Man attempts to steal deity in Ebonyi, given 24 lashes
By Ruth Oginyi
A middle-aged man identified as Chinedu ‘Nwa Afikpo’ has been given 24 lashes by youths of Enohia Item community in Afikpo North local government area of Ebonyi state for allegedly attempting to steal their powerful deity called ‘Ekweteni.’
The suspect, who hails from Kpoghirikpo, Orient Daily gathered, was publicly flogged by the youths at the instance of the elders of the community.
Chinedu, who recently returned from Spain for the burial of his grandmother, was said to have hired a strange woman called ‘Ezenwanyi’ and a man allegedly from Isu-Njaba in Imo state, to assist him in carting away the dreaded deity. According to a source from the community, luck ran out on him when he was sighted by some women entering the deity’s forest accompanied by the woman.
The women were said to have raised the alarm as it was a sacrilege in Ehugboland for a woman to go into the forest. “They ran to the community and alerted the youths who arrested Chinedu and his team. They were seen with different types of charms, a goat which they allegedly came with to enable them neutralise the power of the deity before carrying it away. The community burned the charms to ashes. They released the two others but held back Chinedu for punishment over the act,” the source said.
The source further told this paper in confidence that the suspect later claimed that the deity was the source of success and so he wanted to take it to where he would be worshipping it alone, adding that his uncle, who normally helped him sacrifice to the deity for blessing had died.
According to him, his action was widely condemned as the deity was co-owned by 10 communities in the area. “As we speak, elders of these communities are yet to decide further punishment to be meted to Chinedu to appease the deity. The deity has been a source of protection to the communities who jointly own it but Christianity has made people not to be giving full sacrifice to it (the deity) any longer”, he adds.
However, another source who disclosed that the suspect was his distant cousin, further revealed that Chinedu had no intention to steal the deity but just to revive it.
According to the source, “Before now, he used to bring things for sacrifice to one of his uncles to help him make some sacrifice to the deity. Now the uncle has died, he came back saying that Christians had gone to desecrate the deity. He now brought people to do some sacrifice to appease the deity so that its power will become strong again.
“He approached the elders who told him that he was too small to talk about the deity. And that it was only the Essa age grade that was traditionally authorised to ever go to the deity. He was told he was not qualified to go there or even discuss the deity.
“So, he went and brought some people, including a lady, who came with their own deity to revive the Ekweteni to what it used to be before the (so-called) desecration. However, his move was misconstrued as attempt at stealing the deity.