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Grisly find in Nigerian ‘evil forest’

AFP, France
Aug. 5, 2004 • Thursday August 5, 2004

Nigerian police have recovered 20 human skulls and more than 50 corpses in a raid on two black-magic shrines in an “evil forest” in the south of the country, police Commissioner Felix Ogbaudu said on Thursday.

“Twenty skulls were recovered, along with a fresh corpse. In the evil forest we found many more bodies — very, very many — it should be more than 50,” the Anambra state police chief said in a telephone interview.

Ogbaudu said that 30 suspected cultists have been arrested in the raid on the shrines in Okija, in the southern part of Anambra State, 500km east of Lagos, and that the cause of the deaths is being investigated.

“Local people said that they were shrines where people went to settle disputes, to find out who was lying and who telling the truth, but from what we have discovered so far it was more than that,” he said.

“They were a syndicate that defrauded people. They do all kinds of things; hypnotise people and take their money,” he said.

Police swooped on the Okija area on Tuesday and recovered the skulls and fresh body. When they returned to the forest on Wednesday they came across dozens more corpses scattered around the area, he said.

The vast majority of Nigeria’s 130-million people profess adherence to mainstream Christian or Muslim faiths, but many also believe in the power of fetish magic — often know as “juju” — or follow animist traditions.

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