By Vincent Ujumadu
Awka—WORRIED by the exorbitant amounts spent by families in burying their dead ones, the Anambra House of Assembly has passed a bill for a law to control burial and funeral ceremonies in the state.
The bill, which was sponsored by the member representing Anaocha 11 constituency, Chief Charles Ezeani, provides that “in the event of death, no person shall deposit any corpse in the mortuary or any place beyond two months from the date of death, while burial ceremonies shall be for one day only.”
It also banned the destruction of property, firing of gunshots, praise singing and blocking of roads and streets during burial ceremonies in the state, warning that defaulters would be punished according to the law.
In addition, it provides that “from the commencement of the law, no person shall subject any relation of the deceased person to a mourning period of more than one week from the date of the burial ceremony.”
Sponsor of the bill, Ezeani, explained that the bill also made provision for a monitoring and implementation committee that would enforce the law, as well as their responsibilities.
He described the bill as a welcome development and a great achievement by the sixth Anambra House of Assembly, adding that the bill had put to rest the high cost of burial/funeral activities in the state.
Vanguard recalls that the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor began the campaign against expensive burial in Anambra State and subsequently, took the crusade to the State House of Assembly. He was thereafter appointed a resource person for the bill.
The bishop’s visit to the state assembly last year coincided with the lawmakers’ public hearing on the bill during which he observed that the extravagance displayed by the people during funeral ceremonies in the state had reached a point that necessitated an effective legislation to control the excesses.
According to him, if it remained unchecked, expensive burials would lead people into pitiable situations and bondage.
Speaking on the passed bill, the cleric said: “I have seen families sell their real estates, property, and personal belongings, in order to meet up with the expectations of society as regards funeral expenses. Businesses had folded, marriages had broken down, children had been out of school and sudden deaths had been recorded, simply because people could not wriggle out of the devastating effects of the huge expenses incurred during the funerals of their loved ones.
“I always seize any available opportunity to speak on the dangers of wasteful burials and funerals among our people. I have insisted that what we should be talking about is how to give our people decent and befitting living and not befitting funerals by which we mean mindless display of extravagance.
‘The money used for extravagant burils could be better applied to helping the living. The faithful already know this, and I have received countless phone calls commending the move. ‘Wearing of mourning dresses/Asoebi has turned into a practice used for display of wealth and importance.
Already, the bishop had banned the production of brochures in the Catholic Diocese of Awka, with effect from 1 May 2017. He had also banned priests and religious from cooking and sharing souvenirs during the burial of their relatives, in a bid to reduce the cost of burial and funeral ceremonies.