Fear grips residents as Okija Shrine lands in Ebonyi community

According to a report by The Saturday Sun, there was apprehension in Obegu village, Onuebonyi Inyimagu community in Abakaliki Local Government Area of Ebonyi State following the reported invocation and presence of the notorious Okija deity- Ogwugwuakpu-Ubahu from Ihiala, Anambra State, in the area.  

Since the incident happened on April 28, residents of the place, including the young and the old, male and female, have been living in fear.

Two of those allegedly involved in the whole issue – Chinedu Osuaka and his cousin, Friday Osuaka, were arrested by the Nigeria Police on May 13. They were said to have planted some items suspected to be charms in the compounds of three of their kinsmen in the village.

Other suspects now at large are Okechukwu Nwangwuta, the immediate past village head, Samuel Uguru, Uchenna Uguru and nine others.

But two of the accused men – Okechukwu Nwangwuta and Samuel Uguru have dismissed the allegations. In separate interviews with Saturday Sun on telephone, they said they were out of town and would speak on the matter whenever they returned.

Police spokesperson, Loveth Odah, a Deputy Superintendent of Police confirmed that the suspects were arrested and handed over to the Special Weapons and Tactical Team (SWAT) of the command. She promised to provide further details about the investigation after talking with the officer in charge of the unit. 

The Ogwugwuakpu shrine of Okija made headlines almost 20 years ago when it was spewed that some notable politicians in Anambra State had visited the dreaded shrine for oath-taking. 

A letter of summons purportedly from the Ogwugwuakpu shrine, Okija, dated April 26, 2021 and addressed to one Okwudiri Osuaka, indicated that one Okechukwu Nwangwuta was the petitioner/complainant.

Saturday Sun gathered that there was a land dispute between Okechukwu Nwangwuta and the family of one Odii Emmanuel. The matter had been reportedly adjudicated by the community in favour of the Odiis. Not satisfied with the judgment, Nwangwuta was said to have reported the matter to the dreaded Okija shrine where some charms were allegedly prepared and handed to him to plant at some community leaders’ compounds.  

Among the persons in whose compound the fetish item was deposited is Nwabueze Okemini. He told the reporter his harrowing experience on the fateful day, as he woke up and discovered a frightening item attached with a document bearing his name at the frontage of his compound. 

According to him, the paper, which was found together with the charm, had directed him to report at the Ogwugwuakpu shrine in Okija, Anambra State. So, since the letter of summon indicated that Okechukwu Nwangwuta was the complainant, he went to him and asked why he took such an action against him.

“When I met him, he told me that his action was as a result of a piece of land given to him during the tenure of Chief Paul Okekwe, as village head then, which was later taken away from him (Okechukwu) by some persons.” 

Okemini also alleged that Okechukwu vowed that the Okija deity would eliminate his generation if he failed to join forces with him to recover the said land.

The village head of Obegu Azuiyiokwu Inyimagu village, Izzi Unuhu community, Chief Sunday Edigbo, told us that it was one of the stakeholders of the area, Chief Vincent Ndanyi that drew his attention to separate items suspected to be charms which some persons deposited at the gate of his (Idanyi’s) compound. 

He narrated: “Upon my arrival at the man’s compound, I saw what I had not experienced since I was born and even since the inception of the village. While I was still contemplating what to do about the situation, Nwabueze Okemini called me on phone, stating that a similar charm was in his compound too. 

“Chibuike Nwangwuta’s compound was not left out too, as the man also contacted me on phone and intimated me of the development.” 

He explained that it was when he invited the police that they found out in the course of their preliminary investigation that the fetish items were allegedly brought and planted by “Okechukwu Nwangwuta, Samuel Uguru, Chinedu Osuaka, Uchenna Uguru, Friday Osuaka and nine others”.  

He said that it took much pleading to restrain the youths of the area from taking the law into their hands as they were determined to deal ruthlessly with any persons connected to the despicable act. 

