Live updates: Politics takes backstage Jonathan, Tinubu, Osinbajo, Oyegun and governors meet to bid Chief Alex Ekwueme final farewell

 

 

There has been very tight security presence in Anambra since Thursday, February 1, when the remains of Nigeria’s former vice president, Alex Ekwueme, landed his home-state for the final lying-in-state and subsequent internment.

Ekwueme who died in November 2017, in London where he was flown to for treatment after he slumped in his house in Enugu state, is expected to be buried in Oko, Anambra state, at an event that will have the attendance of top government functionaries, politicians and leaders of thought across the country.

We bring you a life update of all the activities leading to the final burial of the former vice president:

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3.21pm: The undertakers finally fill the grave up amid tears from family members of the vice president. He returns to his maker after 85 years sojourn on earth.

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3pm: Three wreaths are laid, the first by the representative of President Muhammadu Buhari, the second by the Anambra state government and the third by the Ekwueme family.

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2.39pm: Casket bearing Ekwueme’s remains lowered to the ground after religious prayers by some clergymen. The regimented gun salutes go off. The dust to dust and ashes to ashes rite is already being performed.

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2..28pm: Pall bearers match towards the casket to lower it to the ground as the final beagle blows. Regimentation by the police end.

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2.19pm: Officers of the Nigeria Police Force handover Ekwueme’s walking sticks, insignia and national flag to the SGF, who in turn, hands them over to Pastor Goodheart Ekwueme, the first son of the late former vice president.

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2.08pm: Police parade commences with the national anthem at the grave site.

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2.03pm: Body of Ekwueme arrives its final resting place followed by his three wives, children and grandchildren. Police officers are finding it difficult to carry out their final parade before the casket is lowered as a result of the surging crowd.

 

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1.48pm: A Guard of Hounour led by the Ekwueme family and followed by the police pall bearers leave the church for the deceased’s home a few meters away as law enforcement agents continue with efforts to control the crowd.

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1.47pm: Body is moved out of the church by police officers as guests look on.

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1.35pm: Igwe of Oko, Professor Laz Ekwueme, speaks glowingly of his elder brother and his integrity. He passes the microphone to Ekwueme’s son to give the vote of thanks who thanks the president for naming a university after his father and urges him to imbibe the good virtues of the deceased.

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1.27pm: Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, presents an official condolence letter from President Muhammadu Buhari to the family. He also presents the condolence register from the presidency to the bereaved family.

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1.23pm: Osinbajo speaks about the vanity of life and says Alex Ekwueme now lives in the heart of all those he touched and whose benevolence many of them may not be able to repay. He says President Buhari has approved a federal university in Ebonyi state to be named after Alex Ekwueme.

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1.19pm: Osinbajo says Ekwueme is being celebrated because he practised the principles that set men apart from their peers, the courage of one’s conviction, bravery in the face of terror, not his academic or professional prowess. Osinbajo also praised the deceased for his incorruptible nature and his roles to salvage the country during the dark days of military dictatorship.

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1.17pm: Osinbajo speaks, recognises Jonathan, his wife and other top functionaries at the event. He says it is an honour to be with the guests celebrating Ekwueme.

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1.16pm: He invites Vice President Osinbajo, representing Buhari to speak.

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1.14pm: Governor Obiano pleads with the Ekwueme family not to weep again but instead be proud to be associated to the great man who would be buried in few hours. He says it is a privilege to be the governor when this incident happened. “We are going to embarrass you with our lavish entertainment today,” he said while urging the guests not to be in a hurry to rush back home.

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1.10pm: Governor Willie Obiano speaks. Commends the governors for their support and attendance. He thanks Yemi Osinbajo, Boss Mustapha, Jonathan, Sambo, Asiwaju Tinubu, Oyegun and others in attendance.

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1.02pm: The Ekwueme family asked to come to the altar for prayers.

 

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12.52pm: Oyegun sits in between former President Jonathan and his wife, Patience, they discuss as the offering continues at the Anglican Church, Oko, where the burial ceremony is ongoing.

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12.46pm: Tinubu exchanges pleasantries with other politicians. Bows before Anyaoku as he greets the elderstatesman. Church offering ongoing as the choir renders its anthem.

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12.38pm: Anyaoku eulogises Ekwueme for his noble legacies to politicians, professionals and to youths and students in the pursuit of excellence.

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12.34pm: Emeka Anyaoku says the late Ekwueme was the brain behind the establishment of local banks in Nigeria that have now metamorphosed into international financial houses. He calls Ekwueme his friend of over 50 years. “He designed a reconstruction of my ancestral home which was damaged in the Nigerian civil war,” he says.

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12.33pm: Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, Rochas Okorocha of Imo state are also in attendance.

