Tension in Enugu As Youths Destroy Shrines

Tension is mounting at Abor community in Ojebeogene Area Development Council of Enugu State following the destruction of some shrines of the Odo masquerades by some Christian youths in the area.

The youths, according to sources, had used the opportunity of their recent homecoming for the Christmas and New Year festivities to descend on the shrines, which they believed were being used by some diabolical people to wreck havoc on the community.

It was learnt that some persons suspected to be diabolical and who worship the deity were said to be holding the progress of the people of the community, a situation that forced some natives to call for the abolition of the shrine, but the ardent worshippers kicked against the move.

"Apart from the worship of the shrines which are regarded as their gods as people are made to believe, some diabolical persons in the community use juju under the cover of the Odo shrines to harm their opponents and other innocent people. Some even engage in secret sacrifices for the shrines. This has been going on for a long time now, but we can no longer watch this continue in this modern society," a native told Vanguard yesterday.

Worried by the current development in the area, the state government in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Igbonekwu Ogazimorah, yesterday, decried what it described as "religious and cultural extremism" being practised by a section of the community. He said the government had received reports of religious and cultural intolerance in Abor, leading to ransacking and destruction of some shrines of Odo masquerade as well as further threats to life and property in the area.

The statement said: "It has become necessary to restate that it has always been the position of government that against the backdrop of rising democracy and civilisation, rights of worship and other cultural practices are guaranteed for law-abiding citizens."

In this regard, the government stated that "it views it as an act of unprovoked aggression and distasteful intolerance for some sect or faith leaders to induce the youths to desecrate and destroy places of worship, be it traditional (shrine or groves) or orthodox (churches, chapel or mosques) as currently reported in Abor, Ojebeogene Area Development Council of the Enugu State.

"For the avoidance of doubt, government rejects this development and will act firmly in discharging its duties especially in protection of life and property as well as rights of citizens to adhere to harmless religious practices," the statement said, adding that there would be no room for privileged application of the laws.