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The Ritual Killers by …Cyrus Victor

The Ritual Killers by …Cyrus Victor


‘Adaugo, let’s go home!’

I shivered as I held onto her wrappers. She held tightly onto me.

‘Chidozie, are you afraid?’ she asked.

‘Yes,’ I answered.

She looked into my eyes and said:

‘Nna m, do not be afraid. Jehovah is here with us!’


‘Nnè Ndèwo o.’

‘Ee Dèdè. Good morning Saar.’

A tall, dark and elderly (almost in his seventies) man with a pointed nose like a pelican’s beak had stopped his white horse Raleigh bicycle in front of our farm on his way from Ụmụọsọ Town.

‘This is a large farmland you’ve got here; and your crops are really doing well!’ He complimented, almost in a shouting tone.
It was fairly distant from the corner of the road where he parked his bicycle, to the spot where we stood.

He walked into the farm to have a better look.

That day, I had accompanied my older sister Ọmalịcha and my mother Adaugo (as we fondly called her) to our farm to weed grasses and plant vegetables seeds.
We had worked from sunrise to dust.

Ọmalịcha and I were gathering the logs of wood which we had fetched for use as firewood at home, when that stranger stopped to exchange pleasantries with us.

He introduced himself as Mr. Umah. He told us that he was a retired headmaster at St. Patrick’s College; and a Church Warden at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Ụmụagwọ Town.

He waited for us until we were ready to leave; then he placed a lighter bundle of firewood on Ọmalịcha’s head, and a heavier bundle on Adaugo’s head. I held a sac full of mushrooms, which we had collected from the farm, two hoes and a cutlass.

Mr. Umah lived in Umuezewerem kindred in Ụmụagwọ, the same kindred where we lived. So, he hiked with us, pulling along his white horse. Ụmụagwọ is about one community distant from Ụmụọsọ.

On our way home, he engaged in petty discussions with Adaugo about family backgrounds and acquaintances. Ọmalịcha and I kept silent and listened passively.


Mr. Umah lived only a walking distance from our house. He would stop by sometimes on his way to his house. Gradually, he became a family friend.

On several occasions, he begged Adaugo to give Ọmalịcha to his son, who lived in Lagos, as a nanny. But she turned him down politely, arguing that Ọmalịcha was only thirteen and still tender.
On countless other occasions, he propositioned Adaugo to be his concubine; but she was not one who came off as cheap. Besides, he was old enough to be her father.

One day, during a period of severe water scarcity, Adaugo went with me to his compound to fetch water. His tap was one of the very few succour around. A dire alternative was to fetch from a dirty stagnant Lake near the outskirts of the community.

He was happy to see us; and he invited us inside. We had barely seated comfortablely on the wooden sofa in his palour than he retrieved a newly – minted five naira note from his pocket and handed it over to me. To a lad of eight years of age, It felt like being handed a million dollar check! I hesitated a bit, taking the pinching cue from Adaugo.

‘Take it, my son,’ he said, ‘run along and buy yourself some groundnuts.’

I sprang up with an outstretched hand; but she yanked me back to the sofa.

‘Thank you, Saar,’ she said, ‘but this boy just finished a bowl of rice before we came here.’

That was an excuse for me to stay with her.


Two weeks later, on a Monday, It was eke Ụmụagwọ.
We went very early in the morning to the farm at Ụmụọsọ to plant cassava cuttings. The road to the farm was lonely because most people had gone to the market to trade.

There were no farmers on the adjacent farmland to the left of ours. The farmland to the right, towards the heart of Ụmụọsọ had been left fallow for three years. It was owned by a Matron Mrs Adanna.
There was an ukpaka tree close to the road, which stood like a landmark, at the right boundary of our farmland with Mrs Adanna’s. An agric palm tree stood at the center of our farm.

For hours, only one or two cars drove past, stirring a misty air of red earth.
The surroundings bore the eerieness of a graveyard; but the occasional shrill cries and songs of the birds nestling among the branches of the ukpaka tree shattered the spooky silence.

While Adaugo and Ọmalịcha heaped small mounds of soil over cut stems of cassava; I scampered about hunting crickets and grasshoppers. I tied a little basket which I had woven from the stalks and leaves of ‘stubborn grass’ around my waist. I would run to my sister and mother from time to time to show off my kills.

At about midday, a white new chassis Mercedes Benz 200 headed towards Ụmụọsọ stopped in front of our farm. Seven men came out from the car. One of them was a tall, fair and handsome young man; most likely in his thirties. He was strongly built. He was wearing a white dapper brocade, a piece of golden wrist watch, and a pair of sunglasses. The other six men wore patterned native tops and black trousers uniforms. They looked like palace guards.
One could tell that the handsome man was their master. He hung a strap – fitted double barrel gun on his left shoulder; and the other six men, each, had a leather pouch of machete tied around his waist. The master instructed one of them to open the booth. He placed his gun inside and secured it with the lock.

They all walked towards us, threading carefully to avoid stamping on our crops

‘Sorry, Madam, if we are killing your crops by mistakes,’ their master apologized, courteously.

‘Do not worry yourself,’ Adaugo responded, ‘it is almost unavoidable.’

The other six men headed immediately to the far end of Mrs. Adanna’s land behind us.

Chai – kpai… chai – kpai… cham..cham…

The bush echoed, as branches of woods succumbed to the sharp strokes of their machete.

‘Madam, did you see any beacon here,’ one of the men inquired, pointing at a spot close to the boundary.

