Hundreds of people on Thursday besieged the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu to pay their last respects to Sen. Uche Chukwumerije who was en route Abia for burial. Chukwumerije, also a former minister of information, died in Abuja on April 19 after a protracted illness. Leading the pack were members of Ohaneze Ndigbo, the socio-cultural organization of the Igbo, including its president, Chief Gary Enwo-Igariwey.
Also present were relations, political associates, cultural troupes and well-wishers. At a brief prayer session, the Methodist Bishop of the Diocese of Agbani in Enugu State, Bishop Onagha Bienonwu, thanked God for the life of the late senator. Bienonwu described him as a man of his words and prayed God to grant his soul eternal rest.
Also speaking with newsmen, the presidential adviser on inter-party affairs, Sen. Ben Obi, described Chukwumerije as a committed patriot and the voice of the voiceless. “He was fearless and courageous and we will definitely miss him,’’ Obi said. In his own reaction, Enwo-Igariwey said the Ohaneze Ndigbo was pained by the loss of Chukwumerije.
He said the organization was, however, consoled that the late senator left behind people who could carry on with his ideals. He recalled that the late senator was outstanding during the Nigerian civil war in the area of information dissemination for the outlawed Biafra. The first son of the deceased, Mr Chair Chukwumerije, said his father’s demise was a wake-up call for the Igbo to speak up for their cause.
He described his father as his mentor and friend, saying he would miss him. Among the dance troupes at the airport were the Nkpokiti dancers from Umunze in Anambra and Ohafia War Dance troupe from Abia. The late senator will be buried in Isuochi, Abia on Friday.