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Alarming rise of violence-related ‘genital theft’

Today,in some other communities across the country, men  now   carry  ‘hot pepper ‘in their pockets .This is said to be just as effective as charcoal…

Today,in some other communities across the country, men  now   carry  ‘hot pepper ‘in their pockets .This is said to be just as effective as charcoal in protecting the male genital against the onslaught of genital thieves. Therefore, a combination of hot pepper and charcoal will swiftly make a man quite formidable, it seems.  Some men have also stopped shaking hands with men whom they do not know, or have never met before. This is to save them from the rude shock of discovering that their genitals have vanished after such handshake. Then there would be the resultant bellow ‘Who stole my manhood ‘which is usually yelled, with much hysteria and distress in broad daylight. The guilty one is pounced on, and given the beating of his life even by those who did not witness the event. After a while, life creeps back into the   loins of the one who lost his ‘manhood’. He discovers it has ‘returned’, and he is inspired to raise his head .But people also complain when the organ has been restored. A few say that it has ‘shrunk’ and is probably a ‘wrong one’. Others aver they received just ‘the ghost of a penis’.Moko-moko is a Yoruba word coined to illustrate genital theft. It translates to ‘He who touches another and something vanishes’. In Hausa it is called ‘Shafi mulera’ and the meaning is similar to that of the Yoruba.

Reports of vanished organs stream in daily  from across the country.The recent  reports from Adamawa and Taraba states merit repeating here. In Adamawa state four people are in police custody with two of them  admitted in hospital following a mob attack. They had been identified as being part of a group of ritualists, that recently arrived Michika with the aim of stealing the manhood of persons. Dr. Mshelia, the Doctor who attended those hospitalised, says of them‘I examined them and their organs are normal.It is just a psychological problem’.Recently, the Taraba state College of Agriculture was closed down after students protested after a number of cases of rampant theft of genital organs. Also two Cameroonians and a Nigerian accomplice were lynched in Taraba state after being identified as members of a genital snatching syndicate. In Maraba, a part of the FCT,a man was recently lynched in a broad daylight on suspicion of being a genital thief. The Sun blazed as he was soon stripped naked by a howling vengeful crowd. The media captured the event.

A number of curious points exist in respect of the cases of genital theft in the country. One is that the man whose organ has vanished is always ‘strong enough’ to go up to a Police station to make a report.This is despite the sudden loss of his organ  which ought to be  a  sudden shock to his system. Nature abhors a vacuum so what has happened here?  A policeman in Abuja tells this reporter that this is  a bit odd. The victims don’t exhibit any shock, rather they  become quite emboldened.Next is the fact that in virtually every case reported the organ is returned or restored to the person who claims that it  was stolen or removed from him.This is done in record time.Curiously,there are no photographs  available of any  man who has lost his genitals. No medical Doctor has been able to affirm that the male organ vanished completely in each reported instance. With the exception of a  female journalist who works in Abuja , nobody has seen a man whose genital has vanished completely, after he had contact with another who  had touched him. The female journalist above had witnessed one dramatic moment when  sometime ago she visited a famous city in the far north. Her story: All of a sudden one hot afternoon in the ancient city a man began to yell to the effect that his organ had been stolen. A crowd soon gathered on the busy street. The man immediately exposed his loins to the gaping crowd. The spot where his genital was supposed to be, was seen by the excited crowd   to be vacant, it had become empty, and had turned  very ‘smooth just like my face’, as the female journalist put it. Sometimes a man who has been accused of genital theft dies after the beating meted out to him.He dies without restoring the organ. Miraculously, the organ returns after a while to the one from whom it had been ‘stolen’. This formula of a vanishing and a return is repeated in numerous locations across the country.

