By CHIDI NKWOPARA
It was a sorry sight to behold as five white caskets containing the lifeless bodies of Madam Grace Nwosu and her daughters were brought into the sleepy rural community of Egbelu Nguru, Ngor Okpalaeke local council area of Imo State for burial.
The unfortunate victims mysteriously died May 31, this year, after consuming a local but very nutritious delicacy, Ugba (oil bean salad), prepared by the matriarch of the family, Grace Nwosu.
Those interred included Prophetess Nwosu, Chinelo Nwosu (a 400 level student of University of Nigeria, Nsukka), Chidera Nwosu, Njideka Nwosu, Chizitere Nwosu. The grand-children, Ijeoma and Amaka Frank were buried in their hometown, Mbieri, Mbaitoli Local Government Area of the state.
Many people who were at the scene were simply dumbfounded. Emotions ran very high. Tears flowed freely down the cheeks of people. Others wailed uncontrollable, while a good number of sympathisers endlessly cursed those they claimed poisoned the oil bean salad, which killed Madam Nwosu and her children.
The confusion in the arena naturally forced members of Cherubim and Seraphim Church, who were conducting the requiem service to temporarily halt proceedings until some sanity was restored.
Senior Apostle John Afokalam, who delivered the homily, cursed those who perpetrated the evil act. He further promised that they will never go unpunished, adding that their only saviour would be if they openly confessed their sin to God and before Egbelu Nguru people.
He admitted that the loss was colossal but enjoined the surviving members of the Nwosu family to face the distasteful event with equanimity and faith in God.
“Death is not victory to the devil. Death is not victory to the perpetrators of evil. It is, however, advisable for evil doers to retrace their steps and turn to God or be prepared to face the full wrath of God,” Senior Apostle Afokalam said.
In a message, the Baba Aladura of the church, Dr. L. A. Onyeleonu, represented by the Secretary, Central Management Committee 8, Dr. Bassey Edem, said the church was shocked by the mystery surrounding the death of members of Nwosu family and others.
“The church is giving them a national burial to fully demonstrate that death can never be victory over the children of God,” Onyeleonu fumed.
Explaining the delay in burying the deceased members of the Nwosu family, Edem linked it to police investigation, adding that the church only got the go-ahead signal from the Imo police boss, Mr. Mohammed Katsina at about 4pm the previous day and fixed the burial for Saturday, October 5, 2013.
The leadership and members of the National Association of Imo State Students, NAISS, University of Nigerian, Nsukka Chapter, were fully represented at the event. They expressed palpable anger over the loss of their colleague.
Speaking to journalists, the President of the body, Comrade Hilary Nwauzoije, vowed that they will not rest until the cause of the death of their colleague was unearthed and the perpetrators commensurately punished.
Similarly, youths of Egbelu Nguru community lampooned the state government for allegedly abandoning the surviving members of the family in their moment of grief. They grieved that the state government did not make any financial contribution towards the burial and described it as “very injurious to the administration of Governor Rochas Okorocha”.
The Sole Administrator of Ngor Okpala local council area, Mr. Stanislaus Ugochukwu Okere, who stood in for the state government, debunked the allegation by the youths.
He reminded the youths that when news of the ugly incident spread, the Governor visited members of the family as well as doled out the sum of N5 million for the burial arrangements of the deceased citizens.
The Sole Administrator appealed to people to allow the sleeping dog to lie, stressing that nobody should do anything that would further endanger the lives of the surviving members of Nwosu family.
As people made to leave the community, they prayed that such ugly incidents should not befall Imo people again. They recalled that not too long ago, a family was wiped out in Emekuku, Owerri North Local Government Area of the state. They died from generator fume on the night they buried their mother.