*Rivers Govt, INEC Rivers Absent
There was a torrent of tears and outpouring of grief as slain corps member, Samuel Chukwudumebi Okonta, was finally laid to rest in his country home, Ogbe-Orji village in Illah, Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State Friday.
His coffin decorated in both the national and NYSC colours arrived Illah in a motorcade around 11.22 am from Port Harcourt accompanied by a delegation of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Rivers State led by Mrs. Obianika Juliet, Assistant Director, corps welfare and healthcare. The Director General of the NYSC, Brigadier-General J. B. Olawunmi was represented by a delegation led by Mrs. Kwaki Rhoda, a director at NYSC headquarters in Abuja.
Also present was the Delta State Director of the NYSC, Mrs. Olive Essien and representatives from the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Delta State.
However, there was no representative of the Rivers State government or the Independent National Electoral Commission in Rivers State at the burial while the state director of NYSC in Rivers State did not attend in person although her representative said that she was recently hospitalised. Also, no corps member from Rivers State was present at the burial.
While speaking to reporters, Kwaki who represented the Director-General admitted there were security lapses in the arrangement for the use of corps members for the re-run election in Rivers State.
“We accept they were security lapses and in future elections where corpers will take part, we will put better measures in place to protect them.”
On how the NYSC has assisted the family of the slain corps member, she said every corps member in the country is insured and that late Okonta’s family is entitled to N1 million from the insurance scheme.
After a brief lying in state at the family compound, his casket was moved to Omorka Primary School, Illah for a 10-minute memorial football match by Illah football Association.
Chairman of the association, Mr. Nelson Okonma said that the late Okonta was the most valuable player in two consecutive editions of the Stephen Keshi Super Cup in 2006 and 2007.
A funeral service was held at Holy Family Catholic Church, Illah with three priests in attendance while the large church was fully occupied. During the homily, Rev. Fr. Henry Ogonwa warned that “those who climb to political power at the expense of human life awaits the wrath of God.”
The late corps member redeployed from Gombe State to Rivers State due to the security situation in the North East but he was killed by gunmen on his way back from the polling unit where he worked as an ad-hoc staff during the last re-run election in Rivers State.
His corpse was lowered into the grave in his family compound at about 2.58 pm. A parade in his honour was mounted by corps members serving in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State.