For some time, there have been reports that some ritualists, also known as ‘Yahoo boys’, have been stealing female underwear, sometimes at gunpoint, particularly around campuses of tertiary institutions in Delta State.
Although the veracity of the claims that such stolen undies are used for ritual purposes has not been established, such reports have instilled fear into the hearts of ladies living in such areas, resulting in fear and panic.
And in the ensuing panic, a Punch correspondent observed that many ladies in the affected areas in Delta have been devising ways to safeguard themselves against danger.
It was learnt that the underwear of girls and women, particularly of ages between 14 and 35, are allegedly considered as ‘hot cakes’ for use by the ritualists.
Used pants, according to some students at Asaba campus of the Delta State University, sells for as much as N350,000, with some adding that the price can be higher if it is confirmed to have body fluids.
At the campus, it was learnt that one of the measures being used by female students to protect themselves is to go out without wearing pants.
For instance, a student of the school, who lives outside the school campus and who only identified herself as Esther, said three of her friends had started employing the strategy of going out without wearing pants.
“We hear that the pants those ritualists or ‘Yahoo boys’ steal are being used for money ritual. After they finish performing some rituals on the pants, the owners will start bleeding or vomiting blood. Since the news got to us, three of my friends have stopped wearing pants.
I have stopped going out at night, even for something as important as going to the campus to study at night. Although, I heard that these evil people also operate during the day, I believe it is more dangerous at night.
“We heard that last week, on Anwai Road, at around 8pm, two men forcibly collected a young lady’s pants. As I speak to you, we have not seen the lady since then to know the effect it will have on her. Though, unlike my friends who have stopped wearing pants, I still do, but we have been advised to stop hanging our pants on washing lines outside.
A 22-year-old female student of the Federal College of Education (Technical), Asaba, who simply identified herself as Sandra, described the alleged theft of female underpants as evil brought for Asaba by ‘Yahoo boys’.
Confirming that some ladies no longer wear pants in some parts of the state, especially in Abraka, Asaba, fear of having them stolen by ritualists, Sandra said she was told that some pants could be sold for as much as N500,000 each.
Sandra, who said she had stopped wearing pants outside, said, “I am telling you the truth; in Delta State now, especially Asaba, there is fear because the way these ‘Yahoo boys’ or ‘Yahoo Plus boys’ are looking for female pants is crazy. Some even collect ladies’ pants at gunpoint.
“I have stopped wearing pants whenever I am going out, and that goes for some of my friends too to prevent ourselves from being victims of these evil people. When they collect someone’s pants, it is the end for that person. It happened to one lady in Umuagwu quarters of Asaba.
Her family has taken her to church for healing because she has been behaving abnormally. I have also stopped going out with people I don’t know their background, especially those with flashy cars.”
Another student, who insisted that the problem was really serious but spoke on condition of anonymity, said, she knew a lady who fell ill after losing her pants.
“I know one Jenifer who fell into the hands of these evil boys in Asaba. On Friday, December 14, 2018, she fell very ill. The management of a hotel in Umugwu, where she had gone to meet someone, quickly reported the case to the police and they were advised to take her to a traditional healing home.
“When contacted on the telephone, the man identified as the culprit, said the lady was still alive, but since then, his line had not been reachable,” she said.
A correspondent met a female hairdresser, who claimed that the victim was her customer and that she had visited her at the place where she was being treated. She said the lady was looking very ill and that it didn’t look like she would survive. But as she was talking to Saturday PUNCH, another lady joined the conversation, saying the lady in question had died.
Saturday PUNCH also learnt that in Abraka, Ughelli, Ozoro and Warri, some ladies have resulted to sprinkling their pants with oil that had allegedly been blessed by preachers.
According to Efe, a young lady in her late 20s, she no longer hangs her underwear on the washing line outside her flat or leaves the diapers used by her baby lying around.
“Some women sprinkle their pants with ‘anointed oil’. Some of us have stopped hanging our pants on washing lines outside. If you come to my compound, you won’t see any underwear hanging outside like it used to be and it is because we are afraid of ritualists.
“Since we heard the news, we have been hanging our pants in our bathrooms; whether they get dry or not is not a big issue. We sometimes iron our underwear to get them dry. We are also mindful of what our visitors could do so we take precautions. We understand that these ‘boys’ have agents who sneak into houses to steal pants and brassieres.
“Although, I haven’t seen anyone who is a victim of this problem, I have heard about some cases. Even my female neighbours told me that they had stopped wearing pants since there were reports about some guys stealing underwear at gunpoint. It’s better not to wear pants than to die prematurely,” she said.
When asked if not wearing pants could increase the incidence of rape, Efe said “yes,” adding that “we don’t have any other option and even men will not know that a lady is not wearing pants except they are told or they are really close to the woman.”
In Ogwushi-Uku Polytechnic in Aniocha North Local Government Area of the state, it was learnt that female students had adopted a strategy of going to their boyfriends’ places without their undies.
