An 80-year-old clan head from Odukpani Local Government Area of Cross River has reportedly gone blind “because the gods are annoyed with him”.
Etinyin Eyo Edem, clan head of Akwa Ikon Eyo Edem in Odukpani told journalists in his palace Wednesday that his ordeal is as a result of Bakassi returnees who are now camped in primary and secondary schools in his domain.
Some reporters had visited the octogenarian in his palace to enquire about the feelings of the host community and the Bakassi returnees in his constituency.
According to Etinyin Edem, because of the returnees, he has gone blind, explaining that “since the returnees were brought” to his domain, they have entered into hitherto sacred shrines in search of food and other necessities of life.
He said because the returnees “have gone hay wire entering all nooks and crannies of the forests”, the gods of the land have visited him with blindness and until they are appeased, he might live the rest of his life a blind man.
“When these people came here, government said they were going to take care of them. But for all this while, government has neither shown concern nor visited the place. Then they became hungry, restless and went into even sacred areas of the village in search of snails and other means of livelihood just to survive. For entering those sacred shrines, the gods of our fathers have visited me with this blindness. I am paying for being generous to a displaced people,” Etinyin Eyo Edem lamented.
He named the shrines desecrated by the displaced people of Bakassi to include, Obung Obot stream; Eme Abasi; Okongho Ekpat; Nsa Anwan and Iso Ekpenyong.
To appease the gods of these shrines, the royal father said the community would need about N1.5 million, while mentioning some of the items required for the sacrifice to include he and she goats, cocks and hens; white clothing materials; native chalk (colour and white); bottles of spirit liquor; palm wine and tubers of yam.
Other items listed include native eggs, breakable plates and some quantity of mineral drinks.
The Monarch alleged that some of the streams in which the displaced people bathed were forbidden from visitors and most of the places they went in search of food were not for strangers.
“What we want the government to do is to resettle these people properly because we are suffering while they are here. Government cannot continue to promise them heaven and earth without fulfilling them and we are paying the price for being helpful to the needy,” the clan head said.
He reiterated that because the returnees could not have access to food, they chose to borrow from members of the community but they couldn’t pay back and there is nothing anybody can do to recover the money. This, he added is bringing bad blood between the creditors and their debtors.
“We have been giving them food and they also borrow from members of this community. But if they cannot pay, will you kill them? You see somebody who has very young children and comes to borrow from you. Will you refuse him or her? We have been helping them but the government that promised them better things should come and do something for them so that we will have our peace,” he added.
He said so long as the people were left without assistance, they will continue to enter the forest in search of food and since they do not know when or where they go, the village elders cannot stop them from desecrating revered shrines.
He called on the governments’ well-meaning organisations and individuals to intervene in the resettlement of the Bakassi displaced people.