Recently, residents of Ode-Irele, the headquarters of Irele Local Government in Ondo State were thrown into confusion when some strange deaths occurred in the town, claiming more than 20 lives. Th authorities in the state gave some scientific explanation to the development, saying the deaths were due to the consumption of a local gin that may have been contaminated with methanol (poisonous material), the locals in the community ascribed the occurrence to the defiling of a deity in the land called Malokun. Many in the town believe the death occurred as a result of the sudden disappearance of some artefacts believed to be part of ‘MALOKUN’ Shrine and those responsible are paying the price, and the death toll is rising. TEMITOPE ADEDEJI, who again visited the town at the weekend, writes on the deity MALOKUN…
According to the Chief Priest of Ode-Irele, who at the same time doubles as the Gbogunrin of the ancient town, High Chief Adanlawo Festus, MALOKUN is the god of the land, inherited from their ancestors The Chief Priest said the deity originated from Ugboland in Ilaje Local Government of Ondo State in the 19th century when the town was founded.
Chief Gbogunrin explained that some youths in the town who wanted to be rich at all cost through dubious means, in conjunction with some foreigners, broke into MALOKUN Shrine located along Omi road and carted away some artefacts of the deity, which were of great economic value. The priest said the people had invoked the spirit of the deity to strike down those behind the act, adding that the deity itself had moved to seek revenge. Four days after, 12 people first died in gruesome circumstance. The victims instantly became black with their eyes gorged out. A day after, five more people also died mysteriously. The death toll has finally risen to 30 as at the time of filing this report.
The Victims, Aged 25 to 30
The victims were young boys between the ages of 25 and 30; there is no single woman among them. The Chief priest said the elders of the town have commenced rituals to appease the god so as to safeguard the people of the town from its wrath.
The Second-in-Command to the monarch of the town, who also is one of those who have access to the shrine, Chief Oyewoga, said the death toll would not have been more up to what was recorded, if one of the victims had opened up and confessed to their dastardly act before they died. Their families also did not help matters, he said. “Emi baje gbi, dandan ni, ko ku gbi,” meaning “he who sows wind, shall reap whirlwind”.
Another priest who spoke with WESTERN POST, High Chief Akinyesi Omoleye, who is the Ologbosere of Ode-Irele, confirmed that the victims, who were involved directly or indirectly in the despicable act, were those who died suddenly.
According to him, “After those who stole the artefacts had succeeded in their act, they went to town celebrating and jubilating over the money they realised. They divided the money realized among themselves, even with their friends and family members. Those who shared from the money, ate from the food or took from the drinks bought with the money, were also attacked by the deity”.
One proof, which seemed to have lent credence and buttressed the assertion of the people of the town that MALOKUN was on rampage, seeking revenge is the mysterious way those who perpetrated the act died. The symptoms exhibited by those who eventually died included blindness, loss of voice and unconsciousness. WESTERN POST gathered that all the casualties died within one hour of affliction forcing residents to run to neighbouring towns and villages for safety.
Also, the Youth Leader of Ode-Irele (Olori-Odo), Mr. Sola Adekugbe, attributed the mysterious deaths to the stolen artefacts of the MALOKUN deity. He said the casualties were youths of questionable character who could not be trusted.
Government’s Scientific Explanation
But Ondo State Commissioner for Health, Dr Adeyanju, disagreed with the claim of the Chief priest and the people of the town. He said the victims died as a result of the consumption of local gin that may have been contaminated with methanol (poisonous material).
Two of the victims believed to have survived the attack, Aribo Iwajomo (28) and Orarigho (65), were still receiving treatments at the weekend at Irele Specialist Hospital. But they all denied any involvement in the act. The same position was shared by the Federal Government. The government said on Monday that after preliminary laboratory investigation into the cases of illness and sudden deaths in the state, the outbreak could not be attributed to any infectious organism (bacteria or viral), and not due to Ebola virus disease as feared by many. The Minister of State for Health, Mr. Fidelis Nwankwo, said in a statement that epidemiological findings indicate a strong linkage of the outbreak with the consumption of a local gin believed to have been contaminated with methanol (poisonous material).