The remains of late Senator Joseph Wayas who was President of Nigeria’s Senate in the second Republic (1979-1983) has reportedly been abandoned in a London hospital.
Wayas died in December 2021 at a London hospital, following a lingering illness, which some family members attributed to poverty.
Family sources told Daily Trust that financial help was no longer coming and they on their own could barely cope maintaining the body.
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River, where the deceased hailed from, had inaugurated an expanded funeral committee in December 2021.
This was after the state government had mandated the then commissioner for health, Dr Betta Edu to oversee his health management in London.
The state government was said to have released some funds to the funeral committee headed by two-time Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi.
But 14 months after his death, findings show that the body of Nigeria’s former number three citizen had been neglected over funds controversy.
Findings also revealed that there the controversy surrounding the funeral funds led to resignation of key members of the committee.
One of the key members of the funeral committee, former executive secretary of National Planning Commission and one-time governorship hopeful, Ntufam Fidelis Ugbo, confirmed that he had since left the Committee but did not give reasons.
He also confirmed that the governor made funds available to prosecute the funeral but said the first son of the deceased, Mr Joseph Wayas jr, should be in a better position to explain why the body of his late father had not been interred.
“He cannot say he does not have explanation to give about why the funeral is delayed. He is the first son. He should be in charge …”, Ugbo reacted when told that the son referred our reporter to the committee.
Wayas jr told Daily Trust that the funeral committee was saddled with the task of handling the funeral and that he had little to do.
He commended Ayade for the support he gave to the committee, but said 14 months after, they were unable to bury his father.
“The funeral is not exactly in our hands but that of the funeral committee. I heard there are issues surrounding the funeral funds. And some members are said to have resigned. I cannot go back to the state governor or federal government now due to election issues. The governor has done well already.”
In an earlier interview, Wayas jr regretted the delay in carrying out the burial of his father but appealed that the body given its last respect soon.
Wayas Jr thanked President Muhamudu Buhari, who had facilitated his father’s trip to London when he first took ill.
He said his father had access to the best medical care, but the resources he gave got exhausted within three months.
According to him, before the senior Wayas died, it was his sister in London who bore the cost of his treatment, and had been maintaining the corpse since 2021.
Commenting, permanent secretary in the state Ministry of Health, Dr Iwara Iwara, said, “As it is well known, the state governor empanelled a committee. As a person, I haven’t heard anything further. I cannot be able to give reasons why the burial is delayed.”
Chief media adviser to the governor, Barrister Christian Ita, said, “I don’t want to get involved in the matter. Perhaps the first son is the problem. But speak to members of the the funeral committee. The governor actually released money for the burial months ago.”
Commissioner for information, Eric Anderson, neither responded to text messages nor picked calls.