In this The PUNCH interview, a man who was caught with human body parts has talked about why he went into the shocking business
Yesiru Salisu was caught with severed human parts from a Christian cemetery in Ijebu-Ode after he had sworn an oath to never partake in the act of exhuming body parts. He speaks to DAUD OLATUNJI at the Police Headquarters, Eleweran in Abeokuta, Ogun State on his reasons for indulging in the criminal act
What do you do for a living?
I am a farmer in Ago-Iwoye. I have a farm close to Ago-Iwoye Secondary School.
Are you a native doctor?
No, I am not a native doctor.
What were you doing with the human parts you were caught with?
I was sent by a native doctor, whose name is Lekan Mapariwo, to go and get him four human skulls, which we call ‘menumo.’
What did he promise you in exchange for the skulls?
He said he would give me money to spend on the treatment of my swollen leg. He took me to the cemetery. We went there together.
How much did he promise to pay for the service?
He said he would give me N10,000 if I helped him get the skulls. He said if I could get him four skulls, he will give more than N10,000. He was not specific.
How much do you need for your leg?
I don’t know because I have not gone to the hospital to know how much it will require to be amputated. I don’t have money and I have no helper. I have been in pain for eight years.
When did you go to the cemetery?
We went at night. He took me to the place on his okada.
How did you get the skulls?
When we got there, he told me that I would help him get four human skulls. He did not tell me before we were going to the cemetery to collect human parts. He just told me to come along with him and that he had a job for me. When we got there, he said that was the job I would help him to do, and I said, ‘You didn’t tell me we were coming to a burial ground.’ He only said I would help him ‘to do something.’ He then said I should not worry and that nothing would happen. I said, ‘This is a serious job.’ He said, ‘The human parts are already decayed. They are not useful again.’ He asked if I didn’t want to take care of my leg and I said I wanted to. I told him that since the sickness started, I had abandoned my maize farm. I have been in pain for a long time without money or food. I hardly even had breakfast in a day, but as a result of not having anything or anybody around to help me, I decided to follow him to help him get them (skulls). When we got there, he broke the grave and brought out one head and asked me to break my own and I broke it, then I brought out three human skulls.
Was there no security personnel at the cemetery?
There was no security man around there. The cemetery did not have a gate. It is an open space. We broke the graves with a stone from their sides and took the skulls out. When we got there, he taught me how to do it. He did one and gave me the stone, since he said he would give me money to treat my leg.
How did you know which grave to check for the skulls?
He only broke the side of the grave. He checked the date. You know a corpse of five years is different from a recently buried corpse. We did not break the skulls off. They were already scattered; we took the skulls from the graves with ease. He did one and I did the other three. I did as he did and put them into a bag. After doing the job successfully, we started heading back home. Some people saw us; I believe they know him, so they challenged us. I stopped but he fled, leaving me behind. I was then arrested.
Are you married?
Yes, I have a wife and three children. The youngest is seven years old. This was my first time. I could only afford N50 for breakfast and in the afternoon I would eat garri with salt. Poverty pushed me to do it.
Is it true that you had been caught for the same crime before?
For that one, I was taken to the palace. I didn’t do anything. I was just implicated by a boy who was drunk. He said I wanted to do it. His name is Sule. He later confessed that I was innocent. We spent five days in the vigilante detention.
What do you know about the native doctor? Is he your friend?
No, he is not. He is a native doctor that I know in Ago-Iwoye. Lekan has been arrested before over the same case but he was bailed by his father.
How did your leg get swollen?
I stepped on something. This swollen leg has stopped me from going to my farm; that was why I followed him. As I speak, I have maize in the farm. I have been using painkillers and traditional soaps. It has been effective. The pain has reduced. In the beginning, the leg was much more swollen.
Is it true that you ran away when you were first caught?
Yes. I ran away when the police came; I hid inside a stream to escape from the police when they came to arrest me. I dropped my bag and ran away from the police before I was later arrested.
What do you want?
I want to beg the government to forgive me. I want to promise that I will not get involved in this again, because I have sworn in the palace that I would not be involved in this when I was first arrested then. I swore an oath and breaking it is death. Whoever breaks the oath will die.
How did you take the oath?
We used our mouths to eat a kolanut and drink schnapps. We pledged that we would not go back to that.
Why did you go back to it?
I don’t have any means to feed myself. I can say I ate good food after I was arrested by the police. I was fed by the police.
Was it a case of choosing between death and hunger?
Yes. I said, even if I am going to die, I should not die on an empty stomach. I don’t want to go to heaven on an empty stomach.
Do you know who the severed skulls belong to?
I don’t know them (deceased). I got them from Ijebu-Ode; that is not where I live. I live in Ago-Iwoye, but the cemetery is in ijebu-Ode.
Source: The PUNCH