A mathematics teacher at the Community Secondary School, Isuofia in Anambra State, Chiadikobi Ezeibekwe, and his family members narrowly escaped being lynched by some angry youths in their Agba village, Ekwulobia, in the Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State penultimate week, when news filtered that the teacher had secretly married his 17-year-old sister.
The wedding was said to have been conducted by Ezeibekwe’s elder brother, Chijioke, who is the pastor in charge of Dwelling Fullness of God Church, Agba, where the ceremony took place.
The irate youngsters succeeded in setting the church ablaze before they were stopped from unleashing terror on the ‘newly-weds’ and their family members by the traditional prime minister of Ekwulobia, Chief Gabriel Ezeukwu, who warned them against taking the laws into their own hands.
Ezeukwu told our reoporter that he restrained the youth from further action against the teacher and his family to avoid the wrath of security agents.
“If it were to be in the olden days, the entire family would be burnt alive because this is a grave abomination and sin. But we can’t take the laws into our own hands now in the 21st century. I have discussed with the family members and we have scheduled a date for cleansing oblation,” the community prime minister added.
The teacher, who said he was of the Sabbath sect, said he received direct instruction from God to ‘marry’ his sister, a student of the Federal Government Technical College, Awka. He justified his action by quoting from the book of Deuteronomy to illustrate that siblings could marry each other.
He had said, “One advantage of this is that such marriage discourages divorce. It also retains family values and norms.”
It was gathered that the teacher’s action generated controversy in the community which described the ‘marriage’ as an abomination.
Ezeibekwe’s father, Luis and mother, allegedly supported the so-called marriage but the eldest son of the family, Emeka, who reported the incestuous act to the kindred leadership, vowed that the marriage would not stand.
“It is over my dead body that they will call themselves husband and wife. It can’t happen,” he had threatened.
Investigation by our reporter revealed that the family members, made up of 10 siblings (eight boys and two girls), were divided on the issue.
Although Ezeibekwe’s mother had fled the family house when our correspondent visited the place on Thursday, some of her children, who disapproved of the marriage, explained that she saw nothing bad in the relationship.
One of the teacher’s siblings quoted their mother to have said, “My son fulfilled all the marriage rites. Why are they disturbing him?” This could not however be corroborated as the mother’s whereabouts could not be ascertained.
But speaking with our correspondent, Ezeibekwe said he did not pay any bride price to anybody in respect of the ‘marriage.’
He had initially told our correspondent penultimate week, when the incident happened, that he would not be intimidated by the harassment from the community’s authorities.
“I don’t feel guilty; I don’t feel ashamed; I don’t feel intimidated in any way. Only God can stop us. They said they would do cleansing to stop us, but I will only listen to the voice of God,” he had said.
He, however, changed his position on Thursday when he told our reporter that he had been prevailed upon to end the ‘unholy’ relationship.
Sounding very remorseful, Ezeibekwe said, “We have decided to dissolve that marriage because of pressure from our community. So, that marriage is no longer an issue. It’s now in the past.”
He said the family had been contacted on the cleansing the community had planned over the now defunct marriage.
The teacher stated, “I learnt that they have arranged a Reverend Father to do what they called cleansing. They have contacted us, and we have assured them that we shall make ourselves available for the exercise. I will be there and the entire family will be there. But that is not to say that I will join their church. I won’t do that and our family won’t. We can’t go back to Egypt.
“I’m a Sabbath and, searching through the scriptures, I discovered that one could marry his sibling. So, we went ahead with the arrangement to marry my younger sister. The marriage ceremony was observed inside our family compound, which also serves as a place of worship for us. My immediate elder brother, Paul Ezeibekwe, the pastor, was present during the ceremony.”
Chiadikobi explained that his parents were informed of the union, adding that they agreed to the arrangement.
He said, “What happened was that when we decided to get married, we told our parents about our intention and my father asked us if we knew what we were about to do. I told him that we searched through the scriptures and that God sanctioned it. It was after this that our parents consented.
“However, other relatives objected to the idea when they learnt of the plan and when we ignored them and went ahead with the marriage, they and other villagers burnt the church where the wedding took place.”
The mathematics teacher insisted that God told him to marry his sister.
