Anxiety in Rivers over corpse of council Chairman



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Anxiety in Rivers over corpse of council Chairman

By Rosemary Nwisi, Port Harcourt



Anxiety gripped Rivers State on Friday following speculations about the whereabouts of the corpse of Odiari Princewill, who until his death on Wednesday was Executive  Chairman, Asari-Toru Local Government Area of the state.

He  allegedly died of complications from Covid-19 and was subsequently buried at the Port Harcourt public cemetery on  Thursday morning by officials  of the state Covid-19 committee, in accordance with guideline of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).



However,residents woke up yesterday to hear that about 10 unknown gunmen stormed the cemetery on  Friday evening and exhumed   the body and the  casket  and escaped through a nearby jetty to unknown destination.

The  state government and the state police command denied the reports in separate statements.

Information and Communication Commissioner  Paulinus Nsirim dismissed the reports as baseless and untrue.

He said: “The grave where the deceased was interred is still intact as no one has tampered with it.

“Government hereby warns families, friends and relations who may want to desecrate the grave of the deceased that the full weight of the law will be visited on them.

“Security agencies have therefore been placed on red alert to ensure that only authorized persons come near  the cemetery.

“Any unauthorized person found around the cemetery will be arrested and be prosecuted.”

Spokesman for the state police command,  Nnamdi Omoni visited the cemetery and said: “we are here to see things for  ourselves with a view to debunking the news making the rounds that the remains of late Executive chairman of Asari-Toru council that were buried in this cemetery some days ago had been exhumed by unknown gunmen.

“We are here based on the directive of the commissioner of Police, Joseph Mukan, who asked me to specifically come and address journalists on the development.

“We are here and as you can see, the grave of the late council chairman is intact as was left on the day of burial, nobody tampered with it.

“From all intent and purposes, this fake news is only intended to achieve nothing but selfish aim to blackmail the command, paint us to a bad light and by extension cause unnecessary tension, panic alert in the state.

Corroborating Omoni, secretary of the cemetery, Tamuno Tonye John said: “The news of the exhumation of Chief’s body came to us as a surprise.

“Initially when the news broke, we took it as one of those news from the  rumour mills and  we did not have need to react to it, until we discovered that it had gone viral.

“We then became worried as  staff of the cemetery, because we were sure that the grave site of the chief was casted immediately after the burial to ensure that nobody tampered with it.

“The news that some gunmen came, dug-open a grave and took away the corpse in its casket and escaped  though Bille waterside is  fake.Nothing like that happened..

“We close work by 6 pm every day and before we leave, our security men must be on ground to take over till when we resume by 6 am the next morning.

“We agree that the security here is not armed to reprieve anyone coming here with any sinister motive,  but we will at least receive message somehow that unknown persons came to the cemetery for us to alert security men for assistance, but we did not get any form of distress call from our men here.”

Princewill’s widow has proceeded on a  14- day self-isolation protocol as directed by the state COVID-19 committee.

The late Odiari had planned to bury his father on  March 27, 2020, but the funeral was suspended  following government’s ban on public gatherings, burials and weddings among others as part of the strategy  to check the spread of  coronavirus in the state.

Anxiety in Rivers over corpse of council Chairman

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