People have reacted in different ways to the growing  allegations of genital theft in different parts of the country.Fuad Adeyemi ,Director of Al Habibiyyah Academy, Abuja   and Imam of Al-Habibiyyah mosque tells Weekly Trust ‘What we discovered is that there was never a time when any human organ was physically taken away, the way they say it has been taken.We have discovered that each time they say the organ was missing, it is actually a lie’. He says that the whole activity is the handiwork of a Cartel. His words ‘We found out that those who are doing this are a Cartel.The person who says his organ has vanished, the person who was accused,are in the same group. They have their people around who would join them, and it becomes a widespread violence.’On the possibility of an organ being made to disappear, he says ‘It is not possible for an organ to vanish. It is a ruse. Go and see the man who claims to have lost his organ, he will tell you that it has been returned. You will even see it physically’. He tells Weekly Trust that this Cartel is run by ritualists in the country.

Dr. Amos Adebayo is a Consultant Gynaecologist at the Asokoro District Hospital, a hospital which receives support from the Institute for Human Virology, Nigeria. On vanishing genitals, he adds ‘Medically, there is no such condition,a situation whereby the private parts vanish. I am a Gynaecologist, and I see both male and female patients. I have not come across any such patient brought to the hospital to determine whether the private part has vanished or not. Medically, I don’t think it is acceptable or possible. I don’t think there is any truth in that’. While stating that the male genital organ varies considerably in size from person to person, he stresses ‘It is not just possible for an organ to just disappear or to reappear. Either to appear or to disappear.’ He then explained the natural process which could make an organ to go extinct. ‘It is either there is an infection,and the infection is going to destroy that organ,it is usually a gradual thing and it takes some time before such an organ goes into extinction.That is usually the normal process’. He says that the penis has an ‘erectile function’ explaining that sometimes it is erect and at other times it is numb. ‘The main thing is that occasionally the penis goes erect, and after some time it relaxes. That is the normal pattern. Without sexual arousal or stimulation,it is usually in a very relaxed state.Of course,some people have erectile dysfunction ,in which case there is no erection. Erectile dysfunction is a medical possibility.When you stimulate persons there is no erection. Some diseases can cause it, making a person develop a loss of libido, or just not feel interested’.

Nnaemeka Ejiofor, an Abuja based Lawyer, says that the disappearance of an organ will be difficult to prove in a Court of Law. His words ‘For you to be able to prove it in a court of law, you require some scientific evidence to show that when a particular person shakes you, he has a capacity to cause your genitals to disappear. So far I have never seen or experienced such scientific proof yet. On the issue of the missing private parts of individuals, to me it is a story I have been hearing. I have never witnessed it. But I heard people say that upon a handshake with somebody, they felt some sensation around their private parts, and their genitals disappeared. It appears strange.’

Abubakar Umar Kari is of the Department of Sociology, University of Abuja. On vanishing genitals, he says ‘It is debateable whether really genitals disappear or not. Whether they are correct or not, many people tend to believe that they actually do, so it’s a matter of belief.I have never seen a man whose organ has vanished. One interesting thing about this phenomenon is that the people who allege that their organs were stolen, somehow they always get the organs back, or at least soon thereafter they receive them. Some people would regard the event as a ruse or hoax.’

Fr. Patrick Tor Alumuku, Director of Communications Catholic Arch Diocese of Abuja, tells this reporter of events in Nigeria in the early 80s which are somewhat similar to the present situation ‘. This was a time when   Nigeria was buoyant financially. ‘Back in the early 80s, people from  Chad, and Niger came to Nigeria when Nigeria was buoyant. They came to get a piece of the action. Soon Xenophobic feelings began to grow in Nigeria, and people began to say that if anyone touched the Buzu of Niger, then such person would lose his genitals. What is happening now is a similar situation, but it has not been proven. The media can play a role to ensure that this culture of fear mongering does not continue. He added that if it is true that organs can be made to vanish, then this would be a useful season for people who need organ transplants.