He added, “God told me to marry my sister who also received the same vision. There are quotes in the Bible that support such marriage. Those in doubt should read Songs of Solomon chapters 4 and 5 and 1st Corinthians chapter 7.
“However, since we took that decision, the whole community rose against us; and threatened thunder and brimstone.
“We are not barbarians; we are not lawless people. So, we have decided to obey the community, and we have decided to end that marriage. It has been dissolved and that’s the end of it.”
Explaining how the matter was amicably resolved, Ezeukwu said the youth of the community were already considering various options before they came to him.
Ezeukwu stated, “They were thinking of either to involve the police, adopt a jungle justice or to parade the teacher and his sister round the town before forcing them to undertake some cleansing rituals.
“I advised them that the first thing should be to investigate the matter thoroughly. I went to their compound and met the parents. I did not see the young man and when I was told that he was teaching at the Community Secondary School, Isuofia, I went there, but still did not find him.
“I saw a burnt structure that looked like a church beside their house and I urged those who gathered at the scene to disappear in their own interest because what they committed was a cultural offence.”
He explained that when he summoned the family of the ‘couple’ to his house, the ‘newly-weds’ and the mother fled the community.
Ezeukwu added, “I invited the family members to my house but the teacher’s mother and her children ran to Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, where she hailed from. I sent a delegation to her town and their people confirmed that it is also not in their culture for a man to marry his biological sister.
“I summoned a meeting of the Igwe-in-Council with members of the family and we deliberated on the issue for some days until the children admitted that they committed sacrilege. I made it known to them that they would purify the land and we went to the Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, which is the family’s original church.”
The chief stated that the ‘wife’ in the controversial wedding had been subjected to a series of pregnancy tests to ascertain her true status.
He said, “However, I ensured that the girl in question was subjected to rigorous pregnancy tests to ascertain that she had not been impregnated by her brother and after several tests, it was confirmed that she was not pregnant, which is a relief to everybody.
“We met the Parish Priest of Ekwulobia four days ago (Monday) on the purification process. He said the affected family was already showing remorse. According to him, Saturday, March 24, 2018, has been fixed for the purification ceremony.”
He added that the Sabbath Church, which the young man claimed supported the marriage, had since denied and disowned them.
“The good thing is that the eldest son of the family, Emeka, 33, has vowed that nothing would make his siblings get married,” Ezeukwu said with a hint of relief.
The Parish Priest of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Ekwulobia, Rev. Fr. Igunatus Onwuatuegwu, also confirmed that he would perform the cleansing ceremony on March 24 to dissolve the purported marriage.
He told our rporter that Chiadikobi was a member of his church before he left for another parish in Ekwulobia.
The cleric said, “When I learnt about his movement to another parish, I alerted the parish priest of that church to be cautious about the young man. Specifically, I advised the Rev. Father not to allow him have access to young people because he might influence them negatively.
“When the Rev. Fr. started monitoring his activities and challenged him, he left the Catholic Church and joined one of the Sabbath groups. I can’t remember the name of that church. He later left the church and formed another one in his father’s compound where he and his siblings are the only members.
“From his actions, every observable person can easily see that something was wrong with the young man.”
Asked whether the church should involve itself in such cleansing ritual, the priest answered in affirmative.
He said, “According to the Catholic doctrine and the scriptures, we can organise the cleansing (ritual) using the lamb. The reason for using the lamb is that of all the animals, it is the only one that is not contaminated.
“The Igbo tradition also considers what the young man did as an abomination and that to cleanse such an abomination; you must use an animal that is not contaminated.
“In the New Testament, our Lord Jesus Christ called himself the Lamb of God and Christ is the only one that has no stain of sin. So, in the cleansing that we will do, we are not reconciling humanity with God; Christ is the only one that can do that. Our function is to announce the freedom which Christ has given to mankind.
“The family has assented. Before they came here to pick the date, they said they had agreed to perform the cleansing ceremony. They are also planning the funeral ceremony of their grandmother and for that reason, they agreed to do the cleansing so that people can attend their event.”
The cleric explained that the community would not allow the ‘marriage’ to stand, especially after the cleansing ceremony.
He added, “As for the marriage, it can never be sustained. The community cannot allow that. I had seen a situation whereby after the cleansing, some people would come up to say that it was not properly done. But once the lamb is used, every Igbo man will agree that a proper cleansing has been done.”
Culled From Punch