Security, Tradition And Christianity – A Crossroad
Following series of media reports and numerous cries for help exposing the prevalence of Human sacrifice in certain communities, the Federal Government and other relevant bodies stepped up its fight against the perpetrators and conspirators in order to nip the root cause of this sacrilege which had put the communities in a bad light.
The battle against this Human sacrifice is far from being won in Nigeria as the voices of men and women in the communities who are ready to expose them are silenced by the constant threat to life.
In the early 18th century, history has it that most human sacrifices carried out by the Igbo traditional institutions were performed on the slaves in a small village called Umuosu (children of an outcast) by their superior people of Okaiuga Nkwoegwu in Umuahia North LGA of Abia State. It was until the late 20th century when Christian bodies and other Non-Governmental Organizations started agitating for the abolition of human sacrifices that public awareness was raised.
However, the majority of the members of the affected communities were scared of the consequences of abandoning the tradition of their forefathers. The threat was sustained and fear instilled through a public oath-taking where all members of the community during their “Iwa ji”(yam festival) are forced to drink uncooked blood of a lamb as a symbol of loyalty to the tradition. The unlucky ones died after the ritual while others have fled the shores of this country.
Our correspondent visited Umuahia North Local Government Area yesterday and on an inquiry about why such diabolic culture is observed, Chief Obasi Nwosu, a retired police officer and a lover of culture said, ”we are in a time where people treat their ancestors with absolute disrespect and disregard. They despise our traditions and rituals.
They see those who still follow our beliefs and perform some of our rituals as disparaged by the urban class and tagged uncivilized or downright savages”. However, he did not explain why they killed 3 slaves at every “Iwa ji” (yam festival) occasion, how the deity chose the next Custodian of the slaves’ skulls predominantly practiced in the community and why the custodians died shortly after taking the office.
Ekwulobia is the 4th largest city in South-Eastern Nigeria. It has nine (9) villages notably divided into two (2) traditional divisions; Ezi and Ifite. The town is known for its special masquerade called the “Achukwu” which perform during special events like new yam festival “Iwa-ji”, burial of elderly titled men, initiation ceremonies of young boys and girls into adulthood and also the initiation of “1st Sons” into the occultist worship of “Agbara Deity” believed to be the god of the soil. The refusal to answer to this call definitely means the death of the “1st Son” a source said.
The numerous efforts employed in the rescue mission of victims of these rituals have left in trail, loss of lives, destruction of properties and sustained threat to the lives of some of the masked and unmasked members of the community and advocates who had put their lives at risk to eliminate this scourge. “The call to arrest the Chief Priest, Ralph Akataka has continuously been neglected by the Ekwulobia Police Command,” another source said.
In the Southwest, Ijero Ekiti which is situated in the northwest part of Ekiti State is a home of culture and tradition. Unlike most Yoruba towns, they have two (2) thrones; one occupied by a female Queen Abokoaye who orders the punishment of any defaulter in regards to female circumcision.
“The female Head, Chief Eyegun arrested for forcibly performing female genital mutilation (FGM) on wives and young girls who died during the period of incarceration claimed to have acted on the instructions of Hon. Omowumi Ogunlola, a member of House of Representative and she was never investigated” a source said.
”Those wives and young girls were thrown into the shrine where the great idol called Obaleyakin lives. Obaleyakin represents the gods of their forefathers and the newly circumcised females must worship it for 3 days without food or water under the watch of the Priest of the Shrine, who must offer the cut-out clitoris blended with the blood of a lamb to the idol before feeding the new initiates with the mixture” another source said.
The worry is why some prominent men like Hon. Niyi Adebayo (Former Deputy National Chairman and presently a Minister) and Dr. Peter Afunaya (PRO of the State Services) could accept to be custodians of this “cultural heritage” as asserted. It is rumoured that King Owa Ajero is only a mouthpiece of the wicked machinery of the custodians.
With these calibers of men as custodians in the Ijero Kingdom, that once a “last son” as tradition required, is chosen as the Priest, he has no option but to accept or risk his life. This Priest must be a “last son” in the family lineage and must live in a desecrated hut beside the Shrine. He would only see his family at a new moon and a full moon which is approximately about twenty (20) times a year.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Ali in defense of the culture of the people of Ijero Kingdom said the custodians confirmed to him that “before the introduction of foreign religion, Ifa, Osun, Imole, Orisa nla and Ogun are the gods which our forefathers worshiped which we have compressed to Obaleyakin”, denoting fairness which we feel has no place in the brutality suffered in the Kingdom.
Conclusively, our report has narrowed the reason for the early deaths of these custodians that perform the rituals and the priests of the deities to be ignorance of the practice and basic element of the operations of the tradition. The Chief priest at Umuosu village said “the desire for the initiates to stay with their families before new moon or full moon resulted in instant punishment by the gods”
The Osu cast in Naze, Owerri had been in the frontline in the battle against gross injustice to them. The oldest slave in the community, who identified himself as Mr Obinna Ofoegbu said, “our women who are married in other villages end up molested and chased out of their matrimonial homes with their children. ……. the Osu system has claimed lives of our people and has been suspected to be a traditionally legitimate way of eliminating the ‘chosen’ individual as sacrifice”.
The goal of this report is to restore the dignity of man as well as cry to the security agencies to implement safety policies for the citizenry mostly in communities where ritualism and human sacrifices are predominant.