7 October 2009

Nigeria: 80-Year-Old Widow Lives With Corpse for 14 Months

Innocent Okonkwo — An 80-year-old widow, Madam Ako Etta, from Oron, Osu Udesi Mbo local government area of Akwa Ibom State, at the weekend narrated how she coped with the decomposed corpse of her daughter for 14 months before her remains were eventually buried.

Madam Etta was accused of causing the death of her children through witchcraft.

Trouble started for the widow when her 47-year- old daughter died two weeks after participating in the burial ceremony of her younger brother, who had died under questionable circumstances.

Sensing that the widow was behind the deaths, the villagers accused her of witchcraft and insisted that the remains of her daughter should not be buried as the burial would lead to the death of another person.

They then left the corpse unburied and compelled the widow to live in the same house with the corpse until the intervention of the founder of Synagogue Church of All Nations, Prophet Temitope Joshua, who sent his team to Oron to bury the decomposed corpse after the son-in -law of Etta visited the church to find a solution to the problem.

Narrating their ordeal during a special thanksgiving service on Sunday at Ikotun, Lagos headquarters of the church, the widow's first son, Mr Raphael Etta and his younger sister, Mrs Cherish Otoyo, with some members of the family thanked Prophet Joshua for his intervention in the burial. They said the pronouncement of the villagers made it impossible for them and other children of the widow to visit their home, adding that the widow was left alone to die.

According to Raphael, as tradition of the area demands that the accused (their mother) was meant to stay with the corpse until she either confesses or dies and since their mother could not accept the responsibility of her daughter's death, the entire villagers deserted her and the corpse forcing her to live together with the corpse until last week when the remains were buried.

Otoyo, fielding questions from newsmen said the five members of family had died under questionable circumstances.

"After my sister came home for the burial of our late brother, she went back to Calabar and two weeks later, she also died and one of the prophets in the village said that ghosts were moving around in the compound and that our mother was a witch. It was as a result of this that the villagers insisted that our mother must confess before the necessary burial could be carried out. They also said if my late sister was buried, others would be killed by our mother."

It was the husband of Cherish, who is based in Ghana that decided to seek the intervention of Joshua to see that the late woman was buried.

Madam Etta, who was brought to the church before but who did not make last Sunday's trip for the thanksgiving, had in a televised broadcast during her visit said it was very difficult living with the corpse of her late daughter, she said each evening, she used to enter the room the corpse was laid to light a lantern in order to prevent rodents from feeding on the corpse.

She said God has absolved her of the accusation because she had been crying to Him to vindicate her.

She, however, said she had forgiven the villagers of all they did to her, adding that some of the ugly experiences she had while staying with the corpse were that each night she would be hearing movements and strange noises in the house, and that her food got spoilt everyday.

The burial ceremony, which was telecast during the service, was sponsored by the church. Joshua had advised the family to take care of their mother, noting that she was not a witch. According to him, the community would have inherited generational curses if the widow had died before help came her way.

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