The iroko is arguably the tallest, strongest and most iconic tree in the forests of Africa. As a king in the forest, the iroko provides shelter to animals and humans alike. It is often referred to as 'African teak' because of its astonishingly multi-faceted value. And in most cultures, when a great man dies, his demise is likened to the fall of an iroko.
This aptly depicts the transition to the great beyond of the Rivers State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, late Sir (Barr) Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma, SAN whose death on Friday, 10th of August, 2018 in a London Hospital, sent shock waves across a larger majority of Rivers people and Nigerians at large.
The Rivers State Governor, Chief (Barr) Nyesom Ezenwo Wike who was one of the first to pay condolence visit to the family home of the Agumas in Ogbunabali Community of Port Harcourt Local Government Area on Saturday, August 11, 2018 expressed shock at the incidence and directed that flags should be flown at half-mast for two days.
Wike, who led some leaders of the state as well as members of the state executive council on the condolence visit, assured the Aguma family that all burial expenses of the late legal icon would be borne by the state government.
Even as people from all walks of life – politicians, captains of industry, academics and the likes paid glowing tributes to the fallen Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), the Rivers State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bro. Felix Obuah on Tuesday, August 14, 2018 led party executives including Chairmen of the party in the 23 local government areas to the Ogbunabali family residence of the Agumas.
Coincidentally, Bro. Obuah on the visit met a chieftain of the PDP and one-time Presidential aspirant, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu who also came to commiserate with the Agumas who said the Aguma family was dear to him because of the cordial relationship he had with the Aguma patriarch, the late Emmanuel Aguma.
“God giveth and God taketh and no matter how we cry, he would never come back to life. He left us when we least expected”, Obuah had on that visit, reminiscing that Chinwe lived a simple lifestyle and also mixed freely with everyone.
From then on, it had been a flurry of visits to the Agumas as sympathizers poured in to sign Condolence Registers opened simultaneously at the official residence of the late Justice Commissioner along Olumeni Street, family house at Ogbunabali, his office at the Ministry of Justice, State Secretariat complex and at his law chambers in the serene Amadi Flats, Port Harcourt.
And true to its promise to give the late member of the Rivers State Executive Council a deserving state burial, government has rolled out the drums and released a week-long burial programme which kick-started on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 with a public lecture to be addressed by Professor Epiphany Azinge LL.D, SAN at Dr. Obi Wali International Conference Center, Port Harcourt.
It would be Night of tributes on Thursday, September 13, 2018 at Rex Lawson Cultural Center, Bonny Street, Port Harcourt while Service of Songs has been scheduled for Friday, 14th September, 2018 at St. Pauls Cathedral, Diobu, Port Harcourt. The late Aguma's remains would be interred at his family home, Ogbunabali on Saturday, September 15, 2018 with Thanksgiving Service scheduled on Sunday, September 16 also at the St. Pauls Cathedral, Diobu, Port Harcourt.
To buttress the 'irokoness' in the late Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma, his friends and colleagues on Monday, September 10, 2018 held a Night of Songs at the Golf Section of Port Harcourt Club along Forces Avenue, Port Harcourt.
At the soulful assemblage, friends from far and near including Governor Nyesom Wike who was represented by former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Austin Opara, defied the rains to eulogize the virtues of a hero, friend, father, husband and mentor.
But Dr. Doris Cowan, in her eulogy said inter-alia: “I shed tears when the sad news was broken to me. I am still shedding tears because a chunk of my 'Port Harcourtness' had left me. Chinwe typified 'Port Harcourtness', a rallying point, well educated, eloquent in speech and very handsome. He was a good father and good husband. We shall all miss him because the vacuum he has left may not be filled for a very long time to come”.