A young man identified as ‘Cross,’ from Amankpo Umu-Ezike, Aku, Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State has been feared dead after masquerade worshippers clashed at Nua community, also in Aku community.
It was gathered that two factional masquerade groups have been laying claims as to the authentic group whose date should be generally accepted as the only day when the Odo Masquerade should return to the spirit world after the annual festival.
While a group at Nua village Aku had claimed to have paraded and sent the Odo Ugwuishihe Masquerade to the spirit world on August 7, those of Aku had ignored them, insisting that it was on August 31 that the masquerade should have its final journey.
According to Vangaurd, the Divisional Police Officer of Igbo-Etiti Police Division, Chinedu Okike, and other residents of Aku reportedly sustained various degrees of gunshot injuries during the fracas.
It was further gathered that no fewer than a hundred locals were hospitalized following the incident.
According to an eyewitness who spoke to Vangaurd on condition of anonymity, the clash occurred at Elu-Orie Nua Aku around 4 p.m. on Monday.
”The fight started when Odo masquerade worshippers in their numbers accompanied one Odo masquerade called Ugwuishihe to Elu-Orie Nua as tradition demands for final visitation before departing to the spirit world on 31st August 2023.
”As the Odo masquerade with her worshippers got to Elu-Orie Nua, some boys from Nua in their numbers started stoning them from all angles. As the worshippers advanced further, the boys who are from Nua started shooting at them. In the process, the DPO of Ogbede Police Division was shot with other people.
“Most people started running for their lives as the DPO got shot and the men of Nigeria Police Force who were on the ground with the DPO to ensure a peaceful passage of the Odo masquerade in all the villages had to use tear gas to repel the shooters.
“The two police van they came with were damaged by Nua boys when they were throwing stones at the police people,” the source narrated.
The source also said that one Mr. Kenneth who was among those shooting at the worshippers was later apprehended by the police and those shot were taken to various hospitals.
However, when newsmen visited Attah Memorial Hospital where one of the victims was taken to, Cross, was seen lying on a hospital bed with various gunshot injuries including one that damaged his manhood while piercing through his thigh.
The DPO who was injured said, ”We only went to Aku to ensure there was peace and order as Odo masquerade and her worshippers visit different villages today. We passed through Obie village unhindered only for Nua people to come out and start attacking us.
“I was injured and our vehicles were damaged. Our duty is to ensure that there is peace in all communities but the enemies of Police came out to attack us,” he explained.
Reacting to the incident, the Vice Chairman of Igbo-Etiti LGA, Hon. Jude Amunabor, condemned the attack and promised that both State and Local government would get to the root of the matter.
He assured his people that the government would punish anyone who took laws into his hands.
The spokesperson for the Enugu State Police Command, Daniel Ndukwe, also confirmed the incident noting that one male suspect has been arrested in connection with the clash, adding that normalcy has been restored in the community.