An angry mob in Ughelli, in the Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State on Thursday, lynched a suspected ritualist alleged to be feigning mental illness in the community.
Witnesses said the suspect drew the suspicion of the mob when he was seen with an “expensive Android phone” among a crowd of people patronising a trader in front of a public primary school in the area.
Some persons reportedly tried to approach the suspect, who, however, allegedly pulled out the SIM card in the phone, swallowed it and fled the scene.
A man, who claimed to be an eyewitness and spoke on condition of anonymity, said everyone was surprised at how a man with a mental problem would have such a phone.
“At first, people thought that he stole the phone from somebody in the crowd, but when he started running and swallowed the SIM card, it became clear that he was not a mad man. He was caught and they began to beat him to get information from him,” the source added.
According to the source, some persons who later arrived at the scene alleged that the suspect was arrested in the past by the police in the Ughelli division for swallowing his SIM card when caught discussing on the phone with an unknown person.
A tricycle operator, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed he was arrested along with the suspect, adding that the incident happened two weeks back.
He said, “When we got to the station, they discovered from bank messages on the phone that the suspect was having over N12m in his bank account.
“I was released a few hours later because mine was a licence issue, so I do not know what happened next. I was surprised to see the same suspected mad man a few days later.”
It was gathered that the mob subsequently set the suspect ablaze to prevent the police from rescuing him.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Bright Edafe, confirmed the incident.
He said, “One man was set ablaze in Ughelli community by a mob, but the motive behind the incident is yet to be ascertained.”