By Ochuko Akuopha
OLEH—Tears flowed freely at Irri in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State yesterday, as the remains of the six victims that died as a result of the crisis in the area were released for burial.
The corpses had earlier been seized by a private hospital over the non-payment of N13.5 million mortuary bills.
The deceased were among scores of others slain in the intra-communal crisis that erupted in the area in 2002, following a leadership tussle.
Commercial activities were brought to a halt in the community for several hours in honour of the deceased, as the indigenes, who were clad in black attires, wept uncontrollably.
It would be recalled that the bodies of five victims were buried on June 24, while the remains of six other victims were seized by the hospital over mortuary bills.
The body of one of the female victims was interred in neighbouring Oyede in Isoko North Local Government Area, while the bodies of five others were buried in their family compounds at Irri.
Earlier in the his homily, Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in the community, Rev Silver Odhe, stressed the need for the people to exhibit love for one another and put things right.
“We must put indelible footsteps on the sands of time for our children to emulate,” the cleric said.
Speaking with newsmen at the community’s town hall, chairman of Irri Community Development Committee, Mr. Goddey Igirigo, said the leadership of the community had held a meeting with the management of the hospital during which it was agreed that N7million mortuary bill be paid for release of the corpses.
Blaming the crisis on the divide-and-rule tactics of an oil company operating in the area, Igirigo said: “There was power tussle, but today, we have come together.”
He advised the people to put their differences behind them and imbibe the spirit of forgiveness.
“We have set up a seven-man peace committee, we are going to meet with some of the leaders who were the sole actors to come together and do the final reconciliation.”