Burial Offering, Juju Man, Church At Centre Of Widow Beaten By 30 Youths Over Witchcraft In Abia
Madam Amarachi Okechi, 45, a widow who was beaten to a pulp by youths in a viral video for alleged witchcraft is crying for justice. The farmer and mother of 10 hails from Umueghu in Amaegbuato Nkpa Community in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State.
She was rescued by the wife of Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, and taken to a hospital (name withheld) where she is being currently treated.
Extra-judicial attacks against suspected witches have not been common in Igbo land but maltreatment of widows suspected to have a hand in the death of their husbands has persisted despite growing campaigns against obnoxious widowhood practice.
Meanwhile, while the widow cries for justice, the wife of her husband’s younger brother, also a widow, insists she knows what she did that resulted to her daughter’s incapacitation.
Her accuser, Mrs Patience Obinna, also 45, accused Amarachi of being responsible for the death of both her (Patience) husband and her own husband, an allegation Amarachi, flatly denied.
Vangumet with both parties in a hospital where they are currently receiving medical treatment.
Narrating her ordeals to Saturday Vanguard, Madam Amarachi who intermittently fought back tears as she recounted her ugly experience, said she did nothing to deserve the inhuman treatment meted out to her by the villagers.
Her daughter, Onyinyechi who returned from her base in Lagos was at her bed side and narrated the ugly story of how her mother who was nearly killed by over 30 youths who subjected her to a jungle justice based on unsubstantiated allegations.
Her words: “My uncle’s wife, Mrs Patience Obinna, accused my mom of witchcraft, killing her husband and my father, and also said she was responsible for the protracted sickness of her daughter.
“She has continued to disgrace my mother wherever she sees her including market places. It got to a point that my mother had to report her to many people in the village.
“She was asked to summon her to the village square but the woman refused to come until one elder invited all of them to the village square where the people, after looking into the matter said that my mom was innocent.
The native doctor’s discovery
“But on Tuesday August 23, my mother called me and said they were going to a native doctor, that my uncle’s wife had summoned her to prove her innocence. I discouraged her from going but she refused and said she would go because she knew she was innocent.
“I told her that they must have compromised the native doctor, so, she didn’t need to go as he may pronounce her guilty.
“Then in the afternoon she called me again and said the native doctor said there was a time she made an utterance in anger which she admitted.
“But what prompted the said utterance in anger was that the offering proceeds at my father’s burial were taken by my uncle, his wife and daughter.
“After they had carried the offering, my mom asked them: Did you people not see that my husband was just put in the ground (buried), and what mattered to you is the offering? I meant the money offered. Since what gives me pain is what makes you people happy, no problem, God will judge you!
”She said that her mother made the comment out of provocation but never singled out anybody and never took their names to any shrine.”
Continuing she said: “The native doctor said that my mother went somewhere to harm my uncle and his family,” an allegation she said her mother denied.
“Then the native doctor told them that when they return to the village, they should go to our house and search for a mirror which he claimed that my mother uses to monitor people. So, when they came back to the village they went and scattered our house in search of the so-called monitoring mirror but they found non because my mom has none.
“The next call I got was that they had taken my mom to the village square and tied her hands to the back, tied her legs and started beating her. Over 30 youths descended on her. The men and the women were watching while those flogging her were filming her.”
She, however, claimed that her mother admitted responsibility for the allegations out of duress to escape being lynched.
“They beat her to the extent that she admitted what she did not do just to escape being killed because she was almost giving up. Then, they left her in the village square all through the night till the next day still tied.
“Then the next day the flogging continued. They said she should take them to the native doctor where she did what was responsible for the sickness of my uncle’s daughter. But she told them she did not go to any shrine against my uncle’s family.
“She told them she only went to the Church and cried unto God out of bitterness in her heart. She now said she could take them to the church. She took them to Afougiri Umuahia where the Ministry is located.
“When they got there, they discovered that the Woman of God in charge of the Ministry had died some months ago. But the Man of God there told them that my mother was innocent, and that they had to beg her if truly they wanted her to forgive them and pray for them.
