N35m needed to return body of Nigerian student – Ministry

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said it will cost N35m to fly back to Nigeria the corpse of the Nigerian medical student, Chibuikem Emmanuel, who was murdered in the Philippines.

Emmanuel was reportedly murdered in the Philippines allegedly by some Chinese nationals on October 23, 2023, according to a post made to the social networking platform, X, by one Michael Ojuola, who described Emmanuel as his friend.

Ojuola had posted on X that the victim was “brutally murdered” by a group of Chinese.

“They tied his hands up, covered and tied his mouth and beat him blue-black until he gave up the ghost,” he wrote.

On Tuesday, the Director Consular, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Enya Francis, said the ministry was in close contact with the Embassy in the Philippines and was on top of the situation.

According to a statement by the spokesperson for Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, Francis spoke during an investigative hearing on the matter by the Senate.

“Ikem’s corpse is yet to be buried as it will cost between N31m and N35m to repatriate and bury the corpse in Nigeria as against  N10m  to N15m to cremate it in the Philippines,” Francis was quoted to have said.

He noted that the cost of keeping the corpse at the funeral home was accruing N30,000 on a daily basis, hence the need to expedite action on the investigation and take appropriate action.

Emmanuel’s elder sister, Blessing Essien, stated that he was the only son of the family and in line with Igbo tradition, it would be an honour to bring the body back to Nigeria for burial.

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She, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government through the Senate committees to assist the family in repatriating the body back to Nigeria for a befitting burial.

On her part, the Chairman, NiDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, informed the Senate Joint Committees on Diaspora and Inter-Governmental Affairs and Foreign Affairs that the employer of Emmanuel in the Philippines had been charged with murder, along with five others.

Giving feedback on efforts made so far, Dabiri-Erewa told the Senator Victor Umeh-led committee that the Nigerian embassy had informed the Department of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines and also reported the case to the Inspector General of the Philippines National Police.

She stated that the police team on the case was done with evidence building and presented the case to the Mandaue City Prosecuting Department for action, which evaluated it and decided on murder charges.

“They have filed the case and issued a warrant for the arrest of the boy’s employee and five other suspects. They were charged with murder, human trafficking and operation of illegal business in the Philippines,” she said.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives, on Tuesday, called on the Federal Government to urgently investigate Emmanuel’s killing, with a view to ascertaining the true circumstances of his death.

The resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion on urgent public importance brought by the lawmaker representing Ayedire/Iwo/Ola-Oluwa Federal Constituency, Osun State, Mr Mudashiru Lukman.

According to Lukman, the deceased went to collect money owed him by his Chinese girlfriend and after a minor disagreement, he was whisked away by men in a van, only to be returned not responding.

Following the adoption of the motion, the House called on its Committees on Foreign Affairs and Human Rights, as well as that on Diaspora to investigate the matter.

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