For over two centuries, the people of Ntezi-Aba, Abakaliki in Ebonyi State, had lived in fear of a tree because believed it belongs to a dreaded deity. The fear was so strong that nobody had attempted to cut down the aged tree, as many believed that they would be haunted by the gods that owned it if they did so.
It was said when Abakaliki was made the capital of Ebonyi State, many thought that the tree would go down but the people feared to touch it for fear of the gods. Thus when the government wanted to mow it down for the development of the state capital, the natives of Ntezi-Aba resisted the government, insisting that the wrath of the deity would be unleashed on them and their next generations.
However, the tree recently gave in to nature one fateful afternoon. It fell without any nudge. But it took some casualties in the process as it crushed a nearby building located at No.7B Nnorom Street, Ntezi-Aba in Abakaliki metropolis, thus destroying property worth several millions of Naira.
However, the tree was said to have spared the life of one person that was inside the building when it gave way. The landlord of the building destroyed by the ancient deity tree, Mr Sunday Eze, has, therefore, cried out for help from the government and well-meaning individuals.
Eze told Daily Sun that what saved his family members was that on the day of the incident none of them were around as they had dispersed to different locations to look for their daily bread and the children were still at school when the incident occurred, except for one of them who was inside the building, but escaped unhurt.
His words: “We came back after the day’s activity to see the tree had fallen on the building and completely destroyed it, and since then we have been suffering as we now depend on the mercy of neighbours who help us to feed”.
The distraught man disclosed that he had written to the state Ministry of Environment on the incident to solicit assistance from the government and well-meaning individuals and organizations.
However, residents of the area have heaved a sigh of relief that the tree has eventually given way without fulfilling the requests of the traditionalists, but now calling for the intervention of the relevant government agency to come and remove the trunks of the fallen tree.
One of the residents, Mrs Eugenia Abah, said residents used to see the tree as a monument that means several things to many people.
“We see it as a deity and for the tree to continue being on top of the building would continue to instill fear to household and residents.” Ironically, a traditionalist who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the tree cannot be removed without the observance of some traditional rituals as it would bring curse to the people.
He claimed that the tree was the spiritual shield of the area which protected the residents from evils and misfortunes.