Achief priest of Okonko Cult, Chief Emenike Umogariko has allegedly sacrificed a 200- level student of Political Science of the Abia State University (ABSU), Uturu at the altar of the cult in Umuopara village, Mkpa , Bende Local Government Area of Abia State. The victim, Ekenna Sunday Ugochukwu, had the left side of his face (including his ear) cutoff.
The machete cut exposed the victim’s teeth. His friend, who took him to the hospital before he died, Iheanyichukwu Nwokoro, told Daily Sun said he had to tear his shirt and used it to tie the dangling part of the victim’s face to his head.“We later rushed him to Tochi Hospital, Uzuakoli, where doctors rejected him, saying that his case was beyond them and referred him to Federal Medical Hospital, Umuahia.
“But before we could take him to the Federal Medical Centre, he died.”
Two other victims, who were allegedly attacked by the chief priest, managed to escape with serious machete cuts and are now at the Intensive Care Unit of Federal Medical Centre,Umuahia. The incident took place in Umuopara, a village that has common boundary with Amediaba, in Mkpa, the home town of Prof. Obioma, an uncle of the deceased. Residents of the surrounding communities expressed disbelief that an incident of that nature could take place.
Daily Sun gathered that trouble started when the Okonko priest was found guilty of a certain offence, which the fine was one goat. The goat must be slaughtered the same night and eaten by members. Members, who gathered at the Okonko’s house for the annual midnight ritual, which comes up a week after the community’s new yam festival, fined him one goat, which they converged on his house to eat as practised by the cult .
As the people were deliberating on the issue in the hall, little did they know that the chief priest had sneaked out of the hall, gone to his house and taken his cutlass. He hid the weapon under his flowing cult gown and sat in the darkest corner of the hall. He thereafter beckoned on one of those deliberating but the man refused to go, insisting that if the priest had anything to say, he should come out and say it. Daily Sun gathered further that the deliberation centred on his alleged offence, but unknown to them, the Okonko priest had a different plan.
As the chief priest delayed leaving the dark area, many of those in the hall were already dosing off when, Umogariko allegedly stood up, moved close to where the victim sat and had slept off. He drew his cutlass and dealt a deadly blow on Ugochukwu, who shouted and rushed out with the fatal wound.
The chief priest attacked a second person and a third, waving his cutlass and daring anyone to come close. Everyone took to his heels in fear, while he escaped into the bush. With his blood gushing out Ugochukwu rushed to his friend, Iheanyichukwu, pleading that he be rushed to a hospital. The victim’s friend told Daily Sun that he tried everything he could to save him but Ugochukwu died on the way to the hospital.
A relative of the victim, Dr Agu Ogbonnaya said the family was suspecting a foulplay. He alleged that it was possible that members of the cult sacrificed the university student at their altar and only gave the other two people, who are members of their own village mild machete cuts as a cover-up.
“How come that Ugochukwu, who is not from that village is the one that was killed on the spot and the others are receiving treatment at the hospital. There is more to this than the eyes can see and the family intends to get to the root of the matter. We are only waiting for the family head before we can take a step on the matter,” Ogbonnaya said.
When Daily Sun visited Umuopara village, the female goat which was seized by members of the cult, which probably sparked off the trouble was still tied inside the Okonko’s house. Daily Sun gathered that angry youths gathered in their hundreds and razed down the house of the chief priest. They apprehended and dragged him to Uzuakoli Police Station.
The Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of state CID, Mr Micloth Joseph confirmed the incident. Joseph said the incident happened immediately after the new yam festival, adding that the suspect was in police custody. He added that investigation into the incident was going on.