Saturday, January 29, 2022, is a day residents of Oke-Aregba, Itoko-Tuntun, Idi-Ape and Isoka in Abeokuta, Ogun State, will always remember. It was the day a 20-year-old lady, Sofiat Kehinde, was gruesomely murdered and her head severed for money ritual by four teenagers.
There have been killings in the state for ritual but Saturday’s incident attracted attention and sympathy considering the ages of the perpetrators.
Four teenage suspects; Soliu Majekodunmi; 18, Wariz Oladehinde, 18; Abdulgafar Lukman, 19, and Balogun Mustaqeem, 20; conspired to kill Kehinde and played different roles in her murder. Her skull was severed in her lover, Majekodunmi’s room and burnt almost to ashes.
Fortunately, the suspects were apprehended by security men in the area after they got wind that the teenagers were engaging in something sinister in a building located at Isale-Ijade, Oke-Aregba. The state police spokesperson, Abimbola Oyeyemi, stated that the teenagers were caught and arrested with the severed, half-burnt skull of Sofia in a mud pot and her remains already packed in a sack, ready to be thrown away.
Oyeyemi said the policemen at Adatan Divisional Headquarters received information from the head of the community security guard that some suspects were seen burning something suspected to be a human head in a mud pot.
He said three of them were arrested by a team led by the DPO, Adatan Division, SP Abiodun Salau, who raced to the scene and later arrested the fourth person, Majekodunmi, after he escaped.
He added that the suspects upon interrogation confessed that the human skull they burnt belonged to Majekodunmi’s girlfriend.
According to the police, the suspects confessed that the slain lady was lured by her boyfriend to where she was murdered, after which her head was severed and her remains packed in a sack.
Oyeyemi said, “They subsequently led policemen to the building, where the dismembered body was recovered. The corpse has been deposited at a general hospital mortuary for autopsy. The short cutlass and a knife used in cutting off the victim’s head were also recovered.”
Findings by our correspondent revealed that the clandestine relationship between Majekodunmi and her wicked lover was less than two months after she broke up with her ex-boyfriend, Mustaqeem, who later turned to be her second killer that conspired with Majekodunmi to eliminate her.
It was gathered that Sofiat first dated Mustaqeem and they broke up in September 2021 after her family objected to the relationship. Mustaqeem later transferred her ex-girlfriend to his newly-found male friend, Majekodunmi, who he met in December. Majekodunmi and Sofiat’s relationship which didn’t last up to two months ended on a tragic note for the lady.
In a confessional statement at the police command, Majekodunmi said he executed the heinous crime after he had a sexual intercourse with the deceased.
He said, “Sofiat called for help when she was struck with a cutlass. It was sudden and prompt. She never expected such a treatment from me that just sexual intercourse with her and also from her ex-boyfriend. To be honest with you, when we struck her with a cutlass, Sofiat struggled with us before she succumbed to death. Blood gushed out when I severed her head.’’
How the suspects were apprehended
Contrary to the report that the unpleasant odour oozing out from the room when the skull was being burnt gave the suspects away, our correspondent gathered that the cry for help and struggle by Sofiat while she was being sliced by her attackers attracted the public.
Mustaqeem said he was arrested at the crime scene while his partner in crime, Majekodunmi escaped but was arrested the next day. She said, “When we noticed people were aware of our action, we fled the scene but I was arrested while Majekodunmi escaped. It was the second day they arrested him.’’
Head of a vigilance group in the community comprising Aregba, Itoko-tuntun, and others, Segun Adewusi, said a distress call was received from some residents of Aregba that something strange was happening in a building in the area and he led his team to the scene.
He said, “The name of our security team is Ilupeju Parapo, led by Baale Aregba. We are vigilantes in these communities and I am popularly known as ECOMONG. As is our tradition, we surveyed the environment to ensure there was adequate security. On that day, as usual, our members surveyed the area earlier and there was nothing of such. Later around 11pm, some people hinted to us that they heard of a noise that sounded like someone was dragging something with some people in a building but they couldn’t go in. That was around 11p.m.
“Immediately, I called other vigilantes under me to go in there. On getting there, the boys had beheaded the girl and wanted to run away. One of my guards who was with me ran after one of them and apprehended him. We did not know that one of them escaped. When we grabbed him, that is Mustaqeem, he started begging us that we should not allow one Majekodunmi to escape and at that time, he had run away from the crime scene.
“We forced him to open the door to his room and as he opened the door, we saw that they had put the slain girl’s remains in a sack and tied it. We asked him to untie it and when he (Mustaqeem) untied the sack, we saw that there was no head on the body. As we saw this, we ordered him to take us to where the head was and he took us to another community, Isoka community, where they were burning the head.
“They have burnt the head almost half done. From my observation, they might have started burning it around 8:30pm, because the lady’s face had been burnt and some parts of the skull already darkened. We took the pot in which the head was being burnt to the police station. We called the DPO of Adatan Police Station and when he and his team arrived, they took the suspects to the station.”
