Oko crisis: Parents of shot masquerade plead for release of son

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BY VINCENT UJUMADU

AWKA — THE parents of 35-year-old Mr. Chidozie Anyaene from Ezioko, Oko, in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, who was shot and allegedly taken away by soldiers, during the Afia Olu festival, last Saturday, in the town, yesterday, pleaded with military authorities to release their son dead or alive.

Chidozie Anyaene was allegedly shot by soldiers during this year’s annual Afia Olu festival at Oko and had been missing since then.

Speaking in an interview at Oko, the victim’s father, Mr. Anyaene, said though he was not there when the incident happened, he was reliably told that after shooting his son, the soldiers put him in their Hilux van alive and drove off.

Anyaene said his son only joined his age mates to perform the masquerade, which, according to him, had been an age-long festival that “ushers in the planting season in the community.”

He said: “I do not know the whereabouts of my son. Since that day, I have been going from place to place in search of him without success.

“Even today (Monday), I have conducted a search to no avail and as I am speaking to you, there is no clue as to where he is.

“The only thing I know is that they said that soldiers shot him that day and carried him into their vehicle and drove away. Those who were close to the scene of the incident that day said they saw him and that he was breathing when the soldiers took him away.

“I was even preparing to go to Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, this morning when I received information that they took him there, but I got another information that they have taken him out of the place to 82 Division of Nigeria Army, Enugu. I don’t know what to believe now.

“All I want is for them to release my son to me so that I can treat him or if he is dead, let them release his corpse to me.”

Speaking on the Afia Olu festival, he said: “This is a festival that has been here since our forefathers. My great grand fathers and my own father performed it. It is used to mark the beginning of planting season. Our neighbouring towns of Amaokpala and Ndiowu did theirs. Why is this Oko’s own different?”

Also speaking, his wife, Mrs. Rhoda Anyanene, who was sobbing as she spoke, said her son committed no crime, adding that he was only playing with his mates as it was the nature of the festival.

 

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