Spurious Claims of Manhood Disappearance in Abuja Spread Fear, Myths Among University Students


By Quadri Yahya 

Some students were still in bed at hostel that Saturday in September when Sobur, a final year student at the University of Abuja, walked into block 33, room 1 old male quarters bearing the news of missing manhood at the institution’s mini campus premises. 

According to him, the male organ of two students had disappeared after having contact with unknown persons. When asked for details, Sobur said he was just returning from the often-crowded shuttle ground where he claimed the incident happened, adding that the victims were now housed in the security unit pending further investigation. 

When the claim started making the rounds, this reporter received a call from a girlfriend who advised that he avoid walking around the premises and be vigilant. The guardsmen, however, dismissed the claim trending on the campus.

Meanwhile, many of the harbingers of the news, such as among the UniAbuja students, including Sobur, heard it from someone who also heard it from another person. And despite disseminating the information that it happened on the campus premises, none of the students testified to have seen the supposed victim.

Abuja: Panic, Myths and Mob 

Earlier in the week, news of genitals disappearing had been reported to the Federal Capital Territory Police Command. By October 11, there were 62 reported cases, but upon investigation, the police found that 51 of the mysterious missing manhood cases were false alarmsThe news spread so rapidly among UniAbuja students that everyone walked with the consciousness of the state of their private parts. 

As a safety precaution, many students and residents avoided shaking hands or having body contact or exchanging greetings with strangers for the phobia of losing their manhood. 

Meanwhile, as the oral misinformation and false alarm collapsed with the frightening incidents, the lives of a few people came under the gavel of jungle justice. For instance, the 11th day of this month started well for an Abuja-based building engineer, Francis Atahh as he went to work at a construction site in Mararaba Loko, a Nasarawa State settlement which is a suburb of the federal capital. Driving in his car in the new area, Atahh parked beside the fabrication shop of one Jerry Danladi whom he asked for a key size he needed.

But the former said he did not have one, and pointed the engineer to the shop he could buy it from. But after the encounter, Danladi raised the alarm that his man-thing was missing; a mob came out of nowhere and descended on the engineer. 

The myth that putting a piece of charcoal or bitter kola in one’s pocket will neutralize the mystical charm an intending genitals stealer possesses was widely practised at the time. Meanwhile, many of the harbingers of the news, such as among the UniAbuja students, including Sobur, heard it from someone who also heard it from another person. And despite disseminating the information that it happened on the campus premises, none of the students testified to have seen the supposed victim.

“On my way, I saw one key fabrication shop and I parked by the side and there was a young man there. I asked him if he had the range I was looking for and he told me he didn’t have it. But he pointed at a distant place where I could get it. I thanked him and was about to drive away to where he directed me only for him to start raising the alarm that his manhood had disappeared”, Atahh recounted his ordeal. 

“For a moment, I didn’t even know I was the one he was referring to. I was just looking from my vehicle to see what was happening, not knowing he was pointing at me, saying, ‘see him inside the motor, he took my penis.’ He continued: “I only realized I was the one he was referring to when people started hitting my vehicle, shouting “wait, wait, don’t go anywhere, don’t go anywhere.

“When I alighted from the vehicle, people started coming to the scene and began to mob me. Confused on what was happening, I started pleading with them, begging and trying to show them my identity card and where I work and that I’m innocent of the allegation but all to no avail as the crowd of people that gathered continued to hit me from different directions.”

After the people mercilessly beat Atahh, Danladi who claimed his manhood disappeared announced that it had been restored miraculously. When the victim was rescued by the community chief, the probe began.  “They asked him (Danladi) if he had evidence that it had disappeared and he said ‘no’”, the engineer said. All the cases have been proven to be fake, the police said. 

Also in October, a mother of four, Rahab Emmanuel, narrowly escaped a mob attack after being accused of stealing a man’s genitals in Gosa, a village along Airport Road in Abuja. “(The mob) tied my hands and started beating me”, Rahab, 37, said.

In a similar case last month at around 9 a.m. at the popular Wazobia Motor Park along the Abuja-Lokoja expressway, James was beaten to a pulp when a man raised the alarm that his genitals vanished after shaking hands with him (James). A witness told a Daily Trust reporter that the suspect, who pretended to be a traveller, shook hands with another passenger in the park and that after some time the victim raised the alarm that his manhood had disappeared.

In court for raising a false alarm

Most times, when the truth comes to light — that is, an accuser discovers his manhood is intact — the mob disperse, often unpunished, while the victims of their actions go through the psychological trauma in pain. But sometimes, the security agency makes arrests of people who raise false alarms. 

The FCT commissioner of police, Haruna Garba told journalists that 14 suspects were taken to the hospital where medical doctors confirmed that their manhood was intact and active and consequently, they are being prosecuted for raising false alarm.

Misinformation: Advice for students, others 

When this reporter raised the issue among the students later in October, they said it's complicated since no evidence was found. “A friend in the hostel said the genitals of his boss and his son vanished, but were later restored. Imagine! It's hard to believe it now”, Sobur said. 

The managing director of ROUNDCHECK, Caleb Ijioma, advised students to make enquiries from authorities when a piece of information is going viral. “Know your authorities. Take a step to confirm and reconfirm,” he said.

The head of the students-led verification platform expressed that “the campus environment should be structured in a way that students can easily reach out to authorities and make inquiries for verification purposes. “The student union and other professional bodies,  which include the press should be informed, thus, informing the student populace through their memos and reportage”, Caleb said. 

In the same vein, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) detained eight of its officers for assaulting a man accused of stealing manhood of two people in Abuja. The report stated that the suspect was rescued by policemen and a soldier as onlookers video the scene with their phones; a series of recorded videos appeared on social media platforms. 

The Public Relations Officer of the police in the state, Ramhan Nansel told Vanguard that cases of manhood disappearance had become so rampant in the state, saying over 50 cases had been reported this year alone. 

Adekunle Famuyiwa

An avid writer, campus Journalist, researcher and budding Lawyer. Currently a 500-level student of Law at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun state, and the Editor-In-Chief of Observers Mag

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