The death of three men in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State on Thursday July 14 after a rainfall has been a subject of controversy. While many believe it is the handiwork of Sango, Yoruba god of lightening and thunder, others hold different opinions, FEMI OYEWESO (ABEOKUTA) reports
It was a small kiosk measuring about 6ft by 8ft, sitting at a T-junction beside a building housing I-Jay (1969) Klub, adjacent to the main gate of Otunba Dipo Dina International Stadium in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State. Of course, the T-junction is also on the stretch of the road leading to Obanta Social Club in Ijebu-Ode. And that was where the three of them met their death that fateful Thursday afternoon of July 13, 2018.
The trio of 24-year-old Moshood Mustapha,48-year-old Sina Salami and a boy said to be the only son of an Ijebu High Chief, Balogun of Imuku town in the Ijebu North East Local Government area had decided to hibernate under the kiosk pending when the downpour would subside and they would continue the journey to their respective homes. But this was not to be. There was a frightening lightening accompanied by a deafening thunder. The kiosk was hit by lightening. And three out of the four people under the kiosk lay dead while the fourth took to his heels.
The incident was regarded as an abomination not only among the people of Ijebu-Ode, but in the entire Yorubaland as it was the belief that Sango, the Yoruba god of thunder, was responsible for the death of the trio. As a result of this no one would touch the corpses of the slain men except the worshippers Sango.
When the sad incident occurred, the office of the Ogun state Vigilance Services (VSO) located within the Ijebu-Ode Local Government secretariat complex was the first point of call as they were believed to be the only local law enforcement agents who understood the implications of what happened. And this, the people did. It was the authority of the VSO that in turn informed the police at their Igbeba Divisional Headquarters in Ijebu-Ode.
Even when the police arrived at the scene, no one would touch the three corpses believed to have been killed by Sango, one of the deities of Yorubaland. Until some sacrifices were made to appease Sango, nobody would remove the bodies.
Hence, the adherents of Sango worship were brought in to assess the situation and prepare the sacrifices for the atonement.
The olorisas (traditional worshipers) led by Erelu Oshotiku Alawiye were of the opinion that the three victims must have committed a crime against someone somewhere who now called on Sango for vengeance. They were of the firm belief that Sango, the god of thunder, does not kill innocent person and that was why the fourth person escaped from the scene unharmed.
The three corpses were left unattended to at the scene all Friday till Saturday July 14, while the Olorisas only knotted palm fronds round the kiosk to cordon it off.
In preparing the sacrifice, families of the victims had to provide one white ram, a gallon of red oil, some quantities of kolanuts, some quantities of bitter cola, a bag of salt, some bottles of aromatic schnapps or dry gin or local gin and also the sum of N100, 000 per corpse. Failure to provide this, the Sango worshippers were ready to return to their base and it would be difficult to remove all the corpses for burial.
Realising the dangers associated with burying those corpses without the approval of the Sango worshippers, families of two of the victims: Mustapha and Salami present agreed to pay the fee, while the father of the third victim, Balogun of Imuku town was also said to have given his nod to whatever that was agreed upon. One of the victims was said to be his only child and he would not want to engage anyone further in matter that had brought sadness to his life.
But in a desperate attempt at removing the corpses of their beloved sons for burial, Moshood’s and Sina’s families pleaded with the Sango worshippers to reduce their fee to N20, 000, while they provide all other items for the sacrifice. The Olorisas agreed: a part payment of the sum of N16, 000 was made after the items for the sacrifice were also provided. The rituals was performed and so, the three corpses were removed late Saturday night for proper burial.
The gentle man agreement reached between the victims’ families and the Olorisa Sango, however, broke down following the refusal of the families to pay the balance of N44, 000.
The quick intervention of operatives of the Vigilance Service of Ogun state (VSO) in Ijebu-Ode however, doused the tension already generated over the matter.
But to avert the situation, authority of the VSO in Ijebu-Ode quickly called for a peace meeting where both parties were made to sign an undertaking that peace would reign in the area.
