Enugu – One person was confirmed dead following a clash between two factional masquerade groups in Aku community, Igbo-Etiti LGA, of Enugu State.

CSP Chinedu Okike, Divisional Police Officer, Ogbede Police Division, and several others sustained varying degrees of gunshot wounds with no fewer than hundred people hospitalized.The incident, which generated tension and pandemonium in the community, occured at Elu-Orie Nua Aku on Monday evening during the annual Odo Masquerade festival.

Two factional masquerade groups have been laying claims as the authentic group, whose date should be generally accepted as the only day when the Odo Masquerade should return to the spirit world after the annual festival.While a group at Nua village Aku had claimed to have paraded and sent the Odo Ugwuishihe Masquerade to the spirit world on August 7, those of Aku had ignored them,. insisting that it was on August 31 that the masquerade should have its final journey.

Available information disclosed that trouble was said to have started when the Odo masquerade worshippers in their numbers accompanied one Odo masquerade called Ugwuishihe to Elu-Orie Nua as tradition demands for final visitation before departing to the spirit world on 31st August 2023.“As the Odo masquerade with her worshippers got to Elu-Orie Nua, some boys from Nua in their numbers started attacking and pelting them with stones from all angles.“As the worshippers advanced further, the boys who are from Nua started shooting at them.

In the process, the DPO of Ogbede Police Division was shot with other people.“Most people started running for their lives while other policemen who were on ground with the DPO to ensure a peaceful passage of the Odo masquerade in all the villages had to use tear gas to repel the attackers.“The two police van they came with were damaged by Nua boys when they were throwing stones at the police people”, one of the villagers said.It was gathered that one Mr. Kenneth who was among those shooting at the worshippers was later apprehended by the police and those shot taken to various hospitals.

One of the victims, identified as Cross from Amankpo Umuezike Aku, had his genitals totally shattered as bullets pierced through his thighs.Confirming the incident, the spokesman of the state police command, Daniel Ndukwe, said normalcy had been restored, while one male suspect has been arrested and a firearm recovered from him in connection with the clash between rival groups in Aku community of Igbo-Etiti LGA, over the celebration of Odo Masquerade festival, on 28/08/2024 at about 4pm.

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