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12.30pm: He says Ekwueme introduced the idea of the six geo-political zones in the country and that he played politics without bitterness even though he was denied the candidacy of the PDP in 1998 when the party chose another candidate. He says the former VP campaigned for former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

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12.28pm: Chief Emeka Anyaoku says Ekwueme has left legacies in politics, national service and philantropy. “He was a true Nigerian patriot. He was a committed champion for restoring democracy by leading the group of 34 in the face of the Abacha regime and was the man behind the creation of the PDP that was to become the largest political party at the time.”

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12.26pm: Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma ends his sermon amid claps and prayed for Nigeria to be a better country.

 

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“The 2019 election is coming and people are already printing posters and banner and telling us what they want to become. Does it go beyond what you want to become? Is it not a shame that a country like Ghana, Kenya, or Rwanda are greater than Nigeria in the eyes of people?” He asks

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“I want you to imagine the amount of money we spend in British hospitals, American hospitals, Dubai hospitals. Our medical personnel have the qualification. If they get the support, they will do well. Deliver us from the Americans, the Dubais. Our leaders, please help us. This great man was taken abroad and he died. Michael was taken abroad and he died. Whatever is the deficiency in our medical profession, help us and Nigerians will be proud,” he said.

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12.18: The clergyman warns politicians to get close to the people. He says: “If what you do is go and sit in an air conditioned office and engage in arguments that lead nowhere while the people you left in the village are left to die, is that good?” He relived how he travelled to Canada recently and discovered that many medical practitioners in that country are Nigerians. He said the medical doctor said he was tired of asking for salaries and complaining in Nigeria and that was why he travelled out.

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12pm: The clergyman urges all those in attendance to receive God and bow to His authority, especially as Jesus has come and is a visa to safety and life in abundance. He says with Jesus, one would have a satisfying life on earth and enjoy divine fellowship with Almighty God in the end. “Anybody who does not take the issue of the ark seriously is laughing at his calamity,” he says.

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11.58am: He describes Noah as a just man who was 600 years old when the flood occurred. He also notes that Noah was not an Anglican, a Catholic or Pentecostal. He said only those in the ark built by Noah were saved from the flood that ravaged earth then. “As we gather today, it is good that we consider how we will end. How do you want to end? Do you want to jump into the ark and be saved or begin to ask questions when it is too late?”

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11.54am: The man of God says the topic of the event which he called a crusade is ‘Get into the ark’ and anchored on Genesis chapter 6 and 7. He tells those in attendance that they are all at the event for themselves and not the late Ekwueme who has finished his work on earth and is currently wearing his crown. He preaches using the story of Noah.

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11.50am: The clergyman, Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma says Ekwueme developed Oko community to the extent that it is no longer a village but a city. “We’ve have been told how loyal and erudite he was as vice president of Nigeria,” the man of God said as he quotes Ngige as saying the deceased was never given to bribes and corruption. “If you want to know more about this man, check the internet, check the history books,” he said.

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11.48am: Former President Goodluck Jonathan, his wife, Patience and minister Chris Ngige sit together at the church as the host clergyman praises the late Ekwueme as confirmed by different people across the country since his death. Namadi Sambo, former vice president, is also in attendance.

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11.20am: Nigerian governors including Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, Willie Obiano of Anambra and host of the ceremony as well as their colleagues are at the church as the funeral service continues.

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11.12am: Christian rights begin. A bible reading is taken from 2nd Timothy after a hymn was taken..

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10.22am: Security is really tight. Journalists are restricted from entering the church premises, save for Channels, AIT and NTA.

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10.20am: Former Ebonyi state governor, Sam Egwu, pays his last respects to the late former vice president.

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10.19am: Top chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) including Senator Godswill Akpabio and Rabi’u Musa Kwakwanso are in attendance. They are at the event alongside Senator Andy Uba.

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9.50am: Senator Lady Uche Ekwunife arrives Ekwueme square for the funeral ceremony of the late former vice president.

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9.30am: Security is water tight in Oko community where the burial will take place this morning, February 2. Officers of the Federal Road Service Corps (FRSC), DSS, mobile police, The Nigerian army, and special security agencies are currently ensuring peace.

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9.20am: Dignitaries have started coming in and out to pay their last respect to the former Nigerian vice president. Reports say President Muhammadu Buhari or the vice president Yemi Osinbajo is expected to grace this occasion.

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8.30am: Lying in state ongoing right now at late Alex Ekwueme’s home Oko home in Anambra. His body was brought in yesterday after the commendation service held in Awka on Thursday, February 1. The casket where the body lay is draped with the national colours of Nigeria.

It was reported earlier that Dr Alex Ekwueme, a former vice president during the tenure of Shehu Shagari, passed away in a London hospital in the late hours of Sunday, November 19.

“The family regrets to announce the peaceful passing away of their patriarch, the former Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme (GCON).

“The sad event occurred at The London Clinic at 10:00 pm on Sunday 19th November 2017,” a statement signed by HRH Prof Lazarus Ekwueme, a younger brother of the deceased, read.

Ide Ndigbo may your gentle soul rest in the bossom of The Almighty God (Chukwuokike Abiama) the legacy you left behind, we will pass to the next generation.

 

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