Since the news of a "healing pool," known as Orimiri and located in a forest about 3km from the Nachi bus stop along Onitsha/Enugu road, was discovered, the community has become a pilgrimage center with no fewer than 3000 people thronging the place daily. From morning till evening, okada ply through that narrow and sandy path carrying passengers and their loads of jerry cans to the stream.
The physically challenged, aged, young, men, women, some of them naked, and children dip themselves naked in the 3-4-feet deep stagnated water, wash the ailing parts of their bodies believing they will be healed. Others scoop up water from different holes dug around the bank into their plastic containers of various sizes believing even the sand under the water is as effective as the stream itself. The trees in the surroundings are also not spared as people chop trees into various sizes with a claim that it cures all kinds of sicknesses.
Most of the visitors say they believe it will work.
A middle-aged woman, who refused to give her real name, said: "I just came here for to exercise my faith. I have not seen anyone though, but I believe it. I just had a bath in the water, and I believe it. I believe God that I will be okay."
Donatus Ike claims he has been coming to the stream on a daily basis since the news of the healing power broke: "I always come here every day to work. I guide people in doing certain things here. The water has healing power. A lot of people came from far and near. Not too long ago, Rev. Mbaka came here, he prayed for people. The lame will work, the blind will see. You can see a crutch over there; it was dropped by somebody who couldn't work."
Amobi Chukwu, in his own view, said: "I think it is all about faith. What you call medicine is medicine for you. I also believe the water has healing power. The water is dirty, and it was because a lot of people come here and bath inside the water, and you know this is not a flowing river. That is why people dig the river bank to get better water to drink. It is drinkable."
The skeptical ones
However, Rev. Father Chikezie Cypril a.k.a Okanga Jesus, the Parish Priest, St. Michael Catholic Church, Oji, Enugu, described those who seek healing from the stream are spiritual puppets. Cypril, who is also the Chaplain of the Physically Challenged in the area, he is yet to hear about people who benefit from the water.
"I don't believe it," Rev. Father said.
"I am the chaplain of the physically challenged, and none of them has come to me to give that testimony of healing, and this is happening in their area. I mean not even one person has come to confirm it. I know that most of them have gone there and nothing is happening.
"So, you see, people tend to confuse you with certain things. As I am speaking to you, no member of this community has shared a testimony about the water.
"You see, one has to be very sensible about it; a lot of people are making money on this situation. For example, if you tell the Okada riders who are making money from the situation that it is not real, they will say you don't know what you are talking about. But let us trust God, power belongs to God. It is when we commune with God that we see the power of God in our lives. I see those who go there as spiritual puppets."
In the same vein, Chief Ignatius Ene Chikeluba, who claimed he was born in the farmland, gave insight into the beginning of the whole parody. He stated that it was the Fulani herdsmen who concocted and spread the story of healing power without any clear evidence.
"Throughout the period I stayed in the farmland, we have never heard about the healing power being ascribed to the water," Chikeluba stated, "It is a concoction of the Fulani herdsmen. I know that revelation from God can come through anybody. But my advice to them is that whatever they are saying should be the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
The traditional ruler of Nachi community, His Royal Highness, Igwe F.O.Onuigbo, Obi II of Nachi, in his own submission, said the water has been there for a very long time, adding that the healing power ascribed to it was only a recent phenomenon which he did not confirm.
"River Nachi is natural water which has been there for a very long time. People use it for their cooking, drinking and washing. The healing power is something new and I have not visited the place. But the water has been there before. People said it is healing; I can't stop anybody from going there to seek cure and healing. I have no right to do that."
Igwe Onuigbo said he didn't know about the coming and occasional surge of the water. He confirmed that the land where the water is situated has been in dispute between Ameke and Umuaga for a very long time, adding that efforts are on-going to resolve the issue between the two communities amicably.
History of the place
Chief Ignatius Chikeluba, a Chief in Umuaga-Nachi, who claimed the farmland belongs to his father, gave historical perspective of the stream.
"According to my own father, Ogbonnaya Ene Chikeluba, there was a man called Aniene, a native of Umuaga, he was the first man who saw the water. He used to be a farmer in the area. He came out one morning to discover the sudden surge of the water. He ran out to call others that were farming in the area to witness it. At that point, the water was named Miri Aniene.
"This happened long time before I was born, it was never known as having healing powers. We used it to wash cloths, cassava and other culinary activities. It used to surge after every seven years. After the war, it came in 1972, 1979, 1986, 1994, 2000, 2005 and now 2013. When it comes, it is usually there until the next raining season. It is deterred by the rain or sun shine, it comes at any season of the year. We have never worshipped the water before.
"Before it came this year, there were Fulani herdsmen who live in that farm; they always take their cattle there to drink from the water. So, recently, a group of people came to my house, I recognised one of them who had lived there before, and I asked curiously whether he wanted to return to the farm again and he said no. But he said that the water which used to spring up had sprung up again and that it has healing power – curing all kinds of ailments. I told him that we don’t know about that. He said they discovered the healing power of the water the last time it came and they asked the herdsmen to be monitoring it.
"So, the Fulani herdsmen who have been monitoring it informed immediately it came out. After a while, another group of herdsmen came and said the same thing. But I pointed it out to them that their cattle had damaged my farm and they should do something about it and they moved away from the area. But surprisingly, after some time, another group of people came this time, with some Igbos. I was the one who cleared the way to the river. I have palm tree in that place, banana plantation, cola-nut trees, orange among others. It is a farm settlement of Umuaga.
"At this junction, I want to state that the Nachi people have been trying to encroach on the land claiming it belongs to them, but it belongs to the people of Umuaga. The water is from God. And whoever says the water has not been there is trying to pull the wool over our faces. My house is there, and the water has been there. The king who does not know Joseph will not know Joseph was buried. I was born there, and my father's house is still there now.
"To, me it is the Fulani herdsmen that are responsible for this misinformation. Throughout the period I stayed in the farmland, we have never heard about the story of healing power being ascribed to the water. It is a concoction of the Fulani herdsmen. I know that the revelation of God can come through any body but my advice to them is that whatever they are saying, should be the whole truth and nothing but the truth."