Benin Offers Voodoo Prayers For AFCON Success

President of the indigenous religions of Benin Dah Gbediga (Center) chairs at a shrine in Cotonou on July 7, 2019, a special fetish ceremony for Benin success at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. PHOTO: Prosper DAGNITCHE / AFP

 

The sound of drum beats, hand claps and women singing fills the air at a shrine in Cotonou in the West African nation of Benin, the homeland of voodoo.

But these days the ceremonies are a little bit different, as people pray for the country’s football team to make further historic progress at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Benin shocked Morocco on penalties in the round of 16 to record its first ever victory in the competition and progress to a quarter-final showdown with Senegal on Wednesday.

And for believers in the country where voodoo is widely practised alongside Christianity and Islam, help from the spirit world has spurred on the players.

On Sunday, Dah Gbediga, president of the indigenous religions of Benin, was joined by several other vodunsi practitioners for a “special ceremony to support the Squirrels”, as the national squad are nicknamed.

A Beninese fan cheers for his team prior to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Round of 16 football match between Morocco and Benin at the Al-Salam Stadium in the Egyptian capital Cairo on July 5, 2019. PHOTO: Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

 

After sacrificing a goat and three sheep behind closed doors he emerged with his chest bared accompanied by a toothless priestess in her sixties who led the prayers in front of around a hundred followers.

“This is something new for our players in this competition, people think we will make a poor showing, but they are wrong, we are committed to doing our best,” intoned the priestess, Tangninnon, gripping a gourd of water and her walking stick.

Dah Gbediga said he has been praying for the team since well before the tournament began.

“There is a march towards progress in football with the support of the ancestors and nothing else should stop us,” he told AFP, wearing a beaded skullcap and necklace.

“We achieved what we had never done before this year, we have impressed the whole world and we ask the ancestors to make it last for as long as possible.”

‘Pushed us this far’

It is not just at this shrine that prayers are being offered for the team.

Victor Adoko, a fan of the Squirrels and priest of the thunder deity Hevioso, believes that they can go all the way to the final.

As the players notched up three draws to squeak through the group stages he turned to his fetishes.

“It is to increase the chances of the team,” he explained.

Voodoo, a religion more often called “vodun” in West Africa, has a hierarchy of deities and tribal nature spirits, embracing magical practices and healing remedies considered divine.

The use of fetishes and rituals has often been poorly served by Hollywood, which tends to turn a world where revered ancestors exist alongside the living into a source of black magic.

Football fans — like others in the country — are split between believers and non-believers.

Supporter Adeline Tonouewa, a follower of divinity Thron, says she has offered up cola nuts and libations to the spirit’s fetish in the hope of victory.

“It has played its role,” she said.

Paulin Kintonou, an actor and voodoo believer, agreed that spiritual forces have made the difference.

“I have the firm conviction that it is these prayers that have pushed us this far,” he said.

“Our religious elders are on our side.”

But telecoms worker Enock Agasounon was not so convinced and insisted most of the credit had to go to the players.

“Nothing comes for free, even if you ask for it in your prayers in church and end up getting it,” he said.

“The Squirrels have the talent and have performed well. Above all it is down to their efforts — the prayers come second.”

AFP

Protester Dies In Cotonou Post-Poll Violence

Tires burn as protesters barricade the streets of Cadjehoun the stronghold of the former president of Benin Thomas Yayi Boni on May 2, 2019, in Cotonou. / AFP

 

A woman has died in Benin after police cracked down on protestors following controversial parliamentary polls, medical and family members said Thursday.

“A woman has succumbed to her injuries,” a medic in Benin’s economic capital Cotonou said, adding that she had been rushed to hospital on Wednesday night, but that her wounds had been too severe. Another man was brought to the hospital with a gunshot wound in his back.

READ ALSO: Poll Violence: Protesters Locked In Standoff With Police, Army In Cotonou

This comes after Protesters in Benin were locked in a tense standoff with police and soldiers Thursday after violence broke out following controversial parliamentary polls held without a single opposition candidate.

Hours after initial results showed a record low turnout in Sunday’s election, soldiers and large numbers of police deployed on Wednesday across the economic capital Cotonou.

Supporters of former president Boni Yayi, who led calls for a boycott of the ballot, took to the streets.

They erected makeshift barriers of burning tyres, and chanting slogans against President Patrice Talon.

Protestors have torched businesses, hurled stones, and smashed the windows of government buildings. Police fired tear gas to break up crowds.

