By Abuchi Onwumelu
The Catholic bishop of Awka Diocese, His Lordship Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, has regretted Anambra State Government’s inability to enforce the Burial Law enacted in 2019 to moderate the cost of burials in the state, saying the law would have ushered in befitting living instead of befitting funeral.
The charismatic and influential Prelate who has made substantial contributions into the law, said, ‘We are happy that the House of Assembly has made a law that makes it easy for people to perform funerals easily within their income.’
Among other provisions, the law forbids erecting of bill boards, banners or posters of any kind of deceased persons in the state. It said people should only erect directional posts not before seven days to the burial and should be removed not later than seven days after the burial.
The law also forbids corpses being kept in mortuary for more than 30 days and that any person who contravenes these provisions shall be guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N100, 000, among others.
The state government, traditional rulers and church leaders, were charged with monitoring obedience to the law.
In addition, Bishop Ezeokafor forbids Catholic faithful in Awka Diocese from printing brochures for burials of their members.
The outspoken cleric lamented that apart from the Catholics who had stopped printing brochures, others had not obeyed, just as burials in the state remained expensive.
According to Bishop Ezeokafor, ‘The law is there. If the Presidents General and the Church had followed it, it would have stopped.’
The Local Ordinary stated that should government enforce the law through its agents, it would rake in a lot of revenue and bring development to the state.
He lamented that instead, government agents paid more attention to harassing poor petty traders in the markets.
Bishop Ezeokafor also believed that enforcement of the law had not been possible because those he referred to as big men were involved
‘You saw the speed with which the ban on okada plying township roads was enforced. I realized that poor people dominate okada business. If big men had been involved they would have settled government officials and back to business,’ Bishop Ezeokafor concluded.