The public space has been inundated with so much kerfuffle surrounding alleged organ theft, shrinkage or disappearance. This development has thrown most residents of the FCT, Kogi, Nasarawa and other Northern States where these allegations have been reported into fear of genital loss.
Different views have been expressed by different schools of thought on this subject. First, is the School of Thought that posits that the idea of genital disappearance or shrinkage is a ridiculous hoax. The second school of thought hold the view that fetish practices form part of the African system, hence human organs can be mysteriously stolen without physical severance. The third school of thought, which can be likened to the biblical character Thomas, hold the view which can be summarized as “Unless I see and confirm with my “naked eyes” I will not believe”.
Daily Trust Newspaper reported an incident of a missing genital at Sabon- Tasha motor park area in Abaji FCT on September 14, 2023, where a man identified as Godwin, a commercial bus driver, was reported to have allegedly stolen another man’s male organ, identified as Sadiq. The victim claimed that the suspect, who was travelling with passengers from Zuba to Edo State, stopped over at Abaji, where he had a handshake and asked him where he could buy drinks. Shortly after that, the victim raised an alarm that his genital organ had disappeared, which led to the arrest of the driver by some people around the motor park, where he was beaten by a mob and later rescued to the police area command.
The driver was said to have been freed by the police after the victim, who was taken to the hospital, later confirmed that his male organ had returned
In another video which circulated on social media, a man who appeared to have been severely beaten was seen assuring a victim that his reproductive organ will be restored before 4:30pm “by the grace of God”.
Also, three persons, including a commercial cyclist, were said to have raised the alarm that their male organ got missing at Anguwar Gede in Kuje Area Council of the FCT on September 15, 2023.
On 20th September 2023, one Usman Muhammed, an 18-year-old scavenger residing in Gwagwalada area of FCT alleged that one Abba who shook his hand, stole his manhood. According to Usman:
“…he extended his hand towards me for a handshake; I extended mine too. Immediately after he left my hand, I felt very uncomfortable. It felt like I was in a trance with some kind of shock in my body, and my private part was missing. Immediately, they started moving away; Abba pushed me and they drove away,”
The Commissioner of Police, CP Haruna Garba, disclosed at the FCT Command’s headquarters, while addressing journalists at a press briefing on 3rd October 2023 thus:
“Fourteen suspects who claimed that their male organs have disappeared were taken to the hospital where the medical doctor confirmed that their male organs are intact and active. Consequently, they were charged to court for giving false information and inciting public disturbance. I wish to seize this opportunity to appeal to the residents of FCT to warn their wards and children to desist from raising false alarm.”
On 10th October 2023, Vanguard Newspaper online, reported that at the Federal Secretariat a woman, alleged that her private part was stolen. However, the FCT Police Command dispelled the allegation as false and disclosed that the woman will be charged to court for raising false alarm.
From the versions reported in print and social media, the alleged disappearances or shrinking took place the moment there was physical contact between the culprit and victim.
POSITION OF THE LAW
The subject of genital theft is not new to the Nigerian system. Cases of organ theft have been recorded, albeit in a different form. The common reports pertain to ritual sacrifices whereby the victim’s members of the victim is severed from his/her body. The Courts have also recognized and acknowledged the existence of ritual sacrifices in our system.
In Fatai V. State  10 NWLR Part 1361, the Supreme Court observed that:
“Not only is the appellant and his gang a group of morally depraved brutes, their behaviour portrayed them as wild animals in human form. The offences of raping and slaughtering the women folk appear to be on the increase and so also is the heinous crime of killing women for ritual purposes.”
Also in Aiwuyor V. State  13 NWLR (Part 1846) at 89, the Court observed thus
“Being a child of only three years of age at the material time and the circumstances as revealed by the evidence of PW1, PW4 as well as DW1 and DW2, the presumption that she was/is dead is cogent and compelling in the absence of explanations from the appellant and her co-conspirators of where they took and what happened to the helpless child victim, she wanted for rituals to enhance her luck in life.”
The most proximate Judicial and statutory allusions to the subject under discourse relate to statutory provisions and judicial pronouncements on use of charms, witchcraft and superstition.
Section 213 of the Criminal Code Act provides that:
Any person who‐
(a) makes, sells or keeps for sale or for hire or reward, any fetish or charm which is pretended or reputed to possess power to protect burglars, robbers, thieves or other malefactors, or to aid or assist in any way in the perpetration of any burglary, housebreaking, robbery or theft, or in the perpetration of any offence whatsoever, or to prevent, hinder or delay the detection of or conviction for any offence whatsoever; or [Underlining mine for emphasis]
(b) is found having in his possession without lawful and reasonable excuse (the proof of which excuse shall lie on such person) any such fetish or charm as aforesaid,
is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for five years.
On its part, the Penal Code provides as follows:
(a) by his statements or actions represents himself to be a witch or to have the power of witchcraft; or
(b) accuses or threatens to accuse a person with being a witch or with having the power of witchcraft; or
(c) makes or sells or uses, or has in his possession or represents himself to be in possession of any juju, drug or charm which is intended to be used or reported to possess the power to prevent or delay a person from doing an act which that person has a legal right to do, or to compel a person to do an act which that person has a legal right to refrain from doing, or which is alleged or reported to possess the power of causing a natural phenomenon or a disease or an epidemic; or
(d) presides at or is present at or takes part in the worship or invocation of any juju which has been declared unlawful under the provisions of section 215 of this Penal Code; or
(e) is in possession of or has control over any human remains which are used or are intended to be used in connection with the worship or invocation of any juju; or (f) makes or uses or assists in making or using, or has in his possession anything whatsoever the making, use or possession of which has been declared unlawful under the provisions of section 215 of this Penal Code, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to two years or with fine or with both.
(f) makes or uses or assists in making or using, or has in his possession anything whatsoever the making, use or possession of which has been prohibited by an order as being or believed to be associated with human sacrifice or other unlawful practice,
For judicial pronouncements, in the recent case of State v. Ibanga  5 NWLR Part 1769 253
“On Ingredients of offence of placing charm –
To prove an offence of placing charm, the prosecution needs to establish the following:
(a) that the accused person has placed the charm;
(b) that the charm was intended to be used or isr eported to possess the power to prevent or delay the person from doing an act which he has legal right to do or to compel him to do an act which he has a legal right to refrain from doing;
(c) that the charm possesses the power of causing any natural phenomenon or adverse consequences. [Underlining is mine for emphasis]
As noted above, the laws highlighted are the most proximate allusions to the discourse and do not squarely fit into the subject under scrutiny. Clearly, our laws recognize the existence of fetish practices, although, the possibility of genital theft by fetish means has never been submitting to the judiciary for determination. In the case of physically genital severance culprit are charged for “causing grievous hurt” or other kindred offences.
Whilst fetish practices and use of juju may be considered abstract, they remain common in Africa and cannot be ignored, hence their recognition under our Criminal Laws.
From the information available in the public space, there is no single victim of a purported genital theft whose genital has been confirmed missing by a certified medical practitioner, although this is not an attempt to dismiss the claims made by alleged victims especially as fetish practices, use of juju and witchcraft have been characteristic of the African system.
Hence, It is this author’s view that where there is expression of contrition and admission by the culprit to the use of fetish means to tamper with a person’s genital, same should be liturgically investigated and submitted to court for determination. In the interim, members of the public are enjoined to refrain from participating in any forms of Jungle justice as that in itself is an offence.
Arome Abu is the Managing Partner of TCLP.
CAVEAT: Note that this information is provided for general enlightenment purposes and is not intended to be any form of legal advice.
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