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Police Squadron Takes Over Okija Shrines

Posted by FROM JOHN-ABBA OGBODO, ABUJA on 2004/08/22 | Views: 1701 |

Police Squadron Takes Over Okija Shrines


THE weird gods, who until few days ago, presided in the very heart of the scary forests of Okija in Anambra State, have for now lost their reign of blood and horror.

THE weird gods, who until few days ago, presided in the very heart of the scary forests of Okija in Anambra State, have for now lost their reign of blood and horror.

A new set of gods has taken over. They are stern-looking, well-armed men in uniform; members of the Nigeria Police.

Their mandate is simple: to secure the Ogwugwu shrines - site of the horrendous Okija forests, where numerous decomposing corpses and fresh skulls have been discovered in the past two weeks.

Inspector General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun last Thursday, relocated a squadron of mobile policemen to the shrines. And forensic experts have since begun investigations to unravel the identities of the bodies, skulls and bones discovered in the 'evil forest'.

The Guardian learnt that the mobile policemen, assembled from different formations nationwide, would remain in the forest throughout the period of their assignment.

The mobile policemen, it was learnt, arrived in Okija early yesterday in several trucks and took positions immediately.

Balogun visited the shrines at Ogwugwu Isuila, Ogwugwu Akpu and Ogwugwu Idigo last Wednesday for on-the-spot assessment of the notorious forest.

Consequently, the IG declared that the names of the patrons found in the registers picked from the shrines would be publicised in due course.

It was learnt that the forensic experts, who are already in Akwa, were drawn from various institutes, especially university teaching hospitals across the country.

The police pathologist in charge of the forensic investigation, Dr Wilson Akewu, a deputy superintendent of police (DSP), is heading the team.

Meanwhile, the number of suspects arrested in connection with the Okija shrine saga has risen to 43 from the initial 32 apprehended during police raid.

The Fore Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Mr. Chris Olakpe, confirmed that more arrests had been made.

Olakpe, a deputy commissioner of police, who corroborated the heavy presence of mobile policemen in the "evil forest," said he could not tell whether the number was a squadron.

But he affirmed that forensic experts had commenced investigations, to identify the various sources of the corpses while the autopsy would assist the police to come up with the causes of their death.

His words: "So far 43 suspects have been arrested and full scale investigation has commenced. The forensic experts are working hard in line with the directive of the indefatigable Inspector General of Police that no stone should be left unturned in getting to the root of the matter. At the end of the day, Nigerians would have cause to thank the police once more."

The Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of administration, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, had, while parading the suspects in Abuja, assured that forensic and even DNA tests would be conducted on the corpses discovered at the Okija shrines.

In the interim, Nigerians have been urged to support the police in its onerous task, by providing the necessary information that could reveal hidden places of evil.

The police are also advised to beam their searchlights on other states of the federation where such evil practices exist.

Fielding questions from reporters in Lagos at the weekend, the National Coordinator of National Problems and Solutions (NPS), Dr. Wale Omole said police should set up a special squad to take charge of the task.

Describing the developments in Okija as a sad reflection of how decadent the Nigerian society has become, Omole said those connected with the Okija saga must be exposed and prosecuted.

"Evil thrives when people conceal information. What Nigerians should endeavour to do is to expose those perpetrators of these heinous crimes," he said.

Decrying the rate of crime in the country, the NPS leader canvassed increased campaign aimed at de-emphasising crave for material things. He noted that the root of these criminal activities is the inordinate desire to acquire wealth.

"In a society where premium is placed on acquisition of wealth, there is no way this type of heinous crimes would be eliminated.

"The value in the country should be changed and new orientation needs to be imbibed. If we place value on moral rectitude rather than material acquisation, the society will be better for all of us," he said.

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