By Chinyere Nwaneri
The sleeping community of Umulogho, Obowo, Imo State was thrown into a mournful mood when news filtered that one of its youth, Chigbo Jude Ihezie, has passed away in Vietnam under questionable circumstances.
Chigbo, a native of Umunnem, Umulogho was reported to have been home last December when he came down to bury his mother and returned to base early this year before news broke out that he was stabbed to death in April.
His death occured about two weeks after a family elder named Ichie Livinus Okonkwo popularly known and called Nzeobi was caught allegedly planting juju in a family land belonging to the late parents of Chigbo. The deceased is the eldest among three surviving children of the parents
A prominent community leader who spoke to The New Oriental under condition of anonymity disclosed with regret that his community is still riddled with fetish practices of the old which snuffed life out of upcoming youths and weakened the people’s development. He narrated the story thus:
“On that fateful April 4, Nzeobi went to the back of the house of Chikaodi Ikemenanwa where the land is located. According to the wife, Grace (aka Uwanile) who saw it all, the man on arrival, looked right and left and convinced that no one was watching pierced to the ground a stick with four heads (projections) and placed an earthen pot with some objects placed inside it and decorated the items in red and black cloth. Added was a chain with padlock and two life chicks hung on the left and right side of the stick
“He started an incantation calling on the names of the three young men who are brothers and owners of the land including the deceased. Immediately he left the woman went and brought other women from a meeting to behold what she witnessed. Some days later news filtered that Chigbo was killed in far away Vietnam
“Thereafter the entire village at the instance of the President Chief Gab Ofoegbu comprising the youths, women, men and elders were summoned on the matter whereupon the accused was asked the reason for his action. He admitted the action but stated that he had no evil intention against anybody but did so to neutralize (ikwaru oru) the land.
“Grace narrating what she saw first took an oath before the crowd vowing that should she lie, let the land of Umunnem take her life. At a point in the proceedings the Youth chairman Ogoke ordered that the juju item deposited by Nzeobi be brough forth before further discussion. The four kids of the man moved ahead to remove some items but were interrupted and beaten up by the youths who claimed that they are not supposed to touch it but their father.
“The accused was later made to swear to an oath with sand and later water to die if he had meant evil or was responsible for the death of the boy.
When The New Oriental called on Nzeobi he was reported to be away but the village head, Prince Nze Mgborogwu Ogwudire who was met in his Obi among others elected to speak on his behalf. According to him, “the whole saga is a conspiracy, a kangaroo gang up by a group of youths sponsored by the enemies of the man.
Continuing, he admitted that the man saw a beacon on a family land and decided to do what he called (Ikwaru ala) and which he calimed was normal and usually done with Omu nkwu (palm frond). He said that it is all designed to raise alarm, put an alert and to get attention adding that up till now they are yet to know who put the beacon.
He later corroborated the account of the woman who witnessed the incident.
Speaking with Peter Ihezie the younger brother of the deceased Nzeobi planted charm in our land to dispossess us of our fathers land. There is no controversy over the land. He has never for once raised issue on the land since we have been living. Our father’s sisters including his mates and those older have testified that the land belongs to us and that he has no right to the land. But when the community interrogated him he claimed that he thought that we were about to sell the land. We only put the beacon to secure the place and document it.
On further inquiry our reporters noted that the matter was yet to be incidented with the police and it appears none of the stakeholders in the saga not interested to do so. Nzeobi is a member of the Eze’s cabinet. Efforts to meet the traditional ruler Eze Uwalaka did not yield result neither did he respond to calls and text messages sent to him.
However, some villagers noticed a twist in the account by the accused saying Ikwaru ala cannot be done with the items he used. Further investigation continues.
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