History was made, Saturday January 12, 2019, when the Emekuku General Assembly, which met last 37 years ago (1982), this time around met, deliberated on and resolved to ban masquerade of any type in the community. The ban will remain in force for the next five years in the first instance.
This was sequel to the unfortunate incident of December 31, 2018 that resulted in the loss of life during masquerade activities in the community. Prominent among those present at the meeting, held at the Hall of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church Emekuku, included: The Supreme Council of Ndi Oha, Emekuku, Rev. Fr. Dr. Alex Okoro, representative of the Archbishop of Owerri, His Grace Most Rev Anthony JV Obinna, HRH Eze Chris Nwamara, Eze-Udo II of Azaraubo Autonomous Community and other leaders and representatives of the 10 villages of Emekuku.
A letter conveying the resolutions which was signed by HRH Eze Chris Nwamara, Oha Leonard Onyekwe, Chairman, Supreme Council of Ndi-Oha Emekuku and Rev. Fr. Dr. Alex Okoro, Episcopal Vicar Emekuku Zone 1, was addressed to all village chairmen Emekuku Town. It was also copied to the Commissioner of Police, Imo State, the Divisional Police Officer Owerri North, the Officer-in-charge Dept of State Services and the Commander, Civil Defence, Owerri North.
Banned also is the use of weapons of any type such as explosives, guns, cutlasses, spears etc being used during other festivities particularly during burial processions. The Assembly warned that blockage of roads by burial processions and during other ceremonies will no longer be tolerated. “Any further defaulters will be apprehended and handed over to the police for prosecution in addition to any fines or sanctions that may be pronounced by the Supreme Council of Ndi-Oha Emekuku,” said the Assembly.
The village chairmen were asked to warn shop owners in their areas that any shop(s) discovered to be a gathering place for cultists and sale/use of hard drugs will be reported to law enforcement agencies and shut down. The General Assembly also established the Emekuku Community Security Committee with members drawn from the 10 constituting villages to formulate policy, monitor and advice on security in the Emekuku community and the committee was charged to monitor this ban with the proverbial eagle eye.
In an exclusive interview with The Leader, Rev. Fr. Dr. Alex Okoro, disclosed that when he got a call from the Archbishop that there was trouble in the community which had led to loss of life, he got in touch with Eze Nwamara, who granted him audience with some members of his cabinet, to brainstorm on how to bring peace to Emekuku. “This led me to write a letter to the chairmen of the 10 villages of Emekuku, Ndi-Oha, Ndi Nze, chiefs, High Chiefs and traditional Prime Ministers. We agreed to meet on January 12, 2019 at Mt. Carmel Parish Hall to chat the way forward, which we did with fruitful outcome. Even the oldest men in the community attended with the aid of their walking sticks.”
Despite the fact that Emekuku now comprises three autonomous communities and three parishes, there was total consensus as every participant saw the need for urgent and lasting steps to be taken. Fr. Okoro agreed that the cooperation he received in that peace initiative reflected the high regard the people of Emekuku have for the person he represented, namely Archbishop Obinna, who is also their son. “We were able to get the Director of State Services (DSS) to be present through Eze Nwamara who gave them a copy of my letter”, disclosed the Episcopal Vicar for Emekuku Zone one. He also said that participants cut across different Christian denominations, as a pastor from one of the churches took part.
Fr. Okoro recalled how he touched their consciences through his words of admonition. He told them that it was the same star that led the three wise men from the East searching for the new born Christ to Bethlehem, that led the white missionaries to Emekuku the cradle of the Catholic Church in our province, “So how come that Emekuku has now turned into a community where people are killed carelessly?”, asked priest.