Enugu monarch bans widow’s burial, threatens funeral attendees

The traditional ruler of Ogbeke Agbani in the Nkanu West Local Government Area of Enugu State, Igwe Okechukwu Egbuna, has banned the burial of his late brother’s wife, Mrs Elizabeth Ogbodo, following the refusal of her children to withdraw a suit challenging the creation of an access road on her land.

A female organisation fighting for the rights of women, Women’s Aid Collective, told our correspondent that the monarch accused the late widow of contravening the community law by reporting an indigene, Mr Chizoba Ani (alias Chizzy), to the organisation and subsequently taking him to court over a land matter.

WACOL spokesperson, Mrs Egodi Igwe, in a statement on Monday, said the immediate family of late Mrs Ogbodo had fixed her burial for Thursday, April 28, 2022, but the monarch vowed never to allow the ceremony to happen in his kingdom.

“He also barred visitors from attending the burial ceremony, adding that violators of this order from the community would be fined N10,000. He ruled that should Mrs Ogbodo’s family proceed with the funeral against his pronouncement, they would be banished from the village,” the group added.

The organisation, while calling on the state government and the police to intervene in the matter, noted that the deceased’s family had spent a lot of money on the burial arrangement.

“Late Mrs Elizabeth Ogbodo was 80 years old when she died three months ago. But before her death, she fought many battles to sustain the landed property she inherited from her late husband. One of such battles which she never concluded was the battle with Mr Chizoba Ani, popularly known as Chizzy, from the same town, Ogbeke Agbani.

“While she was alive, Mrs Ogbodo brought a complaint before WACOL legal clinic, alleging that Chizzy encroached on her piece of land at Adauru in Ogbeke Agbani community, on the pretext of creating an access road. She noted that despite all her efforts to give the said Chizzy an alternative road, he was bent on grabbing her land, leaving her with no other choice than to seek help at WACOL.

“She informed us that she first reported to her kinsmen through the chairman, then later to the chairman of the town union of Ndigu Ogbeke.

“Again, the case was taken to the traditional ruler, Igwe Okechukwu Nwobodo Egbuna, the traditional ruler of Ogbeke Agbani.

“On receiving the complaint, WACOL activated its mechanism for mediating a peaceful resolution, but Mr Chizoba Ani, the accused person, refused to honour our invitation. When all efforts to hold a talk with him failed, WACOL was left with no other choice than to take the case to court on behalf of the family. The matter is before the High Court at Agbani in suit no HAGB/7/22.

“Parties in the suit are Elizabeth Ogbodo as the complaint, Chizoba Ani as the first respondent, and Mr Reuben Eneh, as the second respondent and cousin to the deceased.”

When PUNCH Metro contacted the traditional ruler on the telephone, he said the ban he placed on the burial remained binding until the widow’s children withdrew the case their mother instituted in court.

Egbuna also accused WACOL of aggravating the matter.

He said, “A young man working in a radio station built a house and there is a track road to that house that had been there over 500 years across her land.

“So, this man approached her to make the road motorable and she refused. He came to my family and the woman was my brother’s wife. There was nothing I didn’t tell this woman, but she refused.

“She went to WACOL and thereafter they went to court and sued the community. After three days, she died and her children said they wanted to bury their mother. I told them to go and reconcile and withdraw the matter in court before the burial can take place.

“The son came about five days ago and I told him to go to a lawyer to write to the court withdrawing the case to enable him to bury his mother and after the burial they can still, if they so wish, return to court, but he rejected it. We have a law in my community and nobody can go against it, so that is the case.

“WACOL can go to any place or even to the Gburugburu (state governor), it can’t change anything. Unless the children withdraw the case from court, they can’t bury their mother on our land.”