BY CHIDI NKWOPARA
OWERRI – Arrangements have been concluded for reception of the remains of Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, in Owerri.
This came at a time the state police command has mobilised its personnel to ensure a hitch-free funeral procession and lying-in-state for the fallen Igbo leader.
Vanguard weekend noticed that contractors were putting finishing touches on the Ikemba Ojukwu Convention Centre, the Hero’s Square and other areas where the corpse will pass.
It was also noticed that efforts were on to clear mountains of refuse dotting parts of Owerri municipality before the arrival of the funeral team.
Already, security has been beefed up, while visitors have started arriving Owerri, ahead of the event and major hotels in the municipality are now fully booked.
Imo State government has equally announced that government offices should be locked up by 12 noon and markets closed for the day to enable people pay their last respect to the fallen hero.
Confirming the position yesterday in a chat with Vanguard, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Mr. Sam Oodee, described the event as a national burial.
“The State Police Command is aware that Imo will witness unprecedented influx of visitors, including government officials from within and possibly, outside the country. The command is equal to the task,” the PPRO said.
Mr. Oodee, who resisted being drawn into giving details of the readiness of the police, however, said: “Nobody can disclose such security arrangements. I can tell you that police presence will be amply felt at all the points that need to be policed.”
Answering a question on the number of police officers that will be deployed for the event, the PPRO said “if the police high command feels the need to muster more personnel, men could be drawn from other commands to compliment what we have on ground.”
He expressed happiness that the event was coming after the re-run election for the Ahiazu-Ezinihitte Mbaise federal constituency, adding that all the policemen posted to that area would be redeployed for the funeral proramme.
The PPRO appealed to the citizenry to remain law abiding, stressing that policing becomes easier if people volunteer credible information to law enforcement agencies.