Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
Understanding The Okija Shrine Phenomenon And The Art Of Mental Poisoning:
Just Before The Rush To Judgement
Emmanuel U Obi
For those who have not followed the events at Okija shrine, I will try to recap very briefly the gist of what was discovered at Okija shrine. Following a tip off, a team of Police men led by the Anambra State Commissioner of Police Felix Ogbaudu visited the Okija shrine where they made some gruesome discovery. Headless bodies, human corpses, skulls, and a register of names were found at the various shrines in Okija. The Okija shrine is a place where people with disputes in their personal transactions have gone for adjudication by the gods. The guilty party usually died within a year and the priests at the shrine would demand the dead body and all material possessions of the victim which included millions of naira. Notable amongst the clients of this shrine were the late Chief Victor Okafor a.k.a Ezego who reportedly had a dispute with one Nzeribe a member of the House of Representatives. Ezego died in a ghastly motor accident believed to have been caused by the gods. His body was amongst those discovered by the Police and according to the Police it had a very conspicuous name tag. Apart from the dead body, the family of the deceased was ordered to turn over millions of naira owned by the deceased or the gods would visit their anger on the living which the family of the deceased complied with.
But the Police have a different
version. According to the Police, only the richest of the party in the dispute
is always guilty. The agents of the shrine trailed the individual and placed
poison or charms on their cars while some were forced to drink some concoction
after which the person died. The leader of the chief priests happens to be a
certain Ndukwu who reportedly owns property in
In response to this discovery, the Secretary General of the Igbo cultural organization, Ohaneze ,Colonel Achuzia accused the Police of trying to ridicule the Igbos and their tradition. A number of notable Igbos have distanced themselves from the views of Achuzia.
Again writing under the title ‘Okija: The Politics of Shrines’ one Theophilus Abbah in the Sunday PUNCH of August 15,claims the Okija shrine is a secret cult and goes on to cite the constitutional provisions that barred cult members from Government. The insinuation is that Governor Ngige and other government functionaries that patronized the shrine are cult members. This gross display of ignorance and irresponsible journalism is the bane of Nigerian journalism that has encouraged every thing that is bad in the Nigerian society as well as mis-inform the people.
Traditional religion has been painted in bad light and the purpose of this article is to examine the aspects of religion that is involved and try to differentiate the practices under Police scrutiny and authentic traditional religion.
For a detailed account of the
side of the suspects detained by the Police, read
‘How Okija Shrine
The crucial issues I will consider are;
ü African traditional Religion
ü The threat of retribution on victims and the Police
ü The criminality of the activities at the shrine.
African Traditional Religion
The Secretary-General of Ohaneze, Colonel Achuzia has genuine concerns but unfortunately failed to articulate the reasoning behind his claim that the Police was out to ridicule the Igbos. Religion is the belief in a superhuman controlling power and African traditional Religion has been in conflict with Christianity perhaps largely because people do not understand the common grounds that African traditional religion and Christianity have. It is against the background of this misunderstanding that often time’s African traditional religion has been erroneously described as heathen, demonic or incompatible with Christianity.
The common grounds that traditional religion have with Catholicism include belief in a Supreme Being, (Chukwu, Allah, Olodomare) symbolism and imagery (archetypes), ritual, worship and sacrifice.
Symbolism and imagery in traditional religion include the carved statues housed in shrines, the veves traced on the ground in voodoo religion etc. In the Catholic Church it includes the crucifix, images of saints, statues of saints and angels.
Do adherents of traditional religion and Catholics worship the images and statues? No.
The purpose of these symbols is to raise the consciousness of the practitioner to a higher level where they may attune with the energy or deity. So more or less the images are like an aid to assist the practitioner.
Ritual means a prescribed order of performing rites e.g. baptism, marriage, church
Service, the proceedings at a traditional shrine etc.
What then is a shrine? An altar, a temple, a place sacred to a deity or saint etc. For example we have the shrine dedicated to Madonna, etc and other shrines in the church.
