The Barbarous Acts at Okija

No Comments » August 9th, 2004 posted by // Categories: Pictures, Maps & Cartoons

Barbarous Acts at Okija


Mobolaji E. Aluko, PhD

Monday, August 9, 2004



On November 15, 1957, during colonial Nigerian time,  a group of Nigerian policemen
from the Criminal and Investigation Department (CID) of Northern Nigeria and
Lagos surreptitiously descended on Abakaliki, Eastern Nigeria (capital of
present-day Ebonyi State), posing as ordinary people.  They were trying to find
out about the murder of one lady called Nwamgbo Igbeagu, the first among more
than one hundred wives of one prominent , local chief,  64-year-old Nwiboko Obodo.  Originally
the key-holder of  hundreds of safes of monies kept  in Obodo’s care by various
people in the society, Nwamgbo had not only aroused the suspicion of her husband
when some of the money got mysteriously stolen, but was also suspect when
Obodo’s son Sunday by another woman died even more mysteriously.    A tribunal
under the superintendence of Obodo found Nwamgbo guilty. However, the
traditional executioners, unwilling to carry out the capital punishment because
“We cannot take the life of our dear chief”, were relieved by Obodo himself, who
reportedly proceeded to strangle his own wife with a bicycle chain.

It was this heinous act – reported by Nwamgbo’s mother who had cried out that her
daughter was missing – that brought the CID into Abakaliki six months later,
with one investigating police officer Mr. Anoruo (at the head of a team) posing
to Obodo as a medicine-man able to prevent the police from arresting Obodo.

On February 28, 1958, Anoruo in fact arrested Obodo and seven members of what
turned out to be the Odozi Obodo Society.  It also turned out that Nwaegbo’s
murder was the mere tip of an ice-berg:  flaunting several “juju houses”,  the
Odozi Obodo Society had terrorized Abakaliki and the environs for nine years,
allegedly killing as many as 400 people in the guise of exacting punishment
for sundry evil deeds of those people.  Nwobiko’s Odozi Obodo Society was
allegedly the “watchdogs” of Abakaliki,  to “safeguard [its] peace and morals.
It punished severely any person who stole, committed adultery or was guilty of
any anti-social activities.”  Chief Obodo had naturally became rich in the

A few months after their arrest, the criminals were sentenced to death by hanging, and
after exhausting their appeals, were hanged by their necks until their death in
about June 1959.

So ended one phase of the Odozi Obodo Society…..until these latest murderous
discoveries of the Ogwugwu Shrines of Okija.



I shall spare the reader the  gory details, but the brief sketch is as follows:  on
August 5, 2004, Nigerians and the world woke up to the horrid news that the
Nigerian Police had recovered as many as 20 human skulls and  50 corpses, some
still fresh and headless and in their coffins. Thirty suspects were also
arrested including the priests of two of the shrines – Ogwugwu Isiula and
Ogwugwu Akpu.. [Other shrines are Ogwugwu Mmili,  Ogwugwu Apunama, Ogwugwu Ahaya
Afa, Ogwugwu Idigo and Ogwugwu Idimgo in various hamlets strewn around Okija, in
Ihiala Local Government.]
The 80-man-strong police  operation was led by the Commander of the Special
Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in the state, CSP Mr. Gabriel Haruna and the state
commissioner of police, Mr. Felix Ogbaudu.  The case blew open at the specific
instance of a modern-day Anoruo, but this time not a policeman but a Hare
Krishna convert posing as a medicine-man:  Chief Chukwumezie
Igwe of Umuhu Village, Okija.

May God bless him and protect him.  [Amen.]


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