The true story of Oraifite crisis — Community leadership opens up

Posted by News Express | 17 December 2019 | 1,353 times

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•Aftermath of police operation in Oraifite

The leadership of Oraifite in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State on Monday said that the crisis that resonated in the community on December 2, 2019 was caused by a rivalry between masquerade groups in the area.

The fracas led to the death of an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Oliver Abbey, and Assistant Superintend of Police, Joseph Akubo.

While the two masquerade groups were named as Otu Eke and Otu Afor, it was learnt that Otu Eke is a cultist masquerade group that is as old as the existence of Oraifite community.

Reading from a text titled, ‘Setting the records straight,’ the President-General of Oraifite Improvement Union (OIU), Sir Sunday Igboanuzue, as well as the traditional ruler of the town, Igwe Dan Udoji, and the Secretary-General of OIU, Mr. Uche Offor, told told reporters in Awka insisted that “the actions that led to the gruesome murder of two senior police officers and its aftermath of violence and destruction resulted from felonious rivalry and disputes between two cultist groups namely Otu Eke and Otu Afor.

“Otu Eke is a cultist masquerade group that is as old as the existence of Oraifite as a community. Unfortunately, in recent times, attempts by certain unscrupulous individuals to selfishly hijack the organisation, recruit hoodlums and miscreants into the group, and misalign its activities with its ethos compelled some of its members to resign and establish rival groups called Otu Afor and Otu Nkwo.

“The new leadership of Otu Eke, on the premise that they have registered Otu Eke with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and therefore have exclusive right to the use of the ‘Otube’ (the masquerade identified with the cult) regalia as their trademark, decreed that the two new rival groups will no longer be allowed to identify themselves with Otube or its regalia in Oraifite.”

The community leadership stressed that though the community is open to police investigation, it is worried that certain influential individuals and perceived leaders of different communities, including the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, are making public statements to the media without getting the facts of the matter.

The statement further reads: “It is quite unfortunate that the ill-informed, with the urge to score political points, or acquire cheap popularity, is not in the interest of justice.

“In the morning of November 30, 2019, members of the Otu Afor faction, attired in their Otube regalia, during the burial ceremony of one of their members, Mr. Chukwudi Okafor, were attacked by members of the Otu Eke faction in bid to enforce their prohibition of any other faction from identifying with the Otube masquerade or regalia. It was alleged that one of the masquerades was publicly unmasked and some individuals injured.

“Subsequently, at about mid-day, the leadership of the Otu Eke faction, in furtherance of their decree, ordered some hoodlums and miscreants to go to the burial venue and arrest members of the Otu Afor faction in the Otube regalia. This action caused something that had never been witnessed in Oraifite.

“These hoodlums and miscreants, armed with axes and machetes, invaded the burial venue, gathered a lot of people, publicly derobed members of the Otu Afor faction in Otube regalia, and abducted some members of Otu Afor and took them to the residence of their leader.

“During this invasion, hoodlums and miscreants destroyed several properties, looted monies and livestock, and beat up and injured several people.

“After this invasion and attack, the chairman of the Otu Afor faction called the executives of Ifite-Oraifite Progressive Union to report what had happened. Some members of the executive visited the burial venue, witnessed some of the destruction and injuries, took some of the injured to the hospital and advised both the Okafor family and the chairman of the Otu Afor faction to go to the Oraifite Police Station and file complaints.

“For avoidance of doubt, the involvement of the Police in these matters was initiated by the complaints filed by the Chairman and members of the Otu Afor faction and members of late Mr. Chukwudi Okafor.

“Other subsequent incidents, violence, lawlessness and destruction of lives and property resulted from the police's effort to rescue the abducted members of the Otu Afor faction, arrest of the culprits and the restoration of peace and order.”

Responding to the question of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) being fingered by the police as the initiator of the crisis, the President-General said that the case is still under police investigation, hence the leadership cannot comment on it but insisted that rival masquerade groups triggered the crisis.

Source: Pamela Eboh, Awka

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