- Preliminary investigation indicated that the people died as a result of alleged offence against Malokun deity
Against the rumour making round in Ode, In Irele Local government Area of Ondo State that there was an outbreak of Ebola or a strange disease in the community where a strange illness has claimed over 20 lives within few days, more facts have emerged on the outbreak of the so called strange killer diseases in the town.
It has been discovered that the mysterious deaths in the area was as result of an alleged offence by some youths against ‘Malokun’ a deity worshiped by the people of the area.
Confirming this discovery to newsmen in Akure the state capital, the State Commissioner for Information, Hon. Kayode Akinmade said that preliminary investigations into the deaths recorded in the town indicated that the deceased died as a result of an alleged offence committed against ‘’Maloku’’ by desecrating the shrine.
‘’Some persons who were said to have gone to exhume the deity, to enable them sell the head for money ritual, were reported to have died mysteriously after complaining of blurred vision and headache’’, the Commissioner said.
He said the disease has its major symptoms as headache, blurred vision and blindness before death would occurs within 21 hours.
Nigerian Pilot on Saturday however gathered from the Irele indigenes that some young men went to steal some items from the Malokun Shrine, the traditional deity of the Ikale-speaking people of Irele, which they hold in high esteem because of its power and myths.
It was also gathered that those who died included those who directly went to defile the shrine, all those who aided and abetted the crime, as well as all those who had contact with them; perhaps, sharing or receiving the proceeds of such illicit transactions from the white men whom they allegedly sold those mystical items to.
Attempts to reach the Olofun of Irele, HRH Oba Olarewaju Lebi, who is the chief custodian of the people’s culture proved abortive as a source explained that he travelled out of town while another said it is a taboo for the king to witness such endemic and that might be the reason why he left the town.
Olatimehin Igbekele, a native of the community who spoke with Nigerian Pilot Saturday revealed that those who the deity allegedly killed were mainly youths suspected to have defiled the shrine of Malokun.
He stated that one Mr. Kehinde died in Gbeleju Quarters; one Mr. Oyebo also died in Gboroye Quarters while several others are from Ojomo Quarter.
Speaking from oral facts and tradition, Olatimehin affirmed that the god which was purported to have been stolen by the culprits was the female one explaining that if it were to be the male counterpart, it would have destroyed the whole community.
It was also learnt that the elders of the community have summoned the traditionalists and priests of the deity to appease the gods and plead for mercy on behalf of those who were not party to the crime but somehow got in contact with those who perpetrated the evil.
However, the Senator-elect representing Ondo South Senatorial District, Pastor Yele Omogunwa, in a telephone conversation said there were different versions of the deaths in the area and appealed to the people to remain calm as government has already intervened on the matter.
He confirmed that the deaths are subsiding and appreciated the state government for sending a team of experts to that area to possibly forestall further deaths.
Omogunwa, who is an indigene of Irele town, expressed dismay over the ugly incident, which according to him did not affect the neighbouring communities while only the male youths were the victims of the deity. He also stated that there was no reported case of the disease among the female and aged in the town.
“We have some neighbouring towns there, nothing happened to them. Why Irele? I discovered that those who were dead were young people: Okada riders. It did not affect any female or elderly persons; it is only this age bracket of ambitious people. It is mysterious,” he said.
The possibility of a deity causing the deaths was however disregarded by the state Ministry of Health and a member of the Ondo State Hospital Management Board, Femi Okunjemiruwa, who is also an indigene of the affected community.
In his words: “it does not follow the usual pattern of any spiritual attack known to us; because, this pattern is very strange and by evidence or through oral tradition it does not depict any erroneous acts against the gods.”
Meanwhile, the State Commissioner for Health, Dr Dayo Adeyanju, has allayed the fears of the people over the mysterious deaths in Irele dispelling the rumour that it was a new case of Ebola reoccurrence in the community.
Adeyanju admitted the mysterious deaths in the ancient town which has resulted in over 14 deaths while many more are still undergoing serious treatment in the Intensive Care Unit, ICU, of the General Hospital in Irele adding that, those who were receiving medical attention before, were evacuated in order to quarantine the affected patients.
The Commissioner disclosed that the deaths has spread across the length and breadth of the community, which makes it difficult to determine the source, but affirmed that the government has been able
to synergise with all health stakeholders and natives to successfully curtail it to Irele only.
He however agreed that the symptoms peculiar to the deaths were mysterious; ranging from slight headache, fever, blindness which eventually lead to the death of the victims within a very short period of time.
He mentioned that the state’s Ebola outbreak control team and other health rangers are on top of the situation through Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, and suggested the possibility of the application of the state cremation law in the disposal of the deceased bodies or interment outside the community so as to forestall further spread during burial.