce money from an earthen pot, have led to a recent spate of gruesome murders in Nigeria, often targeting individuals considered vulnerable, including children, single women and people with disabilities.
Local authorities also said body parts were being sold and used in rituals believed to bring wealth.
Nigeria’s money-making rituals are also fueled by growing economic desperation, in a country where four out of 10 people live in poverty, according to World Bank data.