Leadership Weekend’s investigations revealed that several rumours were flying round Ijebu-Ode township over what could have been responsible for the death of the three people.
While many held the belief that the victims were actually killed by Sango deity through thunder strike which is its instrument of death, others believed that the victims were standing on an abandoned electric cable which attracted the lightening when it was raining.
A commercial motorcyclist, Ibrahim Sonola, who spoke with our correspondent alleged that weapons, which included pistols and cutlasses were found in the pockets of the victims which made people to believe that they were suspected armed robbers going or returning from an operation.
“How come it was only the three of them that died and the fourth person left the scene unharmed? If it were to be ordinary lightening, all of them would have been affected, but in actual sense, they were armed robbers”, he concluded.
Another respondent, Segun Jibowu, an electrical engineer attributed the death of the victims to a natural disaster as a result of the lightening from the rain and not because any Yoruba deity was angry with them. He maintained that the victims were only unfortunate to have been standing on the “route” of the lightening while it was raining.
But speaking with Leadership Weekend, Moshood’s father, Wolimo Mustapha, was of the opinion that the Olorisa Sangos only wanted to take advantage of the death of his son to feed fat on his family, stressing that the late 24-year-old bricklayer died of natural cause.
Mustapha claimed that he was a devoted Muslim who did not believe in the existence of a deity and as such, was no longer willing to pay more to the Sango worshippers.
Explaining why he initially agreed to their terms, the wood machinist explained that the confusion created by the death of his son, coupled with the pressure from the family made him to concur to the terms.
The 72-year-old Mustapha, however, challenged the traditional worshippers to show further evidence of the thunder stone removed from the scene of the incident to prove that the victims were actually killed by their deity.
Speaking in the same direction, Mrs. Tinuke Animashahun, the younger sister to the second victim, Sina, said the Sango worshippers were only torturing their minds by compelling them to pay prizes to the Sango deity before families could remove the corpses of their relations. She, however, concluded that they had no option than to concur with them.
But responding to the allegations of compounding the situation for the families of the victims, Erelu Alawiye, who led the three other Sango worshippers to the peace meeting called at the instance of the VSO operatives in Ijebu-Ode, strongly disagreed with the families, maintaining that the victims could have committed a sacrilege for which repercussions caught up on them.
The 64-year-old Erelu Alawiye explained that what happened in the death of the trio of Moshood, Sina and the third boy was nothing but pure sacrilege for which failure to appease their god would result in the harvest of more deaths within the families of the victims.
According to her, Ijebu-Ode had in the time past, recorded similar deaths but not in that number and that was why they as Sango worshippers would not allow the families to have access to the corpses of the victims unless the Sango deity was appeased.
She emphasised that it was a bad omen not only for Ijebu-Ode town, but the entire Ijebuland and maintained that all the affected families would suffer regrettable consequences should they dare to touch those corpses without providing the materials and money for the appeasement sacrifice.
When asked whether the deity could attack and kill people who obstructed its “right of ways” while it is raining, Erelu insisted that Sango which, according to the Yoruba traditional beliefs, was the god of thunder, does not kill or attack an innocent person.
She also explained that the trio could have either immediately or in the time past, cheated on or committed crimes where those concerned cast spells on them in the name of the Sango deity.
“That is why the Yoruba always warn their people not to sit or stand along the entrance to a house when it is raining. But if at all the lightening from Sango should strike and attack an innocent person while it is raining, such a person would not die, but only sustain partial paralysis of the whole body. But by the time we give them the antidote, the person would be well while there may also be a perpetual mark on their body such as twisting of the tongue or becoming permanently deaf,” she explained.
When asked whether guns and ammunition were found at the possession of the victims to actually confirm that they were armed robbers as rumoured, Erelu emphatically stated that it was not true.
She said items which included panel saw, sledge hammers, nails were only found on the victims as at the time when the police and the Olorisas came to perform the rituals that set their corpses free from the “bondage” of Sango.
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