They continued their protests overnight and remained on the streets Thursday.

“Nobody has slept,” said one demonstrator on Thursday morning, who gave his name as Justin B.

Special Court Martial Demotes Major General To Brigadier General

Patrick Falola Major General demoted to Brigadier GeneralA Special Court Martial of the Nigerian Army has demoted the Director, 68 Reference Hospital, Yaba, in Lagos State, Major General Patrick Falola, to the rank of Brigadier General.

The demotion follows the conviction of the Major General who was accused of unlawfully admitting students for clinical training without due clearance from the army headquarters.

Major General Falola is said to have admitted international students from Espan Formation University, Cotonou in Benin Republic between July and September, 2016.

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President of the Special Court Martial, Air Vice Marshal James Gbum, said the accused was found guilty of first count

Delivering judgment in the case against Major General Falola, who is also a Commander of the Armed Forces Hospital in Kano, President of the Special Court Martial, Air Vice Marshal James Gbum, sentenced the accused officer to a reduction in rank from Major General to Brigadier General on count one of the charge.

He was, however, discharged and acquitted of the second count of fraudulent misapplication of the hospital’s property.

Lawyer to Major General Falola, Wing Commander Enokela Onyilo-Uloko [Rtd], however, criticised the conviction, saying it was a premeditated attempt to taint the unblemished record of his client whom he described as a distinguished medical officer with outstanding records.

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Enokela Onyilo-Uloko says the judgment of the Special Court Martial has no legal backing

“On hearing of this kind of conviction, we know that it is based on nothing. There is no law, no instruction put on the ground by the armed forces that the senior officer needs to take permission from the higher authority before allowing such training.

“No such law or instruction was tendered in evidence, but they are saying that he should use his initiative.

“When there is no law criminalising an act, when that act is done, it does not amount to criminal offence,” the lawyer said.

He further vowed to appeal the judgment of the Special Court Martial.

However, the judgement of the Army Court Martial is subject to confirmation by the Nigerian Army Council.

 

Ogun State Nabs 3 Suspected Members Of Godogodo’s Gang

The Ogun police command has arrested three members of a 10 man armed robbery gang, formerly led by Godogodo, a notorious robber who was arrested by the Lagos Command several months ago.

The gang allegedly terrorised the south west states, including Kogi, Kwara and Benin republic.

The three suspects were arrested at Obele area of Ogun state, a boundary town between Nigeria and Cotonou.

Suspected members of the gang led by 32 year old Adegoke Kasali the second in command to Godogodo, confessed to have participated in the killing of five police men in Abeokuta and other crimes in the south west region of Nigeria.

According to the police commissioner, Ikemefuna Okoye, an exchange of gun fire between the Police command and the alleged robbers led to the death of three members while one sustained injuries and currently receiving treatment in a hospital.

Items which included two Ak-47 riffles, two cut to size double barrel guns, fifty live cartridges, charms and two packets of lexamil tablets.

The suspects confessed to have participated in the killing of five police men in Abeokuta last year, killing of former VIO commander, four vigilante members, snatching of a bullion van which led to the death of three police men.

Meanwhile, the Ogun state command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, led by Bala Faggae, has destroyed 30 hectares of land on which substance suspected to be Indian hemp is grown, while five suspects have been arrested in connection with the cultivation of the illicit drug.

The state police command also arrested a 35 year old man who defiled a five year old girl in Sagamu area of the state as well as a gang of robbers who snatched cable wire with market value of about N25 million.

 

Ogun Police Arrest Notorious South West Armed Robbers

Police vanThe Ogun State Police Command has arrested 3 members of a gang of robbers believed to be members of Godogodo, a notorious armed robber terrorizing the South West states, including Kogi, Kwara and Benin Republic  who was arrested by the Lagos Police Command some months back.

According to the Police Commissioner, the suspects are believed to be members of the notorious gang terrorizing the South West states and beyond.

In the ensued exchange of gun fire, three members of the gang were killed, while items such as 2 AK 47 riffles, 2 cut to size double barrel, 2 live cartridges, charms and two packets of Lexomil tablets were recovered by the police.

Members of the gang, led by 32 year old  Adegoke Kasali  have however confessed to having participated in the killing of 5 policemen in Abeokuta last year, killing of former VIO commander, 4 vigilante members, and snatching of bullion van which led to the death of 3 policemen.

The 3 suspects were arrested at Obele area of Ogun State, a boundary town between Nigeria and Cotonou.