By A Special Correspondent
1. The Oluoha in Council and the entire people of Ihiala in Anambra State have watched with amazement since Sunday, June 10, 2021, news reports claiming that a widow in our community was being forced by her in-laws to drink water used to bath the husband as part of a so-called cultural practice for a married woman to demonstrate that she is not culpable in the death of her husband. We would have dismissed the reports as a case of media sensationalism or taking cultural fiction taken too far. We, had on Saturday, June 9, 2021, received a letter from a human rights lawyer, Mrs Ebele Obiora, alleging that there could be an attempt by the Asomugha family of Ubahuekwem community to subject Mrs Esther Chioma Asomugha–whose husband named Chizoba Asomugha, was being buried on Monday, June 11, 2021– to the despicable and primitive ordeal of drinking water used to wash the husband’s body on account of a family dispute. The same letter was sent to the President-General of the Ihiala Progress Union, Chief S Okey Chukwu, who is also a member of the Oluoha-in-Council.
2. We have conducted a thorough investigation of the allegation and would like to state categorically that no person in either Ihiala Town or Ihiala culture area has at any point in history indulged in the practice of subjecting a widow to drink water used to wash the husband’s body in order to prove that she is responsible for her husband’s death. We have only heard and read that there are some communities in Igboland that once practiced such a callous primitive thing. The practice was abolished long ago in communities where it was ever in existence, and none of the communities is near Ihiala.
3. Still, the allegation of an attempt to force Mrs Asomugha to go through the ordeal of drinking water used to bath the husband’s corpse is not completely without merit. Mr Ndubuisi Asomugha, the younger brother of the late Chizoba Asomugha, made a voice note shortly after the elder brother’s death and threatened Mrs Esther Chioma Asomugha, the wife of the elder. In the voice note which he made from Liberia where he lives, he did threaten to compel her to drink water used to wash the husband’s body. This threat infuriated the Asomugha family, the Ezikechima kindred and the entire Ubahuekwem community and everyone rose like one person to condemn it. Mr Ndubuisi Asomugha did not return home for the elder brother’s burial.
4. The Oluoha in Council and the people of Ihiala condemn in strong terms Mr Ndubuisi Asomugha’s irresponsible behaviour. Having investigated the existing family dispute which gave rise to the voice note and the threat in it, we see absolutely no justification for Ndubuisi’s strange conduct. Mrs Chioma Asomugha has done no wrong to warrant this kind of response. It is disappointing that rather than think of ways to protect the 34-year old widow of his elder brother and the four children, who are between four and eleven years, Mr Ndubuisi Asomugha has resorted to strange antics.
5. The Oluoha in Council and the people of Ihiala are consoled by the fact that the remains of Mr Chizoba Asomugha were successfully and peacefully committed to Mother Earth on Monday, June 11, 2021, in conformity with the Christian tradition. We are delighted that members of the Asomugha family, including Chizoba’s widow and her four children, participated fully in the burial and funeral. We are also delighted that the Ezikechima kindred led by the President-General of the Ezikechima People’s Assembly, Mr Pius Nwabuikwu, and such persons as Mr Ossy Agoms has started in earnest to reconcile the Asomugha family. They have assured us of an early resolution and a permanent peace in the family. 6. We would like to seize this opportunity to thank especially the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, and his wife, Chief (Dr) Ebelechukwu Obiano, for their swift and robust response to the reports of the controversy in the Asomugha family following the death of Mr Chizoba Asomugha. We appreciate their monetary present and the foodstuffs which they sent to the Asomugha family through the Commissioner for Social Development, Women’s & Children’s Affairs, Lady Ndidi Mezue, as well as the Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment, Mr C. Don Adinuba. Governor Obiano and his wife live out the true meaning of solidarity with the human family. We, in addition, commend the Nigeria Police Force, especially the Ihiala Police Divisional Officer, Mr Prince Ezejiofor, for leading by personal example. (MOI)