*priests say prayers against unnatural occurrences

From Chuks Collins, Awka

It was a very sad situation for the family of the Okoyes of Irefi village, Oraifite in Ekwusigo council of Anambra state when their father and breadwinner, Mr Augustine Okoye drowned in the local Omelu Lake in the neighbourhood along with two of his sons.

The incident which occurred on the Dec 28, 2011 almost marred the community’s mass-return activities and prayer rally scheduled for Dec 30.

The late Okoye was said to have gone to the lake as he must have routinely done all his life to do some laundry for his family alongside his two sons-Chibueze, an Junior Secondary school 3(JS3) student and Chinemerem, also a Junior Secondary school 1(JS1) student.

His wife and the other children stayed back at home to prepare breakfast and to tidy up the premises. It was while Okoye and Chibueze washed the clothes that Chinemerem strayed into the deeper part of the water and got swept off. An attempt to rescue him by his elder brother unfortunately didn’t work out as both of the got stuck, more so when the younger one held tightly unto him in addition to his seeming resolve not to let his brother go.

Their father on seeing the unfolding incident reportedly quickly dived in by ended up being stuck also. Their mysterious disappearance was not immediately known until late in the day when the family reported to the village head and the local vigilante.

More so, barely anyone fetches water from the lake now as boreholes were sunk in most homes. So a search party was dispatched which turned in no tangible report, except that their items-fetching buckets and clothes were seen littered all over the bank of the lake.

According to a community leader and former chairman of Nnewi North Council, Chief Azuka Okwuosa who confirmed the sad incident, “such thing has never happened in the community before. Though the lake was regarded as mysterious, but it had never drowned anyone from the community. This is sad, it’s unusual”, he stressed

One of the local divers who teamed up with some divers that were eventually brought in from Onitsha the next day, Dec 29, said they were able to recover the corpses after some rituals and rites were performed in the lake.

According to the man who gave his name simply as Chiedu, “it was amazing that even after being inside the water for more than 24 hours none of the victims’ stomach got swollen from water intake. They were all extracted from one particular hole inside the water”.

At the prayer rally held as part of the community mass-return activities, Venerable Okwuosa who flew in from London for the event prayed fervently against futher negative occurrences.