Official wake-keeping over the remains of fallen Grand Bassa County Senator, John Francis Whitfield at the Capitol was marred by serious tension on Wednesday after the widow of the deceased Mrs. Hawa Whitfield vehemently refused to open the coffin for the body to be viewed by the public.
It all started in a peaceful though mournful atmosphere through the observance of the two hours wake keeping not until when the Master of Ceremony called for the viewing of the late Senator Whitfield's body when his widow robustly resisted in the presence of senior government officials, including Vice President Joseph Boakai, Speaker Alex Tyler, Senate Pro-tempore Gbehzohngar Milton Findley, three Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, Senators and Representatives.
Mrs. Hawa Whitfield maintained that her late husband had requested that when he dies, his coffin should not be open to the public.
Due to her stance, the entire rotunda of the Capitol was engulfed in confusion as some partisans of Whitfield's National Patriotic Party (NPP) and members of the 53rd Liberian Legislature resisted that the late Senator was a statesman therefore; the government and the public in general should have access to his remains at least once before his burial.
The two hours wake keeping held in the rotunda of the Capitol brought together hundreds of sympathizers, partisans of the National Patriotic Party (NPP), members of the 53rd Liberian Legislature, cabinet ministers, Associate Justices, students and members of the press. The late Senator Whitfield was Secretary General of the National Patriotic Party, organized by former President Charles Taylor.
Madam Whitfield threatened that the family will react unkindly to anyone attempting to go against her late husband's wish, including government officials or the management of the Samuel Striker Funeral Parlors.
The daring threat from the widow led the hundreds of sympathizers who had gathered at the Capitol to view the body to engage in heated argument with the immediate family members characterized by invectives.
Senator White passed off on Thursday, January 17, 2013 while in intensive care at the St. Joseph's Catholic Hospital in Monrovia after he suddenly collapsed and suffered breathing difficulty.
Reports gathered by this paper and corroborated by sources in the Liberian Senate, said the late Senator Whitfield was scheduled to have been flown to Accra, Ghana for medical examination when he gave off the ghost.
His sudden death came two days after he promised to seek legal redress against the Government of Liberia if it fails to pay benefits entitled to former President Charles Taylor. The Grand Bassa lawmaker was one of the independent minds in the Liberian Senate, who kept his position come what may.
Meanwhile, his remains were taken to the headquarters of the National Patriotic Party in Oldest Congo Town last evening for a night of wake keeping before departure today, Thursday for Buchanan, Grand Bassa County for interment.
The late Senator John Francis Whitfield was Chairperson on Internal Affairs, member of various committees in the Senate, including Ways, Means, Finance and Budget, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Defense, Intelligence, Security and veteran Affairs, Maritime, Commerce, Industry, Trade and Transport and Executive, respectively.