Hence, Christians and traditionalists engage in worship at their respective shrines.
An important aspect of Christianity is sacrifice. Christ gave his life so that humanity may be saved. In the church, this sacrifice is commemorated by the celebration of the Eucharist by using the Bread and Wine to symbolize the body and blood of Christ; again symbolism. Human blood is not used in Christian shrines or ceremonies although in some white garment churches which practice a mixture of occultism and Christian sacrifice the blood of animals. The sacrifice of human beings is in the realm of black magic and criminal, which requires the attention of the Police.
In the shrine of Catholics it is common to find sacrifice made to the saints urging them to intercede on their behalf to the supreme or urging them to do some favors for them much the same way the traditionalists asks the arusi or orisha for help.
An arusi could be an elemental spirit created by thought forms generated by human beings and established firmly on the spiritual planes and fed constantly through ritual and sacrifice. An arusi could also be a representation of a being on the celestial hierarchy much like angels e.g. Amadioha
The slaves who were shipped from West Africa to the United States and the Caribbean carried their arusis and orishas with them and disguised them as saints. It was from this that the religion of Santeria developed. Santeria is a typical case of syncretism, that is, the spontaneous, popular combination or reconciliation of different religious beliefs.
For example, the Orisha CHANGO is represented as Santa Barbara, ELLEGUA, Saint Anthony of Padua, YEMAYA, Our Lady of Regla, OSHUN, Our Lady of La Caridad del Cobra, OLOFI, Jesus Christ. Etc
An interesting aspect is CHANGO a male god syncretized as Saint Barbara, which is female. Santa Barbara candles are very popular in Latino stores in the United States.
Saint Barbara like Chango is historically associated with Thunder and lightning. In Haiti many years ago, people who felt aggrieved by their enemies or business partners usually went to the shrine of Saint Barbara erected in catholic churches to offer sacrifices and pray for their enemies. Saint Barbara reacted very drastically against the enemies that the Catholic Church ‘de-canonized’ Saint Barbara and her statue was removed from churches. Regardless of the ‘de-canonization’, Saint Barbara still works as usual for those who go to her. A few seven-day candles, red wine, red apples etc will do the trick after which the remnants are deposited in any wooded area with a few pennies. There are also some Psalms in the Bible that Christians who feel taken advantage of can use while others choose to approach traditionalists. There is however a maxim for those seeking to get even with their enemies using the Bible. ‘He who comes to equity must come with clean hands’ Failure to keep to this might reverse the action of the forces against the petitioner. Here, there is no chief priest or intermediary but just the petitioner praying in his or her holy spot. The All-knowing God knows when we lie and that is why this method is risky for liars.
Praying against one’s enemies
is nothing new in society. Others prefer the hit man and in a developed society
later grapple with a sophisticated law enforcement and criminal justice system.
Others prefer to use spiritual means to get even with their enemies instead of
dealing with the agonizing experience of the justice system. In big cities in
the United States, and within the Hispanic and Black communities Babalawos and
juju men flourish. Some even import charms from
Sacrifice in Christianity no longer involves blood which was done once through crucifixion. Today, sacrifice is done through burning of candles, perfumes, holy oils, wine, grape juice, saraka etc. Traditional religion still uses animal sacrifice and so do white garment churches. Anything that involves human sacrifice is not only Black Magic but a crime. Any concoction administered to an individual by an unlicensed practitioner is also a crime if it results in tragedy or any kind of loss.
It should however be noted that
those who believe in the Arusi Okija have to go there physically which is a big
limitation. Chukwu is omnipresent; everywhere and you can pray to God anywhere.
You can also seek the assistance of divine messengers anywhere.
Those who care may consider the statement. ‘I am the brilliant and morning Star’ with ‘Anyanwu ututu’ of the traditionalist to see if both religions could be compatible.
The art of Mental Poisoning.
There is a very thin line between what is possible and superstition. Most Africans are still very superstitious and through mental poisoning harbor thoughts that enslave.
