Background of the Study

Concerns about security are taken seriously all over the world. It is widely acknowledged as one of a state’s most fundamental responsibilities. Security, which can be defined as freedom from threats or violence that could result in the loss of lives or property, has long been a part of human existence and subsistence. In other words, security refers to a situation in which citizens, regardless of where they are in a sovereign nation, are protected against risks to their lives and livelihoods, such as bodily damage, disease, unemployment, and human rights violations. A country cannot progress unless it prioritizes human security (Otto & Ikpere 2013). As a result, failed states, failing states, and collapsed states are terms used in international relations to describe states that lack security. An insecure state may be said to lose legitimacy in the eyes of its inhabitants and the international community. Surprisingly, Nigeria, the “giant” of Africa, has seen unprecedented levels of insecurity as a result of bandit organizations, kidnappers, assassins, seccessionist groups, armed robbery attacks, abduction, and, more lately, the development of ritual killers. A ritual is a set of processes and instructions for performing religious acts or rites (Shujaa 2009). He went on to argue that ritual killings are a particularly violent and heinous form of homicide in which the killers steal vital parts from the victim for use in “holy” rites involving human sacrifice. This entails the trade of something valued for something more valuable (Ayegboyin 2009:). The killing of a living being as a ritual gift to a god or spirit, usually with the goal of obtaining a return in the form of good fortune, whether generalized or as the fulfillment of a specific prayer, is known as human sacrifice (La Fontaine 2011). This ceremony includes the sacrifice of the skull, genitals, breasts, eyeballs, intestine, arms, and legs, as well as an unearthed dead body or its dismembered pieces. A “faith method” for obtaining money, riches, success, notoriety, favor, grandeur, power, and protection from perils is ritual sacrifice.

Statement of the problem.

The incidence of ritual killings in Nigeria has produced a sense of insecurity and distrust among the population. In a setting where ritual killings occur on a regular basis, there is a sense of insecurity. According to Nwakanma and Abu, hundreds of Nigerians have killed as a result of ritual murders, sometimes known as “Head Hunters” (2020). Human parts such as skulls, breasts, tongues, and genital organs are needed by witch doctors, juju priests, traditional medicine men and women, and/or occultists for dubious sacrifices or the creation of various magical sections, and ritual killers wander the streets hunting for them (Igwe, 2010). Ritual killing has taken on a whole new meaning in Nigeria nowadays. Many outlets have nicknamed the situation the “Reign of the Ritualists” (Elesho 2004). According to Salisbury (2012), those who participate in ritual killings consider them as acts of spiritual fortification. These activities are motivated by the use of human body parts for therapeutic purposes, as well as the belief that human body parts have supernatural properties that offer wealth and protection. According to Igwe (2010), many young people still believe that charms and ritual gifts will spiritually empower them, increase their commercial fortunes, or protect them from harm, disease, poverty, accident, death, or destruction. These beliefs have been related to some children performing ritual murders in attempt to appease deities, request supernatural favors, ward off misfortune, or generate magical wealth, putting their moral development at risk. Surprisingly, the ritualists always get away without being caught by the security agents. Citizens are always anxious and insecure as a result of this. The prevalence of ritual killings exacerbates a lack of trust among individuals, even among close kin. Because of the lack of trust created by ritual killing, relatives mistrust each other. In this scenario, the youngsters are forbidden from entering certain regions that are thought to be a haven for ritualists. As a result of these challenges, security has become a critical issue that has turned into a national worry because the government has taken no real steps to address the anomie. More importantly, people can no longer go about their daily lives for fear of losing their lives, all of which has thwarted the country’s desire for socio-cultural harmony. As a result, the purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of ritualism on national security.

Objective of the study

The overall goal of this research is to look into the impact of ritualism on national security. The study aims to find out:

  1. To determine why young people participate in rituals.
  2. To look into the elements that lead to youth ritual participation.
  3. Whether young ritualism undermines society’s social tranquility.
  4. Determine whether ritualism has a major impact on national security.

