An advocacy group, Children of the Farmers Club (CFC) has pleaded with the Federal government to upgrade Okija shrine in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State an All African Court of Justice. The group also asked that the government sends compensation to the indigenes of Okija for the disparaging attacks they had received since the town’s deities gained notoriety in 2004.
The founder and chairman of the club, Comrade Ndubuisi Okwuosa told newsmen last Weekend that Okija shrine had carved and maintained reputation as adeity of human arbiter of incorrigible justice contrary to the negative press it received in 2004.
He claimed that he was at the Okija shrine when the former IG of police, Mr Tafa Balogun stormed the shrine in 2004 and over 1000 corpses were discovered and 31 attendants arrested. The CFC founder alleged that the corpses were brought to the shrine by family members of the victims who did not want to incite the deity of the shrine into anger and found their ward guilty of the crime they were reported to the shrine for.
“People come from far and near to consult the Okija shrine in search of justice especially with the inefficiency of the conventional law courts in dispensing justice. The shrine offered incorrigible justice which is death for anyone who lies under oath at the shrine and family members of such victim would take the corpse of such victims to the shrine for fear of being wiped out by the shrine’s deity.
“I asked the IG what would happen to the shrine attendants arrested and he said that if after investigations they find nothing on them, he would let them go. The boy, after eight months, were discharged and acquitted.
“The CFC went on advocacy to the people of Okija. We explained to them that they had done nothing wrong by upholding their cultural justice system but drew their attention to the eye sore that the thousands of corpses lying about in the shrine posed to public eye. We recommended they changed the system to allow burying the corpses when the family members brought them and replacing the corpses with enlarged framed pictures of the victim. We wrote to UNESCO to help us with the mass burial of the corpses but before they came, Okija people had, out of fear, sponsored the cost of appeasing the gods of the land and burying the human remains.”
Explaining why his group took interest in the matter, Okwuosa said, “We are all agriculture, culture and tourism and about modernizing what needs to be modernized about the culture of our people. But a lot of the culture of people need to stay the way it is.
“China, despite their technological advancement, are still preserving their cultural heritage, while we are throwing ours away.”
Reiterating Okwuosa’s position, the club’s Head of Admin, Emma Ifeachor said that the CFC was all about reengineering Igbo culture in a way that would bring development. He said that the whole idea of consulting the Okija shrine was a search for the truth
“We lost the truth when the western world ambushed our culture and gave us a cultural version that is fake. The whole thing about justice is a search for truth. So, when our behavior is aligned with the truth, you will see development coming. So, we understand that the whole essence of culture is a system to makes our behavior to be controlled by the truth. Any organization that is prospering is such that have developed a culture that drives them towards achieving their purpose.”
In his submission, the Director of the club, Barrister Chukwuemeka Chukwuma, observed that culture of the Igbo people had been invaded by the western culture which sort to replace it without success because it is unable to fill several societal gaps.
Chukwuma therefore opined that setting up Okija shrine as a cultural centre for justice that is recognized by all of Africa would be a step in the right direction.