(Codewit.com)Igbo leaders, rising from a meeting Saturday in Enugu, announced the programme for the burial of Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who died in London on November 26.
The programme, spanning four weeks, begins on February 14 with pre-burial activities holding in the five south-eastern states and some states in the south-south that made up the old Eastern Region.
The body of the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu is expected to be buried on March 3 in Nnewi.
The pre-burial activities which will hold from February 14 to 20 will also be observed in some states in the north, including Zungeru, Niger State, where the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu was born.
As part of the funeral activities for the former Biafran warlord, a requiem mass was Saturday held in his honour at the Westminster Cathedral, London and it was attended by many Nigerians resident in the United Kingdom and Wales.
Igbo leaders who attended the Enugu meeting where the burial programme was ratified included presidential adviser on Inter-party Affairs, Senator Ben Obi, chairman Senate Committee on Education, Senator Uche Chukwumerije and the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Chief Victor Umeh.
According to a communiquÃ© after the meeting, which was also attended by members of the Central Planning Committee, a Day of Reminiscence, featuring lecture/symposium and tributes, will hold across the country from February 21 followed by traditional mourning that will involved Igbo youths nationwide.
Prayers will be held in all churches on February 27 when Odumegwu Ojukwu’s body is expected to arrive in Abuja from London after which it would be taken to Owerri.
“It would sleep in Owerri the same day and leave for Abakiliki, Ebonyi State, before arriving in Enugu on February 28. On March 1, there would be a national funeral ceremony at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium with dignitaries from all parts of the Nigeria and beyond attending,” the communiquÃ© said.
The body will leave for Awka, Anambra State, in a motorcade en route to Nnewi the next day preparatory for the burial on March 3.
The committee said before burial on March 3, a two-minute silence will be observed in the entire old eastern region.
In London Saturday, Nigerians and other admirers of the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu turned out to pay their last respects to him at a requiem mass held in his honour.
The late Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s son, Debe, was in attendance with his daughter, Stella and his late father’s uncle, Chief Innocent Okafor.
The requiem mass was officiated by Father Innocent Eze Onyeasi, assistant chaplain of Nigerian Chaplaincy in UK and Wales.
In his sermon, he extolled the late Igbo leader, adding that “there may be need for Nigerians to re-examine their lives. Dim has a message for everybody, be you black or white and the entire continent.
“He stood for peace, equity, justice and respect of law. Ojukwu is a hero who would have loved that the colonial masters apologise for what they did in Nigeria.”
Onyeasi said the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu had written common words in people’s hearts, therefore his ideological drive should be used to move Nigeria forward.
The Archbishop of Westminster Cathedral, Alan Homes, on whose permission the cathedral was used for the mass, said the death of Odumegwu-Ojukwu and burial should be used to unite Nigeria further and to turn it away from anything that could disintegrate it.
Debe expressed his gratitude to the Nigeria community in the UK and the church for their support since the death of his father.
“The UK has been my father’s second home, both while he was in school and now with his death also at a London’s hospital. We are attached to the UK and we will be eternally grateful. Since we can’t question God, we will take consolation in God and mores for the kind of life that he lived,” he said.