Acting on tip-offs from locals, police in the Nigerian town of Onishta raided a hotel and shut it down after discovering that its cannibal caterers were serving dishes made from human meat. The police made eleven arrests and recovered at least two fresh human heads from the establishment.
Onishta, in the state of Anambra in south-west Nigeria, is known locally for its busy Ose-Okwodu market – close to which, the unnamed hotel is situated. It is not clear what kind of information the police received or how long the hotel has been serving human flesh to its patrons. Entering the establishment Thursday, they arrested four men, six women and the hotel’s owner. In addition, they discovered at least two blood-soaked human heads wrapped in cellophane, two army caps, two AK-47 rifles and a small quantity of ammunition. The heads have yet to be identified.
Clearly, activities around the hotel had caught the attention of locals. One man who sells vegetables at the bustling market told the Osun Defender “I always noticed funny movements in and out of the hotel; dirty people with dirty characters always come into the hotel.” He went on to say that the grisly discovery did not really come as a surprise.
One of the people who came forward was a pastor who had eaten at the hotel earlier in the year. “I was told that a lump of meat was being sold at N700,” the pastor, who wished to remain anonymous, said. “I was surprised. So I did not know it was human meat that I ate at such expensive price.” How the pastor discovered that he had been served human meat is not clear. 700 Naira is equal to a little over four US dollars.
Nigeria, which is located on the west coast of Africa, is one of the continent’s most populous nations. Covering an area about one-third larger than the US state of Texas, Nigeria has a population of more than 150 million people and is, perhaps, best know in the United States for having an unusually large number of princes, politicians and attorneys who – for reasons known only to themselves – appear eager to deposit huge sums of money into the accounts of total strangers – for a “small” fee, of course.
Cannibalism is not a new horror for Nigeria: In 2012, Joshua Akindele, a 56-year-old man, was arrested after being reported to police for allegedly practicing cannibalism. During questioning, Akindele admitted to practicing cannibalism and also to selling human body parts for ritualistic purposes. He described how he would hit his unsuspecting victims over the head and drag their bodies into a hole that served as his hideout. “I then…use a knife to cut them into parts which I sell to some churches and some ready buyers who indulge in ritual killing for easy money, and some times when I feel hungry late in the night, I eat some parts for food.” He confessed. Akindele provided a startling price-list for human body parts: A head will usually fetch about N7,500, hands and legs go for N3,500 and a penis will cost N1000. Cannibalism is certainly not an accepted practice in Nigeria and Joshua Akindele was spared a gruesome death at the hands of angry locals only by the timely arrival of a police unit.
Apart from Akindele and the cannibal caterers at the Nigerian hotel, another grisly people-eating story recently came to light in the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR). Ouandja Magloir, known as “Mad Dog,” publicly ate the leg of a Muslim man who was dragged from a bus in the capital, Bangui, by a mob of Christian youths. Magloir told the BBC that his pregnant wife and her sister were murdered by Muslims, during the horrific sectarian violence that has paralyzed the country. Magloir gathered a machete-wielding mob to pull his victim from the bus; the man was then beaten and stabbed, before being set on fire. “‘I poured petrol over him. I burned him. I ate his leg, right down the white bone.” Onlookers did not intervene but recorded the attack on cell phones. According to accounts, witnesses were horrified, with some vomiting.
The CAR’s former dictator, Bedel Bokassa, was said to have practiced cannibalism and allegedly put human flesh in meals that were served to visiting officials. Bokassa was a brutal ruler who led the country from 1966 to 1979, when he was deposed by French troops. He died of a heart attack in 1996.
The word “cannibal” comes from “Canibales,” the Spanish name for the Carib Indians, who had been known to eat human flesh. The caterers at the Nigerian hotel shut down for serving human meat are, it appears, not unique – although this gruesome practice is, by no means, wide-spread in Africa; the vast majority of Africans are as horrified as anyone else, when such stories surface.
Editorial by Graham J Noble