A key element in mental poisoning is ‘FEAR’. Dr H. Spencer Lewis in his book ‘Mental Poisoning’ explained the processes by which individuals allowed themselves to be poisoned mentally and thus wreck havoc on themselves.
Dr Harvey Spencer Lewis dedicated this book to ‘the thousands of unfortunate men and women who have fallen prey to the poisoned darts of subtle, sordid, destructive suggestions. May this work be the means of making thousands of other humans immune to this noxious influence’
This can now explain why the chief priests would label or attach nametags to the victims of the Arusi. - To instill FEAR in the minds of their victims, weaken and make them very vulnerable to their tricks of extortion. The same goes for the Registers which is another tool used to convince new or stubborn clients and instill fear in them.
The established Churches have a great challenge here as it appears some of their flock have lost confidence in them
Oath taking and Pacts
An effective oath can be administered by a Christian minister in apostolic succession. For example, Ministers in the Roman Catholic Church, and Anglican Church.
There are other individuals who
will simply say ‘My Word is my Bond’ and mean it and are known for it. There are
also those who need to make a pact with God and do so in their own privacy while
others deem it fit to make a pact with devil and at their own peril.
An interesting aspect of the
revelation by the Police Commissioner for
According to him, they would rub some poisonous substance on the person’s vehicle to induce an accident or place poison on the person who eventually dies within a short time.
But how would you prove this in a court of law? If they can’t be tried for murder, they could be tried for 419.
It would appear that it is not the Arusi that kills, but the chief priest who produce juju charms and place it within the sphere of their victim. They cover their deeds by claiming it is the arusi that killed. Now they are fasting and praying for vengeance against the Police. Why not fast and pray for good government and buoyant Nigerian economy?
It is interesting that there are now accusations and counter accusations by the main dramatis personae in the failed abduction of Governor Ngige.
Ngige is a medical doctor and may have repudiated the so-called oath when it was being administered. Perhaps Ngige may clear his name by revealing the circumstances of a ghastly accident he was involved in that smashed his bullet –proof jeep beyond repairs. According to Ngige, there was no foul play in the accident. But Ngige is not telling the whole truth.
This will be a tough case to handle, not because the arusi is powerful, but because the cause of deaths may be natural. DIG Ehindero says there will be autopsy and DNA but except for those that were administered concoctions, the rest most probably died of natural causes. No forensic test will ever show someone died of juju or divine decree. NEVER!
The suspects will have a pretty tough time explaining the headless bodies and those of them who have become millionaires will spend all the money hiring SANs to defend them. This is an example of how karma can deplete an ill-gotten wealth and not some shrine servant snatching one’s money for their selfish gain.
The chief priests have only taken advantage of the ignorance and superstitious nature of the people to establish on a grand scale the biggest scam of the century by defrauding people. Angels can act through human beings by using them to accomplish a mission and these human beings never know this when they act but perhaps later and only in retrospect.
The real chief priests are now too old and the lure of money and modern society have turned the younger ones into charlatans. It is these charlatans that bring bad name to our rich traditional heritage. The same way we have false prophets in Christianity, we have false chief priests in traditional religion.
If American immigrants who came
to America and displaced Native Americans did not destroy these shrines, there
wouldn’t be skyscrapers today. The U.S will most definitely not be talking about
stem cell research or being nosy about what goes on in Mars. Shamans don’t
control Government or hold people at ransome. They don’t even have the kind of
high powered patronage that these chief priests enjoy in
These suspects and others yet to be arrested have desecrated our traditional religious institutions, swindled their victims and if not for Police intervention would have taken control of Government. While some have become pastors overnight , the rest seem to congregate at shrines .
Has Christianity failed in
It is so sad that in the 21st
The chief priests will certainly have their dates with the Lords of Karma.
The news about the evil GSM numbers and the Okija shrine discovery has been making rounds in international broadcast media. The way the Government responds will tell more about this former aspiring great country that has plans to work on its international image.
~ The writer has done some studies in Christian Mysticism, Christian Kabala and Traditional Religion.
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.