Environmental Genocidists as ‘Crusaders of Christ’ in Igboland & Worrying Silence of the Government
Contributed by Emeka Umeagbalasi
Igboland may not survive environmentally in the next 50 years. Trees and other leafy creatures as natural and sole suppliers of oxygen for human living and survival and absorbers of harmful human and industrial emissions such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are facing total extinction in Igboland. Igboland, historically known as “a subregion” in the “rainforest region” of Nigeria shall, in no distance decades, become “non-leafy rain region of Nigeria”; capable of being turned into the left side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Trees are gifts of nature; with many growing on their own and beyond what mere mortals can put into life while others are capable of being recreated by living humans. In organized social climes, ancient trees are preserved as monuments alongside the creation and efficient management of forest reserves, including botanic homes and zoos. The world of medicine and pharmacy derive their origin and survival till date from trees and leafy environment.
But in our own case in Igboland, lives of these trees are being terminated with reckless abandon particularly by the so-called “crusaders of Christ”. Yet, when traveled to overseas for holidays and other social engagements, the same “crusaders of Christ” spend hugely and in hard currency visiting preserved forest monuments, including ancient trees and botanic homes.
But on their return to Igboland, the same ancient trees they paid heavily to watch and take shelter under in overseas or foreign tourism are turned into objects of demonization and marked for destruction, thereby using them as extortionist tools to rip off or defraud their largely misinformed and greedy victims. The activities of these “prayer warriors and crusaders of Christ”, now hijacked by “merchants in the House of Christianity’s God”, spread like wildfire and found their way into the Catholic Church that used to be dogmatic and levelheaded.
Sowers of economic trees especially the fruit-bearing ones in the Igboland of old used to roll out drums in celebration whenever they lived to witness the trees they planted yielding fruits. In my hometown of Ezinifite in Aguata LGA, I grew up in the 80’s to hear of “Ube Nwa Mgbe-Afor” (pear tree planted long time ago by a daughter of the family born on Afor Market Day), “Okpoko Ube Nwile” (huge pear tree with fat and sweet pear fruits) planted by my father (Nwile) decades ago when he was young. This is just to mention but few.
It is very important to state here too that the lifesaving oxygen and life-threatening carbon availability ratio in Igboland is becoming acutely disproportionate and may most likely hit 20 percent for oxygen and 80 percent for monoxide and dioxide carbons by next 50 years unless urgent and long-term measures are concretely taken to reverse the dangerous trend.
Signs of environmental genocide are speedily and unstoppably creeping and gripping the landscape of the Igbo Race, no thanks to shortsightedness of the executive, legislative and judicial public office holders and the unchecked activities of “prayer warriors or crusaders of Christ” now hijacked by greedy “merchants in the House of Christianity’s God”, in Igboland. Hiding under the cover of “breaking generational curses and destruction of evil spirits” or “witchcraft”, these merchants in the House of Christianity’s God have turned themselves into a serious threat to environmental security in Igboland.
Just as wildlife has almost completely been destroyed in Igboland and – apart from global negative impact on natural environment, especially in rain forest regions through deforestation and industrialization, leafy environment in Igboland is acutely and terminally threatened by the following seven additional environmentally unfriendly activities:
Extended and individualist family system: i.e. allocation of land to every male child for the establishment of his nuclear family living and lineage.
Massive conversion of communal lands to churches, adoration/praying grounds, halls, hotels and other communally or individually owned facilities
Indiscriminate sale of preserved communal lands to market unions for the erection of market stores
Government encroachment on preserved community lands and their indiscriminate allocations to individuals and groups for the erection of building multipurpose structures.
Government zero policy on protection and preservation of leafy environment, including forest reserves, tree planting and reforestation and general land management.
Absence of efficient government policy and legislation for management of the environment, especially land, space and waste management or related regulations.
Unchecked cutting down of ancient economic trees and leafy environment by merchants in the House of Christian God, hiding under the cover of “prayer warriors or crusaders of Christ”.
In the seventh or last category, the level with which leafy environment especially, ancient and other irreplaceable economic trees, are being felled in most parts of Igbo hinterland by the so-called “prayer warriors or crusaders of Christ”, is alarming and deafening. Today, it is difficult to see 40-year-old trees and older still standing without incurring the wrath of the said “prayer warriors or crusaders of Christ”.
