February 28, 2021

Nigeria pastor killed for ‘genital theft’, curfew imposed

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by Louise Dewast and Emmanuel Anule

ABUJA, NIGERIA – A curfew was imposed in parts of Nigeria’s north central Benue state after a pastor was killed by a mob over alleged cases of genital theft, officials said Thursday.

Rumours of “manhood theft”

Rumours of “manhood theft” -– where victims believe their genitals are shrinking or retracting into the body — are not uncommon in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa and often lead to mob violence.

This latest incident occurred in Daudu, a town about 250 kilometres (about 150 miles) from the federal capital Abuja.

Local authorities said a group of young people accused a pastor and an alleged accomplice of being responsible.

Scientific tests carried out

Caleb Aba, the head of the local government, rejected this, telling AFP: “It was confirmed that this was not true because scientific tests were carried out.”

The pastor’s alleged accomplice was taken into custody for his own protection, after local media said he and the pastor were collecting money from residents to cure them. 

Fearing for his life

The priest, fearing for his life, fled the town, police spokeswoman Catherine Anene said, adding that his church was burnt down by angry youths.

“Youths trailed him and killed him. Eventually we found his dead body,” she told AFP.

“After two days, the youths again accused another person of removing a youth’s genital organ. This man was beaten to the point of coma so the police intervened,” Aba said, explaining the curfew.

The army and police deployed to the area after local media reported a group had invaded the weekly market chanting “no penis, no market”, temporarily halting trade.

Public disturbance

Eight people were arrested for causing public disturbance and inciting violence, police said.

Local authorities said the curfew, imposed on Monday, would remain in place until the security situation improves.

Psychologists have coined the belief of “manhood theft” as “koro” — a Malaysian term for the retracting of a turtle’s head.

Collective panic linked to this belief can be found in ancient Chinese medical records that are over 2,000 years old, according to a handbook on unusual and rare psychological disorders published by Oxford University Press.

© Agence France-Presse

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