A private hospital in Oleh, headquarters of Isoko Local Government Area of Delta State, (identity withheld), has seized the corpses of six persons who died in Irri inter-communal crisis in 2002 over unpaid N13.5 million mortuary debt.
This development came as remains of five others who were killed in the crisis were laid to rest yesterday amid tears and lamentation.
Addressing newsmen shortly after the funeral service of those buried, chairman of Irri Development Union, Mr. Goddey Igorigo, said the deceased had been in mortuary since 2002.
Explaining that the body of one of the victims was taken to Oleh for burial, Igorigo said the corpses of six others were still in the mortuary of a private hospital which refused to release them due to N13.5 million debt.
He said: “We are supposed to have also buried all of them today but because we do not have money, the management of the hospital took us to court to pay the sum of N13.5 million and also demanded for the payment of N1 million damages to them.
“The matter is in court as we speak now but with the judgement so far passed, the court asked the management of the hospital to reduce the bill. So we are begging the local government, state and federal governments to come to the aid of Irri to settle the bill so that we can bury the remaining bodies of the victims of the crisis.”
Blaming the crisis on power tussle and the divide and rule tactics of an oil company operating in the area, Igorigo advised the people of the community to keep away from anything that could lead to a recurrence of crisis in the community.
“We should leave peacefully and forgive one another for wrongs done to us,” he admonished the people of the area.
Meanwhile, commercial activities were brought to a halt at Irri in honour of the deceased as indigenes of the community who were clad in black attires wept uncontrollably.
In his homily at the funeral service held at the community’s town hall, Rev. Ferguson Idike stressed the need for the people to put God first in their dealings with one another.
Speaking on the theme “Vanity, Vanity, Vanity” Idike emphasized the inevitability of death and urged the people to love one another and give their lives to God.