Mohammed Etubi, a Kaduna based Lawyer, unites with Fr. Patrick Alumuku in his comments on organ snatching. His words; As a child in Idah in the early 70s, I used to hear of people who had the power to make the private parts to disappear. This was associated with foreigners and gradually it spread to indigenous Nigerians. Before the allegation that someone has practised Juju on him comes up, in the court of public opinion,he is subjected to mobocratic proceedings which could mean lynching or exposing the person to grievous bodily harm.The person alleging that another has caused his manhood to vanish is not protected  by the law.You expose yourself to penal sanction. Section 216 subsection B states  ‘whosoever accuses or  threatens to accuse  any person with being a witch or with the power of witchcraft shall be punished  with imprisonment, which can extend to two years,or with fine or with both’.

‘It will return’

Rilwanu Umar, a cobbler in Wuse market Abuja, casts some intriguing light on the subject of vanishing genital organs. According to him ‘Its not stolen or taken away. People just by some method move it inside the body leaving the head outside’. But he adds with enthusiasm ‘If somebody’s penis has vanished, if he waits for a day or two, it will return to its normal size. One of my friends had his organ taken away, but he wouldn’t tell anyone, except me.Then it returned after two days to its normal size. This whole activity is big business because the people doing it provide a cure for a fee.’

A police officer at Nyanya commenting on vanishing genitals who declined providing his name, says ‘I have never seen a man whose genital is missing. I have never seen a man without a penis before. It is always there. It is there, it may not be erect, but it is there. The hospitals after examining the patient say that nothing is missing .That the patient is well.No hospital has said no organ seen, or that it was unable to locate a patients genitals because it had disappeared.’ He added that the drama of vanishing genitals is a phenomenon of the lower classes, and that it never occurs among groups like bankers or lawyers. He said the occurrence of genital theft is a seasonal event. According to him it is significant that in this era of information technology there is not a single picture available of a man who has lost his genitals. He implies that this shows the emptiness of all the rumours being spread abroad about vanishing genitals. He explained that his work as a policeman requires proof which has to be scientific and medical. ‘We depend a lot on medical reports, and the fantastic stories about vanished organs won’t suffice.’

A herbalist speaks

Papa Awana,a farmer and herbalist who lives and works in Gauraka,a  part of Niger state which borders on the FCT,tells this reporter  in respect of a question on  genital theft ‘Out of a hundred, only 2% can be right. Here in Gauraka a man recently shook hands with a boy and the boy claimed that his penis had vanished. It is an arranged event. The male organ cannot be removed physically. If a man is killed, the genitals and other parts of his body can be removed by groups for rituals, and this has happened’. He adds that the male organ may shrink, which is a perfectly normal event, and insists that it cannot vanish.

The Imam takes a stand

Imam Fuad Adeyemi adds that cases of genital theft always occur at certain critical moments in the nations history. ‘This thing always rears its head when the government changes money, when the economy is in distress, and when people are in one problem or the other, and are therefore looking for money. In 1973, the year when the naira was introduced, so many people were looking for ways of making money. So they were actually looking for human organs. This is a sign of the times. When the economy is depressed, people will always look for a way out. You will never hear of this kind of thing when the economy is doing well. When SAP was introduced, it was very rampant. When Shagari introduced austerity measures genital thefts became common.Sadly,the sale of human organs is becoming so common today.’Waxing spiritual, he says ‘But we should let people know that this dubious way of survival will never take anyone anywhere. Allah commands us to work. Even when you are working and have not seen the result, continue to work. Allah has promised that he will bless the work that you do’.

Looking towards African Science

Nnnaemeka Ejiofor speaks on African science. According to him, ‘I believe also that there are some sciences in Africa which, if explored, will give give answers to some of these things. I cannot concretely say that it is not a possibility. It is possible, but it needs a lot of proof to ascertain these facts. It still needs science to prove these things. We have the African science which we can explore. Since we have orthodox medicine and alternative medicine,we also have orthodox science and alternative science. I believe we can explore the alternative science, because if he says that by magic my private part was removed, then I feel that we should be able to have positive African scientists, that can look into these things to find out for us whether it is possible for such things to happen.In advanced countries they have psychics, but here we call them Witches or Wizards. If we have such people they can help us with our investigations. Sometimes we hear that someone was asked to provide a human head to make money. I don’t know how a human head can generate money.I am still to see how that is possible. Or how can one use blood to generate money’.

