Tony Osauzo, Benin
Fearing being struck dead by the dreaded Ayelala juju deity, looters of goods at the burnt Ekiosa market in Benin City are said to be returning the stolen wares to the market.
Ekiosa market was razed by fire on Monday, resulting in the loss of goods worth millions of naira, with looters having a field day in the ensuing chaos that trailed the incident.
It has however come to light that the looters started returning the stolen goods from the market shortly after voodoo priests of the Ayelala deity were invited by the leadership of the market to invoke a deadly curse on those behind the fire.
The President of Edo State Market Women Association, Mrs Blacky Ogiamien, disclosed this when a delegation of the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, paid a sympathy visit to the market.
She said several items ranging from bags of rice, rolls of wrappers, cartons and gallons of vegetable oil, and even livestock like goats, had been dumped at different parts of the market square.
She explained that the invitation of the juju priests was due to similar incidents at Satana, Oliha and Uwelu spare part markets which left many families in turmoil, insisting that if something was not done, more markets could be affected in the state.
“They have started returning our stolen goods as we invited Ayelala people to issue curses on those behind the series of pains being inflicted on market women and other traders in the state.”
“Those who are setting fire on our markets in the state and those using the opportunity to steal our goods would no longer be free this time,” Mrs Ogiamien said.
One of the affected traders whose goods were returned, Mr Gentle Imuetinyan Usoh, said the invitation of juju priests was appreciated, expressing hope that more of their stolen goods would be recovered soon.
“Since Ayelala was called into this market fire incident early today, we have started getting back some of our stolen goods.
“Many of my goods which I thought were burnt by the fire have been brought to the side of the market today. I still believe that our other goods would be fully recovered,” he said.
“Some goods returned included goats, bags of rice, including money and television sets.”