By Alaba Adewale
A new dimension has been introduced to the strange illness that has killed no fewer than 17 people in Ode-Irele, a quite town in the Southern part of Ondo state since Thursday.
The Oyewoga of Ode-Irele, Moses Enimade, a high ranking traditional chief, who spoke in an interview on Saturday explained the mystery behind the strange deaths, blaming it on sacrilege committed by some youths in the town.
“It is not Ebola, you really cannot find a medical explanation to this since it is gods that killed them.”
According to Enimade, the disease which manifested on its victim first with headache, attack on the spinal cord and blindness, came as punishment for the sacrilege committed against Molokun, the local deity in the area.
The state Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, in a state broadcast had assured the people of government’s efforts to unravel the mystery behind the deaths, saying the state government is collaborating with the UN agency to find medical explanation for the incident.
The disease which kills its victims within 24 hours bears no symptom of the deadly Ebola virus.
However, Enimade debunked the rumour that the deaths were caused by strange disease or Ebola virus, insisting that it was an attack of the gods.
He explained that some stubborn youth broke into the inner room of the Molokun shrine on April 15, to steal from the gods.
“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.
“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.’”
A native who pleaded anonymity told News Investigators at the weekend that the victims include those who broke into the shrine as well as those who were privy to the plot to steal the artefacts.
“Oju Owa is a sacred place and every native here knows that, the source said. Adding that the said youths successfully stole some artefacts, they stacked stick the eye of one other, trying to pull it from its location, they did not succeed, that explains why the first go blind before they died,” the source added.
Our correspondent was further told that women in the town have been drafted in to fence water and deliver it to the shrine as part of the rituals to appease the angry gods.