The power of hypnotism

 He suggests that the claim of a vanished organ may be an interference with the mind of the victim. His words ‘This could be an interference with the mind of the victim, because with the psychics or hypnotists, the mind of the victim may have been tampered with, and he now believes that his private part disappeared. Whereas, it didn’t actually disappear and it could still be on him, but he couldn’t see it. Under those circumstances one cannot really say that it disappeared, but rather we can say that there has been an unjust interference with his mind. The issue of the disappearance of his organ would not have any basis in this context’.

Abubakar Umar Kari also argues that the belief that an organ can be made to vanish should not be outrightly dismissed.According to him ‘I don’t think it is right to completely dismiss the possibility of its existence. It would be unscientific to say this thing is mere superstition. I think concrete attempts should be made by governments, those in authority, religious organisations, even by the intellectual community, to find out whether or not these things actually exist. If they actually exist we should find out who is behind the existence of such things, what do they want and what do they want to achieve’. ‘I have never seen a man whose organ has vanished.

Passion of the crowd

On the soceital attitude towards the male genitals,Nnaemeka Ejiofor opines ‘The African mentality where it concerns the private part,is such that we should hold it  sacred,we should guard it jealously. The ordinary European male does not care.The way he treats his hand is the way he treats his genital. But we in Africa dare not even mention it before children. As of today, I have not been able to tell my 5 year old son, the name to call his private part. He does not call it any name. He says ‘my pee thing’. Because of our mentality and culture, we give undue regard to it, as against other parts of the body. That is why if anything affects it, the society would ask why should it be that place.’

The burden of a mentality

Nnaemeka Ejiofor also speaks on the mentality of Nigerians, a mentality, for instance, which is ready to believe in the idea of vanishing genitals even when this is not happening. His words ‘It is a primitive mentality. We might be educated, but it doesn’t remove primitivity from us. 90% of us are still traditionalists. Forget about the outward appearance, the colourations.90 % of us are still rooted in a primordial world. I cannot imagine someone in Europe or America claiming that you shook hands with him and his private part disappeared. I can’t imagine a crowd coming to lynch somebody in a European city on this account.’ He also says that the resort to mob action indicates that people have lost faith in the criminal justice system. According to him Nigerians don’t have confidence in the criminal justice system, because if they do, they won’t go about beating people, trying to give instant justice. Belief in the criminal justice system may have crashed or become weak. The era of mob rule, mobcratic justice as a lawyer put it, has come upon us, as the cost of charcoal is poised to soar.has an ‘erectile function’ explaining that sometimes it is erect and at other times it is numb. ‘The main thing is that occasionally the penis goes erect, and after some time it relaxes. That is the normal pattern. Without sexual arousal or stimulation,it is usually in a very relaxed state.Of course,some people have erectile dysfunction ,in which case there is no erection. Erectile dysfunction is a medical possibility.When you stimulate persons there is no erection. Some diseases can cause it, making a person develop a loss of libido, or just not feel interested’.

Nnaemeka Ejiofor, an Abuja based Lawyer, says that the disappearance of an organ will be difficult to prove in a Court of Law. His words ‘For you to be able to prove it in a court of law, you require some scientific evidence to show that when a particular person shakes you, he has a capacity to cause your genitals to disappear. So far I have never seen or experienced such scientific proof yet. On the issue of the missing private parts of individuals, to me it is a story I have been hearing. I have never witnessed it. But I heard people say that upon a handshake with somebody, they felt some sensation around their private parts, and their genitals disappeared. It appears strange.’

