Lawlessness, fear, impunity. Reportedly, the people of Elugwu-Ettam Okpoitumi, Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, don’t dare to wander outside after sunset. During the last seven years, not less than 10 people have disappeared, they have vanished. Why and how? Ritual killings? Cultism? Superstition? Land disputes? Revenge? What is sure that is that the law is not upheld. Impunity reigns. And fear. The absence of fear is a human right, the protection of its citizens is an obligation of the state. Nigeria is a huge country where a lot is taking place. Due to its size and importance the rulers of Nigeria are also obligated to give a good example, to the region, to the outside world. One cannot escape the conclusion that the Nigerian government, local and national leaders, fail to establish the rule of law. A leader who does not lead, who does not protect its people should no longer rule. This is the year 2020. (webmaster FVDK)
A community overwhelmed by cult, ritual killings
Published: January 16, 2020
By: New Telegraph Nigeria, Uchenna Inya (in Abakaliki)
The people of Elugwu Ettam, Okpoitumo in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State are in state of worry, confusion and under siege. That is following the disappearances of some of their people. They are suspecting that cultists and ritual people may have taken over the community.
In Elugwu-Ettam Okpoitumi, Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, the people don’t stay outside their various homes beyond 6pm of each day.
Once it is 6pm of every day, any indigene of the area who is not in his or her house, may not return to the house any more. Such person may be declared missing in the community and may not been seen again.
Within seven years, no fewer than 10 persons in the community have been declared missing in suspected cult and ritual killings in the area.
Cultists have been having their ways in the area, killing and maiming persons who are opposing their activities.
The people have searched for those who reportedly got missing in the community but to no avail. They have deployed every method including spiritual, traditional and legal means to know if the missing ones can be found and then forestall further occurrence.
Some of the people reportedly got missing around the Edukwu Agbalegu play ground in the community. One of them is the community announcer(town crier), John Igboji.
Igboji was abducted in the playground on March 2013 when he was making announcement in the community. He has not been seen till today neither has his corpse been found.
Igboji’s abduction, shocked his people and they have not recovered from the shock till today. No one in the community has agreed to take
up his town crier duty since his sudden disappearance from the area.
Another person in the area, Joseph Nwichi Alegu, is also missing. He had gone to the Edukwu Agbalegu playground in the evening to buy food condiments when he was waylaid on the way back to his house.
He has not been since also. The food condiments he went to buy were picked up by his people on the road. The incident occurred in June last year and the matter was reported to the police.
Since then, the community has been in disarray while his family members and relatives are demanding his corpse if he has been killed.
Speaking to our Correspondent, Alegu’s widow, Christiana, lamented that since the disappearance of her husband, she finds it very difficult to cope and feed her children.
She said: “I and my four children have been suffering since they kidnapped and killed my husband, Joseph Nwichi Alegu. Things are very
difficult for us because we no longer have somebody to feed us a father. My husband was all and all for us. If they have killed him, they should release the corpse for us. He was last seen in our community in June last year.”
Another woman, Angelina Igboji, whose husband also got missing said: “My husband was appointed town crier by the community. Our then village Chairman sent him to go and make an announcement for the community. They kidnapped and killed him. We have not seen him or his corpse till today. They should bring him alive or bring his corpse to us. I want my husband’s corpse if they have killed him.
“I am a peasant farmer. Feeding the seven children my husband left for me has been very difficult for me. I do all manner of menial jobs to feed my children.”
On his part, Emmanuel Igboji, a farmer and younger brother of John Igboji said: “John Igboji was my elder brother. On 29th March, 2013, he was sent on town announcement by our former village “Chairman. My brother got missing at our playground, Edukwu Agbalegu playground in front of one of our brother’s house. He got missing while carrying out the announcement duty sent to him by our former village. After the announcement, he didn’t return again. We searched for him everywhere and we didn’t find him.
“Our then village Chairman ran to police and made report but one Cele Okah started querying that our former village Chairman why he went and reported the matter to the police without informing him first. The then village Chairman replied him ‘who gave you the audacity to query me on my action, who are you in this community’? From there, Cele Okah started having problems with the community.