“The Man of God told them that the spirits are angry with them. Then my uncle’s wife said she was sorry and my mom prayed for the girl at the altar. Then they took her home and continued with the flogging.
“Everybody my mom was owing came out and said she must pay them all the money she was owing, otherwise, they would beath her to death.
“I was in Lagos and sending money like a mad man, about N80,000 to pay all the debts. But after sending all the monies, the youths still refused to release her, insisting she will give them two crates of beer and a bottle of Schnapps hot drink.
First Lady to the rescue
“Then I rushed to WAZOBIA Radio Station in Lagos to raise the alarm. When it went viral the Governor’s wife sent a team to go and rescue my mother.
“But the youths resisted those who came for the rescue. They insisted they would not allow her be taken to any hospital unless my sick uncle’s daughter is also taken to the hospital.
“Then the team brought both of them to this hospital.”
Corroborating her daughter’s account, Madam Amarachi said that her husband’s brother and his wife gave her no financial support as she was preparing to bury him.
She said that she had to borrow money to bury her late husband only for the brother and his wife to collect the offering proceeds at the burial without giving her a dime.
“Even the offering plate was not seen again till today; they collected everything! I know nothing about the sickness of their daughter because she has been sick even before the death of my husband.
“Amarachi’s daughter, who said her mother’s safety could no longer be guaranteed in the village, called for the immediate arrest of all those who participated in the flogging.
On whether they would like to return to the village she said: “We are not running away from our village; but for now, that environment is not safe for her.
“The trauma will take a long time to leave her.”
‘My daughter’s illness started after her threat’
But in a swift reaction, Mrs Obinna who was staying at the back of the hospital room with her bed-ridden daughter, said Madam Amarachi should take them to where they did what gave rise to her daughter’s sickness, and reverse it for her healing.
On why she was suspecting Amarachi for her daughter’s predicaments, the mother of five, said Amarachi had not been returning greetings by her daughter for some time, and had also threatened her.
“When my daughter was in the primary school nothing was happening to her but when she got to secondary school, at a point she would greet my husband’s brother’s wife but she would ask her not to greet her again.
“When my daughter complained to us I went to Amarachi to ask her. It was because of the problem she had with my husband that she threatened to incapacitate my daughter and cause her to remain indoors and be peeping outside.”
On how trouble started, Mrs Obinna said: “When her husband was buried, she accused my husband of collecting the offering proceeds given at the burial.
“She also said that my husband sold a tree belonging to the family and did not give her own share.
“I told her that she made real her threats because less than one month after she made the threats my daughter started having strange pains in her legs.
“Since then, about three years now, I have been taking her from one hospital to another but without any success. I complained to the villagers and they invited us to the village square.
“After asking her why she would do such a thing, she admitted that her friend took her to Anambra where it was done.
“When the village people went to fetch that her friend, he ran away, and till today has not come back.
“But after admitting, she started denying again. Her son and her brother were even there in the village when she admitted.”
Asked if the current hospital had been able to medically diagnose the type of ailment bedeviling her daughter, she said the hospital found nothing but malaria.
She lamented the condition of her daughter who has been bedridden for three years.
Corroborating her mother’s account, the 23-year-old Ugochi, told Saturday Vanguard that she needed a reversal of her miserable condition.
On how it all started, she said: “I woke up one morning in September 2017 and my legs were very heavy. I had peppery sensations on my legs. I couldn’t lift my legs and they were shaking and glued together.
“I cried out and my mother came and separated them. But since then I have not been able to walk again.
Asked why she was suspecting her uncle’s wife, she said: “I suspect her because she said my father collected the offering proceeds at her husband’s burial. Since then if I greet her she would not respond but kept nagging.
“She threatened to incapacitate me and in less than one month this sickness started. The villagers came and she admitted but later started denying.
“I want her to take us to where this thing was done to me so that they will undo it. I want to start walking again and pursue my career. My mother has suffered enough carrying me around.”
When contacted to know if any arrests had been made in relation to the matter, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Geoffrey Ogbonna, said he would make inquiries from the police division in Bende.
Source; Vanguard Newspaper