ANAMBRA BURIAL LAW: CATHOLIC CHURCH DISAGREES WITH GOV SOLUDO
The burial law prohibiting staging of flabonyant funeral ceremonies in Anambra State, has pitched the Catholic Church against Governor Chukwuma Soludo of the State, as the Archbishop of Onitsha Archdiocese and Metropolitan of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, His Grace, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, has picked holes on the law.
The Governor, and Cleric, were locked in a war of words yesterday over Soludo’s threat to impose a fine on the Obimma family for celebrating funeral ceremonies of Ezinne Grace Obimma, mother of a popular Catholic priest in the state in a flamboyant manner.
It could be recalled that there is an existing law against lavish burial ceremonies in Anambra State, enacted during the administration of the immediate past governor of the state, Chief Willie Obiano.
Soludo had during the requiem Mass for Ezinne Obimma, mother of the spiritual Director of Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry, Uke, in Ndemili South Council area of the state, Rev Fr. Emmanuel Obimma, blamed the family, particularly Charles Obimma, who was a member of the legislature that passed the state burial law in 2019, for an over-shooting limit of burial expenses prescribed by the law.
The governor noted that the recent insignificant, low-key burial of his late father, Pa Simeon Soludo, was child’s play compared to that of the late Madam Obimma, who died at 88.
Countering the governor, the Archbishop flayed him for stepping into an area he had no jurisdiction, asking him to respect the boundaries or principles of separation of jurisdiction.
The cleric said: “ In separation of power, you don’t make laws for the church on how to bury the dead because it’s bound to fail.
“It’s not the duty of the governor to make law on how Christian burials should be done because there are more serious things the government should do. Any law that is impossible to keep or enforce should be considered unjust.”
According to the Clergyman, the church can only make laws where it has exclusive ecclesiastical powers and not for the government because they remain two separate jurisdictions.
He pointed out that the church made suggestions on how to cut expenses during burial, noting that the choice of celebrants to decide whether to spend hugely or meagrely depended on them.
The presiding priest during the Mass, and Chancellor of Onitsha Archdiocese, Rev Fr. Dr. Prudentius, Aroh, and Labour Party’s Presidential candidate in the 2023 general elections, Mr. Peter Obi, said the late Madam Obimma lived a life worthy of emulation.
In his remark, founder of Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry Uke, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Obimma said his mother, whose life was deeply rooted in Christ, died on All Saints Day (1st November), noting that heaven had gained a saint.
Fr. Obimma, who is the Parish Priest of Blessed Iwene Tansi Catholic Church in Umudioka, Dunukofia Local Council Area, hinted that Madam Obimma lived a life dedicated to the service of God and humanity.The event was graced by top dignitaries from various parts of the country and outside Nigeria.