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Thursday, 12 April, 2001, 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK
'Missing' penis sparks mob lynching

By Mannir Dan-Ali in Lagos

Police in the south western Nigerian state of Osun say they have embarked on a constant patrol after mobs lynched at least 12 people since last weekend.

We are terribly worried about the mass hysteria

State police commissioner
All the killings occurred after the victims were accused of making people's genital organs disappear.

The Osun state police commissioner Ganiu Dawodu, who dismissed claims of organ disappearance, told the BBC that the mob killings started two weeks ago and has swept though six main towns in the state including the university town of Ife and the state capital of Osogbo.

''We are terribly worried about the mass hysteria leading to such mob action,'' Mr Dawodu said.


The most gruesome case occurred on Friday when hundreds of members of the evangelical sect Brotherhood of the Cross went to the town of Ilesa for their annual convention.

While the sect members were on a house-to-house preaching mission, someone raised an alarm that his penis had disappeared.

An angry mob descended on the visiting evangelists and burnt eight of them to death. Two buses and a car were also burnt.

The Osun state police commissioner said that they have since arrested two persons including the man who raised the false alarm about disappearing genitals.

Police action

Mr Dawodu told the BBC that the hysteria generated by the incidents is connected to similar accusations in Oyo state where at least six people were burnt to death last month.

Oyo state police commissioner now insists that everywhere is quiet and they have charged a number of people arrested over last month's killings.

In neighbouring Osun the police say they have rescued six people from the hands of angry mobs.

The lucky ones include a woman who was rescued after a mob put a tyre around her neck and was about to set her ablaze.

The police and the state governor have gone on local television and radio appealing to the public not to take the law into their own hands.

They have also appealed to religious leaders and traditional rulers to ask their followers not to take part in such mob actions.

As in Oyo state, the police in Osun have deployed plainclothes detectives on streets of major towns to keep an eye on those they accuse of raising false alarms.

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03 Sep 99 | Africa
Nigeria: A history of coups
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