Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
The news of missing male genitals quickly swept through Daudu, a sleepy community in Guma local government area of Benue State located on the the Makurdi/Lafia major highway, like a harmattan haze.
This was some days after six young men in the area allegedly claimed that their male organs were missing. Not surprising, the rumour sent jitters in the hearts of other able-bodied young men in the community.
Within days, accusing fingers began to point in the direction of founder of Divine Shadow Church, Prophet Joshua Uhembe and one other person identified as Saka Iorhemba. Uhembe who was accused by members of the sleepy community of charging each victim of the alleged missing organ, N12, 000 before curing them. The general belief therefore was that he must have something to do with the scary development.
Efforts by the community leaders to address the knotty issue and assuage the wounded feelings of the angry youths failed as they took to the street to protest. Before you could say ‘In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost,’ the protest turned violent, a development which caused traffic gridlock on the ever busy highway for some hours. By the time the dust settled, it was gathered that no fewer than six houses including Uhembe’s church had been completely razed by the angry youths.
Speaking to our correspondent, a source from the area who identified himself as Terwase disclosed that the youths resorted to protest after the traditional ruler of the community paid what they considred a perfunctory attention to their complaint.
Nongu Angpianbee Francis, onne of the alleged victims of missing organ who spoke to our correspondent, claimed, without proof, to have lost his manhood since October 2020. But the acting traditional ruler of the community, Chief Chado Oliver (acting Tyoor of Daudu), who confirmed that some youths in his domain actually protested against an alleged genital disappearance claimed in his defence that when the youths came to him he told them to bring a victim so he can see but they couldn’t bring anyone. “So I went to meet another Chief to discuss the matter only for me to be called back and told that youths were protesting. Immediately, I rushed back and met the Divisional Police Officer in Daudu. Together we went round to appeal to them.”
Police and doctor’s reactions
The State Police Command through its Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Catherine Anene, released a statement on the matter dispelling rumour of missing genitals in Daudu community.
It read: “Following reports of “theft of manhood”, Daudu Police Division commenced investigation into the case. Alleged victims claimed to be experiencing dysfunctional male genital organs and not total removal as earlier reported.
“Victims were taken to Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH) where they were certified medically okay by medical doctors but they still insisted that their genital organs were missing.”
When consulted, a medical doctor with the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH), Dr Ninyo Omidiji, attributed the phenomenon to depression or anxiety. Asked if it is possible for one to lose his manhood mysteriously, Omidiji, a psychiatrist said it all depends on the state of the mind of the claimants.
He said: “To all intents and purposes, nothing is wrong with their genitals but something is wrong with their state of mind. It is called Koro syndrome. Sometimes, it may occur in isolated cases and at other times, it may happen in a mass hysteria in which quite a number of people at the same time will report that same experience.
“These people have the strong belief that their genitals have disappeared or are disappearing. In the case of a man, he would say that the penis had retracted or may be retracting to the abdomen. In women, they may claim that their nipples are retracting into the breast and they strongly believe it.”
He explained further that more often than not, many people who don’t know that the symptoms of the mind and symptoms of the body are sometimes interwoven posited that many of those who allege organ disappearance have an existing psychiatric condition or mental disturbance. He stressed the need for anyone who was hitherto sexually active and suddenly becomes inactive just by mere touch to see a psychiatrist before jumping to conclusion.
“When someone is suffering from anxiety or depression, he would normally have an erection problem.” He recommended therapy which could come in form of a counseling section. He, however, averred that there are some chronic cases which may continue for years. “In a nutshell, it is a thing of the mind. People should know that the number one sexual organ is the human brain and not the genital. So, if something goes wrong with the brain or with the mind, genitals are affected.”
He advised victims to see a doctor. “That is the first point. The doctor will evaluate and examine them. If there is something wrong, he will tell them to go and see a psychiatrist and when they get to psychiatrist, he will evaluate the state of mind because that is where we psychiatrists come in.”
