By AYO ONIKOYI
The quiet town of Oria, Abraka in Delta State was a bee-hive of activities as top Nollywood stars heralded by Urhobo-Isoko in Nollywood, Actors Guild of Nigeria, AGN, other dignitaries and associations stormed the place to witness the committing to mother earth, the remains of veteran actor, Chief Justus Esiri.
The burial rites started at 10 am with a commendation mass and a lying-in-state at the Polo Turf in Abraka, where well-wishers and friends had the final glimpse of the Village Headmaster before the body was moved to his country home in the same town for internment.
Thereafter, it was a carnival of sort as entertainment of guests followed. Though the town people gave a good show that the ceremony was theirs, the crème de la crème of Nollywood stole the day as they came well organised and not without the pomp with which they are well known.
The late Thespian died on February 19, 2013 at the age of 71 following complications from diabetes. His final journey home began with Nigerian Guild of Actors’ tribute night in Lagos followed by a Service of Songs on Tuesday April 9th and General Mass on Wednesday at St. Jude Catholic Church, Mafoluku, Lagos. From there, the body moved to Abraka in Delta State where internment took place.
Before the proper burial in Abraka, another Service of Songs took place in Warri on Thursday before the mourning train headed to Abraka where he was laid to eternal rest.
A number of notable Nollywood stars came to pay their last respect. The roll call includes Bob Manuel Udokwu, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Tony Akposheri and Ejiro Okurame who came with the group known as Úrhobo Isoko in Nollywood; Peace Anyiam-Osigwe, CEO, Africa Movie Academy Award; Richard Mofe-Damijo, and a host of others.
The Delta State contingent was led by the Deputy Governor of the State, Professor Amos Utuama (SAN) who brought a message of condolence from his boss, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan delivered to the family of the late theatre icon represented by the wife, Mrs Omiete Esiri; son, Dr. Sidney Esiri (known as Dr. Sid); Mrs Ophelia Edewor, daughter; Mrs Boyowa Efijomueh, daughter and other children.
Accompanying the Deputy Governor are Revd. Agbatuta, Special Adviser to Governor Udughan on Religious Affairs and Rear Admiral John Kpokpogiri, Special Adviser on Security to the Governor.
President Goodluck Jonathan was ably represented by Mr Oronto Douglas who led a delegation of Special Assistants and other government functionaries.
Mrs Ophelia Edewor and Mr Sidney Esiri, daughter and son of the late actor spoke on behalf of the family, thanking the Delta State government and the Federal government for making their presence felt and also in supporting the family at various stages of the burial arrangements.