The boy was terrified; he had jumped from the back seat of the car when it stopped at a junction. The well-lit bar was buzzing with activity and looked safe. A security guard was listening to boy's story just as I was leaving the building. The boy was upset and the guard uncomfortable. I asked if everything was okay. It wasn't.
I had spent the evening at a forgettable function at the only bar in Nigeria's capital Abuja where (at that time - about ten years ago) you could get a decent gin and tonic. Earlier the same day, a little boy had been playing near his home village, in a rural district outside Abuja, when two 'big men' arrived in an expensive car. They had offered the boy money if he came with them to 'help' them. The boy had accepted the exciting offer and fallen asleep in the car. On waking, he realised the two men in the front seats were talking about using parts of his body for some kind of juju ceremony. He had escaped an unimaginable, horrific dismemberment. Not really knowing what else to do, I helped get the boy returned home safely and never saw him again.
But I couldn't forget the idea that two apparently wealthy Nigerian men had just kidnapped a boy in order to murder him and use parts of his body for a nonsensical ceremony. I began to ask people about this and found, amidst much reluctance to talk, that ritual murders are common throughout Nigeria. These murders often seemed to be carried out by powerful people who sought to use magic to increase their influence, in some cases using ritual murder as a way to improve electoral prospects. And the details of what actually occurs during these killings are almost unbearable: victims, often children, are cut, bled, decapitated, their genitalia severed and used for further rituals. When the mutilated torso of an unknown African child, known as Adam, washed up in the river Thames I knew instantly this was a West African ritual murder. Sure enough, groundbreaking investigative techniques proved that the boy had lived most of his life in Nigeria.
The Adam case was not a freak act of individual depravity. The unusual thing about it was the location. As someone who was living in Nigeria working on an internationally-funded project to help Nigeria get debt relief and reduce corruption, I found it incredible that this horrific savagery was being ignored by the international community. I wrote to UNICEF and Save the Children, but received no response. I knew that senior officials at UK's Department for International Development chose to ignore a report that one of Nigeria's state governors was involved in ritual murder. Ultimately, I failed to make any headway and left Nigeria shortly after the Adam case came to light. But it has always troubled me that the world just isn't ready to confront the issue - seemingly the risk of causing offence counts for more than the risk that more people, children and adults, will be murdered in this terrifying way.
The publication of Richard Hoskins' haunting book on his own role in the Adam investigation reminds us that "the farcical ignorance and superficiality of the pan-European multicultural agenda" has literally led to innocent children being tortured to death in London. The idea that we shouldn't tackle this because of cultural sensibilities is an extraordinary act of casual racism: this isn't something that is accepted in Africa as normal, or as good practice. But, whilst the world is ready to take concerted action on female genital mutilation and there is even a UN Special Rapporteur on cultural rights as "an integral part of human rights", you will struggle to find any concerted action or effort to stamp out this savage practice. If people are not prepared to take a stand against this, we really are living in a hopeless world.