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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 20:35 GMT 21:35 UK
Nigerian girl arrested over 'cult killings'
Nigeria map
By Africa reporter Kojo Bedu-Addo

A 13-year-old Nigerian girl in police detention has confessed to the ritual killing of at least 45 people, including her father.

She was arrested in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri following the disappearance of a two-year-old boy.

She later confessed to killing the child and selling his body parts for voodoo rituals.

Police have named the girl as Jummai Hassan, a pupil at an army school in Maiduguri.

A police spokesman said she offered to direct police to the graves of several other victims, but so far the search has not discovered any more bodies.

Night meetings

Following her confession to police that she had killed more than 40 people including her own father, she told local radio of her spiritual life as a member of a cult in Lagos.

She said they travelled at night around the country as spiritual beings and attended church meetings at night.

She said it was at such meetings that she and others were instructed to go and find human body parts.

Organs sold

The organs are usually sold to witchdoctors who use them for medicine that promises health, wealth and in some cases protection from other evil spirits.

Such beliefs are strong in Africa and in many cases exploited by priests and other so-called religious leaders.

Jummai may have been a member of a cult, but she is also an exploited victim of strange religious beliefs.

See also:

22 Dec 99 | Africa
Congo witch-hunt's child victims
13 Oct 99 | Africa
Child witches in the Congo
21 Jun 99 | Africa
Tanzania's deadly skin trade
03 Apr 01 | Africa
Tanzania skin trade arrests
26 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Nigeria
10 Jan 01 | Africa
Timeline: Nigeria
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