Nigeria governor denies cult link

The governor of a south east Nigerian state has denied being involved in a secret ritual that was filmed and uploaded onto the internet.

Theodore Orji of Abia state told the BBC the film was a fake.

The film features a man who strongly resembles the governor, crouching in front of a shrine in shackles dressed only in his Y-fronts.

The shrine is believed to be one in Anambra state that has been linked to scores of murders.

The 31-second clip was uploaded onto the internet by saharareporters.com, a group of Nigerian “citizen journalists”.

Another man standing behind the one in Y-fronts brandishes a chicken and an egg.

It is not clear what exactly is going on in the clip, which has no sound, but it seems the man resembling the governor is forced to symbolically lay an egg.

Many Nigerians hold on to their traditional beliefs in addition to being Muslim or Christian.

But Mr Orji told the BBC’s Network Africa programme he was not a member of a secret cult.

“I am a Christian by birth, my father owns a church. I cannot go to my father’s church and be a member of a cult,” he said.

“You can do anything with a computer these days,” he added.

He said the accusations were part of a plot to run him out of politics.

Mr Orji won his election in Abia state with 82% of the vote, but he was in jail at the time.

He was accused of complicity with his boss, former governor Orji Kalu, who is now facing corruption charges.

Last month an election tribunal overturned Mr Orji’s election, saying he had not resigned his post as required before the poll.

But he remains governor pending an appeal.

“They are trying to heap all the crimes of the world upon my head,” Mr Orji said.

In 2004, 33 bodies were discovered at a shrine in Okija, Anambra state.

Many were missing body parts, hands heads and genitals, believed to have been used in rituals.

30 men were arrested, but nobody was tried.

The police said they suspected the victims had been murdered, but the arrested men said the bodies had been brought to the shrine by their families.

They claimed the men had died in accidents, killed by spirits after breaking agreements made at the shrine.

Mr Orji told the BBC shrines were common all over Nigeria.

“It is where people go to settle scores and land disputes,” he said.

It is not the first time a politician has been filmed in this way.

In 2003 Anambra governor Chris Ngige was filmed participating in a shrine ritual.

He did not deny the charges and said he had gone along with the ritual because he was being blackmailed, but had no intention of sticking to the deal.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday March 4, 2008.
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