Friday, August 06, 2004

Trial by Ordeal in the 21st Century

Daneil Balint-Kurti (AP), "50 Corpses Found in Nigerian Cult Shrines," Seattle Post-Intelligence4 p. A6 (August 6, 2004):
Police believe[] some of the victims -- businessmen, civil servants, and others -- were poisoned. The cult, known as Alusi Okija, is believed to practice a ritual in which people involved in disputes, often over business deals, are exhorted to settle them by drinking a potion they are told will kill only the guilty.
The story is given a slightly different spin in "Police Raid Anambra Community's Deities, Recover Skulls 50 Corpses, Registers of the Dead Discovered in Evil Forest," Africa News (August 6, 2004):
The police in Anambra State on Wednesday raided two deities known as Ogwug-wu-Akpu, and Ogwu-Isiala in Okija, Ihiala Local Government Area of the state arrested 30 priests, including two chief priests ministering to the deities.

[Anambra Police Commissioner Felix Ogbaudu] said ... investigation showed that idol worship had been with the people of Okija for ages and that the deities had existed among them for hundreds of years, adding that even if the intentions of their progenitors, who founded the idols could be culturally noble, their successors were now abusing the process.

In Okija and environs, the commissioner said it was usually their belief that two quarreling camps go before the deity for arbitration and at the end, the one presumed guilty dies within a period of one year. Then, the family of the dead invites the chief priests of the deities to come and remove the body of the dead to the evil forest, having sworn to it to judge him or her before death.

The age-long practice of calling a local cult, he said, was now being abused by their priests, who now use it to kill, instill fear in the minds of the victims and extort money from them under the guise of performing the ritual of cleansing after death, adding that it was possible that people were taken there and hypnotised.

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