GOVERNOR Willie Obiano of Anambra State has banned expensive funerals across the state with the passing of the new burial law which compels all local government areas to open cemeteries and limits the amount spent on laying the dead to rest.
Traditionally, Nigerians have always held expensive funerals, which can sometimes run into millions of naira. Under the new laws introduced by Governor Obiano, which came into effect on May 14 this year, all the communities in the state must have burial grounds and all burial/funeral ceremonies of indigenous deceased persons must be registered with the town union for a fee of N1,500.
Also, the erection of any billboard, banner or posters of any kind of deceased persons would attract N100,000 fine or six months jail term or both. The only exception to the provision is directional posts leading to the venue, which must not be erected before seven days to the burial date and must be removed not later than seven days after the burial date, otherwise the offender would be liable to pay the fine.
In addition, the Anambra State commissioner for lands is now required by the law to create the state burial ground in every community where rejected corpses and unidentified corpses can be buried. There will also be monitoring and implementation committees and members of the committees would be paid remuneration to be determined by the town union.
Under the law, the monitoring committee would be responsible for registering all deaths in the town, giving clearance for every burial/funeral ceremony and submitting records of the implementation of the law to the Department of Town Union and Chieftaincy Matters in the state. Other provisions were that the corpse must not be deposited in the mortuary or any other place beyond two months from the date of death.
There will also be no blocking of roads/streets because of a burial except with the approval of the appropriate local government authority. There will also be no wake keep of any kind for any deceased person, while religious activity for the deceased person prior to the burial must end by 9pm and there must be no food, drink, life band or cultural entertainers during and after religious activity for the deceased person.
Similarly, all burial ceremonies must be for one day and the burial services must start not later than 9am and must not last more than two hours. Also, no preserved corpse must be exposed for more than 30 minutes from the time of exposition.
This law further provides that all condolence visits after any burial ceremony must not exceed one day and no person must give the deceased person’s family a condolence gift exceeding one jar of palm wine, one carton of beer and one crate of soft drink. In the case of women, there must be no demand of more than N10,000 by her family, while wearing of special uniforms is restricted to the immediate family of the deceased person and church groups.
Also, the law stipulates that magistrate courts in the state have the jurisdiction to try offenders.