Tension has gripped the people of Ilile community in Ohaji Egbema council area of Imo State following threats by some suspected cultists to attack the community again and kill their leaders.
One of the cult groups said they would eliminate the community leaders and those supporting them within the next few weeks if they failed to secure the release of two of their members arrested by the police.
Also, another rival group is demanding some ransom to be paid to them by the community to sustain their members in the forest or face another attack.
It could be recalled that the cultists had, two months ago in August, invaded the community and killed five persons, including a retired police officer, Mr. Ukpabi and the immediate-past president-general of the community’s town union, Napoleon Amadi.
And in reaction to the heinous crime, the police arrested three persons in connection with the invasion and killings while the rest fled back into the forest, their hiding place.
It was gathered from community sources that just less than one month after the situation seemed to have calmed down, the cultists resurfaced again with threats to kill the current president general of the community, Mr. Athanatius Nwagbara and some community leaders, who they accused of inviting the police to raid the community to arrest their members.
The other group of cultists, The Nation also gathered, were said to have demanded some ransom to be paid to them to sustain themselves in the forest.
It was learned that while the president general and those who could afford it, have fled their homes, others who have no options, are gradually complying with the payments.
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It was gathered that so far, the sum of N116, 000 has been contributed by the village women and paid to the cultists by villagers as ransom to leave them.
Speaking to The Nation on telephone, the president general of the community’s town union, Athanatius Nwagbara, who confirmed the development, said he had to flee from the community after the threats became so much and it became clear that his life was in danger.
He said, “One of them called me on phone and threatened that if I don’t get the police to release their detained members that would come for me. I told them that I cannot do that and they said they would show me”
Nwagbara accused some community chiefs of being used by the cultists as informants, saying any decisions taken by the community chiefs to tackle the matter, would leak to the cultists before dismissal of the meeting.
He said before he left the community, he had reported the threats to the police and the army, but there was still no security presence.
Also, another source within the community, Mr. Andrew, said some residents of the community had begun to flee the area for fear of attack.
Andrew expressed fear that if security operatives did not intervene urgently, the cultists might make good their threat.
He called on the security operatives to come to the aid of the community, adding that it would be wrong for cultists to take over the community.
As of the time of filing this report, the state commissioner of police, Rabiu Ladodo and the Public Relations Officer of the Imo State Police Command, Orlando Ikeoku, did not respond to messages sent to their phones for reaction.