Stephen Ukandu, News/ Features Editor
The traditional ruler of Ogbeke Agbani Community in Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State, HRH Igwe Okechukwu Nwobodo Egbuna, has cancelled the alleged embargo he imposed on the burial of a widow, late Mrs Elizabeth Ogbodo Egbuna, Ikengaonline can authoritatively report.
He also publicly announced that the burial of the late widow who was his uncle’s wife would go ahead as planned on Wednesday, April 28.
The action of the monarch is coming less than 24 hours after Ikengaonline had carried the report of the alleged embargo and threat by the traditional ruler to sanction any of his subjects that attends the burial, an allegation he had, however, flatly denied.
Ikengaonline was reliably informed that the monarch had come under intense pressure from the State Governor, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, after his attention was drawn to the matter.
We were also informed that the founding director of Women’s Aid Collective, WACOL, Professor Joy Ezeilo, had personally waded into the matter and petitioned the Governor and the Commissioner of Chieftaincy Affairs, to get justice for the family of the deceased.
“Our clients called now that Igwe had made announcement that everybody is free to attend the burial. I was further told that the Governor called the lgwe and the chairman, and warned them not to revert any burial,” a WACOL source told Ikengaonline.
Trouble started when the 80-year-old widow died and the monarch allegedly ordered that nobody from the village should attend her burial, threatening that anybody who defies him will pay a fine of N10,000.
His grouse with the late widow, according to family source, was that she took a land case in the community to court.
Before her death, the late Mrs Egbuna was said to have had a land dispute with a member of the community and a popular radio presenter in the state.
Following alleged indisposition of the said radio presenter towards peace overtures by the late widow, she decided to report the matter to WACOL which after alleged but unsuccessful efforts to resolve the matter amicably, dragged the presenter to court.
The traditional ruler was said to have been angered by the action of the widow.
WACOL, which has been championing the cause of the widow, had earlier in a statement by its Head of Communications Unit, Mrs. Egodi Igwe, said that the embittered monarch also threatened “that anybody who attends the burial of the late widow” would pay a fine of N10, 000.
The statement made available to Ikengaonline read: “In the history of humankind, arguably the most enduring farewell message one can give to the dead is “Rest in peace (RIP)”. Unfortunately, one dead person that has been fighting a battle to rest serenely was the late Mrs. Elizabeth Ogbodo Egbuna.
“Her peaceful internment is under threat because the traditional ruler of the community Ogbeke Agbani in Nkanu West LGA, HRH Igwe Okechukwu Nwobodo Egbuna has vehemently refused to allow the deceased family to bury her.”
According to the statement, the traditional ruler had accused the late widow of flouting the community’s law by reporting a member of the community to WACOL, and subsequently, taking him to court over a land matter.
WACOL expressed concern that after the widow’s family had scheduled a date for her burial, “the monarch vowed never to allow such a ceremony to happen in his kingdom”, WACOL said.
“He is perpetrating this act in connivance with members of his cabinet.
“The Igwe also barred visitors from attending the burial ceremony, adding that violators of this order would be fined N10, 000.”
According to the statement, should the widow’s family proceed with the funeral ceremony against his pronouncement, “they will be banished from the village.”