The people of Assa and Awarra in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo State have for long suffered in the tight grips of cult groups terrorising their communities.
But last week, they had a cause to celebrate as they were liberated by the police, who stormed the two communities and engaged in a fierce gun-battle with the suspected cultists.
At the end of the deadly confrontation, two of the most notorious cultists, who had been giving the residents sleepless nights, were felled by the superior firepower of the police team, while many other members of the cult groups escaped with bullet wounds.
The cultists met their waterloo, when some of them dressed in red and black attires and military uniforms mobilised themselves to confront a special team of the state Anti-Robbery Squad deployed in the area from the state Police Command and Zone 9 in Umuahia.
Violent activities of the cult groups in the area had deprived the residents sound sleep as the suspected cultists usually caused panic in the two communities, where they allegedly destroyed lives and property.
During last week’s clash between the suspected cultists and police operatives, two kingpins of the groups, identified as Tochukwu Sunday, a.k.a Black Face of the De-gbam confraternity and his second-in-command, Enyia Anayochukwu, popularly called kill and bury, were gunned down.
An eye witness and a leader of one of the communities, Chief Chikezie Ogbujiukwu, said, “When we woke up this morning, we saw the lifeless bodies of Tochukwu Sunday and Enyia Anayochukwu’s in the Assa Market ground. We were all at first gripped with fear. But later, after we were convinced that they were the corpses of those notorious cultists, who had been disturbing us for long, we became happy and people even jubilated because they had been terrorising us for so long, killing people and destroying our property.
“The security men were even asking us to come and see them to identify and confirm if they were really the people and we confirmed them accordingly.”
Ogbujiukwu added that the cultists, who had spies everywhere, operated in the communities both during the day and night, killing innocent people in the name of cultism.
According to him, an 18-year-old girl, who was a girlfriend to Tochukwu, one of the dead cult leaders, was once found in possession of a human skull and arrested by soldiers.
He said that the teenager later confessed to the police during interrogation that the human skull belonged to her boyfriend.
The community leader, however, said, “We can now sleep with our eyes closed. We thank the police for providing such security. The communities can now go about their normal business without the fear of the cultists. About this time last year, many lives were wasted by these cult boys.”
A police source said that the remains of the dead suspected cult leaders had been evacuated to the Umuagwo Police Division Headquarters in Ohaji/Egbema as ordered by the state commissioner of police for further action.
The source added, “We have got their hideouts and ready to flush them out because they have disturbed too much and they do not have a hiding place any more. As far as we are concerned, they will not escape. We are on the search for them and no going back until they surrender. Peace must return to these communities by force, whether they like
it or not.
“During our gun battle with them, we targeted Tochukwu and those tough ones amongst them and we got them down before the others ran into the bush with bullet wounds. They deserve what is happening to them now, since they don’t want to embrace the state government’s amnesty programme organised in the past to forgive them their misdeeds.