This was disclosed by a student in National Diploma Two, who identified herself as Cynthia.
“Most ladies have stopped leaving their pants in their boyfriend’s house or wearing pants there. In my own case, I trust my man and believe he will not do anything to hurt me. He is from a good background and not a greedy person who would want to make quick money through rituals. But I know that many ladies on this campus now visit their boyfriends without putting on underwear. For instance, my friend, Chida, has stopped wearing pants,” Cynthia said.
When asked if some were avoiding having boyfriends as a move to be more cautious, Cynthia said, “We are just trying our luck to see if the friendship we develop now will lead to marriage. Before now, whenever you visited your boyfriend and had to sleep over, you would take some spare underwear along, but that no longer happens.
“Also, we avoid lonely routes, during the day and at night because of the sad reports that get to us. We heard that some people now go about in flashy cars, looking for ladies on lonely roads whom they would point their gun at and ask them to bring their pants or be shot dead.
“Many ladies have stopped going out after 6:30 pm; we would rather stay in our hostels.”
A correspondent also ran into five young ladies discussing how ritualists had also allegedly reviewed their strategy by forcing ladies to wear new pants and then taking them back.
“We don’t know what to do again; most of us have stopped wearing pants but these ‘Yahoo tboys’ have also adopted another method. They go about with new pants and when they meet ladies that do not have pants on, they will give them pants to wear and collect them back, at gunpoint. Women should also look for what they will use men’s boxers to do. May God protect women in these evil days,” one of the ladies said.
Meanwhile, a man was reportedly apprehended recently while allegedly attempting to steal some female underwear. The suspect was reportedly caught by local vigilantes in Agbarha-Ughelli area of the state after he allegedly stole a bra and was looking for pants to steal.
When he was quizzed by security operatives, the suspect allegedly confessed that a man whom he had asked to show him how to make money told him to go and get female pants and bras before he would assist him.
He allegedly said he was to meet with the unknown man at a popular hotel in Ughelli area after getting the underwear.
Also, on Sunday, December 2, 2018, five ladies were said to have encountered some ritualists at Oha Junction, close to Osubi along Abraka Road, who ordered them at gunpoint to bring their pants.
Saturday PUNCH also learnt that some churches had started advocacy to advise their female members to be mindful of where they keep their pants.
A female Sunday school teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “We have seen it as our responsibility to teach our ladies, especially teenagers, ways to avoid being victims of this ugly practice that we experience in Delta State.
“As a teacher in my church, I have told female members of my church to be suspicious of their friends and even brothers. They should not leave their pants lying around anywhere. If possible, they should hide them in their bags and they should not collect pants as gifts from friends. We used to hear ‘your money or your life’ but today, it has become a case of ‘your pants or your life.”
She further advised young ladies to be wary of hanging their pants on washing lines outside and to be smart enough to resist being deceived by men in flashy cars, saying “all that glitters is not gold.”
Meanwhile, Mr Charles Aniagwu, the Chief Press Secretary to Okowa, said the governor had ordered a crackdown on all ‘Yahoo boys’, ritualists and all those involved in the unexplainable and sudden wealth acquired by some people in the state.
He expressed concern over the increasing and disturbing activities of suspected ritual killers and criminally minded individuals, whom he said were becoming more conspicuous because of their flamboyant lifestyles.
“The governor has ordered the police commissioner to go after these ‘Yahoo boys’ that are causing fear, unrest and panic in the state,” he said.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Delta State Command, DSP Andrew Aniamaka, who confirmed the development, said the case of a young woman – Ezino – who had a ‘strange’ ailment had brought the attention of the police command to the activities of ritualists in the state.
He said that the young woman reported to the Police A Division station and complained that maggots were coming out of her body after and that she was referred to the Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, to ascertain the cause.
“From the FMC, the lady was taken to a traditional healing home by her family, but we have not heard from her since then,” he said.
On whether the suspect was arrested, Aniamaka said, “What offence shall we arrest him for? The boyfriend said he only slept with her and that he did not rape her. For maggots to be coming out of her private parts is not known to the law.”
Aniamaka said no arrest connected to the alleged stealing of female underwear had been made so far, but he urged members of the public to always give timely information to the police to help prevent.
He urged ladies to be security conscious at all times, assuring that the command was ready to decisively deal with crime in the state.
Mrs Benedicta Osakunih-Izuegbu, Senior Special Assistant to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on Girl Child Development, had said that the current wave of criminalities, frauds and ritual-related crimes, should be fought through advocacy.
“We have to fight this crime in three ways; one is through advocacy to enable the perpetrators, particularly the youth to change their mindset. Again, parents and guardians must ask questions and query all wealth got illegally by their children and wards. The traditional institution and government should also come up with policies and programmes to tackle the crime.” she had said.
The fear of ritualists is currently rife in the state with some women appealing to government at all levels to rise to the challenge and punish anyone found to be involved in crime.