The Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha Archdiocese and Metropolitan of Onitsha Ecclesiastical Province, His Grace, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke, and Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State were locked in a war of words yesterday over the governor’s threat to impose a fine on the Obimma family for celebrating funeral ceremonies of Ezinne Grace Obimma in a flamboyant manner.
Note that there is an existing law against lavish burial ceremonies in Anambra State, enacted during Willie Obiano’s administration.
Soludo had at the requiem mass for Ezinne Grace Obimma, mother of the spiritual director of Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry, Uke, in Ndemili South LGA, 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 said the insignificant, low-key burial of his late father, Pa Simeon Soludo, was child’s play compared to that of the late Madam Obinna, who died at 88.
Countering the governor, the bishop 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 him, 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 but noted that the choice of celebrants to decide whether to spend hugely or meagrely depended on them.
Earlier, at the mass, the presiding cleric and chancellor of Onitsha Archdiocese, Rev Fr. Dr. Prudentius, Aroh, and Labour Party’s presidential candidate in the last general elections, Peter Obi, said the late Madam Obimma lived a life worthy of emulation.
In his words of appreciation, Rev Fr. Obimma, who is the founder of Holy Ghost Adoration Ministry Uke, said his mother, whose life was deeply rooted in Christ, died on All Saints Day (1st November), noting that heaven had gained a saint.
Rev. Fr. Obimma, 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.