Adewusi said the suspects after beheading the lady planned to dispose of the body late at night.
He stated, “They took the skull and started burning it at Isoka, which is a walking distance from the crime scene. When the police did their investigation, Mustaqeem told them that they removed the lady’s SIM card and threw it away. He showed us the point it was thrown to but we couldn’t find it when we searched for it. He also said they threw her phone away after they removed the SIM card. When we and the police went to where he said they threw the phone to, we saw it there. It was a small phone. Mustaqeem told us that if we checked the phone well, we would see that it has blood stains. He also said they cut off a chunk of flesh from the girl’s lap for another purpose.
“We forced him to show us where he kept the chunk of flesh and he took us to the house where they killed the lady. He went to a corner and untied a nylon where he wrapped the slain lady’s sliced flesh. Anyone who was there would express shock.”
How Sofiat was lured to death
Sofiat was said to be a regular caller at Soliu’s house in Oke-Aregba while they dated. It was gathered that they also attended the same mosque for Sunday programme ‘Asalatu.’
An elder sister to Sofiat shed more light on how she left home on Friday for her boyfriend’s house.
Muinat Oke-Owo who betrayed emotion while speaking with our correspondent in her house in Idi-Ape, Abeokuta said they were of the same mother but of different fathers.
Oke-Owo, said Sofiat also known as Pelumi, was a hard-working and gentle lady.
She said, “Sofiat learnt cloth designing for three years. She was a calm and easygoing person. On the Friday she was killed, she washed clothes in the morning and also fetched water. When it was around 6pm, we decided to eat beans. My mum gave her money for the beans and she went to buy it and started preparing it. At 6:30pm, she told me she was almost done with the beans she was cooking.
“Few minutes after 7pm, she told me that she wanted to go out. I collected my torch from her. She always returned home early whenever she went out. Around 8:30pm, I called her on the phone to ask if she was not coming home. She said she was on her way. I observed that she spoke in a low voice and I said, ‘be twisting your voice.’ When I called her mobile again, it was switched off. I went to sleep hoping that she would be home. When I woke up the next day and I didn’t see her in the house, I asked my mother for her whereabouts and she replied that she had not seen her.’’
Oke-Owo stated that as she became worried over her whereabouts, she heard the news that there was a lady who was beheaded. She added, “I became more worried. I went to Oke-Aregba and saw people looking at their phones. They had filmed the suspects and I checked the phone of one of them and saw Mustaqeem. I know Mustaqeem. He dated my sister before we stopped him from coming to our house. I went to report at the Adatan Police Station. It was at the police station that I learnt she was dead. I was baffled how her ex-boyfriend could kill her. Sofiat was the fourth born in our family. Her father is late and our mother is about 60 years old.’’
Saying they had yet to break the news to their mother because of her health condition, Oke-Owo pleaded for justice to be served in the matter.
“Sofiat schooled in Calabar, Cross River State. She lived with her father’s brother in Calabar. She returned to Abeokuta three years ago. When she arrived in Abeokuta three years ago, she started learning tailoring and met Mustaqeem that killed her,” she stated.
How they chose Sofiat for ritual
Both Majekodunmi and Mustaqeem narrated how they settled for Sofiat as their prey for ritual money.
Majekodunmi said Mustaqeem muted the idea of engaging in ritual killing after he got the information on how to get-rich-quick on the internet.
He said, “Initially, Mustaqeem was formerly in a relationship with Sofiat. Sometime in December last year, Mustaqeem approached me and asked if I would be interested in having a relationship with Sofiat. I was interested in her and I agreed with the offer. On that day, he gave me Sofiat’s number and we started talking on the phone. I asked her out and she accepted.
“Mustaqeem told me to convince Sofiat to visit me in my house a few days after she accepted my proposal, I told her to come and she came. The second time she came to my house, I informed Mustaqeem about her visit to my house. He then told me we should use Sofiat for money rituals.
“I was afraid when Mustaqeem uttered the statement but he told me never to worry that he had planned everything. I didn’t feel comfortable with the statement but he insisted that I should not worry. He showed me a video on his phone where an instructor talked about get-rich-quick ways. I asked him where he got the video from and he said he downloaded it from the internet.’’
He added that after he was convinced with the plan, Mustaqeem asked him to follow him to where they would buy other ingredients to use for the money ritual apart from a human head as the instructor directed on the material downloaded online.
Majekodunmi said, “On the day he was to be killed, Sofiat insisted that she must visit me. Due to her insistence, I accepted and she came. Immediately she arrived, I informed Mustaqeem and he quickly rushed to my house. The three of us were inside the room before Mustaqeem called me outside and whispered into my ear that we should kill Sofiat on that day and cut off her head since we had got the ingredients we needed for a money ritual. I was afraid but he calmed me down. He told me that we would be wealthy and let go of our past.
“I went inside to meet Sofiat. We made love. After lovemaking, I sat on her back and played with her hands. Suddenly, Mustaqeem came inside. He held a cutlass and smashed it on her neck and blood started gushing. Sofiat struggled to death. I tried to stop Mustaqeem but he was too fast. I finished the job by cutting off her head.”
