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1.1 Background of the study

It is of no doubt that moral decadence has completely replaced core moral values in present times. This ravaging phenomenon is the cause of some of the major problems Nigeria is facing as a Nation. A society where the youths do not think of how tomorrow would be better than today or how to invent new things to automate processes involved in our daily activities rather focusing on how to enrich themselves by any means and controlling enormous wealth at a tender age which they achieve through ritual killing(Afuye, 2013). Ritual is a set patterns or prescribed procedures and orders for carrying out religious actions or ceremonies (Shujaa 2009). Sacrifice is a vital aspect of every religious ritual (Stebbins 2010). This involves giving up something of value for the sake of something that is of greater value (Ayegboyin 2009:). Human sacrifice is a blood sacrifice that involves killing of a living creature as a ritual offering to a god or spirit, usually in expectation of a return in the form of good fortune, whether generalized or as the granting of a particular prayer (La Fontaine 2011). Some of the objects of sacrifice for this ritual are whole or severed parts of human being, such as the head, genitals, breasts, eyes, intestine, arms and legs as well as exhumed dead body or its severed parts. Ritual sacrifice can be said to be designed as a “faith strategy” to acquire money, wealth, success, fame, favour, greatness, power and protection from dangers. Ritual killings is a violent and extreme type of criminal homicide in which vital organs of the victim are excised by the slayers for use in “sacred” rites.

Ritual killing is a common phenomenon in Nigerian daily life. It has become a regular event when hundreds of Nigerians lost their lives to ritual killers or what Nwakanma, & Abu, (2020) called, “Head Hunters.” The ritual killers go about in search of human parts – heads, breasts, tongues, and sex organs – as demanded by witch doctors, juju priests, traditional medicine men or women and/or occultists who require such for their dubious sacrifices or for the preparation of assorted magical portions (Igwe, 2010). In the contemporary Nigeria, ritual killing has taken new dimension. Tell magazines describe the scene as the “Reign of the Ritualists” (Elesho 2004). Many diverse means are used to kidnap people with evil intentions; especially for rituals. Many of those kidnapped for such purposes are long gone but there are a lucky few who actually live to tell the story of their encountered with the ritualists. Some of the kidnappers caught with their victims some time dead or half-dead also testified of their dubious acts (Aiyetan, 2003). There are all sorts of stories of various techniques of kidnapping; some people disappeared on picking or touching some items set as trap by ritualists or kidnappers. It seems obvious in Nigeria that ritual killers are more prevalent at certain seasons in the year – like the weeks leading to Christmas and during some yearly pilgrimages. It is generally believed that people engage in sacrifice of human beings to get money to spend at such festive periods. There are some known cases of people who killed their wives, husbands, mothers or even their children for money making rituals (Aiyetan, 2003). According to Aghawenu (202), the crazy desire cuts across all geographical boundaries and social strata and the extremes Nigerians can go in their bid to satiate their appetite for cheap wealth and varieties of life are unprecedented which is contribute to sociocultural deterioration  of the society.

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