“I am not happy the way he got missing. He is the breadwinner of his family and he has seven children . Only the wife is struggling to feed the children. I have not recovered from the shock of his sudden disappearance from the community because we have spent a lot to know if we can see him but to no avail.”
The village Chairman, Eze Ejike Innocent, said over 10 persons have been lost in the area, lamenting that cultists and ritualists have taken over the area.
He called on Inspector-General of Police to intervene in the matter.
He alleged that some persons arrested in connection with the persistent missing of people of the community have been released by the police and are walking freely. He accused a prominent person in the area of sponsoring them.
A community leader in the area, who did not want his name in print for fear of being attacked, told New Telegraph that the people of the area had issues over the community’s land and that it sharply divided them into two groups.
He said although the matter was later resolved, those who were not happy the way it was settled, employed cultists and ritualists to undo the people, leading to disappearances of some people of the area.
He accused one Chief Celestine Okah whose wife is a Commissioner in the state of sponsoring cultists against some persons in the community who are not comfortable with his stand on issues in the area.
He said: “The only crisis I can talk of is the time the community decided to take over their resources from their age groups because formerly, it was being managed by the age groups and whoever that was not among the age groups had no access to the lands.
“But at a certain stage, the people interestingly and compromisingly agreed that the land should not belong to the age groups. Rather, it should be in the hands of the development union that will ensure that everybody has a share of the land.
“This incident somehow divided us into two opposing groups; one was the idea of the land be taken over by the community and the other one was for the idea that it should remain with the age groups and those that are doing these evil things in our community are those that are against the taking over of the land by the community just to make sure that they frustrate the efforts of those who have made sure that the people have access to portions of the land that they supposed to have.
“We have been so much embarrassed because of these ugly incidents like the one that happened in 2013. People were so surprised that it happened that way because up till now, it is difficult for anyone to volunteer himself to be the town announcer because of the incident of that particular man and nobody is happy about it and all our efforts to make sure that we unravel the circumstances behind his missing were futile because the perpetrators were bent on frustrating any group of persons that tried to know what actually happened.
“In the case of the one that happened in June last year in which Joseph Alegu got missing, it was a big blow on all of us because we never knew that could happen and the most ugly aspect of it is that this man got missing at the door gate of one our leaders and which we expected that the man could have spent his last card to ensure that Alegu was found but ever since it happened, he has been paying deaf ear on it and we are not happy.
“It has made the situation so worse that people don’t even send their children on errand. In fact, immediately it is 6pm, everybody will be indoor because of being afraid of being kidnapped and murdered and we are not happy. We want government to come into it to ensure that we are free because we are in bondage because of the activities of these evil ones.”
In his reaction, Chief Celestine Okah challenged those who are insinuating that he is behind cultism and ritual killings in the community to come up with facts.
He said his accusers are jealous of his progress especially his wife being a commissioner in the state, alleging that he was being blackmailed by them.
“I am not known for any crime or offence. I am peaceful, a civil servant and I don’t know what they are talking about. I do also know that in life, you will have some people who will not admire you and that may be out of their personal interest but it is normal thing in the society.
“We are in border areas. We have common boundaries with some communities in Cross River State and there is no security in these places and you can know what it means to live in a border area. We are living in a very difficult place; no access road and nobody would have been sure of what is happening in our community”, he said.
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Loveth Odah, said a case of cultism in the community was reported to Ikwo Divisional police station and about six persons who said confessed to be members of Vikings confraternity were arrested for causing problems in the community.
“There are some people who are suspected to be cultists according to DPO Ikwo. He said those people are from Okpoitumo Ikwo and they confessed to be cultists and belonging to Vikings confraternity and that was all.
“If actually people have been missing as a result of ritual killings to the extent of up to 10 persons, that means the people of that area are not doing well because they have never reported the case of missing persons.
“Though so many persons are claiming that those cultists are ritualists but they are talking about 1985, 1986. So, by that time, the police that we have in Ebonyi State now have not come and myself has not joined police by that time. So, there is nothing like that. It’s a case of suspected cultism and we have arrested some of them.
“Case of cultism is not pardonable in Ebonyi. They are going to be charged to court as soon as investigation is concluded”, she said.