Five Nigerians Are Sentenced for Exhuming Skull in Get Rich Quick Scheme

( — Nigeria, like many countries around the world, has a populace that relies on traditional healers as much if not more than, western medicine. Most of their rural population uses them almost exclusively. There are many different types of traditional practitioners, some who deal in herbal medicines, midwives, traditional bone-setters, and of course, spiritual healers. Like everywhere else in the world, there are also those who claim to work with magic, spirits, and spells. Those who offer macabre money spells have seen increasing business in recent years.

This week 5 men were convicted to 12 years of hard labor each for the crime of exhuming a human skull for use in such a ritual. They exhumed a man who died three years ago from his resting place at a Muslim cemetery to get the skull an herbalist said was required. All 5 men plead guilty to possession of the skull. The court in Minna found them guilty on charges of trespassing on burial grounds, criminal conspiracy, and unlawful possession of a human skull. The herbalist was not arrested, or even charged for any crime.

Money rituals like this have been a source of trouble in Nigeria for some time. There is a belief that human body parts and various charms can produce money magically from a clay pot. While in this case, the 5 men retrieved a skull from a dead person, there have been murders linked to the practice, often targeting vulnerable people like children, single women, or people with disabilities. There is also a booming market for buying and selling human body parts for use in various medicines and mystical practices. This is partially fueled by the idea that securing the body parts could have repercussions for the person seeking them. One practitioner soothes his customers by assuring them that since they “are not the one that killed the person” there shouldn’t be any difficulties on that issue for them.

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