By CHRISTOPHER OJI
Fear and apprehension rightly described the atmosphere in Ibusa, Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta state.
The one-time peaceful and largest town in Delta State known for its farm produce is now a shadow of itself, as men and women have refused to go to farm for fear of being killed by suspected ritualists who have been unleashing terror on the community. The evil men target only women who are above fifty.
Daily Sun reliably gathered that from December 2009 to July 2010, nine women have been murdered in their farmlands and their body parts tampered with.
When Daily Dun visited the town recently, people discussed the new trend of alleged ritual murder in low tones. Women have refused to go to the farm while their male counterparts are afraid to also go to the farm alone for fear of running into the ritual killers, who may feel they were being trailed by the men.
The traditional Prime Minister of Ibusa (Odogwu), Dr Tony Nwaezeigwe, took the reporter to some of the scenes of the killings. He said the incidents smack of ritual killings.
The university lecturer revealed that nine women have been killed by the evil men since last year December with the latest being in July 2010. Tracing the killing to ritualists, he said: “The manner in which their victims were killed suggest ritual. The killers target women above 50 and after killing them, they tamper with their private parts through where they removed their wombs.”
He said the manner in which the first one was killed was the same way others were killed. He explained that aside the physical evidences seen on the corpses, he and his team had gone for inquiry from the oracles: “the oracle has spoken that those behind the dastard acts are sons and daughters of Ibusa in collaboration with outsiders. The oracle has also revealed that the killings were done for materialistic purposes. So, the killing is for money making rituals.”
He is of the opinion that solution to the killings should not be left for the police alone. “We should go back to our root and ask our ancestors to fish the evil men. Moreso, we should place a curse on those behind the shameful act in Ibusa.”
Odogwu revealed that the prices of food has gone high in Ibusa and its environ as people are now afraid to go to the farm. “As you can see, Ibusa people are farmers while our women concentrated in processing cassava and vegetables, the men engaged in yam planting. Now, the women are afraid to go to the farm because they are the target. The men are also afraid to go for fear of possibly running into the evil men. As you can see palm wine and bush meat are also scarce as tapers and hunters are also afraid to go to the bush.
Nwaezeigwe described the happenings as shameful and abominable warning the killers to leave the town or risk the wrath of the gods of the land as the community will tackle the problem traditionally.
He continued: “blood money will always backfire as the curse associated with it will visit the family of perpetrators from generation to generation.”
His Royal Highness, Onowu Patrick Mowete, also described the new trend of killings in Ibusa as abominable.
The 102-year-old man, who is the oldest in the clan (Diokpa), said there is just on reason for the killing. It was purely for money making ritual. Those behind it are advanced fee fraudsters (419ners) who are being chased up and down by law enforcement agents. They now know that 419 no longer pays and have now gone into rituals.”
He called on Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan to wade into the matter as he is the Chief Security Officer of the state. “Our wives and children are afraid to go to the farm for fear of being killed by the ritualists who have invaded our town. If you go outside, you can see them hanging around. It is not that they are lazy, they are afraid to go to the farm. Our farm produce are dying gradually because there is nobody to clear the farms.
He also advised parents and guardians to advise their children and wards if they are involved in such act, to come out honourably and confess their sins, “before we place curses on them. We are about doing so and the curse will consume all the members of the community who are behind the act.”
A retired teacher, the Ochibadike Oshia of Ibusa, Patrick Okolie, whose cousin was a victim described the killing as wickedness in highest order. “My sister, Onyebuchi Nwaokocha was gruesomely killed while she was clearing her farm. After killing her, the evil men through her private part removed her womb and stuck her wrapper into her vagina.”
The 70-year-old man who claimed the killing was for money making ritual said the solution to the development would be that of metaphysical. “We should resort to tradition and ask our gods to intervene. In the olden days, this evil men would have been fished out within seven days. But few weeks from now, they would be unmasked by the gods of the land.”
He said while the governor and the police will be doing their part to unmask those involved, “we the traditional rulers should go back to our tradition and ask questions and release our god to deal with the evil men.”
A retired Shell staff, the Onu Diokpa of Ibusa, Okpala Etufunwa corroborated the belief of others that the reason for the incidents was for money making ritual.
He said: “Our children are responsible for the killing. So, the killers are in our midst. We are afraid because as we are planning to unravel the mystery and unmask the killers, our children are giving out information to their gang because they are involved.”
Etufunwa said there is tension in the land as no one knows the next target. “So, we want government’s intervention urgently in the land. Nine of our women have been killed and nobody is saying anything.”
The Local Government Chairman, Mr. Ben Okonkwo, who spoke to Daily Sun at his office in Akwukwu Igbo, also traced the killings to money making ritual. He wants the people to know that the killers are in their midst. “I am saying unequivocally that the culprits are indigenes of Ibusa even though they may be collaborating with outsiders. So, I am advising them to assist the police in giving out information about their children who are in this ritual murder.”
He said: “As the Chief Security Officer of Oshimili North LGA, the information at my disposal shows that nine women have so far been killed. The women were not killed in one area but in different farm lands. The manner and style in which they were killed suggest ritual murder.”
He described the development as pathetic as the killings have brought untold hardship on Ibusa community and the LGA as a whole. “Agriculture is the major source of our income but due to the ritual killings targeted at women, they are now afraid to go to farm. If people are afraid to go to farm, you should know the danger involve. Food prices will skyrocket and there will be scarcity and inflation.
On the measures put in place to checkmate ritual killings, he said the council had embarked on orientation campaign to discourage youths against ill-gotten wealth and the need for hard work “because, the syndrome of get rich quick is the order of the day now. People no longer want to work, otherwise how can one demean himself to kill a woman, severe her private part, if not for money ritual making.”
Secondly, he said the state police command has brought a part of the State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to Okpanam which share the same boundary with Ibusa in a bid to track down the perpetrators of the ritual killings and other vices.
He called on Ibusa clan to clean itself of ritualists by giving out information to the police “because the killers live in their midst.”
However, the state police spokesman, Mr. Charles Mouka said only four women were killed in the bush. He said the police have been collaborating with the local vigilante to seeing that they unmasked the killer squad. Unfortunately, all the women who were murdered went to farm where they were killed by their assailants all alone. So, nobody could come out to give description of the perpetrators.
On what he suspected may be the reason behind the killings, he said the force would not tie the reason to one thing or the other. “All we are saying is that the killers are not strangers, they live in our midst. So, indigenes should assist the police in the area of information so as to arrest the killers so that Ibusa will be at peace.
Daily Sun was accompanied by the Odogwu and his entourage to visit some of the scenes, the farm roads were lonely as only few courageous men who were in groups were seen on the road. The men were heavily armed with double barrel guns and other farm tools.
A man who spoke on the farm road, Sunday Agbo, said it was now a common practice for them to go to the farm in group as no one knew when the evil men would strike. “My brother, that is the only way we can survive. But it is not an easy thing to gather in group to go to the farm the same time.