Youths of Ekwulobia in Aguata local government area of Anambra State have vowed to banish a 25-year-old mathematics teacher at Community Secondary School, Isuofia, Mr. Chiadikobi Ezeibekwe, and his 17-year-old sister who were married to each other. Natives have resolved to cleanse the community of the taboo.
The cleansing ceremony would be performed by the parish priest of St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Ekwulobia, Reverend Father Ignatius Onwuatuegwu, on Saturday, March 24, 2018. The family has agreed to participate in the cleansing. However, the man at the centre of the controversy, Chiadikaobi, said that he had ended everything concerning the marriage to his sister following the controversy the issue had generated and added that he would subject himself to the cleansing. But he said the cleansing did not mean he would return to the Catholic Church which he left several years ago as the ceremony is to appease the people of his community. Even as he appeared not to have shown remorse, Chiadikaobi admitted that he was once a Catholic but said he would not return to the church after the cleansing.
Father Onwuatuegwu said the cleansing must be performed regardless of whether or not Chiadikaobi is present.
The Reverend father of St. Joseph’s Church, Fr. Onwuatuegwu said: “The young man was a member of this church because his parents were worshiping there, but he started acting in a way that we did not understand. He was confronted but he was not ready to take advice from anybody. His younger brother was even in the seminary and that one left. “Soon thereafter, Chiadikaobi defected to another parish in Ekwulobia. When I learnt about his movement to that parish, I alerted the parish priest of that church, who was new, to monitor him. “When he discovered that the Rev. Fr was monitoring him, he left the Catholic Church and joined one of the Sabbath groups in Ekwulobia. I can’t remember the name of that church, but it was alleged that the church also found some of his actions strange. He left that Sabbath church to establish a church in his father’s compound where he and his siblings were the only members”. The cleric said the Catholic doctrine and the scriptures provide for the cleansing using a lamb. He said: “The reason for using the lamb is that, of all animals, it is the one that is not contaminated. The Igbo tradition also considers what the young man did as an abomination and, to correct the abomination, you must use an animal that is not contaminated. “In the New Testament, our Lord Jesus Christ called himself the Lamb of God and Christ is the only one that has no stain of sin. If not for the grace that has been so gratuitously given to us, we might not have been reconciled with him. “So in the cleansing that we will do, we are not reconciling humanity with God, as Christ is the only one that can do that. Our function is to announce the freedom Christ has given to mankind. It is not the priest that is doing it, Christ has performed the sacrifice once and for all and we are only applying what Christ had done. “We are planning to do the cleansing on the 24th of March and the family has agreed to it. Before they came here to pick the date, they said they had agreed to perform the cleansing ceremony so as not to be banished by the community. But my observation of what people are saying, I don’t think the young man will come for the cleansing ceremony. “They are also planning the funeral ceremony of their grandmother who died recently and, for that reason; they agreed to do this cleansing so that people can attend the ceremony. “From the look of things, therefore, the young man might refuse to come for the cleansing, but whether he appears that day or not, the cleansing must take place. For members of the family to liberate themselves and distance themselves from the abomination committed by the young man, they have to perform this ceremony. It is like the Igbo adage that says when one finger touches the oil, it affects other fingers. The sin cannot be forgiven unless the person that committed it repents. “As for the marriage, it cannot stand. The community cannot allow that. I must add that, in this matter, it is not for us to persuade him to come for the cleansing. It is the people around that can advise him to do the right thing. I am the minister that will carry out the cleansing and it is not for me to persuade him. As a minster in the church, I can only carry out the cleansing. “I had seen a situation whereby after the cleansing, some people came up to say that it was not properly done. But once the lamb is used, every Igbo man will agree that proper cleansing has been done.
Also, some people who belong to a different faith can also reject it, but that is not the concern of those who believe in the cleansing.” as far as Ekwulobia community is concerned, that marriage cannot stand. They could have done all kinds of things when the issue was not in the open, but now that it is in the public domain, they will incur the wrath of the people if they commit the abomination again.” According to the cleric, it was the traditional prime minister of Ekwulobia, Chief Gabriel Ezeukwu, who managed to quell what could have resulted in a major uprising when the people learnt about what happened as they tried to use jungle justice on that family and possibly eliminate them. “But the traditional prime minister reminded the people that we are in a civilized world and things must be done with caution, otherwise they run foul of the law”, he said.