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Otokoto again! Ritualists kill women, remove their private parts

Posted by By PETRUS OBI, Enugu on 2008/03/18 | Views: 1250 |

Otokoto again! Ritualists kill women, remove their private parts

Women of Inyi in Igboeze council of Enugu State are more like endangered species now, following the recent murder of four ladies by persons suspected to be ritual killers.

Women of Inyi in Igboeze council of Enugu State are more like endangered species now, following the recent murder of four ladies by persons suspected to be ritual killers.
The evildoers reportedly slaughtered the hapless women and allegedly severed vital organs of their bodies, thus instilling fear among the people of the community.

Today, there is uneasy calm in the community, with the womenfolk spoiling for war with the perceived perpetrators whom they claim are not faceless afterall.
They are patently worried that the situation is reminiscent of Otokoto saga of 1996, in which innocent persons were murdered for ritual purposes at a hotel in Owerri, Imo State.
That episode ended with the perpertrators being hanged for their sins.

And to demonstrate their concern last week, no fewer than 3000 women, with green leaves tied round their heads and waists, took out seven whole days to publicly repudiate the perpetrators of the heinous crime against them. Ultimately, they screamed: enough is enough!

However, another tragedy struck on the last day of the protest, as one of the traditional rulers of the community, Eze-elect Christopher Abugu, was knocked down by a vehicle close to his house.
Mr. Titus Omemma, principal of the Community High School who confirmed the incident said the villagers are attributing the death of the royal father to his involvement in the on-going fight against evil. This was at a time nobody, not even the leaders of the community, had the guts to confront the evildoers who are reportedly well known

Last interview
Eze Abugu had spoken to Sunday Sun two days before his death. In the interview, he had urged the government to intervene and save the people. He also requested government to bring more development to the area, crying over the backwardness of his people. He was returning home on his motorcycle when he was knocked down close to his house.

The women were emboldened by the enthusiasm of a new principal, Mr. Titus Omemma who just arrived the community High school. He was said to have shown enthusiasm to confront the evil. Also, the resolve of a catholic priest, Rev. Fr. John Bosco Iweokiti Okechukwu, serving in Nsukka, but who hails from the community, was enough encouragement to the women.

Mr. Omemma said at his Nsukka residence, that his interest in the problem is on humanitarian ground; “to protect my school, my students, and staff. Once NYSC members are posted to the school and they hear the story, they run away. I had a population of over 250 students but now we are only 150. I had a staff of 10, now we are only three because once this ritual killing occurs, you see them disappearing again, and you wouldn’t hold anybody back. I was left with no option than to talk to the children since their parents are apparently nonchallant about it. I invited the Joint Patrol Team who started patrolling the area. The women now saw the effort and came out and we started this seven days protest and prayers, going round the community. This helped in sensitizing the men who now came out on their own.

Mortal fear
Up till this moment, the people are still living in fear. The only thing is that the women now on their own decided to use it as a sacrifice during lent; let’s see if we can stop this spiritual thing. It is painful to see human beings butchered; it could happen to anybody. So that is why we actually decided to move against these spiritual things and my idea about it is that there are too many shrines in the community. The question I keep asking is, assuming the shrines eat all these things they are collecting, must they collect from their own people?

Students now come to school about 10am to10:30am; but when I came here we used to start school at about 7:30 am; but now they must move in groups. Even when you prepare earlier, you have to wait for others so you can go in a group.
The people are still living in fear. Their enlightened ones and those who live outside the community don’t come home at all, not even at Christmas. I can’t remember seeing those who live outside. They don’t come home because of the terror in the community.
Rev. Father John Bosco Iweokiti Okechukwu is of the St. Theresa Catholic Parish, Nsukka, and a native of Inyi community. He told Sunday Sun in a separate interview thus: “When I think of it I get mad.”

Police conspiracy
He recalled that the problem started when a group of young men who called themselves militant youths organized themselves, headed by a retired police Sergeant and started kidnapping young girls, beating people up, and committing arson and abduction; “when the community could not contain the activities of the group, they rallied round and reported the matter to the police, but the police not only turned deaf ears, they also squealed to the group. The community then decided to take the matter to Zone 9 Police Headquarters, Umuahia. The police from Umuahia intervened.

They subsequently went underground, re-grouped and continued to rob people along the Obollo-Afor road. We continued giving the police information about the operations of the group, but as usual, they (police) failed to take action. Again, the community went to the local government chairman who gave a covering note that led to the arrest of some of them. And because the police always gave them feed back, they started burning houses belonging to elite of the community. They even attempted to kill the head of security in the community.

Secret killings
Then the killing started. People started disappearing without trace. After the burning of houses, they abducted the third person - a widow with five children - killed and butchered her. Only one of her legs and wrapper was found, and we again reported to the police. It was then they arrested 12 persons but later released one. Their colleagues started re-organizing to celebrate their victory. Three of them came back and were caught by the Urban Patrol Team and handed over to the State CID, Enugu. The police, surprisingly, charged them for possession of illegal arms. So, when they came home about four weeks ago to celebrate their victory, they murdered the fourth person.

Royal father speaks
The traditional ruler of the community, Ikeoha of Inyi, Eze Hyacinth Alumuna said his people have been living in fear. He recalled how the whole thing started in 2006 when the youths started blocking the road and robbing people. “On one occasion, two of them were killed by the police, and they accused the elders of reporting to the police. That was the beginning of missing women. The first victim was Eucharia Abugu. My people searched for her for four good days without any trace. We reported the matter to the police but nothing was done. After a short while, another person, Rebecca Ugwueke, also got missing. Up till today there is no trace of her.”
According to him, when the third woman, a widow with five children, was murdered and one of her legs found buried in a shallow grave, that it dawned on them that there was serious trouble. But before they could pull themselves together, the fourth victim had been butchered.

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