By Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Boluwaji Obahopo

ABUJA—BARRING any last minute change, the family of the late Minister of State for Labour and Employment, James Ocholi, SAN, has proposed to commit his remains, wife and son to mother earth between Wednesday and Friday next week.

late James-Ocholi

The proposal was made when the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, visited the bereaved family to inquire about the burial arrangement.

A reliable family source told Vanguard that the family had presented the proposal to the government and that Ngige was to convey the information to the Presidency.

The family source said the decision to bury the former minister immediately was because he died at a young age, adding that it was those that were old that their burials were delayed.

According to him, the death is pathetic and a blow to the family, friends and relations who are still to come to terms with the tragedy.

He also said the burial had to be done as soon as possible so that there would be time to plan for the future of the four surviving children as well as reduce their agony.

Vanguard was also informed by the source that because the late minister was a practising and devout Christian, delaying his body and that of the wife and son would clash with Easter activities.

“The minister did not die at an old age. So, there is no way we would continue to delay the burial. His death is pathetic to us,” the source stated.

As at yesterday morning, sympathisers were still trooping to his residence at 4, Daggash Street, Kado Estate, Abuja, while security personnel, especially the police, have been having a hectic time controlling traffic at adjoining streets to his residence.

Death not ordinary—Family

Meanwhile, family members of the late minister have described as mysterious and not ordinary, the death of their brother.

The family members, who spoke with Vanguard at his ancestral hometown, Ugbanebiomi, and his residential home at Abocho, both in Dekina Local Government Area of the state, said his death was not natural and would not be accepted as  an ‘act of God.’

A nephew to the late minister, Mr. Jonah Paul, who spoke at his ancestral hometown at Ugbanebiomi, said arrangement was already concluded for next Sunday to have a thanksgiving service for his appointment as minister when he died.

He said:  “We were suppose to do the thanksgiving the same Sunday he died but he (Ocholi) said the President required his presence in Abuja on Friday and that he would be going on an assignment from the President that weekend.

“He asked us to postpone the celebration till this week Sunday. If only he knew he won’t be available for the thanksgiving.”

Family members speak

Jonah, 56, said: “His death is not natural; we are certain about that. Messages have been on around the village that such evil will happen. It was after his death that we realised that it was against our family such prediction was going to happen.

“His death is a great loss to the entire family. He was the breadwinner to all; both nuclear and extended family members because he did not discriminate. He followed the footsteps of his father who shouldered the responsibility of the extended family after the death of his father (Ocholi’s grandfather).”

Also speaking at his palace, the traditional ruler of the community, the Onu of Abocho, HRH Tijani Okutachi, said the community was still in shock at his death, describing it as unfortunate.

He said: “He participated in all the activities at home. His demise has brought serious set back to the community, the local government area and the state. He was a community leader, who was so interested in the development of the community. This is a disaster to the entire community.”

Okutachi, however, urged the people to discountenance the issue that his death was not natural. According to him, everything that happens is an act of God.

Burial arrangement

The family is, however, making efforts, to ensure that the wife, late Blessing, was buried along with the husband.

It is the tradition of Ankpa people, were the wife hailed from, to take back the corpse of their daughters for burial rather than being buried at the husbands’ family.

Jonah said: “Yesterday (Monday), we informed the family about the death of their daughter; today (yesterday) again we have sent a delegation to them asking that we wish to bury their daughter with our son. We certainly understand their tradition but we hope they will grant us this wish.”


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