In his statement, Mustaqeem, who claimed to have graduated from Baptist Boys High School, Saje in 2020, said he was a student of an Arabic school in Abeokuta.
He said he was not taught anything related to money rituals at the school.
Mustaqeem said, “Sofiat and I were lovers before we broke up in September last year because her family was against our relationship. When we were dating, I used to visit her in her house especially during the weekend and she used to come to my house too. After Sofiat and I broke up our relationship, sometime in December last year, I met Majekodunmi who later became my friend. In one of our discussions, he asked about my girlfriend and I told him that I had broken up with her. He enquired why we broke up and I explained everything to him. Not long after that period, he told me that he was interested in Sofiat. I gave him her number.
“Few days later, he came to me and told me that he had approached Sofiat and she accepted his offer to be her lover. There was a day Soliu called me at midnight that Sofiat was in his house. During our conversation that day, Majekodunmi described Sofiat as a gentle lady and I observed that he loved her. I saw a post on Facebook that explained how to get rich quickly. I downloaded the video because I had interest in getting wealthy at an early stage. I wanted to get rich and lead a luxurious life. The video was what prompted me to tell Soliu about getting rich quickly at our early age. He was interested after I showed him the video on my phone and asked where we would get the materials we needed.
“I told Majekodunmi that we can use Sofiat for the money ritual because she was calm and easy to lure. At one point, Soliu was furious at me. He rejected it but I persuaded him that it was an easy process and no one would be aware of the secret other than the two of us. He later agreed after I told him that we would be wealthy and forget our past. He agreed and we planned everything together. Our plan was that Soliu would invite Sofiat to her house, make love with her and I would join him to eliminate her and get a place where we would burn her head with the ingredients and also dump her body in an uncompleted building. Soliu asked many times if the plan would work but I assured him that it would work and I told him that N3,000 was the cost of the needed ingredients.
Mustaqeem said when Sofiat arrived in Majekodunmi’s house, he called to inform him that she was around.
He added, “I saw her inside Majekodunmi’s room and I left them for some minutes. After they made love, I went inside and hit her with a cutlass on her neck. Majekodunmi sat on her back, holding her hand tight. She struggled but later gave up the ghost and Majekodunmi held the knife and cut off her head.”
How they escaped being lynched
When the news filtered that some teenagers had beheaded a young lady for ritual money, it was learnt that an angry mob thronged the place and asked for the perpetrators. But the ECOMONG leader and his team prevented them from carrying out jungle justice on them.
Adewusi said, “The angry people wanted to kill them. They came from different corners and demanded to see them. It took the intervention of the police and my group to protect them. If it was the mob that caught them, they would have killed them. They also begged us to release them to them to deal with them.
House where the lady was murdered
It was a five-minute drive from Adatan Police Station to Aregba, the house where Sofia was murdered. The place is a stone’s throw away to the Abeokuta South Local Government Primary School, Isale-Ijade.
Both the police and the ECOMONG leader led our correspondent to the place. There is a narrow path close to the main road that leads to the house. It’s observed that the building is not only ancient but also dilapidated. It has been sealed and a carpenter was called to open it. The house was unsealed by the police for our correspondent’s inspection.
The surrounding of the house looked unkempt and deserted. In the front of the building, there are five graves. It is a bungalow with seven rooms; five rooms in the main building. Three of the rooms were reportedly occupied by two unnamed ladies and one alfa.
There are three other rooms in the boys’ quarters. Two of the rooms looked abandoned and the other one was where Sofia was slaughtered. In the shallow room which could not contain three people, bloodstains littered clothes and other items such as plates, spoons and other belongings. The wall’s old painting was peeling off. The room is small and untidy with no mattress. The floor is covered with carpet.
The wall has different Arabic inscriptions and phone numbers. Some of the numbers were dialled but they didn’t connect. The ECOMONG leader said the suspects confessed that they took the mattress outside before they murdered the lady.
Some stakeholders in the state have condemned the incident.
Speaking on behalf of the community leaders, the Otun Baale and the Secretary of the community, Jamiu Showunmi, said the community was in grief over the incident.
He blamed the incident on the unbridled desire to get-rich-quick. Showunmi said, “It is desperation that is pushing the youth to the situation. We grandfathers, I am over 60 years, have never committed such a crime.”
A traditional ruler, the Towulade of Akinale, Oba Olufemi Ogunleye, said, “I have said it many times that parents are mostly responsible for their wards’ failure to be responsible.
Also, the Ogun State Chairman, Association of Nigeria Authors, Paul Oni, stated that some leaders couldn’t defend their wealth with remuneration from their office, adding that when accused of corruption, they escape unscathed through the porous unrighteous institutions.
On his part, a medical doctor, Dr Kunle Ashimi, observed that lack of mentorship was a problem, noting that children nowadays could hardly identify people of good character in society to emulate.