Research Hypotheses

HO1: Youth involvement in ritualism does not jeopardize society’s social harmony.

H1: Youth involvement in ritualism jeopardizes society’s social harmony.

HO2: Ritualism has no discernible influence on national security.

HI: Ritualism has a major impact on national security.

Significance of the study

The study’s findings will be useful to policymakers, Nigerian youth, and religious organizations. The study’s findings will inform policymakers about the necessity to adopt guiding principles to prevent ritual killing and to punish individuals who engage in this demonic practice. The study will also underline to the government the importance of implementing poverty alleviation programs, job opportunities, and entrepreneur support, as these would help to reduce criminal behavior among jobless adolescents. More specifically, the study will emphasize the importance of intensifying moral education instruction in schools and universities, as well as encouraging teachers/lecturers who teach moral education to be role models for our youths and others, in order to minimize the rate of ritualism in Nigeria. Empirically, the research will add to the body of ritualism literature and serve as a resource for scholars and students interested in conducting additional research in the topic.

Scope of the study

The focus of this research is on the impact of ritual killings on Nigeria’s sociocultural decline. The investigation will also look into the nature and purpose of Nigerian youth’s ritual killings. It will look into whether youth ritualism contributes to social unrest in society and whether a high percentage of ritualism adds to national insecurity. However, the research is limited to the Asaba metropolis in Delta State, Nigeria.

Limitations of the study

The researchers faced some limitations while conducting the study, as with any human endeavor. The scarcity of literature on the impact of ritualism on sociocultural decline was a serious barrier. So much work and organization went into locating relevant materials, literature, or information, as well as the data collection process. The study was also constrained in time because it only looked at the South-South region with a focus on Asaba, Delta State. As a result, the findings of this study cannot be generalized to other locations or states, leaving a need for future research.

Definitions of terms

Ritualism, often known as ritual killings, is a violent and extreme kind of criminal homicide in which the victim’s vital organs are removed for use in “holy” rites by the slayers.

Insecurity is defined as a lack of protection from crime (being unsafe) and a lack of freedom from psychological harm (being unprotected from emotional stress resulting from a lack of assurance that an individual is accepted, has the opportunity and choices to reach his or her full potential, including freedom from fear).

National security, also known as national defense, is the protection and defense of a nation state, including its inhabitants, economy, and institutions, and is considered a government responsibility.


D. Aiyetan (2003, December 29). Tell, p. 25 in Reign of the Ritualists.

Deji Ayegboyin (2009). “Human Ritual,” in Molefi Kete Asante and Ama Mazama’s Encyclopaedia of African Religion. Int. Sage Publications, California

R. a. Elesho (2004, August 23). gruesome rituals Page 18 of The News.

Ritual Killing and Pseudoscience in Nigeria, L Igwe, 2004. Briefs on Skepticism Volume 14 (2). At 3:59 p.m. on January 29, 2015,

L. Igwe (2010), African ritual killing and human sacrifice. Humanist and Ethical Union International. 48th Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, November 10-24, Banjul, Gambia

Aiyetan, D. (2003, December 29). Tell, Reign of the Ritualists, p. 25.

“Human Ritual,” in Molefi Kete Asante and Ama Mazama’s Encyclopaedia of African Religion, Deji Ayegboyin (2009). California’s International Sage Publications

Elesho, R. a. (2004, August 23). Page 18 of The News features horrible practices.

Pseudoscience and Ritual Killing in Nigeria L Igwe, 2004. Volume 14 of Briefs on Skepticism (2). On January 29, 2015, at 3:59 p.m.,

African ritual killing and human sacrifice, L. Igwe (2010). International Humanist and Ethical Union The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights will hold its 48th session in Banjul, Gambia, from November 10 to 24.

Mwalimu J. Shujaa, “Rituals,” in Molefi Kete Asante and Ama Mazama’s Encyclopaedia of African Religion. Int. Sage Publications, California

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