CASKET sellers at Emohua Local Government Area in Rivers State have differed with the Chairman, Dr. Chidi Lloyd, and the Legislative Assembly of the council, over a new law prohibiting public display of coffins.
The traders said the new law was anti-human and would affect their businesses, urging the council to review same.
Lloyd gives assent to two by-laws
The council boss, Lloyd, penultimate Thursday, assented to two executive bills passed by the local government’s legislative council. The bylaws are: The Emohua Local Government Area Vigilante Services By-Law No.2 of 2021, and the Emohua Local Government Area Mortuary Facility Registration and Prohibition on Open Display of Caskets for Sale By-Law No.3 of 2021.
Chief Press Secretary to the council boss, Bright Elendu, in a statement, noted that the signing of the by-laws by the council chairman followed an approval from the legislative council, under the leadership of Mrs. Love Nyenke.
The local government vigilante services by-law provides for the regulation of the activities of vigilante services, as well the welfare of members of the vigilante.
Elendu disclosed that the council chairman, during the formal acceptance, said the council’s vigilante services would be launched with a new and unique uniform entirely different from that of the disbanded OSPAC.
Lloyd also stated that the Emohua Local Government Area Mortuary Facility Registration and Prohibition on Open Display of Caskets for Sale By-Law No.3 of 2021 empowers the local government to regulate the activities of mortuary operators and casket sellers in the local government area.
Law will affect our business —Adus
Fuming, one of the casket manufacturers and sellers, Mr. Festus Adus, asserted that the law would affect their businesses, adding that the traders were not consulted before the law was put in place.
Adus noted that the local government has not developed to the point that the business should be done in enclosed shops, saying that any government making policy should first consider the development stage of the area.
“The situation of Nigeria has not gotten to that level, so any person that is making any policy should remember the stage and state of Nigeria before coming up with such policy, so that it will not be a burden on the people, or put people into more suffering and poverty.
“Look at the casket we are constructing. We buy the woods and other things so that we do not carry guns like others are doing and manage the small gain that comes from this work. If there is no money to rent shop, what do we do? I do not think this decision is good.
“A public leader does not take only his own opinion, they seek the opinion of people. They are supposed to seek our opinion, then anything the majority says, stands. You do not take because you are have the power to veto, then you take decisions against people, that is punishment.
“That decision will affect this business plenty. Now look at how the makeshift structure I am using, it is because there no money, throughout last month till now, no one has come to buy one casket.
“So how do we get money to carryout renovation and feed our families. Where do we now also get money to rent a shop? They should better reverse that opinion so that people will not know his tenure for bad.
“They should change that decision. We support any leader to be there. They should remember that and carry everybody along. They should not use the same power we gave to them to punish us.”
“For two months now, I have not sold one casket. The two months that I have not sold is that people are not dying much again. Some community self, for weeks, nobody has died. Death is not that much.
“As OSPAC came in, they stopped this too much killings by cult boys and death reduced very well compared to the way it was. When people do not die this business does not move.
“I am even planning to open my own shop in future, if there is something the government wants to build here, it is understandable, we did not start this business today. The federal government did not stop it.
“The state government, Governor Wike passes by this road regularly, he did not stop it. Then, the Emohua local government area chairman that we recently voted for will come and stop us from our business. Does he want us to start stealing?
“Like Marine Base, an area provided by the government for this business, there are still other places where they also sell, nobody has stopped them. If he can provide a place for us, we can even go there to do this business if he can do that, he is supposed to meet all the people doing this business.”
I understand they‘re afraid of coffin —Okpaka, casket dealer
Another major dealer on caskets in the area, Ceratus Okpaka, urged the council to give the people time if they must implement the new law.
Okpaka said: “There is nothing we can do so far as the bill has been passed into law. Maybe they have sat and discussed. If they have sat and said there should not be public display of caskets and say this is a place we have provided for you people, we will go there.”
“We have not seen anything bad in allowing people display their business, even in marketing there is what they call window display. When you talk of window display, it is just what we are doing like other businesses too. If they say they do not want it and that they want everybody to stay in-door to do the business, that means they want us to use only signpost, they should give us time.
“What I am made to understand there is that maybe they are afraid of the product. But I do not see it as anything. It is just ordinary plywood and wood. We only construct it.
“If they want it that way, they should only look for funds to support those who do not have the money to get a shop. They should also give us time. Let them do it in a way that it will not affect us so that it may not seem there is hatred and that they do not want us to do our business again,” he said.
Nyeche, mortuary operator grumbles
Meanwhile, a mortuary operator and casket shop owner, Ifeanyi Nyeche, who confirmed receipt of a letter from the council to come and register his mortuary, regretted that his funeral home was still under construction.