For any long-surviving tree, be it iroko or bitter kola or “ngwu” or breadfruit or “akpu” or “achi” or rubber or “ukpaka” or “ogbu”, etc that catches the attention of these “prayer warriors or crusaders of Christ” in any rural location, it is instantly tagged “evil tree” or “arena for gathering of witchcraft” or “an evil-covenant tree that hinder material possession of members of the concerned family/clan/kindred”. As a result, the fate of such tree is “rest in pieces”.
After felling such trees and having them cut into pieces, the owners are, in most cases, told not to touch the woods made out of them to “avoid incurring the wrath of the same evil spirits or broken curses or witchcrafts chased out of same”. The same “dangerous” wood is heisted and later sold by the said “prayer warriors or crusaders of Christ”. The wrath of these “prayer warriors or crusaders of Christ” has also been indiscriminately extended to a number of economic trees that are 40 years and above throughout Alaigbo, including pear, breadfruit (ukwa), “udala”, “ugili”, bitter cola (agba-inu), guava, cashew and mango trees, etc…
The acute seasonal or subsistent nature of these fruit-bearing trees is compounded by their indiscriminate destruction by the said “prayer warriors or crusaders of Christ” – leading to acute seasonal scarcity and high costs in rural and urban markets. For instance, a cup of breadfruit (ukwa) that used to be sold at N50.00 is now sold at N140.00 in Onitsha and much more in non-Igbo destinations. Likewise, a bunch of pears previously sold at N5.00 is now N30.00 or more. Prices of other fruits in the above-named category have also increased geometrically in addition to the diminished quantities available for sale.
Other than serving as cash crops, these trees also control and prevent land or soil dismemberment called topsoil and gully erosion. They checkmate flood and river overflow, protect the earth and beautify the environment; cure human ailment, provide food for the living, absorb dangerous carbons including human-emitted carbon dioxide and industrial carbons such as
carbon monoxide. They equally protect against ozone layer depletion and have their life circle and after-life recycling metamorphosed into minerals and nutrients for global agriculture, industrialization, growth, development, and protection.
One of the tragedies that have befallen Christian faith in Igboland is the emergence and proliferation of “merchants in the House of God” who have converted the House of God into a center for trade, commerce, and fraud. Cashing in on pervasive poverty and leadership failure in Nigeria as well as greed among private citizens, these “merchants in the House of God” are as bad as criminal political office holders in Nigeria and the deep-seated corruption in society.
The same false message and hope is given to every clan or kindred or family members that hire them. To justify hundreds of thousands, if not millions of naira, paid by the concerned misinformed and greedy family members to procure them for the so-called “generational curse breaking/crusade”, these “prayer warriors or crusaders of Christ” turn around and let loose on the innocent ancient economic trees and other members of our leafy environment.
Cash sums spent and ritual processes undergone by victims of these “prayer warriors and crusaders of Christ” are thunderous and deafening when mentioned. It is crookedly so lucrative that attraction of 10,000 people at a “crusade ground” by a starter “crusader” automatically means raking in, at least, N10m cash on the average of N1,000 per congregant. This is not to talk of mega crusades organized by “mega crusaders of Christ”. In today’s Catholic Church in Igboland, novena mass and prayers are commonly booked or said for a price and in absentia by some proprietors of priestly or adoration ministries for Igbo sons and daughters doing questionable businesses, especially such involved in drug, arms and human trafficking or shedding of human blood and human rituals.
Many families have also been ruined and made more disunited and dispute-prone following the involvement of the so-called “prayer warriors or crusaders of Christ”. Cases abound where fake charms are planted in the night by the said “prayer warriors or crusaders of Christ” and unearthed in the day with; twisted accusations; all for purpose of justifying huge sums extorted or for returned consultations, especially where such victims are assessed to have the capacity to pay or foot the bills being demanded.
The so-called “crusaders of Christ” also arrogate to themselves the status of being “invincible” or “indestructible”, yet they all wear bulletproof vests and move in company of well-armed soldiers and anti-robbery police squads. To maintain followership, forests are often stormed with ancient trees marked for destruction. Yet, the mere shout of “Allahu Akbar” from a distance can make the entire congregants and their “crusaders of Christ” run for cover and disappear in a twinkle of an eye, thinking that Fulani Jihadists – the real enemies of Christian faith – have arrived!
Contributed by Emeka Umeagbalasi.
Umeagbalasi a friend of the environment, non-fanatical Christian/Catholic, human rights activist and Chairman, Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law.
Mobile Line: +2348174090052. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.