An Onitsha, Anambra state based Pastor popularly known as ‘Odumeje’ or ‘Lion Himself’ has come under fire following what Enugwu-Ukwu people consider as ‘Invasion, desecration, arson and carrying away of ancient artifacts’ from the community when he visited a family to carry out ‘cleansing’.
In a petition signed by Mr Samuel Obidigbo Okoye addressed to the traditional Culture Minister of Enugwu-Ukwu, Njikoka local government area of Anambra State, Ozonkpu Jude Ekwunife, members of Umuagbakwu kindred, Akama Osili village , Enugwu-Ukwu urged him and other prominent citizens of the town to task a certain Goddy Nwoye, a member of the village and his associates to return all the ‘stolen artifacts’ to their original site or to the newly constructed Isi – Nri museum in Enugwu-Ukwu.
In a trending social media video which could pass for a scene in the movie adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s classic novel, Things Fall Apart, the Onitsha -based Pastor Odumeje could be seen with some others carting away the said artifacts after ‘praying and performing other cleansing acts’ for members of Nwoye family. This was on Thursday, 10th October 2019. According to eyewitnesses, the Pastor was invited to the family by Mr Goddy Nwoye to perform what is commonly referred to as ‘olu ezi na uno’, or family cleansing.
As can be seen in the video, the Pastor had alleged that those artifacts or what Ndigbo refer to as ‘Ikenga’ or ‘Arobunagu’ are the reasons for lack of financial breakthrough and success in the family.
What transpired in Nwoye’s family that day has angered indigenes of Enugwu-Ukwu community and set them on the war part with the pastor.
Chief Dennis Anekwe (Omenyi), the traditional Prime Minister of Enugwu-Ukwu described what happened as “very unfortunate”.
Senator I.G Abana (Ochikota), the leader of Enugwu -Ukwu traditional cabinet could not hide his anger, “This is pure and simple 419. I hope Enugwu-Ukwu people know where this man can be traced, so we can collect our artifacts before they are exported for hard currency. Those artifacts must be recovered”, Abana affirmed.
Showing his dismay, Ozonkpu Jude Ekwunife (Okwuatuegwu), the Culture Minister of Enugwu- Ukwu said; “Something that could have been sent to Obu Okpalanakana Ukabia Nri for the museum but we lost it. What a shame! What a cultural tragedy! What a loss of verifiable and veritable beacons of our history. You can’t do this in Aguleri. You dare not attempt this embarrassment in Agukwu. We have an ordained Monsignor of Enugwu Ukwu extraction, but he never did this to the town”.
A United Kingdom based Prince of the community, Dr. Chinenye Ekpeh wondered aloud; “Who brought this man to Enugwu-Ukwu? Shameful act. Even more shameful prayers. Gullibility I must say”.
Ambassador Elijah Onyeagba, an Abuja based business man and an indigene of Enugwu-Ukwu said; “When you investigate further, you will find out that this man has collected some good money from this family in the name of ‘olu-ezinuno’. This is a scam and our people must be enlightened on these issues. How can a man who claims to be protecting drug barons and 419ners be allowed to exhibit such criminality in Enugwu-Ukwu? Mmadu anozikwiya? Next time this happens, vigilantes, just alert the police, and the pastor and their cohorts must be apprehended to deter others”.
Continuing, Onyeagba said that “the real ‘mugu’ is the family that must have paid to have this guy come desecrate our land. Beyond this video, I am sure there are barrages of these issues happening without any stakeholders knowledge here and there. Something has to be done very quickly”, he advised.
In a bid to pacify the indigenes who are fuming over the brazen desecration of their community by the pastor, the President General of Enugwu-Ukwu Community Development Union (ECDU), Ozor Bonny Nkwuaku called for calm assuring that justice will be done; “ECDU have commenced full investigation into this atrocious, deceitful and despicable act by zealots and cheats that we often invite into our town to perform ‘cleansing’.
Concluding, Nkwuaku said that Enugwu-Ukwu community completely “condemns this act totally. We shall get to the root of the matter in due course”, he maintained and told the people to “expect our findings soon”.
On what could be done to forestall future occurrences, Ozonkpu Ekwunife said that the Enugwu-Ukwu Culture Ministry is working on guidelines that will be presented to the town’s traditional ruler, Igwe Sir Ralph Obumnaeme Ekpeh and the Enugwu-Ukwu Cabinet for their considerations and adoption after which the said guidelines and stipulated punishment for offenders will be made known to all indigenes of the community.