— GBV Task Force Team Wades-in
–Says, Culture Repugnant to Natural Justice
–Amasiri Traditional Ruler Gave Clarification
— Ezeogo Nwite Ngele Applauds Group

By Nwogha Ndubuisi, Abakaliki

Amasiri is a community located in Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi state with three autonomous Communities according to His Royal Highness Ezeogo (Omezue) Onyia Idam Bassey, (Ubaghala 111) and traditional ruler of Amasiri autonomous Community.

Ebonyi state Gender Base Violence team with the Ezeogo Amasiri autonomous community and members of his cabinet

According to the traditional ruler, the old tradition of burying a woman who died while pregnant or four days after birth at evil forest, locally called (otutu eja) is as old as existence of men in the area and no mortal man has ever question the age long custom.

The traditional ruler explained that the culture of the people mandate them to understand that whoever that died in such circumstance would be buried in a place known as otutu eja with no official ceremony but would later be given burial rite in her bereaved husband’s home four days after.

This was followed by the death of a pregnant mother, Mrs Amaka Agwu Paul, a native of Oriuzor autonomous community of Ezza North Local Government Area of the state whose husband hailed from Amuzu Ezeke village, Amasiri Community in Afikpo Council Area.

The mother of two was said to had died in their Abakaliki residence after she woke up at the wee hour of Saturday 27th June,2021 to complain of unusual complication but was rushed to Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki where she was confirmed dead.

Narrating the bereaved husband, Mr Agwu Paul Isaac noted that the tradition was not new to him and added that he would always align with the people to ensure that both sides did not perceived his ordeal in a wrong notion.

Mr Agwu described the late wife as a true partner and pleaded that the deceased wife should be buried to give her the peace she deserved.

Consequently, the Ubaghala 111 of Amasiri autonomous Community while giving clarification on the notion given to the circumstances surrounding the plan burial of the late woman that the body would be thrown into evil forest explained:

“Traditional and culturally, the issue of burying a deceased pregnant woman is not done in a normal way in our place but rather, such deceased body will be buried outside her husband’s house. Thereafter,in nine days time will recall her back traditionally and give her befitting burial in the husband’s home.

“The deceased body will be buried in otutu eja which is in line with the tradition of Amasiri kingdom, but like the speculation that we throw the decease body inside the forest is not true.

The task force team with His Royal Highness Ezeogo Nwite Ngele, Traditional Ruler Oriuzor autonomous Community in his palace

“Also, the speculation of throwing of the two children belonging to the women into the forest is a blutant lie as such is against humanity and not practicable in my kingdom and nobody has said so because those children are our own as such has never happened in Amasiri kingdom.

“They came as I came as human beings and we will take care of them as our children. And to put the record straight, those children have thesame right like their father and are our children.

“I spoke with the traditional ruler of Oriuzor autonomous Community His Royal Highness, Eze Nwite Ngele who also confirmed that such a tradition was once in existence in his kingdom but has fizzled out and same will also happened here because we never know how it started but with time since tradition is not something we will put at a stop in just a day will also be a things of the past at the right time.

“Yes, tradition and religion is what hold people and can never die until Christ comes. However, we are going to reform some of the tradition that are not practicable or not good to the present society but such cannot be achieved in just a day. I am just a traditional head but there are people who own the land who will go to the owner of the land to tell them the area we are having problem and whatever they revealed we will do.

“Meanwhile, I wish to say that tradition and religion are in every parts of the world and people practice theirs according to how they inherited from their ancestors, even in England, there are places you cannot enter except you are from that house and I can prove that beyond reasonable doubt which such is not perculiar to Amasiri kingdom but I’m optimistic that with time my kingdom will visit some of our culture for reformation.

Lending his voice,Elder Franklin Udeh, cabinet member of the traditional ruler and Ichie hinted that the people have debated the matter since the misfortune befailed the family.

The task force team making their presentation

Elder Udeh said members of the traditional council have resolved that the deceased body could be buried at Oriuzor where she hailed from and would be honored by the bereaved husband and family.

“We had earlier told the people that she would be buried at otutu eja as the tradition demands not because she hailed from another kingdom but it’s our old tradition known by our people.

“Also, suggested that she can be buried in our in-law’s home at Oriuzor which we will attend and after nine days will bring her spirit home to give her suppose right as our wife by doing the merriment.

“This tradition is not something we will change in a day. As ichies’,we have made enquires and are just careful of not inviting mass untimely death to the community.

In his reaction, the traditional ruler Oriuzor autonomous Community, His Royal Highness Ezeogo Nwite Ngele(Ezeogo Ishiali 1V of Oriuzor) appreciated the people of Amasiri community for their resolve.

According to him:” I thank the people for their resolve, since it is their culture I know it’s not something we will quarrel to remove but through understanding.

“They cannot say the woman has committed any sin because they were living peacefully before the ugly incident and the Eze is a fresher and cannot oppose such new law in the case before his people will see him as incapable to rule and I must tell you that we once practice such tradition which was once referred as a taboo but has long been abandoned in our entire kingdom that a decease pregnant woman and any child who died without been married can be buried at home.

“I thanked the Ebonyi state Gender Base Violence Task Force Team for all the modalities employed to ensure our relationship was not savoured by the cultural indifference and we are calling other communities who are still practicing some of these cultural beliefs which are becoming obsolete to look at it and review for a better society.

Earlier,the Chairman Ebonyi state Gender Base Violence Task Force and Desk officer ministry of Justice, Barr.(Mrs) Nwanchor, commended both traditional rulers for their mutual understanding in resolving the matter by allowing the woman to be buried from her place of birth.

Barr. Nwanchor described the cultural practice of throwing the dead pregnant woman away as old and obnoxious, and added that the act is repugnant to natural justice.

She revealed that the task force team would also monitor the burial ceremony to ensure that the right of the deceased woman was not denied of her natural justice as resolved by the two communities.

On her part, Rev. Flora Egwu,team member of the group described the movement as a great feat, noting that their intervention was fruitful as the dignity of the late woman has been restored.

Reverend Egwu applauded the Ezeogos for their understanding, stating that giving the woman rightful burial would remove shame and stigma from the family and children.

She thanked both families for the attention and charge them to continue to advocate for the expunging of such obnoxious culture in their community as to promote healthy society.

Meanwhile, a member of the group and representative of civil society organizations, Mr Okinya Mathias, said the group has no intention of destroying culture of the people but promoting those ones that has human face.

He cautioned communities who still practice those cultures that are inimical to societal development among female Genetial Mutilation and others to shun them or be ready to face the law.