Ebonyi council boss, ex-chairman fight over father’s corpse

Ebonyi state

Ebonyi state

Fresh crisis is brewing in Amasiri, Afikpo North local government area of Ebonyi state as the chairman, Obiageri Oko Enyim and her predecessor and elder brother, Ogbonnaya Oko Enyim are fighting over the corpse of their father who died last year.

The crisis has already caused the resignation of Oko Enyim from the administration of Governor David Umahi, whom he accused of siding with her sister on the issue.

The two siblings, it was gathered, have fixed separate dates for the burial of their Father, Late Simon Oko Enyim, who died in February 2020 at 85.

When their father died last year, Oko Enyim was the chairman seeking re-election and had already secured the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket to run for the election.

Her sister was a little known quantity in political circles in the state at that time but in a twist of fate, the elections was postponed indefinitely by the state government following the outbreak of Covid-19.

By the time, the election was rescheduled in August, Ogbonnaya lost the seat to her half- sister, Obiageri.

It was gathered he was forced to step down and relinquish the ticket to the younger sister, who went on to win the election.

To compensate Ogbonnaya, Governor Umahi appointed him Special Assistant on school monitoring for Afikpo North local government.

But last week, he resigned the appointment in a letter he wrote to the Governor.

He said Umahi’s current disposition towards him has made him to realise he has no place any longer in his government.

The resignation letter reads: “Your Excellency, your preference to my younger sister to me for reasons best known to you have compelled me to take this decision in order to avoid rancor and acrimony.

“Your Excellency, against every known traditions and good conscience, your decision to interfere and deny me my right as the first son to organise a befitting burial for my father in line with my already concluded arrangements, after spending fortunes is not acceptable to me.

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“I hereby resign my appointment as SA under your administration with immediate effect. Kindly accept the assurances of my warmest regards. Thanks for everything”.

But Umahi in a statement by his media aide, Francis Nwaze, denied the allegation of interference in the burial of the late Oko Enyim.

He said: “Although, after both Ogbonnia Oko Enyim and his sister Barrister Oby Oko Enyim had fixed separate dates for the burial of their father, reliable information had it that the elders after due consultations and considerations decided not to go with any of their dates. How then would Ogbonnia Oko Enyim turn around and begin to cry wolf?”

“Also, when Ogbonnaya Oko Enyim, had on 30th March 2021, reported his sister to the Governor over the controversy on the date, the Governor in his wisdom decided not to interfere in family issue but asked him to go and make peace in his home and as well align with the decision of their village elders.

“The resultant criticism of the Governor is an indication that he had banked on the Governor to coerce the Oko-Enyim family to give him unhindered and cruise control of the burial arrangement, an expectation that is typical of an irredeemable pauper,” he said.
In a swift reaction, Obiageri, in a statement exonerated the Governor from the allegations against him.
She accused her elder brother of deliberately frustrating every move and plan the family is making to bury their father.

According to her, their father, being an Omezue (the highest traditional title in the land) died since February 25, 2020, over a year now and must be buried between April and May 18, 2021, else he would not be buried again this very year as custom demands.

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She said: “On Thursday, 27th February, 2020, I went to Oko Enyim’s house to talk about burial plans but he ignored me. What he did was to tell people to tell me to give him the receipt for the mortuary.

“People should ask him the mortuary his father’s corpse is. He has been pasting posters without a mortuary address.

“The summary of the whole thing is that the family is begging him to come to the family house or even invite us to his own house for us to agree on how we will bury our late father.

“If he has chosen a date, what are the preparations so far? What are we going to wear that day? Are we not supposed to contribute to the tribute?

“Are we not supposed to say anything in the burial programme? These are what we are asking of him. Nobody is dragging date or birth right with him. What we are asking is for the proper thing to be done.

“In Ehugbo culture and in a polygamous house, every house must be present or represented in discussing burial plans. Our first daughter is in the UK.

“She took care of our father while Oko Enyim was neglecting the same man. Our elder sister suggested fixing the burial ending of April but Oko Enyim refused.

“Someone should ask him whether he has come to the family house since our father died on 25th of February last year, let alone renovating it. He has not entered the house as I am speaking with you, so who is denying him of his responsibilities?

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“Even on Saturday last week that he came opposite our family house, the Umunna asked him what he really wants and he said he will bury our father in November. That’s when the Umunna told him they know he just wants to punish everyone as the deceased can no longer be buried this year after May 18,” she said.

Nonetheless, former council Chairman fixed the burial of his father for April 8, 2021 while Obiageri fixed the burial of the same person for May 8, 2021.
The controversy has led to tension in the Oko Enyim’s family, Amasiri community, Afikpo North local government and Ebonyi.

A burial announcement released by Oko Enyim stated that there will be traditional wake and cultural service songs at the late sage country home Uhu Oka Ihie, Opi autonomous community in the area on 7th April, 2021.

But Obiageri on Wednesday warned against the burial of their father on 8th April, 2021and vowed law enforcement agencies will arrest and prosecute anyone causing breach of public peace by doing any burial of their father on any date other than her chosen date for the burial.

But Ogbonnaya vowed that nothing will stop him from holding the burial on 8th April, 2021.
He told our correspondent that arrangement has been made to ensure that the burial holds on his own date.

“I am burying my father on 8th April, 2021. If you like, write any rubbish about me. Go and write anything you like. I am burying my father this week and nobody can stop the burial,” he angrily said.

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