One year after, body of ‘Nigeria’s oldest prisoner’ abandoned in mortuary
Miss Chisom Egbunuche, the only daughter of ‘Nigeria’s oldest prisoner’, late Pa Celestine Egbunuche, has cried out over the abandonment of her father’s body in the mortuary more than a year after his death. She called on Nigerians to help her pay mortuary charges and bury her father.
Pa Egbunuche, who hailed from Amachara Owerre Village, Akokwa in Ideato local government area of Imo State, died on October 18, last year, a few months after he was released from Enugu prison.
Pa Egbunuche made headlines last year acquiring for himself, ‘Nigeria’s oldest prisoner’, after he clocked 100 years old in Enugu’s Correctional Service, where he was serving a death sentence on account of murder, alongside his only son, Paul. He had gone to prison in 2001 at the age of 82 and spent 18 years.
His case was, however, taken up by a non-governmental organisation, Global Society for Anti-corruption (GSAC), who wrote to the Imo State government, appealing that he be granted pardon based on his deteriorating health and age. The organisation had argued that inmates above 65 years are eligible for either parole or state pardon, adding that the old man needed serious medical attention to enable him continue to live.
On June 6, last year, he was discharged from prison, while his son, Paul was held back. On release from prison and not having resources to take care of himself, the GSAC had taken custody of Pa Egbunuche, took him to hospital where he was stabilised after some weeks; and reunited him with his only daughter, Chisom, an apprentice in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Chisom told The Guardian yesterday that her father’s body had spent one year in the mortuary and still counting for want of resources to pay mortuary fees and burial.
“I can barely feed not to talk of paying mortuary fees and conveying a corpse from Port Harcourt to Imo for burial. We don’t even have a home where he can be buried. My father’s relatives set our home ablaze and confiscated all his belongings the moment the High Court in Owerri that tried the murder charge pronounced my father and brother guilty in 2001. Since then, no member of our community has asked about us. We have been abandoned. Even in death, my family has been abandoned. This is a painful situation that I will wish to get over,” she cried.
Although she said she was happy that her father did not die as a prisoner, Chisom however, asked for government’s intervention for pardon for her only brother, saying: “If my brother is here, he will at least know how to go about this. He too is suffering in prison. The crime that took them to prison was not committed by them. They did not kill anybody. Whatever they are suffering was plotted to exterminate my family because we don’t have anybody to help us.”