Residents of Amaokpala community in Orumba North local government area of Anambra state are still counting loses following a recent bloody cult war that claimed lives of three indigenes and left others injured.
The three Amaokpala youths that were shot dead during the bloody cult clash that rocked the community on May 16, 2020, include Ifeanyi Nwafor, Chidozie Nwafor and Cyril Ogbonnaya Ozoemena.
Orient Weekend gathered that tension remained high in the community over unending cult clashes and failure to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators of the bloody violence in the area.
Callistus Obunike Okonkwo, a vigilante member, who escaped death during the cult war, recalled the event that almost sent him to his early graves.
“I was shot during a gun duel that claimed three indigenes of Umudike village, Amaokpala, in Orumba North local government area of Anambra state. Luckily for me, I survived after many days in the hospital”.
Okonkwo said since the incident took place, he has not been able to fend for his family as he could barely walk, recalling how the community helped offset his medical bills at St. Michael the Archangel Hospital, Oko, from where he was discharged on May 20.
Narrating the incident to this reporter, he said: “I was eating with my family when I received a call from a colleague asking that I joined them at Lon Vinco Hostel, where I later found out that suspected cultists killed one Ifeanyi Nwafor, leaving him at the pool of his own blood.
“Before local vigilante came to the scene, the chairman of Amaokpala vigilante, Mr. Clifford Nwafor, had put a call to Oko Police Station. So, on our arrival at the scene, people had deserted the hotel for fear of their lives.
“We searched and found the late Ifeanyi lying in one of the rooms in the hostel. He was later taken to hospital by the police when they arrived. The police ordered that we sealed-off the hostel.
“It was in that process that the suspected gang, perhaps, after a tip-off, came back to the scene in a V-Booth E-Class car and opened fire on the vigilante members in the premises, shooting sporadically with sophisticated firearms suspected to be AK47 riffle.
“I was shot first before I took to my heels as our local guns were no match to theirs. All I could remember after the incident was that I woke up to see myself in the hospital, having fainted as a result of loss of much blood.
“It was after the sporadic shooting that we learnt that two other persons, Chidozie Nwafor (Cousin to Ifeanyi and only son of his parents) and one Cyril Ogbonnaya Ozoemena (a vigilante) were equally certified dead from bullet wounds in a nearby hospital”.
The three deceased persons in a morgue
The 40-year-old Okonkwo, decried lack of equipment and vehicle by the vigilante as contributory factor to the total disintegration of the vigilante outfit, calling on government to provide the needed equipment to help them discharge their work. He described the development as embarrassing, appealing for support to fend for his family, even as he called for justice to fish out the perpetrators.
Another villager, who pleaded anonymity, alleged that late Ifeanyi Nwafor was a suspected cultist, who, he said, had problem with the fleeing prime suspects, which would later degenerate to his death and that of other two persons in the community.
The source, a student of Federal Polytechnic, Oko, said activities of cult group was becoming rife in the area, blaming it on large presence of students and youths. She opined that justice should be done as a deterrent to other persons who, according to her, might still be indulging in cultism.
The 23-year-old also said the community was looking up to the chief security officer and traditional ruler of the land, HRH Igwe Cyprian Okeke, to use his office to see that justice is done and perpetrators exposed.
Confirming the incident, the chairman of Amaokpala vigilante group, Mr. Clifford Nwafor, expressed shock over the incident, noting that such incident had never happened in the community since his 15 years of reign.
Nwafor, who queried the rationale behind engagement in cultism by youths, regretted that such had cost other innocent lives in the process. He disclosed that soon after the incident, he was invited by the Enugwu Ukwu Anti-Cult Unit for a statement, saying that there had not been any update from the unit since the incident occurred mid-May.
Speaking on the challenges facing the local vigilante outfit, the chairman lamented that they had no equipment and no operational vehicle to perform their duties diligently, decrying gross neglect of the local security outfit.
Hear him: “My brother, I sincerely do not want to talk on the condition of work here or our unpalatable experiences with the police because, if one says the truth, he would be witch-hunted. However, we have no functional tools and our vigilante vehicle is not good at all.
“If we had enough resources, we would have combated their second attack .
“What of the stipends we are given? It is nothing to write home about. We use our personal money for logistics whenever there is distress call. Our meagre stipend should be increased so that we can fend for our families.
“We want government to adequately provide us with necessary logistics and equipment for us to perform optimally. Security is the most essential thing that a people need.
“Government should recognise and treat us just the way security personnel are cared for in advanced countries. They should also organise training for members of local vigilante for more efficiency”.
Condemning the latest cult attack at Amaokpala, the vigilante chief, called on parents to caution their children as well as to monitor their activities, while urging other stakeholders to continuously emphasise the dangers of cultism and other related social ills.
When our reporter visited the palace of the traditional ruler of Amaokpala, Igwe Cyprian Okechukwu Okeke (Udodimma 111 of Amaokpala), to get his reactions, he confirmed the incident but declined further comments.