From Joe Effiong, Uyo
The disappearance of the corpse of an aged woman, Ekaette Okpon, a petty trader who was swept into an open drain by a torrential flood in Uyo on Wednesday, March 9, has pitted the family of the bereaved against the Akwa Ibom Ibom State Government.
The family, Nnung Udo Uweme, in Iboko Offot Village, Uyo, has told the state government to recover the body of the deceased and also cover up drainage opened in the area during sanitation exercise, including a major carnage opened up during the purported search for madam Okpon’s corpse
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Youths of the community had on Thursday, March 10, blocked the Nkemba axis of Abak road and demanded, among other things ; an immediate recovery of the corpse and replacement of slaps on the gutters
The state Ministry of Environment and the Akwa Ibom State Environmental and Waste Management Agency,had mobilised for search, with heavy machines and equipment, but Daily Sun learned that the search has so far yielded no corpse
While the state for Environment, Mr Charles Udoh, who spent the entire day at the scene of the incident had given assurance that necessary measures were being taken to recover the corpse, Mr Akpan Ikim, the chairman of the agency directly in charge of waste management, when contacted, had assured the people that efforts were in place to recover the corpse.
But two weeks down the line, and with Madam Okpon’s corpse still unrecovered in the drainage, the family has expressed concerns that the search has been unceremoniously called off after the initial frenzy, even as the gutters were still left open.
Speaking with reporters who visited the family house in Uyo on Monday, the Secretary of Nnung Udo Uweme family, Mr Otobong Okpon, said the family had expected the state government to promptly cover the drainages to forestall a repeat of such occurrence.
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‘The Agency asked what the family and community needed, we asked that the woman’s corpse be recovered for proper burial, and that the gutters should be desilted up to Michael Abraham and the slaps covered to avoid future occurrences.
‘On Sunday, they sneaked in and evacuated those machines. On Monday we called to find out why that was so, they told us the machines were rented from NigerPet, not from the Ministry or Agency.
‘So we called the family head, village head, youth president, we put heads together and decided to send a letter, inviting the state government to come and have a discussion with us, prominent on our demands was that we needed the corpse recovered for proper burial.
‘We also requested that the gutters be desilted upto the big drainage at Nkemba Trough and all the slaps covered back to forestall future occurrences. We fixed the meeting last Friday 10 am at Iboko village hall (Civic Centre Abak Road by Ukana Offort traffic light) the agency called to acknowledge receipt of the letter but told us the chairman had travelled to Abuja, so the meeting was postponed to Tuesday,’ he said.
Meanwhile, other petty traders by Nwaniba Junction have appealed to the government of Akwa Ibom State to promptly cover up the gutters and the major carnage opened up during the search, maintaining that the shoddy approach to the situation was rather endangering the lives of others within the locality.
Mr Iniobong Akpan who also spoke on the matter advised the state government to engage a drone if it truly desires to recover the corpse.
‘If the victim was a politician’s mother, mother in-law, wife or relative, i bet you the corpse would have since been recovered. But look at how they immediately abandon the search. Ride a drone around the ravine where the gutters terminate, and you would at least be able to recover the corpse,’ he said