Abubakar Umar Kari is of the Department of Sociology, University of Abuja. On vanishing genitals, he says ‘It is debateable whether really genitals disappear or not. Whether they are correct or not, many people tend to believe that they actually do, so it’s a matter of belief.I have never seen a man whose organ has vanished. One interesting thing about this phenomenon is that the people who allege that their organs were stolen, somehow they always get the organs back, or at least soon thereafter they receive them. Some people would regard the event as a ruse or hoax.’

Fr. Patrick Tor Alumuku, Director of Communications Catholic Arch Diocese of Abuja, tells this reporter of events in Nigeria in the early 80s which are somewhat similar to the present situation ‘. This was a time when   Nigeria was buoyant financially. ‘Back in the early 80s, people from  Chad, and Niger came to Nigeria when Nigeria was buoyant. They came to get a piece of the action. Soon Xenophobic feelings began to grow in Nigeria, and people began to say that if anyone touched the Buzu of Niger, then such person would lose his genitals. What is happening now is a similar situation, but it has not been proven. The media can play a role to ensure that this culture of fear mongering does not continue. He added that if it is true that organs can be made to vanish, then this would be a useful season for people who need organ transplants.

Mohammed Etubi, a Kaduna based Lawyer, unites with Fr. Patrick Alumuku in his comments on organ snatching. His words; As a child in Idah in the early 70s, I used to hear of people who had the power to make the private parts to disappear. This was associated with foreigners and gradually it spread to indigenous Nigerians. Before the allegation that someone has practised Juju on him comes up, in the court of public opinion,he is subjected to mobocratic proceedings which could mean lynching or exposing the person to grievous bodily harm.The person alleging that another has caused his manhood to vanish is not protected  by the law.You expose yourself to penal sanction. Section 216 subsection B states  ‘whosoever accuses or  threatens to accuse  any person with being a witch or with the power of witchcraft shall be punished  with imprisonment, which can extend to two years,or with fine or with both’.

‘It will return’

Rilwanu Umar, a cobbler in Wuse market Abuja, casts some intriguing light on the subject of vanishing genital organs. According to him ‘Its not stolen or taken away. People just by some method move it inside the body leaving the head outside’. But he adds with enthusiasm ‘If somebody’s penis has vanished, if he waits for a day or two, it will return to its normal size. One of my friends had his organ taken away, but he wouldn’t tell anyone, except me.Then it returned after two days to its normal size. This whole activity is big business because the people doing it provide a cure for a fee.’

A police officer at Nyanya commenting on vanishing genitals who declined providing his name, says ‘I have never seen a man whose genital is missing. I have never seen a man without a penis before. It is always there. It is there, it may not be erect, but it is there. The hospitals after examining the patient say that nothing is missing .That the patient is well.No hospital has said no organ seen, or that it was unable to locate a patients genitals because it had disappeared.’ He added that the drama of vanishing genitals is a phenomenon of the lower classes, and that it never occurs among groups like bankers or lawyers. He said the occurrence of genital theft is a seasonal event. According to him it is significant that in this era of information technology there is not a single picture available of a man who has lost his genitals. He implies that this shows the emptiness of all the rumours being spread abroad about vanishing genitals. He explained that his work as a policeman requires proof which has to be scientific and medical. ‘We depend a lot on medical reports, and the fantastic stories about vanished organs won’t suffice.’

A herbalist speaks

Papa Awana,a farmer and herbalist who lives and works in Gauraka,a  part of Niger state which borders on the FCT,tells this reporter  in respect of a question on  genital theft ‘Out of a hundred, only 2% can be right. Here in Gauraka a man recently shook hands with a boy and the boy claimed that his penis had vanished. It is an arranged event. The male organ cannot be removed physically. If a man is killed, the genitals and other parts of his body can be removed by groups for rituals, and this has happened’. He adds that the male organ may shrink, which is a perfectly normal event, and insists that it cannot vanish.

