JUST IN: IPOB Under Fire Over Burial Deadline Order

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Some groups and associations in the South-East have rejected the so-called order on burial of the dead within three days issued by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), saying such an order was impracticable.

IPOB had, in a statement by its spokesperson, Emma Powerful on Wednesday, attributed the problems facing Igbo in recent times to the long period spent before burying their loved ones, and therefore, warned mortuaries in the South-East to abide by the directive even as it proposed shutting down morgues in the region.       

Against this, the Simon Ekpa faction of the body, had given a counter directive, asking people to ignore the order by the Nnamdi Kanu led IPOB, describing it as an Islamic system of funeral.

However, IPOB spokesman has waved off Ekpa’s assertion, describing him as a ‘nobody’ who deserved no attention.

But many groups in the South-East have rejected the ‘order’.  A faction of the Ohanaeze Youth Council led by Igboayaka O. Igboayaka has advised IPOB to concentrate more on finding ways of securing the release from detention of Nnamdi Kanu instead of issuing an order that is clearly against the Igbo culture.

Igboayaka further pointed out that such directive by IPOB does not conform to Igbo culture and is alien to the Igbo race. He therefore advised that the order be totally ignored by the people.  He said: “IPOB is a self-determination group, the issues of burial in Igbo land is cultural and traditional affair. IPOB lacks the legal frame to issue such order. Muslims bury their dead within 24 hours, so on which culture and religion or law is IPOB issuing order for three days burial?

“We advise IPOB to advance more on possible means for the release of Nnamdi Kanu, which is very sacrosanct than any other thing.”

The Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL), also totally kicked against the IPOB directive, noting that it’s unconstitutional to tell people when to bury their dead.

The President General of COSEYL, Goodluck Ibem, who stated this in a release he made available to Saturday Sun, said: “We bury our loved ones when we are prepared to fulfil the necessary customary and financial obligations as required. It is out of place for IPOB to dabble into when people should bury their loved ones. It is not part of agitation.

“So many families that buried their loved ones within three days after death with a promise to fulfil the customary obligations have not been able to do, “ Ibem stated. He also dismissed the claim by IPOB that corpses staying for long in mortuaries before burial in the South-East was responsible for challenges being faced by Ndigbo. He said: “If anything has weakened the culture or foundation of Ndigbo, it is burying someone immediately after death without performing or settling the necessary burial rights and obligations.

“Under the international law and Nigerian constitution, we have freedom of worship and everyone has the right to practise his or her faith. We have Christians, Muslims, traditionalists, atheists and others. Each has the constitutional right to practise his belief. No one has the right to force anyone to practise his own religion or belief.

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“Each community in Igboland has its own way of life. Igbo are republicans in nature. What is obtainable in a community in Anambra State is not the same thing in a community in Abia State. Our culture and traditional practices differ.  Even before the introduction of modern mortuary system, we have our native way of preserving corpses in Igboland. Our forefathers used local hot drinks for corpse preservation, meaning that the dead were not buried immediately or within three days after death.

“In the 21st Century, mandating people to bury their loved ones within three days is dictatorial, undemocratic and against the Christian faith.” National President of Indigenous Igbo Youth Congress (IIYC), Chief John Mayor Echefu, also condemned the order of the IPOB. According to him, “this is a very wrong move coming from IPOB. Though our group supports the Biafra agitation, we unequivocally condemn this order. The reason why Igbo keep their dead in the mortuary is for them to see the corpses of their loved ones and also get prepared to accord them a befitting funeral ceremony. That order will not stand; it may erode the respect people have for IPOB.”

Also, the Igbo National Council (INC) on its own part described the directive by IPOB as an encroachment on human rights, especially on the affected families. A statement by the President of INC Worldwide, Chilos Godsent therefore urged Ndigbo to resist the directive.  He said: “We are very embarrassed by the misguided position taking by IPOB in their directive to compel Igbo Nation to bury corpses within three days from the day the person dies. That directive is an encroachment on the human rights of the affected families.”

Association of Igbo Town Unions has said IPOB should not decide when and how the Igbos should bury their dead, noting that it is a purely cultural/religious matter.   “The timing is entirely the decision and choice of the deceased family. Some family may choose to commit their dead ones to mother earth shortly while others may deposit theirs in the morgue.

“With due respect to the views of the freedom fighters, their struggle is not cultural but emancipation of the Igbos from marginalisation, intimidation and slavery.  These, I think they should concentrate on rather than venturing into the culture and belief of the people.

“We in Igbo Town Union think that IPOB should direct their energies to the focal point of their agitation. The issue of freedom, which they pursue, is enough to occupy their attention. Rather than dissipate energies on issue of culture and burial, it would have been more appreciated if they are thinking about strategies to boost the economies of the South East.”

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