Ondo deaths: Youths committed sacrilege, says Chief
Chief Moses Enimade, the Oyewoga of Ode Irele in Ondo State, has attributed the recent death of 20 youths in the town to what he called sacrilege done to Molokun, god of the land.
Enimade, next in command to Oba Cornelius Olanrewaju-Lebi, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Irele at the weekend, that the deaths were not caused by any strange disease or the Ebola virus.
No fewer than 20 youths reportedly died of severe headaches and blindness in the town recently.
Enimade contended that some stubborn youths broke into the inner room of Molokun Shrine on April 15.
'Molokun is a deity of the land, only the Chief Priest and High Chief Gboguron are qualified to enter the shrine,' he said.
The chief alleged that the youths entered the shrine and made away with traditional items in a bid to acquire extra-ordinary powers and engage in money ritual. 'They were not qualified to enter the room (shrine). They had to face death penalty,' he emphasised.
The Oyewoga said it he could not remember the last time Malokun or any other gods had to strike like it recently did in the area.
According to him, there is no community or town without its own culture and tradition, adding that what happened in Irele is the judgement of the gods on stubborn youths.
He said: 'Even the Kabiesi himself is not permitted to enter the Molokun Shrine's inner room except the Chief Priest and High Chief Gboguron. Sacrifice must be performed before they can enter. Because these youths want to be rich at all costs, they entered the sacred place and made away with traditional items and 20 of them have died as a result of their desperate acts.
'We have to appease the gods or else many will still die and we have to bury them according to tradition. Their corpses belong to the gods and will be exhumed if buried by their families.'
He restated that the deaths were not caused by diseases or Ebola as widely speculated.
Some residents who spoke appealed to the chief priest to make necessary atonement to avert calamity in the town.
Meanwhile, the Ogun State government has intensified surveillance at his border points with Ondo State in order to prevent the spread of any epidemic to the state.
In a press statement issued by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Olaokun Soyinka, the state government also disclosed that it has set up a monitoring response team, which would maintain close contact with the Ondo State authorities and based upon the information available, put on alert all its disease surveillance teams.
Soyinka further disclosed, 'In particular, we are monitoring Ogun Waterside local government area closely and are sensitising our border communities to reduce cross border movements to Ondo State for now. Further blood tests are being carried out on collected samples, to ascertain if the deaths have been caused by ingested poisons or other infectious agents.'
This assurance came on the heels of the plea by the Ondo State governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, calling on residents of the state not to panic over the outbreak of the epidemic, assuring that the state government has put in place measures to check the scourge.
In a broadcast to the people, the governor expressed regrets over the loss of lives currently put at 17, but however expressed joy that no new death has been recorded in the last 48 hours.
Shedding more light on the disease and steps being taken protect Ogun residents, Olaokun said the unexplained cluster of deaths which affected Ode-Irele township and Ayadi Community in Irele LGA, Ondo State is yet to be explained, adding that recently released laboratory results have ruled out fatal infectious diseases such as Lassa fever and Ebola haemorrhagic fever.
The commissioner advised residents of the state to avoid travelling to the affected areas until the nature of the illness is fully ascertained. He also tasked them to continue to observe strict personal and environmental hygiene and ensure that food and drink are obtained from reliable sources.
While calling on residents to quickly report any discovery of strange occurrence at their local hospital, Olaokun said the state Public Health Hotlines can be reached on 01099140121 , 09099140122 and 09021715984 for prompt action. NAN