Anene added that a stakeholders’ meeting was convened by elders of the community on November 3, 2020, at about 10am during which time one Saka Iorhemba and Prophet Jacob Uhembe of the same address were alleged to have conspired to mystically perpetrate this act so as to extort money from their victims as fee for healing.
The PPRO said in the heat of arguments at the meeting, the angry youths in attendance attempted to lynch the accused persons but police was able to whisk them away. Having failed to lay their hands on them, they turned to their property and razed them to the ground.
Ortom’s futile visit to address the issue
When news got to the state governor, Samuel Ortom about the chaos in the area, he wasted no time in paying an on-the-spot visit to the community to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the allegations. The governor who debunked allegation of missing genitals calmed frayed nerves and appealed to the angry youths to sheathe their sword and allow peace to reign.
Ortom who visited the community in the company of the Commissioner of Police, Mukadas Garba and members of the State Executive Council, listened to what the elders, traditional rulers and other stakeholders including some of the supposed victims had to say.
When he requested for those who alleged that their private parts were mysteriously stolen through supernatural means to come out and show proof, only one did so. But when asked to prove his allegation, he was unable to do so as his genital organs were confirmed to be intact. Others who earlier claimed that their genitals had mysteriously disappeared refused to step forward.
Ortom dispelled the rumour and added that it was meant to encourage hatred and underdevelopment in the area. He lamented that while the negative effect of the displacement of thousands due to herders attacks was still being felt, it was unthinkable for youths to embark on destruction of property for a nonexistent disappearance of genital organs. He warned that such allegations could scare people from coming to Daudu for investment purposes, saying obedience to law and order must be encouraged at all times.
On his part, Ter Guma, Chief Dennis Shemberga acknowledged the role played by some elders and other stakeholders including security agents in restoring peace in Daudu. He thanked the governor for the timely visit which he said would help to end the unrest.
How Prophet Uhembe was murdered
But just while one was expecting life to return to.normal in the community, news filtered in that irate youths had killed Prophet Uhembe after they caught him running away in his car. The pastor was said to had been apprehended by the youths while he was trying to escape to a village in Nasarawa State, lynched and buried in a shallow grave.
A local who did not want to be named said rather than run to the Daudu Divisional Police Officer, Uhembe decided to run away out of fear. “Sadly, it was while he was running away in his car that the youths who apparently we’re on his trail, caught up with him and killed him in a village along Lafia Road.”
Following his killing, his church members on Sunday, trooped out with his posters to demand for justice. When contacted, Anene who confirmed the murder said that the man was killed while attempting to run away in his car from Daudu. She said: “Yes, the Prophet was killed sometimes last week. He was to be picked up by the DPO in Daudu but he rushed into his vehicle and ran away out of fear. He was later killed.”
She explained further that while Iorhemba decided to stay in the safe custody of the Police, Prophet Uhembe, believing that his life was not safe, in light of recent happenings to police stations during the #ENDSARS protests, tried to escape to an unknown destination.
“The command condemns in totality, violent approach to addressing issues and will deal with any violent person or groups in accordance with the law. Eight suspects have been arrested for actions liable to cause breach of peace and causing mischief,” she said. She urged members of the community to always employ dialogue as a strategy for simple dispute resolution and to seek scientific explanation of any difficult situation.
Asked if anyone had been arrested in connection with the murder, she said that the Command had arrested eight persons and that investigation was ongoing on the matter.
Why government imposed curfew in Daudu
In the light of development, Guma Local Government council on Tuesday imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew. Annoucing this, Chairman of the council, Caleb Abba, on Wednesday, disclosed that the curfew would run from 8.00pm to 6:00am on daily basis until security situation improves in the community. He regretted that despite the intervention of the state governor, Samuel Ortom, community leaders and security agencies to address the matter, youths in the community have continued to fly with the unfounded allegations of missing genitals.
He disclosed that on Monday, the youths invaded the Divisional Police Station in the community and attempted to burn it down over fresh false alarm of missing genitals. The chairman said that a commercial motorcyclist who raised a false alarm on Monday about the mysterious disappearance of his genital had been arrested by the police.