Shrines, Extortion, and Trial by Ordeal in Southern Nigeria

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The Advocacy for Alleged Witches draws the attention of the public to invitations from shrines and traditional worship centers for the settlement of disputes. People who are involved in local disputes sometimes approach shrines for settlement.

The AfAW has been informed that some people who respond to these petitions suffer extortions. One such invitation, made available to the AfAW, was from Ijikwaeziokwu Ogwugwu Akpu Development Cultural Association, Ogwugwuakpu Ubahi Ezike Okija in Ihiala Anambra state. This invitation dated November 20 2022 asked four family members, Donatus Oyiliaru, Raymond Oyiliaru, Urubed Oyiliaru, and Kodiri Philip Oyiliaru to report on December 2 2022 for a peaceful settlement of a matter. One Chigaekwu Egwuatu reported the matter to this shrine.

This shrine at Okija asked each of the respondents to come with about 150,000 thousand naira or they would die if they refused to honor the invitation.

According to local sources, some of the people petitioned honored the invitation but one of them did not. Instead, he went to the police and got the petitioner arrested. The police later released the petitioner after getting him to undertake to be held responsible for whatever happened to the respondents.

The police should have gone further to arrest the managers of this Okija shrine and investigate how they settle disputes. The AfAW has been informed that apart from extorting money from petitioners and those petitioned, managers of these shrines force respondents to walk over corpses or coffins.

They use various means to intimidate and compel them to admit guilt. They subject people to trial by ordeal and force respondents to take poisonous substances or drink hallucinating concoctions in the process.

The AfAW urges the public not to honor invitations from these dubious shrines. As in this case, anyone who receives this petition should report the petitioners and the shrine operators to the police.

Those who receive these letters should take extra measures to protect themselves. Local sources told the AfAW that shrine managers and petitioners used to connive and assassinate the petitioned and then claim that it was the shrine that killed them.

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