1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The concept of ritual killing has been an ongoing activity in Nigeria and other parts of Africa that has gotten increasingly concerning. The recent wave of deaths of innocent souls for ritual purposes is alarming, with concerned government agencies making little or no attempt to combat the human hunters (Aiyetan, 2003). With the increase in Christian activities and modern civilisation, one would have expected such pseudoscience acts to be ancient stories or myths. However, ritual killings to appease the gods or goddesses appear to be increasing at an alarming rate. These heinous acts are committed in the twenty-first century, when other countries around the world are experimenting with and advancing in technology.
According to Aiyetan, (2003), the term "ritual" refers to a process of performing religious service. Killing, on the other hand, is the act of killing or causing the death of another person. By combining the two definitions, we can say that ritual killing encompasses all of the rights or forms of killing that are associated with killing someone. As a result, ritual killing is a command from the devil, man's sworn enemy, in which one is given conditions to do things that the human brain cannot normally contemplate in order to achieve his goals and remain powerful (Ekong, 2002). Ritual killing is a frequent occurrence in Nigerian society. Hundreds of Nigerians have died as a result of ritual killers, or what Igwe (2004) refers to as "Head Hunters." The ritual killers go about looking for human parts – heads, breasts, tongues, and sex organs – as required by witch doctors, juju priests, traditional medicine men or women, and/or occultists who need such for dubious sacrifices or the preparation of various magical portions (Igwe, 2004). Many more Nigerians are reported missing in daily newspapers and magazines than ever before, and the number of ritual killings has reached alarming proportions. Nonetheless, the authorities appear helpless (Aiyetan, 2003).
We live in a society where most beliefs continue to be misguided by irrational, dogmatic, mythological, and magical notions. Beliefs in ghosts, juju, charms, and witchcraft are widespread. Many Nigerians believe that using human heads, breasts, tongues, eyes, or sex organs in magical potions can improve one's political and financial fortunes. They believe that juju, charms, and amulets can protect people from business failures, sickness, diseases, accidents, and spirit attacks. Thus, performing rituals with humans is viewed as a spiritual fortification and advancement act (Igwe, 2004).
The majority of Nigerians engage in ritual slaughter for monetary gain. Many Nigerians think that a unique type of ritual, done using human blood or body parts, will bring money or fortune. As a result, many people still believe in "ritual riches" or "blood money," and it is prevalent in the nation's culture and films (Igwe, 2004). However, the issue of poverty in Nigeria is contradictory. Some Nigerians are wealthy despite living in abject poverty. Nonetheless, some of these wealthy Nigerians have no obvious source of income to show for their fortune. As a result, many underprivileged Nigerian youths attempt to get wealthy by whatever means possible, particularly through "ritual wealth," "blood money," or "yahoo plus," the most recent addition.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The socio-ethical implications of ritual slaughter are societal anguish. It has caused severe anguish and sorrow to many people, as well as considerable distress to the victims' family and relatives. Elesho, (2004) posits that ritual killing is anti-social and should be opposed in order to put a stop to this inhumane practice. A society that does not value human life is a dangerous place to live. Humans are not animals that can be slaughtered at will. Animals are intended to be sacrificed if necessary. Human life is sacrosanct and should be treated accordingly. As a result, killing another human being for ritual purposes is morally wrong (Nwafor 2017).
Youths have been made by the society to believe that money, wealth and affluence is every thing. The social media expands this believe by showcasing things that are not real thereby, bringing a sense of failure to the youths who believe that the only way they can achieve great success within a short period of time is through engaging in acts like ritual killings, yahoo plus and so on. It is against this backdrop that this study seeks to investigate the societal influence on youth ritualism.