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How taxes, levies shoot up burial costs in Igboland, by stakeholders

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Stakeholders in Igboland have decried indiscriminate taxes and levies usually imposed on families during burial, saying it is responsible for the high cost of burials in Igboland.

They urged religious, cultural, and other institutions in Igboland to seek ways of regulating fees charged before the dead are buried.

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At a town hall meeting on the topic, “Taxing the dead,” convened by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Igbo Service, monitored by The Guardian in Enugu, stakeholders are drawn from religious, cultural, and other social backgrounds unanimously condemned such fees, saying it had brought hardship to families and societies at large.

Archbishop, Enugu Province (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, stated that the Church had continued to preach against stupendous burials and had banned its Priests from imposing charges on bereaved families before their dead were buried.

He said: “It is a thing of joy when one has lived a long life and died. It is expected that members should rally around and bury the person. But it is painful at times that before such burial is done, all manner of assemblies demands certain levies, thereby imposing a huge burden on the bereaved. The church is seriously against this and I have always told my Priests not to encourage anyone involved in it.”

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The Omu Okpanam in Delta State, Martha Dunkwu, while decrying the burden placed on families during the burial of their dead ones, said that on the assumption of office several years ago, she summoned meetings where some of the levies and taxes were reduced or discarded.

She stated that the burial of women in Igboland usually adds more burden on the bereaved family as a result of several demands and levies that go with it from the womenfolk but said that with the engagements and interventions of his administration, such had been reduced in her community.

Also contributing, Rev. Fr. Chinenye Oluomachi of the Catholic Diocese of Abuja insisted that it was not in all Catholic dioceses that families of deceased are levied before their dead was buried.

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He advocated for increased awareness to tackle the problem, even as he appealed to dioceses where such is practised to call their members to order.

A Public Affairs Analyst, Mrs. Kosiso Udechukwu, blamed churches, traditional institutions, and the Umuadas in the community for such taxes, pointing out that they orchestrated these by producing registers and financial records to insist that the families of the dead person must settle all his debts before the person was buried.

She also cautioned priests and church leaders who officiate in burial programmes to desist from demanding envelopes from the deceased family after such burials, stressing the need for regulations and enforcement by the society and church leaders.

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