Chinwe Nwobu, a 40-year-old self-acclaimed prophetess and herbalist has been beaten up and banished from Umubiala village, Agulu in Anaocha local government area of Anambra state for allegedly operating a deadly voodoo religious centre and desecrating the community shrine.
Following Nwobu’s dramatic expulsion from the village by enraged youths and masquerades last weekend, her nameless worship centre was turned inside out, revealing odds and ends in the forms of fetish objects, charms, photographs, concoctions, veiled and tucked away inside the centre. These were reportedly damaged and burnt by the youths.
The prophetess, popularly known as Ezenwanyi by her followers, who hails from Enugwu-Ukwu in Njikoka local government area of Anambra state, was arrested by villagers while her live-in lover, Ikechukwu Ngene, from Umu-Owelle, Agulu, is on the run and currently being tracked.
Orient Weekend gathered that Chinwe was, until the incident, famous in the area for providing spiritual solutions to people who thronged her centre over different health and life challenges. Her bubble bust after she allegedly desecrated the community shrine called Ajana.
Engr. Emmanuel Chikeluba, a community elder, told this paper that Nwobu incurred the wrath of the villagers when she, accompanied by her Agulu indigene lover, Ngene, allegedly plotted the takeover of the ancestral land housing the shrine.
“Our custom forbids women stepping into the shrine and that was the cause of the whole fracas”, Chikeluba said.
According to him, youths from the community, accompanied by masquerades, invaded Nwobu’s home to question her effrontery.
“To find answers for her guts, youths, led by community masquerades, searched the nooks and crannies of her house.” Items found included pictures of numerous people, some curiously bearing the morbid inscription ‘RIP’, a well-known acronym for ‘rest in peace,’ a popular epithet for the dead.
According to Chikeluba, “my own picture was there, too. How it got there, I don’t know. We saw the pictures of some indigenes of Agulu who died recently, also with ‘RIP’ inscribed at the back, showing that she knows about their deaths.”
The president general of Agulu People’s Union Nigeria, Chief Andy Orakwelu, who described the incident as mysterious and shocking, however, told this paper that the incident would have become bloody but for the intervention of the town’s leadership. He recalled: “I was contacted that an unprecedented crowd had gathered at Umubiala village following a shocking discovery of atrocity committed by a woman, Chinwe Nwobu.
“There were trailer-loads of charms and other fetish items that were buried/hidden in her house. This also included skulls, presumed to be human skulls, as well as pictures of people still alive and some others that recently died in the community.
“Surprisingly, the picture of my late immediate younger sister that died last year was there with the inscription, ‘Rest in Peace’. In fact, I have never seen a thing like this before in my life. There was also that of another youth corps member that died recently.
“When I arrived the scene, I pleaded with the youths to hand her over to me, just to save her life. We also promised that she would be immediately banished from the community. After pacifying the irate youths, they allowed us to take her.
“We eventually reported her to the Neni police station and, after interrogation, she was released to us because of the coronavirus pandemic”, Orakwelu narrated.
Orakwelu, further disclosed that efforts to arrest the prophetess’ fleeing lover by the local vigilante proved abortive. He said the accomplice, believed to have fled to Enugwu-Ukwu, was being tracked as he had contacted his Enugwu-Ukwu counterpart, Mr. Boniface Nkwuaku, for assistance in arresting him.
Orakwelu alleged that the woman was more a ritualist than prophetess, wondering how a true prophetess would engage in such devilish practice. He, however, described the incident as liberation for the people of the community. “Our people should rejoice because our community has been liberated from dangerous people who tried to cage and bottle us. We are sleeping over nothing until peace is returned,” he added.
Miss Chinenye Okoye of Afor-Agulu, who witnessed the dramatic incident expressed shock that fetish objects and charms could be found in a purported Christian religious centre.
“It was more shocking because it happened during ‘service,’ with other people within the premises. What was even more strange is that her purported church has no name. Although people have come to associate her with the Christian Sabbath denomination, since she usually held service on Saturdays, some members of the denomination denied any links with her,” she said.
Other residents of the community who spoke to our reporter hailed her banishment, urging community leaders and government not to allow her return. “We are shocked to learn that such evil was being perpetrated by a non-indigene of the community”, a resident, identified as Chizoba, said.
However, the embattled prophetess has denied allegations of voodoo and occultic religious practice in the village. Although, she admitted possession of charms and other fetish objects, she claimed they were gathered and kept in accordance with the instruction she received from the marine kingdom she represents.
Nwobu further disclosed that Ngene, was not her husband but an old flame she reunited with after her breakup with her husband. According to her, following their reunion, Ngene also parted ways with his wife, abandoning his family to be with her.
Meanwhile, the prophetess’ sister, Hope Nwobu, also dispelled the allegation of evil intent in Chinwe’s activities and decried the action of the youths in hitting her and Chinwe with sticks and machetes, the pains from which she was still nursing. She also claimed that she was yet to trace her children since the bizarre incident took place.
Similarly, Mmaduabuchi Aniekwe, from Obeagu Agulu, who said he lived with the suspect for over two years, absolved her of the allegations and recalled how she helped him overcome his (unspecified) problem.
The Anambra state police command’s public relations officer, SP Haruna Mohammed, when contacted, confirmed the incident, stressing that the state commissioner of Police, CP John Abang has ordered for investigation into the matter. “There was an allegation that the woman was operating a fake spiritual home and youths went to burn down the place and chase her away. So, the police have started investigating the matter”, Mohammed said in a telephone chat.