By Ostar Eze & Eke Ihanyi
Residents of Umuike village of Umuohama, Ukpor community in Nnewi South local government area in Anambra state are still reeling in shock over the bizarre report of alleged initiation of youths and primary school pupils in the area into secret cults.
Orient Weekend learnt that Ihuala shrine, one of the three deities in the town which shares a boundary with a public primary school, Umuike Community Primary School, has been allegedly been converted into a cult recruitment base.
Some elders of the village, disclosed that a group of fierce-looking youths from the community led by a woman, had taken over the shrine, against ancient customs which forbids women from entering the sacred area. Besides the desecration of the shrine, elders of the village are worried that pupils of Umuike Community Primary School also enter the shrine to consume numerous edible sacrificial items that characterize the deity in recent days. These are livestock like fowl, goat and sheep meat.
This paper was told that, in the olden days, anyone convicted of heinous offences in the village was executed at the Ihuala shrine and that no woman had set foot inside the shrine until recently when the renegade youths seized control of the shrine. According to some elders of the village, since the group took over the shrine, the community had witnessed frequent disappearance of fowls, goats, sheep and other domestic animals which usually end up as sacrificial meat at the shrine.
One of the concerned elders alleged that some of the items meant for rituals and other sacrificial left-overs are now being used by the group to initiate pupils of the nearby school and youths in the area who come in contact with them.
Our correspondent was told that once the unsuspecting school children ate any of those things used for sacrifice, they instantly became initiated into their occult kingdom.
Worried by the development, the Umuikebudu General Assembly, a town union of the village led by Chief Peter Paul Uzobude Okeke, Tony Brown Ebubechukwu and Sir Paul Uzoamaka, recently invited a fiery Anglican priest in charge of St Andrew’s Anglican Church, Ukpor, Rev Canon Chiadikobi Emmanuel, who conducted a crusade and deliverance prayer at the shrine to destroy the evil forces its diabolical manipulations.
Emmanuel told our correspondent that he had sanitised the shrine with the authority of God, chased away the evil and diabolical forces and anointed the place with the angels of God on guard.
“It is altar versus altar and authority versus authority. As soon as we stepped in there, with the power of the Most High God, every other power at the shrine submitted to the authority of God. The idols have been destroyed completely and the authority of God established there. And even if you command the idols to go back to that place [shrine], they will not and cannot,” the priest said.
Despite the spiritual cleansing exercise, this paper learnt that elders have petitioned the Anambra state government, the state commissioner of police, the Department of State Security (DSS) and the Anti Cult operatives to beam their searchlight at the village to do the physical sanitation of the area “since many youths have already been initiated into cultism in our land.”
However, the traditional ruler of Ukpor, Igwe Felix Onyimadu, told Orient Weekend that the story of the alleged desecration of the shrine was twisted by a section of the village elders in their bid to victimise the general overseer of the shrine. According to him, the leader of the group was a traditional religionist who loved sharing food offered to the deity with whoever that came around, and that most of the school pupils usually came to partake in the feast.
The monarch clarified: “The young man in question is just a misunderstood traditionalist. He used to slaughter goats and chickens from time to time in honour of his gods and ancestors. And whenever he does that, he prepares delicious yam porridge with the meat and the school pupils, obviously hungry, would join him and have their fill of the dish.
“It was one of the parents who, on hearing of the ceremony, thought it was some devilish thing and an initiation of the children called the police to arrest the man. However, he spoke up that he was innocent of the charges and was only exercising his freedom of worship.
“He argued that his God showed love to their neighbours and nobody went hungry in a core traditional setting. He used to call on his ancestors and make supplications to his gods from time to time. We have freedom of worship and the poor young man was only exercising his right and feeding hungry pupils nearby. After making his case, the police released him immediately.”
Another source from the community who spoke to Orient Weekend in confidence also claimed that the man in question had been attracting a lot of envy from some Christians living around the Umuike Community Primary School because of the way his home used to be filled with pupils and they started spreading rumours that the man was initiating the pupils into an occult group.
“The man in question had always been of best behaviour, jovial and fair to everyone; his offence was that he was only a traditionalist which looked strange and, therefore, evil to the Christian folks in the neighbourhood”, he stressed.
By Ostar Eze & Eke Ihanyi