The Imam takes a stand

Imam Fuad Adeyemi adds that cases of genital theft always occur at certain critical moments in the nations history. ‘This thing always rears its head when the government changes money, when the economy is in distress, and when people are in one problem or the other, and are therefore looking for money. In 1973, the year when the naira was introduced, so many people were looking for ways of making money. So they were actually looking for human organs. This is a sign of the times. When the economy is depressed, people will always look for a way out. You will never hear of this kind of thing when the economy is doing well. When SAP was introduced, it was very rampant. When Shagari introduced austerity measures genital thefts became common.Sadly,the sale of human organs is becoming so common today.’Waxing spiritual, he says ‘But we should let people know that this dubious way of survival will never take anyone anywhere. Allah commands us to work. Even when you are working and have not seen the result, continue to work. Allah has promised that he will bless the work that you do’.

Looking towards African Science

Nnnaemeka Ejiofor speaks on African science. According to him, ‘I believe also that there are some sciences in Africa which, if explored, will give give answers to some of these things. I cannot concretely say that it is not a possibility. It is possible, but it needs a lot of proof to ascertain these facts. It still needs science to prove these things. We have the African science which we can explore. Since we have orthodox medicine and alternative medicine,we also have orthodox science and alternative science. I believe we can explore the alternative science, because if he says that by magic my private part was removed, then I feel that we should be able to have positive African scientists, that can look into these things to find out for us whether it is possible for such things to happen.In advanced countries they have psychics, but here we call them Witches or Wizards. If we have such people they can help us with our investigations. Sometimes we hear that someone was asked to provide a human head to make money. I don’t know how a human head can generate money.I am still to see how that is possible. Or how can one use blood to generate money’.

The power of hypnotism

 He suggests that the claim of a vanished organ may be an interference with the mind of the victim. His words ‘This could be an interference with the mind of the victim, because with the psychics or hypnotists, the mind of the victim may have been tampered with, and he now believes that his private part disappeared. Whereas, it didn’t actually disappear and it could still be on him, but he couldn’t see it. Under those circumstances one cannot really say that it disappeared, but rather we can say that there has been an unjust interference with his mind. The issue of the disappearance of his organ would not have any basis in this context’.

Abubakar Umar Kari also argues that the belief that an organ can be made to vanish should not be outrightly dismissed.According to him ‘I don’t think it is right to completely dismiss the possibility of its existence. It would be unscientific to say this thing is mere superstition. I think concrete attempts should be made by governments, those in authority, religious organisations, even by the intellectual community, to find out whether or not these things actually exist. If they actually exist we should find out who is behind the existence of such things, what do they want and what do they want to achieve’. ‘I have never seen a man whose organ has vanished.

Passion of the crowd

On the soceital attitude towards the male genitals,Nnaemeka Ejiofor opines ‘The African mentality where it concerns the private part,is such that we should hold it  sacred,we should guard it jealously. The ordinary European male does not care.The way he treats his hand is the way he treats his genital. But we in Africa dare not even mention it before children. As of today, I have not been able to tell my 5 year old son, the name to call his private part. He does not call it any name. He says ‘my pee thing’. Because of our mentality and culture, we give undue regard to it, as against other parts of the body. That is why if anything affects it, the society would ask why should it be that place.’

The burden of a mentality

Nnaemeka Ejiofor also speaks on the mentality of Nigerians, a mentality, for instance, which is ready to believe in the idea of vanishing genitals even when this is not happening. His words ‘It is a primitive mentality. We might be educated, but it doesn’t remove primitivity from us. 90% of us are still traditionalists. Forget about the outward appearance, the colourations.90 % of us are still rooted in a primordial world. I cannot imagine someone in Europe or America claiming that you shook hands with him and his private part disappeared. I can’t imagine a crowd coming to lynch somebody in a European city on this account.’ He also says that the resort to mob action indicates that people have lost faith in the criminal justice system. According to him Nigerians don’t have confidence in the criminal justice system, because if they do, they won’t go about beating people, trying to give instant justice. Belief in the criminal justice system may have crashed or become weak. The era of mob rule, mobcratic justice as a lawyer put it, has come upon us, as the cost of charcoal is poised to soar.