By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
Revd Chidiebere Onyekaba Kingsley and his wife, Mrs Chisom Faith Onyekaba, of St Barth's Anglican Church, Umuobo, Okija in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, escaped death by the whiskers when they were separately attacked with dangerous weapons by masquerades.
Revd Chidiebere, who spoke with journalists in Nnewi said that he was warned by friends and colleagues not to preach against masquerades when his transfer from St Stephen's, Oraifite to Okija on January 15, became public knowledge.
He pointed out that he had actually been doing his missionary work diligently without attacking anyone and that all of a sudden, the masquerades decided to set up road blocks in front of the church, harassing and intimidating members who were obviously afraid of the masquerades.
Revd Chidiebere said the fear of the masquerades and the unruly accompanying youths become palpable in Okija that none dared to say anything about the cultists, as whoever did so would be attacked in the dead of the night.
'My ordeal in hands of these dangerous cultists masquerading as masquerades happened on 28th February when we were having our 'Power Night' vigil. Shortly before the commencement of the programme, one of my members whose husband is blind has requested that I come to pray for her husband. The masquerades just at the gate of the church blocked us. All pleas to make them see reason fell on deaf ears,' explained.
'The masquerades actually told me that they don't respect or fear priests and that the priest should fear them if he still values his life. I told him that I am a servant of God but they replied by telling me that they will do what they did to a Rev Father to me.
'Before I realized what was happening, they attacked me with dangerous weapons and I sustained serious bodily injuries. My wrist watch of about twenty thousand Naira which I bought specially for my ordination was broken with my wrist.
'As the masquerades were assaulting me, people then gathered and started pleading on my behalf but the masquerades did not budge until they satisfied their thirst for blood,' Revd Chidiebere noted.
The fiery priest said when the attack was going on, he actually saw some members who were calling the masquerades by name but when they were called upon later to identify the attackers, they claimed that they did not know them, obviously for fear of being singled out for attack too.
Revd Chidiebere recalled that his wife, Mrs Chisom Faith Onyekaba, also had a brush with the deadly masquerades on 22nd February this year.
'My wife ran inside a building when the masquerades pursued her. When they didn't see her where she was hiding, they started beating a pregnant woman in the house. The masquerades left after sometime and my wife came out thinking that they were gone not knowing that they already set an ambush for her. My wife was beaten mercilessly, they injured her and these hoodlums would have snuffed life out of her if not for divine intervention,' he revealed.
The victim of the masquerade's attack passionately appealed to the affluent individuals who are fingered to be fuelling the activities of the masquerades and masqueraders to think of better ways to empower the youths they were destroying with their wealth.
As at the time of filing this report, the assaulted couple said they had reported the incident to the police in Okija. When the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of Anambra State Police Command, Mr Haruna Mohammed (SP), was called on the phone to get the police angle of the story, he did not pick his call.