Prominent indigenes of Okija community in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, have risen in defence of the dreaded shrines in the area popularly known as Alusi Okija in Igbo parlance, saying that the shrines do not kill innocent persons, as being portrayed.
Chief Edwin Azubuko who spoke on behalf of the community said that the shrines kill only those who are liars, cheats and the fraudulent, particularly those who cheat or defraud their business partners along their business lines or their relations.
Azubuko who spoke in reaction to Crime Guard expose that jobless youths have taken over the management of the shrines, to the extent that they have almost desecrated the shrines, explained that the shrines, particularly the Ogwugwu Akpu and Ogwugwu Isi Ula stand for truth and nothing but the truth, insisting that it is only God that knows the purity of the hearts or otherwise of the present day priests of the shrines.
He explained that the shrines, as spirits, kill their victims through sickness or accidents. “The Ulasi shrine which is the head of all the shrines in Okija was relocated from my father’s compound to Nkwo market, Okija about 1,200 years ago because the Nkwo market was considered as a central place for such a big shrine.
One Ezenwegbu was the pioneer Chief Priest of the Ulasi shrine and after him, no on else has served or is still serving it up till date, even as the door is still open for any one who is interested in serving it as the chief priest to take up the responsibility.
“When the then Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Tafa Balogun came down to Okija in 2004 and arrested some of the priests of the shrines based on human rights abuse, he advised us to stop displaying corpses in the shrines because it is an eye-saw.
Ever since then, we have decided to be burying those killed by the shrines”. On how to identify those killed by the shrines, he said the shrines are spirits and they know who commit atrocities that make them to deserve death. “It is the shrine that will go to the bereaved family and inform them that the deceased was killed by the shrine for one atrocity or the other. Therefore, the shrines are specifically there to defend the defenceless by protecting the honest persons in the society from the aggression of the dishonest persons who go about seeking to cheat, defraud or even to kill the innocent persons.”
Credit: Vanguard Nigeria