Family of slain Ogbete trader postpones burial twice over govt failure to release corpse

The Enugu State Government has been accused of refusing to release the corpse of Bonaventure Odoh, one of the Ogbete Main Market traders killed by security operatives during a protest.

Odoh’s family said his burial had been delayed by the refusal of the government to release his corpse to them.

SaharaReporters had reported that two traders of the market including Odoh were shot dead on July 27, 2023, by security operatives deployed to the market by Governor Peter Mbah to stop aggrieved traders from protesting against the sealing of their shops and businesses by the government for not coming to market on Mondays on allegation of observing ‘illegal sit-at-home’ protest.

The traders had taken to the street to march against the sealing of shops in the market by the authorities of the Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA), as part of the enforcement of an order by the government for workers and traders to resist the regime of sit-at-home.

Since the incident, neither the state government nor the police has sent a team to visit the families of the traders killed during the protest. Also, the police officers who killed the protesters have not been arrested or held accountable.

SaharaReporters learned that the late Odoh had recently returned from Dubai and decided to establish his business at the Ogbete Main Market. His corpse was deposited at a mortuary in Enugu on the orders of the state government.

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A source told SaharaReporters that though the family had fulfilled all the conditions put forward by the government and the police before claiming the body of their son, every effort to take the body for burial had been frustrated.

A family source, who spoke to SaharaReporters on condition of anonymity, on Monday, said the late Odoh’s burial has been shifted twice because of the bottlenecks placed by the government to frustrate the family.

This has increased the pain of the family, the source said, asking why the government has refused to release the corpse, even when all the conditions set by the authorities have been fulfilled.

“We are being treated very cruelly by the government. It is like killing our son and brother multiple times. Each time they frustrate our efforts to bury him and begin to heal, they kill him all over again and the pain deepens. We are crying that our son was cut down in his prime by force that should guarantee his safety, but frustrating efforts to lay him to rest is amounting to multiple killings of the same person as far as we are concerned.”

Asked what the relationship has been with the government and police authorities since the killing took place, the source said neither the state government who ordered the murder nor the police authorities who executed the order have reached out to the family.

“The Enugu State Government, unfortunately, has not reached out to the family in any way. I am at home here in our village and I have not seen any person that said he represents the government or the police visiting to express any sympathy.

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“As sad as this is, we are not even asking for their visit or compensation. No amount can bring back our son’s life. All that we ask of them is that they allow us to carry the dead body of our son so that we can bury him,” the source said.

He lamented that the burial, which, according to him, has been fixed to take place on August 19, 2023, might have to be postponed again, and for the third time following the snags being put in the way by the Department of Public Prosecution.

“We have completed all the processes required by the police including conducting an autopsy on the body, yet, they refused to release the body saying that they got a call from the Department of Public Prosecution stating otherwise.

The burial has been fixed for August 19 after the previous two dates fixed for his burial failed as a result of not releasing the body. We do not understand why this has to be so, for a young man so gruesomely murdered,” he said.

Sahara Reporters

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