By Simon Ebegbulem
OGHEGHE- RESIDENTS of Ogheghe community, Ovia North East Local Government Area, Edo State, have raised eyebrows over suspected ritual killings and kidnappings being carried out by a syndicate at an undeveloped land acquired, several years ago, on the outskirt of the community by the Nigerian Air Force.
The land overgrown by bush is called “evil forest” by the villagers because of the horrible activities of supposed ritualists.
However, the people are enraged that despite the killings, security agencies were allegedly closing their eyes to the strange happenings in the forest, while the Nigerian Air Force appeared apathetic.
Penultimate Thursday, January 4, the community’s vigilante nearly lynched a motorcyclist suspected to be a member of the syndicate from Delta state, but the timely intervention of police officers from the Ogida Police State, led by the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, saved him.
Police counter allegations
A source said the suspect confessed to the vigilante that he had killed 16 persons, but Commissioner of Police, Edo Command, Mr Babatunde Kokumo, who answered questions from journalists on the matter, said it was a case of alleged murder against the suspect and not ritual killing.
He dismissed the claim that people were being killed in Ogheghe forest, declaring that no incident of killing has been reported in the forest.
The villagers disagreed with the police boss, accusing him of being insensitive to their plight.
Inside the supposed “evil forest”
Last week, they invited NDV to visit the alleged “evil forest” Our reporter went with a tour guide. Going through the forest was quite petrifying.
NDV observed that the major road leading to the forest has been deserted by the people, while bloodstained clothes and skeletons were found in some shrines in the forest. We also saw what looked like a shallow grave with shoes belonging to little kids.
There was also a very unique palm tree that has one root with three branches. Underneath, we saw blood stains and sacrificial items.
Community members lamented that their people no longer enter the forest due to fear of being killed. And for over 30 minutes that NDV and his guide combed the forest, no single soul was found in the forest.
Human skulls, skeletons
Forty-six-year-old furniture maker, Mr Felix Ewodaghe, disclosed: “One day, I was coming back from work, I saw somebody crying and shouting armed robber, armed robber, I saw him crawling from a bush part and I went to help him. On getting there, I started tracing the bush part to see whether I can trace the armed robbers, but I started seeing human skulls and skeletons in the bush.”
“I saw children clothes and shoes in the bush. I was shocked and I carried the victim to the main road where people came to help. But that was when I knew something was going on in that forest. This incident happened early 2017.
…suspect confessed killing 16 persons
“Then last week, I was in my store when a commercial motor-cyclist rode to the place and said that they killed somebody in the forest. He said we should go there. When we got there, we met our vigilante people there and I asked them about the incident.
“We saw the entire community there. They said I should look by my right hand and I looked. Behold I saw a dead man whose hands were tied on his back has two legs tied too. The body was started decomposing. I was shocked.
“But I observed that there was one motorcyclist that they beat up and wanted to kill before the police came to rescue him. Other motorcyclists were accusing that boy of the killing. Many Okada riders know this particular guy, he uses different motorcycles every day and that was when they started suspecting him.
“They said he will lure his fellow Okada people to the forest, kill them and collect their motorcycle. They said they wanted to kill the boy, but the police said no that he should not be killed. I heard that the boy even confessed to the Okada people that he has killed about 16 persons in this forest. But the police took the boy away and that was the end we heard about him,” he said.
SOS to Gov Obaseki, Oba of Benin
His words: “The truth is that because the land now belongs to Air Force, nobody goes there and the place became a thick forest. Air force should come and develop that land because it has turned to an evil forest. The land is known as Air Force land, but the truth now is that it is Air Force Cemetery due to the killings that goes on in that forest. “
“I am happy you went there, you saw human skeletons, human clothes with blood. We are appealing to our Oba and the Edo state government to come to our aid and save us. People come there to kill people for rituals. They should show concern to this community by saving us. And they should ask Ogida Police the whereabouts of the boy they arrested.
“We have stopped passing the road across the forest because there was a time we saw a J5 bus, we only saw that the doors of the bus were open but nobody inside. The vehicle was abandoned there and after few days, we noticed a grave in that area. Due to the fear, our people stopped passing through that road,” he narrated.
Air Force should develop its land or…
Another community member, Osarodion Arthur, said: “If you notice, our people have fled this community. Our appeal is that Governor Godwin Obaseki promised to give our youth work, and there is no other thing he can do, he should come and build industry in this evil forest so that the place can be opened and our youth can have jobs in the place, rather than keep an evil forest fallow here.”
The Air Force that owns the place is not developing it and we cannot continue to suffer this. They are slaughtering our people every day there, using them for rituals just because the place is a forest.
“Unfortunately, the day vigilante people and Okada riders arrested one of the suspects; the police came and saved him. So police is part of our problem because we heard that the people perpetrating this killing in the forest always settle the police if any of them are arrested.
“Because of the killings in this forest, our people no longer go to their farms due to fear. Apart from that, when you go into the city and want to come back, no Okada man will agree to bring you to this village due to fear. We are suffering and if this forest is not developed, these killings will continue. What the Air Force people do each time they come is to beat up our people, rather than develop their land,” Arthur stated.
Community leader, Osarobo Omorodion, lamented that the police come to the area to mount road block on the road leading to the community, but rather than investigate the happenings in the forest, they collect money from the people.