Ondo Strange Disease: Community leader explains “mystery” behind deaths

Ebola patients receiving treatment
Ebola patients receiving treatment

A local chief in Ondo State has explained the “mystery” behind a strange and unknown killer disease that has ravaged a town in the state, killing at least 14 people.

The community leader, Moses Enimade, the Oyewoga of Ode Irele in Ondo State, said the disease came as punishment for the “sacrilege” committed against Molokun, the local deity in the area.

Mr. Enimade, next in command to the Oba, Cornelius Olanrewaju-Lebi, stated this in Irele on Saturday.

No fewer than 14 people have died of severe headaches and blindness in the town recently.

There have been no explanation for the disease. Victims have tested negative to Ebola, the deadly and incurable virus that killed thousands across West Africa, including Nigeria.

Mr. Enimade debunked the rumour that the deaths were caused by strange disease or Ebola virus.

Mr. Enimade said some stubborn youth broke into the inner room of the Molokun shrine on April 15.

“Molokun is a deity of the land,” he said. “Only the Chief Priest and High Chief Gboguron are qualified to enter the shrine.”

The chief said the youth entered the shrine and made away with traditional items in a bid to acquire extra-ordinary powers and engage in money ritual.

“They were not qualified to enter the (shrine),” he said. “They had to face the death penalty.”

The Oyewoga said he could not remember the last time Molokun or any other gods had to strike like this in the area.

According to him, there is no community or town without its own culture and tradition. He said what happened in Irele was the judgement of the gods on the youth.

“Even the Kabiesi himself is not permitted to enter the Molokun Shrine’s inner room except the Chief Priest and High Chief Gboguron. Sacrifice must be performed before they can enter.

“Because these youths want to be rich at all costs, they entered the sacred place and made away with traditional items and 20 of them have died as a result of their desperate acts,” he said. “We have to appease the gods or else many will still die and we have to bury them according to tradition. Their corpses belong to the gods and will be exhumed if buried by their families.”

He restated that the deaths were not caused by diseases or Ebola as widely speculated.

“The death caused by Molokun is characterised by severe headache and blindness,” he said. “Proverbs 29:1 in the Bible say: `He that had been reproved and hardened his neck shall suddenly be destroyed without remedy; so youths of nowadays must be careful.’”

Some residents appealed to the chief priest to make the necessary atonement to avert calamity in the town.

They said news of the deaths had given the town and state a bad name.

Sheed Osuolale said he was afraid when the news broke.

Esther Bantefa said the news had given the town and the state a bad name. She said the chief priest should as a matter of urgency perform necessary rituals.

“Our people in Lagos and other towns called us to get information if it was Ebola outbreak,” she said.

Tayo Akinyelure said parents should warn their children against going near shrines.

“Many youths do not believe in all these traditions and customs,” Mrs. Akinyelure said. “It is high time parents warned their children against committing sacrilege.”



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