Posted by By Henry Umahi on
The old wise saying that the leopard does not change its spot seems to ring true of the priests of the Okija Shrine in Anambra State....
The old wise saying that the leopard does not change its spot seems to ring true of the priests of the Okija Shrine in Anambra State whose nefarious activities were exposed barely two years ago.
Chief Orbed Igwe, who brought the goings on in the deadly shrine to national limelight in August 2004, has again raised alarm, saying that the men are back to their old ways having being released from detention. He added that things have assumed a more frightening dimension in the Umuhu Okija community.
In an exclusive interview with Daily Sun, Igwe disclosed: "What is actually happening now is that these people (priests) have returned to their old despicable ways. In fact, they are more vehement and brazen in their operations now than ever. They have now formed what they call MASSOB Youths. They parade with sophisticated guns, axe, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons. How they came about the guns I don’t know."
He said that they are holding the community by the throat, terrorising and killing people. He also appealed to government to give him adequate protection, saying that the priest are threatening his life and property for dabbling into their business.
Igwe spoke another issues.
Why I expose Okija shrine
I decided to expose the Okija shrine because I saw that nothing real was there. It was a subterfuge some elements used to eliminate people and confiscate their money and property. It was a place of ritual killings. And they sold the corpses and coffins of their victims. They debased, humiliated and disgraced families that were not supposed to suffer such. The priests used the shrine to threaten people because some of them were hired assassins and robbers. I did it just to make sure that I freed society from the evil they were perpetrating. I exposed them so that our children and children’s children can live peacefully, happily and comfortably.
Okija shrine is back
The moment these people were released from detention, they returned to their evil practise. They drank along the road and made merry, saying that government had given them power to continue. They started their activities afresh. Ironically, after hearing all these things, people are still patronising them. How they are getting their victims, I don’t know.
The other time, I went and buried those people they killed and said shouldn’t be buried. Some of them joined hands to bury the corpse, saying that they will not engage in such evil acts again. The aged men among them even said that they will clear the bushes by themselves.
But what is actually happening now is that these people have returned to their old, despicable ways. In fact, they are more vehement and brazen in their operations now than ever. They have now formed what they call MASSOB Youths.
They parade with sophisticated guns, axe, cutlass and other dangerous weapons. How they came about the guns I don’t know. Right now, they are using these weapons to deal with law enforcement agents that disturb them. Recently, one security man appointed by the community was dealt with. They tied him up and threw him into the river. Now the family of the deceased is asking for their son. The matter is now at Zone 9, Umuahia, the police have been going there and they have been shooting at the policemen. Without the bullet proof vests that the policemen wear when they go, several casualties would have been recorded. They claim to be MASSOB Youths, terrorising people in the community, beating up people at will, including the aged.
They said that power belongs to them now. To make matters worse, those suspects that were arranged for killing Barrister Igwe and who escaped from Onitsha prison during the recent crises in the commercial city are now with them. They even have their own private cell where they detain and torture those who refuse to co-operate with them. I keep wondering how they got the weapons they are brandishing all over the place. People are now being slaughtered like chickens in the 21st century. This is unacceptable.
Threat on my life
They have been threatening me since, saying that they would attack me. They also threatened to burn my house in the village. In fact, there is no security now in my village. They said that I brought the policemen that arrested the suspected killers of the security man and burnt down some of their houses and property. They said that I reported the case to the police and that I did not allow them to do their business.
Okija shrine is fake
It will interest you to know that some young people selling Okrika (used) shirts at Yaba and Oshodi were lured home by these evil men who told them to abandon their genuine business and join them, saying that there is good money in shrine business. So, they mystified bushes in the village and name them anything. Some bought corpses from mortuary attendants or took unidentified or abandoned accident victims, bought cement and other chemicals and embalm the corpses. Thereafter, they put the corpses in cheap coffins of about N2000 and used them as scarecrows to threaten their victims. It is a terrible situation.
How I cope with the threats
Nobody will be happy when he hears that he may be killed. I have no regrets whatsoever for exposing their atrocities any way. It is a sacrifice that I made; that even if I pass away there is no problem provided the evil is stopped. I do not want our children and children’s children to suffer in the hands of the evil men.
This is the 21st century when we should be engaged in causes that will advance society and not resorting to archaic practices. Other countries are going to the moon. Why should we be going to the mud?
I have no regrets for what I did. I know that God is still guiding me, but if anything should happen to me in the course of this struggle, let Nigerians and other people of good conscience take care of my wife and children.
Military and Okija
My main concern is that to get the evil eradicated, the place should be given to the military. It is a land of 158 acres. It could be used for any worthy venture so that the people can have peace.
The average Okija indigene is clean, honest and law abiding. The people painting us black are just 13 in number and their errand boys numbering 52. They cannot leave this business because the money has entered their blood. The only way out is to eliminate or jail them. They are too lazy to do any other thing.
Cry for help
What the government should do for me is to assist me and give me adequate security. There is no doubt that I have demonstrated the virtue of a good citizen. Government should send policemen to protect my house which they are threatening to burn. Of course, the security men should be adequately equipped. Also, they should make provision for the upkeep of the security men. I have spent nothing less than N9.2 million on security, including taking care of policemen attached to me. I got the money though property sale and the help from some concerned people.
The shrine priests are my brothers. They are into all sorts of things. When Bakassi came they were on board. Now they are in MASSOB. Don’t expect that these people causing trouble in Onitsha and calling themselves MASSOB are indigenes of Onitsha. What they do is to call themselves on phone, then converge on Onitsha and at the end of the day, they will go back to their different villages. These people are the main threat.
I commend Gov Peter for the way he handled the problem. He has shown that he is capable of ruling Anambra State. He is God’s gift. He should work hard to bequeath a lasting legacy. The structures and policies he is putting in place in Anambra State are good. He has stopped illegal levies on the people. I think he is trying to arrange transport operations in an orderly and befitting manner in the state. Although he is new, he has shown that he is equal to the task.
Orbed Igwe Human Rights Foundation
In continuation of the liberation struggle, we have formed an NGO, Orbed Igwe Human Rights Foundation. The vision of the organisation is to free mankind from disgrace, harassment and denials. We want every human to enjoy his full rights as well as ensure that the less privileged members of society are adequately catered for. In short, what we are fighting for is to make this place a better place to live because we don’t have any other country than Nigeria. It is a struggle we urge government, corporate organisations and public spirited individuals to embrace.
The problem with Anambra State
The problem with Anambra State is godfatherism. Also, the criminal mindedness of some past governors is a contributory factor. For example, supposing that Gov. Chinwoke Mbadinuju paid the salary of teachers and civil servants as and when due that his successors are suffering to pay, things won’t have been the same. You know, a hungry man is an angry man. Some of the people who found themselves in government have no business there. Lack of employment is also another problem. Nobody will leave his work to become a militant or whatever. This applies to the whole Nigerian society. Greed also contributed to the mess.
Anambra State is a gateway to several states. Different kinds of people converge there. If, for instance, there is a by-pass cutting off Onitsha, the chaos going on there will not be.
My advice to Gov Obi is to use the wisdom that God has given him to control the situation in Anambra State. He should not try to do it all. He should involve well meaning people of the state in the task of fixing the place. In the same vein, he should be wary of the political profiteers and miscreants. Anambra people wish him well and will support him as he dishes out concrete dividends of democracy.
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