‘I am a real estate manager,’ their master told Adaugo, without being prompted. ‘We buy lands from here and there; and then lease it to less well – to – do farmers at just a little token.’ ‘We have no need for money,’ he said flippantly.

‘Ok, Saar,’ she replied.

‘I own this land,’ he said.
‘Come with us to see the extent of the land,’ he suggested, pointing towards the part of Mrs. Adanna’s land which wound down the road leading to the heart of Ụmụọsọ.

‘I would like to, Saar,’ she replied, ‘but my husband will be here anytime soon. He had gone to fetch water from a nearby stream.’

He beckoned to the other six men. They entered their car and drove towards Ụmụọsọ.


Few minutes later, we heard the sound of gunshots.

Kpo… Kpo… Kpo…

‘Oji ya… Oji ya… You have killed it!’

The distant sound of ecstatic male voices permeated the air.

Perturbed kites flew around in erratic frenzy.

About twenty minutes later, they drove back and parked at the same spot. But this time, only their master walked into the farm.

‘We could not clearly identify the boundaries of this land,’ he said. ‘We had bought this parcel of land from Mr. Umah some years back. We will go and let him know about our difficulties. There seems to be an encroachment from neighbouring farms.’

He looked disappointed.

‘You mean Mr. Umah the retired headmaster?!’ Adaugo asked.

‘Yes. He sold this land to us,’ he replied.

‘I know him!’ She exclaimed.

He walked back to his their car, and they drove off.


They drove back in about two hours. The seven men got down from the car. Their master retrieved his double barrel from the booth; and the other six girded their machete as they walk into our farm.

I shuddered as they marched menacingly towards us. I ran to my mother.

‘Adaugo, let’s go home!’

I shivered as I held onto her wrappers. She held tightly onto me.

‘Chidozie, are you afraid?’ she asked.

‘Yes,’ I answered.

She looked into my eyes and said:

‘Nna m, do not be afraid. Jehovah is here with us!’

‘We didn’t find Mr. Umah at home,’ reported their master.

The other six men went back to their former post behind us and continued clearing Mrs. Adanna’s land. Their master walked about like one who was meticulously supervising their work. Occasionally, he would talk to us. They kept clearing the bush for up to an hour.

Adaugo and Ọmalịcha were working at the foot of the agric palm tree. I sat beside them. The three of us faced the main road.

Crack.. crack….

We heard a sharp sound behind us.

We jumped to our feet in fright; and turned around to face the nozzle of a double barrel aimed directly at my mother’s chest at almost a blank distance; The assailant was the master of the six men – the very man who had been discussing with us. He stationed himself behind the agric palm tree.

We stared at him, with mouths agape and dumbstruck.
My feet felt numb.
We stood like mannequins.
We were like victims of a strong spell.

He swayed, moving the gun from side to side, like a hunter tracking an unsuspecting deer.
Then he lowered the gun gradually.

He walked briskly to their car. Once outside the farm, he screamed at the other men in a trembling voice.

‘Driver, where are you?! What are you people still doing there!!? I will abondon all of you here if you don’t come out immediately!!!’

He barked at them, gesticulating with his hands.

He looked like one who had seen a ghost (ghosts).

The other men leapt in swift movements. They all jumped into the car and sped off.

Barely five minutes gone, they drove back speedily with a reverse. One of the men rushed out and into the farm. He dashed around, peering from corner to corner as if he had left a valuable behind.

‘Dèdè, what is it again?’ My mother inquired.

He found what he came for. His machete had fallen close to the ukpaka tree when they were fleeing.

We watched him as he tried in vain to pouch the machete; his hands and whole body tremoring. Eventually, he did.

He jumped into the car, and they sped off.

As soon as they were gone, a swarm of black bee – like insects filled the whole farm.
It was nearing dusk.
We gather up our farm tools hastily and left.



One Friday evening, we were watching the news on a black and white TV set at our neighbour’s house, when a familiar face caught my eyes.

Seven men were tied to stakes. I recognized one of them. He was a tall, fair, and handsome young man. He wore the same white brocade material and a pair of sunglasses. He was the same man from whose murder nest God delivered us.

I called out to Adaugo and Ọmalịcha; they recognized him too.

The seven men were to be executed by a firing squad. The men at the stake were Obidiọzọ son of Vincent Duru (the infamous ritualist known as Otokoto). He was the leader of the Black Scorpion confraternity. The other six were his gang.

They were the very men who tried, but failed, to murder us on our farmland.

Nemesis had finally caught up with them. They had been arrested in connection with a kidnapping case.

We watched as a priest prayed for them in preparation for their swift departure.
The firing squad were already at their posts to escort them to their already waiting ancestors.


Tomorrow no more.
If I die today,
I will die no more!’

They chanted their last.

Kpo… kpo…. kpo… kpo… kpo… kpo…!!!

Gunshots echoed.

They bowed their heads as they journey to eternity!


Writer’s note:

This story reflects Chidozie’s perspective of the Otokoto saga of 1996. It is a recount of his personal experience with obidiọzọr and his gangs.

This is a true life story. The events are real.

Take note, however, that some of the names of the characters: Chidozie, Ọmalịcha and Adaugo are not the real names of the individuals.
Names of institutions have been changed.

Igbo words used:

Pronunciation of ‘Sir’ in Igbo.

Respectful way of addressing an adult male in Igbo.

Oil bean tree. The seed is used for African salad.

Respectful way of addressing a younger woman.

Nna m:
Term of endearment for son in Igbo.

Market day.

Greetings. Well done.


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Posted by:- on October 12, 2018.

Categories: Literature

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