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Senate calls for investigation of insurance boss’ alleged murder in S’Africa

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THE Nigerian Senate has called on the South African government to investigate the death of Elizabeth Ndubuisi-Chuwkwu, who before her mysterious death at a hotel in South Africa last month was the Deputy Director-General of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN).

Nigerians travelling to South Africa need to be issued travel alerts, the upper legislative arm also told the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday.

The lawmakers’ appeals were made after some deliberations on a point of order by Enyinnaya Abaribe, representing Abia-South Senatorial District and Minority Leader, on the need to investigate the professional icon’s death.

The late 53-year-old-mother had travelled to South Africa for the African Insurance Organisation (AIO) conference that ended on Wednesday, June 12 with a dinner programme. She had lodged at Emperor’s Palace Hotel and Convention Centre and scheduled to return to Nigeria on Thursday, June 13.

But she was found dead in her hotel room on that Thursday morning.  Initially suspected to have died of cardiac arrest, an autopsy report later revealed she was murdered.  The alleged murder was stated on the death certificate issued by South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs on June 20, noting she died of “unnatural causes consistent with strangulation”.

On Wednesday, the Nigerian Senate stressed the need for a prompt investigation to unravel the circumstances of her unfortunate demise.

Abaribe who presented the case said the insinuation that she died of cardiac arrest had been proved wrong following the autopsy report which indicated her death was unnatural and suspected to be murder. He added that the Department of Health of South Africa also confirmed on June 27 in a separate document that the CIIN boss was strangled to death.

 

The death certificate issued by South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs on June 20. Credit: The Cable

 

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“In a curious twist, the hotel allegedly was reluctant to cooperate with the law enforcement agencies to unravel the circumstances surrounding her death. This is not the first time Nigerians have died in suspicious circumstances in South Africa,” said Abaribe.

Ifeanyi Ubah, representing Anambra South Senatorial District, urged the Senate to invite Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain what investigation has been done. He also said the Senate should send a “strongly-worded” letter to the South African government pursuing details of Nigerians that have been killed in their country.

Senate President Ahmed Lawan recalled how a corresponding case was debated in the eighth Senate and an ad-hoc committee sent to South Africa with a message that Nigeria was tired of the killings.

“We believe that the relationship between the two countries must be better. There must be respect for each other,” said Lawan.

“South African businesses flourish more than most Nigerian businesses. South Africans are safe and are protected in Nigeria. There is no need for any South African to take the life of a Nigerian or any citizen. Nigeria is a frontline state. We deserve respect and understanding.

“Our next set of contingents in the Pan-African Parliament must ensure that this issue is brought to the fore. We don’t take the law into our hands in the word of retaliation but we should not be taken for granted. We have taken these killings for too long and we are not going to take it anymore,” he said.

After much considerations, the Senate resolved to send a “high-powered delegation to the parliament of South Africa and express displeasure as well as ask their government to do something to stop the killing.”

The lawmakers also praised the federal government for taking action in seeking South Africa’s explanation of the death of  Elizabeth.

The body of Ndubuisi-Chuwkwu had arrived in Nigeria and was kept in a mortuary in Asaba, Delta State. Her remains would be interred on July 25 in her hometown, Ihiala of Anambra state.

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