The village head further stated that the matter was remotely caused by a dispute over a piece of land which Nwangwuta’s father (now late) sold to Odii Emmanuel’s father and Mbam Oghara around 1982, a transaction which he said took place even before Okechukwu Nwangwuta was born in 1986. 

According to him, the late Nwangwuta’s family, championed by Okechukwu, had reported the matter to the village, and after deliberations, they were advised to forget the issue because the transaction was done peacefully by the parties about four decades ago. 

“This is just the bone of contention while another factor is that Okechukwu and his group are in the habit of selling already sold pieces of land, an action which our leadership abhors.  

“And to enable members of the recalcitrant group to have their way without being confronted by anybody, they decided to kill some of us whom they perceive as their enemies through fetish means,” he alleged. 

He added that the perpetrators had told them that the charms could only be removed when the supposed victims paid fines ranging between N130, 000 and N140, 000 respectively before the Okija Shrine’s priest would come by himself for the evacuation. 

“According to what they told us, they meant that Vincent Ndanyi will pay a fine of N195, 500, Nwabueze Okemini N138, 500, while Chibuike Nwangwuta will pay over N130, 000.00 but we, the villagers objected to the idea. And to show how mean these suspects are, they even served me, my secretary and the youth leader letters urging us to appear before the same shrine at Okija.

“But with my belief as a Christian, I cannot honour such evil invitation. Rather, if there is a problem among us, we can resolve it instead of involving charms,” Edigbo said. 

Another person who was summoned by the Okija Shrine, with charm allegedly planted at his frontage, Chibuike Nwangwuta, wondered why he should be a target of attack when he had not in any way offended Okechukwu and his cohorts in the past. 

He explained that on seeing the fetish item, he went and complained to his church members who hurriedly joined him to his house and evacuated the rubbish after offering serious prayers to God.

“I have also intimated so many persons who can serve as my witnesses whenever the matter goes to a higher level. Even as I am speaking now, the charm has been taken away by my pastor and other Christian faithful,” he stated.   

A community leader, Uguru Nwedu told Saturday Sun that the Obegu village had not known peace since the former village head, Samuel Uguru was stopped from elongating his tenure. He said that the man had reported some community leaders at the Abakaliki Council headquarters, the ancestral home of the Izzi, at Amegu and the Ebonyi State Government House. 

“These people are behaving as if they are under a spell or nemesis is catching up with them. How could they have gone to Okija Shrine over the matter that had been treated by the villagers”, he said.  

Condemning the importation of a foreign deity into the area, youth leader of the village, Henry Nwangwuta said: “We, the youths were not happy over the act. But after we have seen that many parts of Ebonyi State are undergoing one form of crisis or another, we decided to let go, so that the village will continue to experience peace”. 

In addition, the village secretary, Ethelbert Osuaka, who described what happened as sacrilegious, also accused Okechukwu Nwangwuta of being a bone in the neck of the community. He, however, praised the village head and the police for bringing normalcy to the place through their handling of the issue.

An Abakaliki-based legal practitioner, Sunday Ununu, said the act was unthinkable, adding that “As their lawyer, I was called upon and I quickly told them to report the matter to the police and the village respected the directive. Immediately, an arrest was made.  

“Planting charm for people is a criminal act too and the people have been advised to follow the issue legally”. 

He also advised the people that whenever they set their eyes on any of the fleeing suspects, they should grab such persons and hand them over to the police. 

Meanwhile, the man at the centre of the whole episode, Okechukwu Nwangwuta, when contacted on phone, dismissed the allegations levelled against him as baseless, adding that he would have given his own version, but that he had gone on a journey. 

“Those people are talking rubbish. I’m supposed to give you my own side of the story, but I’m not in town. As soon as I come back from the journey, I will bring it to you. In fact, I have already told my lawyer to prepare the report,” he said.  

Similarly, his counterpart, Samuel Uguru, also said through the telephone that he was not in town when Saturday Sun called him and would not speak further until he returned. -Daily Sun.

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