Some members of the Peretorugbene community in Bayelsa State, the hometown of the late former National Security Adviser, Gen. Andrew Azazi, have warned against burying him in Yenagoa, capital of the state.
Azazi died in a helicopter crash on Dec. 15 alongside Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State and four others, on his way from the funeral of the father of an aide to President Goodluck Jonathan, Oronto Douglas.
The Bayelsa State Government had pledged to give him a befitting state burial in Yenagoa after a compromise was reportedly reached between the Nigerian Army and family of the late NSA.
But Azazi’s kinsmen, led by Chief A. Ebikake and Tubereoke Azazi, demanded that he should be buried in Peretorugbene in line with the tradition of the people, adding that the entire community would boycott the burial ceremony if the state government went ahead with its plan..
Ebikake said the late general’s kinsmen were trying to avoid a repeat of the misfortune that befell their community when the grandfather of the deceased was wrongfully buried in a neighbouring community without due consultation with the extended family some years ago.
He said Azazi personally supervised the exhuming of his grandfather’s remains for proper burial when it was apparent that the wrongful burial was responsible for the disaster that befell the community.
Ebikake said, “We are afraid of what will happen if our illustrious son is buried in Yenagoa. We were witnesses to the calamity that befell our community after Pa Azazi, Owoeye’s grandfather, was buried in Egbeme-Angalabiri. Even the late general himself participated in the cleansing of the land by personally exhuming the body when he was a major in the Nigerian Army.
“He (Azazi) respected the tradition of his people. So we cannot fold our hands and watch few individuals ruin our land.
“The Ijaw nation has traditions and culture, which we hold in very high esteem. In Ijaw tradition, the larger family, the community and the bereaved have the right to determine the final resting place of the dead.
“But these people violated our tradition and went ahead to tell the world that our illustrious son would be buried in Yenagoa without consulting us. We won’t be a part of such arrangement.”