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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

How a thief was turned to a temporal imbecile

By Anayo M. Nwosu

When Chief Chukwujekwu migrated from the densely populated settlement in Egbu Umuenem where his kiths and kins lived to go set up a homestead at an “ikpa” or by the forest, many were wondering how he could survive any robbery attack at his new home. 

Nobody would hear his save our soul alarm or cry at the time of emergency or robbery attack as he had no immediate neighbours except the wild animals and birds of the air that gave his surroundings a cemetery or quiet ambience. 

The Chief Chukwujekwu’s house was a stone throw from Otito Ogboro deity that had an Afọ market in front of its shrine. The Afọ market traded every four days during the daytime and as such, could not offer any night time warmth to Chief Chukwujekwu’s solitary compound. 

But the house was perching on the mostly lonely footpath dividing a dense forest waiting for its own turn for shifting cultivation. 

Once in a while, Chief Chukwujekwu would see some periodic passersby to chat with. 

Catholics living in my own village of Okpuno, journeying to St. Peter Clavers Church at Akwunweke where Monsignor Joe Nwaibegbunam held sway as parish priest, would need to pass by Chief Chukwujekwu’s house before connecting the Okpuno Enem-Awka Etiti road’s location of the church. 

And as a mass server, I had to pass through this particular house very early, everyday to attend morning mass. I was required to attend mass everyday. 

Chief Chukwujekwu too never missed morning mass in the late 1970s and early 1980s and was one of those who stayed in the front pews. He also sang both Latin and Igbo hymns during the mass. 

One fateful day, while Chief Chukwujekwu and his household were in church for morning mass, which usually commenced by 6am and ended by 7am, a thief scaled the fence of his compound with intention to steal his belongings. 

The thief did his homework well and was sure that nobody was home before he struck. 

By the time Chief Chukwujekwu and his family returned home from Church, they found their compound sparkling clean as a man who was supposed to be a thief had swept both the inner spaces and the veranda of the main house. 

The thief was already sweeping the outer lanes from the house leading to the main footpath with a great zeal of some Nigerians defending Buhari’s achievements from 2015 to date. 

While the wife and children of Chief Chukwujekwu were surprised at the unknown domestic help sweeping their compound with a long broom known as “oko ọkpa” made from palm fronds, the man of the house, Chief Chukwujekwu, knew what happened. 

Chief Chukwujekwu’s anti-theft device was at work. 

The Chief told his wife and kids that the uninvited hardworking visitor was a thief; that he was under the spell of an anti-theft device. 

He revealed to the bewildered household that the “possessed” thief would keep sweeping the compound until he, Chief Chukwujekwu, performed an antidotal ritual to bring the thief back to his senses. 

It didn’t take long before the whole village heard of what was happening and converged within a twinkle of an eye to see the anti-theft device at work. 

The news spread like a wild fire in the harmattan throughout the town making the whole Nkwo Nnewi market shift base to Chief Chukwujekwu’s compound. 

It took the pleas of the relations of the mentally reconfigured and absent minded thief who was busy sweeping portions he had swept before repeatedly, to make Chief Chukwujekwu agree to perform the antidotal ritual that would make the thief come back to his senses. 

When relations of the thief had paid an undisclosed compensation to Chief Chukwujekwu for his troubles, he deactivated his jazz and immediately the thief regained his consciousness but the police was handy to arrest him. 

The army of friends Chief Chukwujekwu garnered, especially the wealthy Nnewi citizens, increased after this incident. 

I could hazard a guess as to the reason why Chief Chukwujekwu’s house became a Mecca of a sort to many people of all faith who had something to protect. 

The dibia that prepared the anti-theft device who definitely was not Very Rev Monsignor Joe Nwaibegbunam, the parish priest of the very church where Chief Chukwujekwu and all of us were parishioners.

Chief Chukwujekwu must have procured the anti-theft device from somewhere else. But we were all happy that his protection worked.

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