Amotekun and Other Matters: Deployment of Juju as Tool of War in Yoruba Land

Jan 15, 2020

 Amotekun the security outfit set up by Yoruba leaders must have sent chills down the spines of those who are conversant with the history of the Yorubas and their dexterity at warfare.

The younger generation may have been erroneously deceived that the Yorubas are cowards but history tells us otherwise.

Going as far back as the old kings of Yoruba land most notably Sango, the 3rd of the Yoruba kings who attained the status of a god according to Yoruba history and mythology, down to modern times of the Odua People’s Congress, the Yorubas have fought great wars, invaded Dahomey seven times before subjugating it in 1748. But for the betrayal of Kakanfo Afonja, the Oyo Commander in Iliorin who led a revolt against his people and ensured their defeat aided by Fulani warriors and Hausa slaves in 1817, the Fulanis would not have easily taken Ilorin.

Afonja was himself assassinated by the dominant Hausa Fulani and Ilorin fell under the Sokoto Caliphate which conquered several Yoruba towns and destroyed the Oyo capital, Oyo Ile, old Oyo in 1837.          

Many Yorubas still believe that but for Afonja’s betrayal, they couldn’t have been defeated.

Traditionalists attribute much of the Yoruba success at warfare to the highly potent juju powers deployed at war time, dating as far back as the days of Sango.

Indeed in his blockbuster movie, the epic, ‘Sango’, film maker, Femi Lasode had depicted wars fought by Sango whose supernatural powers were so compelling that he could breathe out fire and disappear at will. These powers were deployed by Sango and his army in fighting enemies, conquering new territories and recapturing seized ones. Sango at the end of his existence as a mortal being, according to Yoruba mythology, transmuted into an immortal deity protecting his people who can call him at will to rain thunder and brimstone against any enemy.

Today, as through the times, Sango worshippers and priests abound not only in Nigeria but across the four corners of the world.


Indeed the god of thunder may have shown some of his potency in the recent reports of cows felled by thunder in Ondo and Osun States recently.

If science gives ready explanation to the slaying of the cows by thunder, how come it happened three times and only on Yoruba land? People who believe in the paranormal swear that it is not a scientific happenstance.



Going back in history, the bloody and violent Operation ‘Wetie’ which was the spring – off of a political tussle between Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Chief Samuel Akintola of the Action Group Congress in 1962 is another case which brought the use of juju to fore.

Wetie was colloquial for wet it, which meant douse homes, businesses of the opponent and burn them to the ground.

According to stories told by parents and grandparents of that generation, the orgy of violence led to the high deployment of the police to the area. Parents told of how juju allegedly became the tool of the crises and government agents inclusive were allegedly destroyed by those who deployed juju to the scene of crises. Policemen it was narrated by people who claimed to have witnessed the carnage would be standing and out of nowhere, there uniforms would stick to their bodies with an invisible glue. The story goes that many security agents died in the process not from physical arsenal but by juju powers.

Then came the war of the Agbekoyas from 1968 – 1969. It was an uprising of farmers who protested the heavy tax levies placed on them by the government. Mayhem and anarchy were unleashed and of course juju said to have been deployed to war. Government properties were raised to the ground and government was almost helpless until the highly respected Chief Obafemi Awolowo intervened to restore peace,

Again in 1993, the Yorubas embarked on a resistance and silent warfare when the late Chief MKO Abiola was denied victory in an election he was acclaimed to have won with a landslide.

A young until then unknown man, Gani Adams was thrown into the frontlines and he became such a threat to the military government that the man who was described as an un-schooled carpenter was declared wanted by the military regime.

In actuality, Adams had worked with an Italian construction company, Visinoni Stabilini in Apapa, Lagos before setting up his own company.

He served as the Public Relations Officer of the Mushin Chapter of the Campaign for Democracy in 1993.

While most of the top intellectuals relocated abroad, the young Gani Adams was instrumental to the formation of the Odua People’s Congress, OPC, an organization which pressed on as a fearsome underground army against the dictatorship of General Ibrahim Babangida and later, General Sani Abacha.

Adams was so slippery that the authorities could not locate his hide out at any time, he was reported to be always ahead of the government. At the time, he reportedly always vacated an identified location before the government agents got there.

Though he later attributed this feat to perfect underground and grassroots networking, many Yorubas and Nigerians believed Adams was aided by supernatural powers.

In the subsequent leadership tussle between the young Gani Adams and Dr Federick Fasehun, the OPC came to be feared for their juju powers as many swore they witnessed exchange of bullets that bounced off the bodies of OPC members.

There are several instances in history where the Yorubas have displayed the efficacy of juju or supernatural powers in warfare. Powerful Women have been known to lead armies and Yoruba traditional worshippers believe strongly that their gods and way of worship not only prosper them but can be invoked to protect territories.

Whatever informed the ban of Amotekun, it is pertinent to recall the uncommon valour of Yoruba men and women and their brevity at warfare.