Witchcraft and Jungle Justice

This story, published in a Nigerian newspaper last week, is worth reproducing in full.

A woman, Oluremi Bolaji, 32, held residents of Ijeshatedo, Surulere and its environs spell bound when she mysteriously appeared on the minaret of the Ijesha Central Mosque in Lagos.
Residents of the area had woken up to see the woman perched dangerously atop the minaret which is under construction as part of ongoing renovation works on the three-storey mosque.

The scene of the incident became a Mecca of sort as residents from the neigbouring communities gathered to witness the incident. Many of the onlookers expressed surprise at how Bolaji managed to climb the mosque tower even as they wondered how the mother of three would be rescued safely.

Meanwhile, there were different sides to the Bolaji saga. While some people claimed she was a witch on a failed mission, and reaping the fruits of her wickedness, others said she was mentally deranged, a claim corroborated by Bolaji’s father. According to Bolaji’s father who wept openly at his daughter’s risky situation, the victim was mentally ill and the family had been making plans to move her to a psychiatrist home for treatment before the incident.
Amid the confusion over how to rescue Bolaji safely from her precarious position, a commercial tricyclist, simply identified as Ikechukwu, offered to bring the lady down if his colleagues would compensate him with the sum of N1, 000. There was another angle to the Ikechukwu story, as another account said he had actually placed a bet with some other young men at the scene that he could bring down the woman. The wager was put at N1,000.00.

Ikechukwu, after getting the assurance that he would be given the money began to climb the minaret. Unaware that he was embarking on a dangerous mission, Ikechukwu never returned to claim the money he was promised. He was allegedly pushed down by Bolaji using one of the wooden beams the construction workers had placed in the minaret. He landed, hitting his head on the concrete floor. He died instantly. Following Ikechukwu’s fatal fall, Bolaji was said to have boasted that she would kill more people should they venture to bring her down.

However, the Imam in charge of the mosque, Ganiyu Oyebanjo, was said to have contacted the policemen and men of the State Fire Service. Daily Sun gathered that before the arrival of the crime fighters, a native doctor was said to have made a futile attempt to rescue Bolaji. The medicine man was said to have recited some incantations, cast spell but to no avail. He was reportedly chased away by the crowd. Men of the state fire service on their arrival splashed water on the victim hoping it would scare her, yet she remained adamant.

When Daily Sun arrived the scene Bolaji was seen entertaining her audience. Repeatedly, she would remove her clothes dance around while the malefolk applauded her. When it was obvious that the woman just had to be saved from possible death, able-bodied men comprising mainly of members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), took over the rescue mission.

They beckoned on her to come down, while she shouted in Yoruba language that they should leave her alone. She began throwing stones at the men who for safety had to wear helmet. Gradually the men climbed up the tower, distracted the lady while another with the aid of a plank pushed her from the minaret to the roof of the mosque. She was eventually brought down from the roof.

The mob attempted to lynch Bolaji but for the quick intervention of the police. She was whisked to Ijesha police station and later moved to a private hospital where she is receiving treatment. Her father lamented that things would not have degenerated to this if his daughter had not been turned back by Yaba Psychiatric hospital. According to him, the hospital had asked that the family should first treat the wounds Oluremi had inflicted on herself before bringing her for admission. The angry mob took to the street, protesting the death of Ikechukwu and calling for the heads of the woman and members of her entire family.

The mob barricaded Ijesha Lawanson Road, disrupting commercial activities and vehicular movements. Some hoodlums who hijacked the protest used the opportunity to snatch peoples mobile phones and handbags. The police eventually dispersed the protesters by firing tear gas canisters.
The Imam, Ganiyu Oyebanjo, expressed shock on how the woman managed to climb the minaret. “I think she was being controlled by a demonic force. She climbed the minaret at about midnight and was brought down around 11:00 am.”

He alleged that worshippers had prevailed on the deceased, Ikechukwu, to wait for the arrival of policemen and the fire fighters but he was adamant, probably because of the N1, 000, allegedly promised him by his colleagues.

Lagos State police spokesman, Mr. Frank Mba, who confirmed the death of Ikechukwu, said the quick intervention of the police saved the lady from being stoned to death by the mob. He said both the police and fire fighters rushed the woman in an ambulance to the police before taking her to the hospital.
He said the body of Ikechukwu had been taken by his family for burial. Mba advised members of the public to always report such incidents to the police rather than resort to jungle justice.

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7 Responses to Witchcraft and Jungle Justice

  1. Kalle says:

    The story says a lot about Nigerian society. And 1.000 Naira is barely 5 Euro, it seems?

  2. Tim Newman says:

    Yup, about 5 Euro. It also happens to be the largest banknote the Nigerians have, meaning to buy anything you need to carry a whole stack about with you.

  3. Tatyana says:

    This reads like Garcia Marquez tale.

    “Unaware that he was embarking on a dangerous mission…” and “treat first the wounds she inflicted on herself…” – these are pearls, pure pearls

  4. Tim Newman says:

    It is a very distince style of prose, which I haven’t quite decided is awful or a work of genius.

  5. Tatyana says:

    it’s a work of an awful genius!

  6. Ginger says:

    Speechless!

  7. Christine Basha says:

    Tatyana, you are hilarious! Wannabe tail being wagged by this blogger! Just finished watching a documentary by the BBC on your country,dont get me started!! Weird eccentric people who will never fit into the modern world.Suicide,crime, depression and prostitution are your claim to fame. You of all people really need to shut the fuck up!!

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