This is story behind the taboo/abomination (exhumed corpses of two buried women) that happened at Isiozi Umuaka, Njaba LGA, Imo State on Tuesday 24/9/19.
Background To This Incident:
The Anopueme family has been occupying a family home on a small parcel of land near Nkwoikpa Market Isiozi-Akah for a very long time. Late Hilary Anopueme was the head of the family. Personally I knew them all my life living at that compound since they were our neighbours. I learnt they had lived at this place long before I was born. Their legal counsel stated that Anopueme family had lived on this land for over 400 years.
Late Augustine Nnanyereugo (retired police officer) from Isiozi Umuokwaranwaneri too, laid claim to this land inhabited by Anopueme’s family, he went to court and obtained judgement. Unfortunately, the Anopueme family was very poor, such that they could not defend the law suit against them. Augustine Nnanyereugo later died. His children took over the case. They went and demolished the family house of the Anopueme’s on the disputed land. The Anopueme’s had nowhere to stay, but were accommodated by different families at Isiozi.
This compound inhabited by the Anopueme’s was their only land. In the course of this court case, Late Hilary Anopueme’s wife (Mrs Monica Anopueme) died, but because of this land dispute, there was no were to bury her. Her corpse was kept for over four years at the morgue. Sadly again, Late Mrs Monica Anopueme’s daughter in law (Mrs Margret Anopueme) died too and there was nowhere to bury her either, and her corpse was kept for nearly three years at the morgue. It took friends of the family to raise over seven hundred thousand naira (N700,000) to pay for mortuary bill for these two women that died.
However, there was a court order for these women to be buried at the compound they had inhabited. These two women were buried same day earlier in the month of September 2019. However the community woke up on the morning of Tuesday 24/9/19 to see the exhumed corpses of these women deposited at Nkwoikpa Market.
Protest by the Youths and Women of Isiozi-Akah.
The sight of this abomination prompted the quick mobilization of Isiozi Umuokwaranwaneri youths. They marched to Umuaka Police Station to protest to the police what happened. At the police station, they say saw Late Augustine Nnanyereugo’s family there. When the youths returned back to Isiozi, there was a mob action which led to the burning down of Late Augustine Nnanyereugo’s building (lock up shops) very close to Nkwoikpa Market and destruction of their stocks of drinks etc meant for sale. Their stock up drinks for sale at their second shop was also destroyed. The corpses of these two exhumed women were taken to Late Augustine Nnanyereugo’s compound where it was deposited at the house built by one of his sons, because it was their family house. Isiozi women also marched to Umuaka Police Station same day to protest the taboo that happened.
To add salt to injury, the Nnanyereugo family removed these corpse deposited at their house by the protesting youths, to an unknown location without the consent or knowledge of anyone from Isiozi Umuokwaranwaneri. They did this at the dead of the night on Tuesday 24/9/19. Isiozi Umuokwaranwaneri is scheduled to meet on Thursday 26/9/19 on this matter.
Statement of the counsel to the Anopueme’s family (The Exhumed Corpses).
“I’m counsel for the poor bereaved relatives of the dead. When the former lawyer of the Anopueme family couldn’t duly prosecute their defence in the suit filed against them by the Nnanyereugo family claiming ownership of the residential compound of the Anopueme family which they had occupied for over 400 years, Njaba Customary Court gave judgment in the suit in favour of Nnanyereugo family without the Anopueme family defending the suit.
About one year or more after the delivery of the judgment in the case, the Nnanyereugo family destroyed the homes of the Anopueme family and carted away their properties therein in execution of the judgment. It was at this point I was then briefed by the Anopueme family and after studying their brief and realising that the time prescribed to file their appeal had long expired, I promptly approached the Customary Court of Imo State sitting at Owerri Appeal and filed on behalf of the Anopueme family a motion for extension of time for them to file their appeal proper and to stop or stay further execution of the judgment amongst other reliefs. Our motion for extension succeeded and our appeal was set down for hearing with Prof U.U. Chukwuma SAN brought in to lead me. However, while the appeal was pending, our application for leave or permission of the court to bury the mother and wife of our clients who died in the course of the case was granted. In pursuance of the orders of the CCA, the remains of the deceased members of the Anopueme family were buried in their disputed ancestral compound.
Recently, I ran into the counsel to the Nnanyereugo family and he bitterely voiced out their dissatisfaction with this development land he and his client won’t accept the decision. Because I have for some time allowed my junior colleague to be handling the matter while attending to other briefs, I can’t authoratively confirm the information I just got that the Nnanyereugo family have further appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal of Nigeria also sitting in Owerri to set aside the ruling of the CCA. Again I’m yet to contact either Prof U.U. Chukwumaeze SAN’s chambers or the Anopuemes over the latest turn of events. Based on the foregoing, I strongly believe that nobody else could have exhumed the dead bodies from the disputed compound other than the Nnanyereugo family who are agrieved with and seeks the reversal of the decision of CCA permitting the burial of the dead Anopuomes therein.
The act is grossly anathema. And deserves the condemnation that’s trailing it as virally as it’s spreading. I personally had a glimpse of the flaming property of the Nnanyereugo family apparently set ablaze by an angry mob of youths who felt unspeakably revolted by the alleged action of the Nnanyereugos while I was returning home from the Isu courts yesterday (24/9/19). I couldn’t stay and watch for reasons of my involvement in the case as a counsel. The property that was razed is a block of shops where the Nnanyereugo family had a beer and chicken joint and other tenants but not their family residence shown in the video where the caskets of the exhumed corpses were taken to by the angry mob.
When a dispute is subject to litigation parties should not resort to self help but allow the issues to resolved by the court seised of the matter. It’s a huge risk to do otherwise under any guise”.
Yours in Service