First-class Rivers graduate buried amidst tears

Tears flowed freely on Saturday when the remains of Rebekah Sekidika, a first-class graduate of Microbiology from the Benson Idahosa University, Benin City in Edo State was buried at the Port Harcourt cemetery in Rivers State.

Recall that the father of the late 24-year-old girl, Sampson Sekidika, had told PUNCH Metro that his daughter died at the Paragon Clinics and Image Diagnosis in Port Harcourt during a procedure by a team of medical workers on February 2, 2024.

As early as 6:30 am, family members, relatives, friends, and mourners dressed in black trooped to the Military Hospital in Port Harcourt where her body was deposited to be retrieved from the morgue for burial.

Her body arrived at the ‘Vaults and Gardens’ a private part of the Port Harcourt Cemetery where a brief funeral service presided over by Bishop Chris Ebata was conducted as the deceased younger sibling, Josephine said the first reading from the book of Thessalonians chapter 4: 13 to 15.

Two popular hymns ‘When Peace Like a River’ and ‘Rock of Ages’ sung by the mourners set the stage for the funeral service.

Bishop Ebata in his homily explains the handicap of mortals in death, saying, “No man has the power to stop the spirit from departing when it is time’.

The cleric said he is consoled having learnt that late Rebekah loved God and submitted to Him, even as he admonished the gathering to seize the moment to reflect on their lives.

He stated, “Here her (the deceased) spirit is speaking to everyone to serve the Lord. That is her evangelism to us. Therefore the question is what are we doing with our lives?

He emphasised that her demise should serve as a sober reflection not only for her immediate family but for all who came to pay their last respect.

Continuing in his exaltation, the cleric made a veiled reference to the circumstances that may have culminated in Rebekah’s demise, saying, “We are praying also that those human errors should be corrected in Nigeria”.

He rounded off with prayers for God to give the family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss, describing death as a necessary end everyone will bow to at some point in their lives.

Speaking, Sampson Sekidika, restated his demand for justice, insisting that his daughter died out of the ‘negligence and incompetence’ of the medical team that performed the procedure on her.

A distraught father stated, “This is a loss we will mourn for the rest of our lives. Instead of a marriage certificate, it is a death certificate I got.

“On that fateful day, she went to the hospital hale and hearty just to go for something she too said was a simple procedure. But due to the negligence of people she died from a procedure that didn’t require surgery.”

While noting that no parent would be happy to bury his/her child, Sekidika said what seemed like a funeral oration that his 24-year-old departed daughter has always made distinctions in her academics.

“She was a very obedient child and she made many promises to me. She completed 21 days of fasting with this pastor ‘What God cannot do does not exist’ before she died. When I saw my daughter’s corpse in a pool of blood inside the theatre, I asked ‘Are these all the promises you made to me?

He added, “She was clearly murdered in cold blood. I want justice. Justice will not bring her back but it will help to close the case. It will also help to ensure that anything you are doing you take the necessary precaution.

“Rebekah, wherever you are, but I know you’re with God. I want you to join us in getting justice.”

In an emotion-laden voice, he expressed dismay that his daughter’s dream of achieving higher academic feat was caught short, saying she was to travel to the United Kingdom having secured her visa, with tuition paid and every arrangement made for her departure for her Master and PhD programmes before death struck.

Our reporter who covered the event exclusively reports that family members, relatives, friends, and many others at the drawing of the curtain event sobbed uncontrollably especially during the viewing of the corpse and at the graveside as the remains of the young and loving daughter of the Sekidika’s was lowered into the grave.

Immediately her body was being interred, there were rain showers, and hastily everyone began leaving the Port Harcourt cemetery and gradually to their respective destinations, while scores accompanied the bereaved family back home.

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