From Steve Oko, Umuahia
The Abia State Government has warned of severe consequences for those who smuggle in corpses of their family members who died of the deadly corona virus pandemic outside the state for burial in the state.
This is coming on the heels of a report that a family in Umuahia-South community smuggled in the corpse of their relation who died of covid -19 in Kano.
However in a press statement signed by the Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, Abia government said such action constituted gross violation of the covid -19 lockdown order in the state.
He said the warning had also become necessary following multiple intelligence that some families were planning to smuggle in corpses of their beloved ones who died of covid -19 outside the state.
The statement said no corpse should be brought into the state until the pandemic was over.
It read in part :”Abia State Government has received multiple intelligence and confirmation of certain persons and families of Abia origin currently residing in states with rising cases of COVID-19 planning to bring home corpses of family members suspected to have died from the virus for burial in our communities in total violation of the existing ban on inter-state movement and without notification or approval from relevant authorities in the state.
“The most worrisome case is that of a family that recently sneaked into the state during the weekend with the corpse of their father who allegedly died of COVID-19 in Kano and was ferried to a community in Umuahia South LGA where unsuspecting citizens have been going to mourn with them unprotected.
“Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has directed the ministry of homeland security to immediately ensure that everyone in the compound of the affected family is quarantined pending when the medical rapid response team has fully collected and tested samples of all those involved including their visitors/mourners.
“For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to restate that whoever enters our state during this period of ban on inter state movement is in breach of state and federal regulations and will have themselves to blame as the law will be applied to the fullest in order to protect the people of Abia State”.
Government warned traditional rulers and community leaders to report any breach in their communities or be held responsible.
“All village heads, traditional rulers and community leaders must take responsibility to stop and/or report any person or group of persons that enters their community from outside the state within this period or face necessary sanctions.
“On no account should any corpse from outside the state be brought into any community for burial or preservation in a mortuary without the written approval of the state or local government concerned. Mortuaries in the state are also not permitted to receive such corpses without obtaining permit from relevant local or state authorities to avoid immediate sanctions including closure of the facility. The morgue operators should also endeavor to report families with such corpses to the relevant authorities.
“Furthermore, the Governor has directed the enforcement team of the inter-ministerial committee on COVID-19 to impound all commercial inter-state vehicles operating within this period and quarantine both the drivers and passengers at the nearest general hospital for a minimum period of 21 days”.