In a significant move, the House of Representatives of Nigeria has urged the Federal Government to conduct a thorough investigation into the mysterious death of
Chibuikem Emmanuel a Nigerian medical student in the Philippines. This directive followed a motion of urgent public importance raised by Mr. Mudashiru Lukman, representing Ayedire/Iwo/Ola-Oluwa Federal Constituency, Osun State, during a plenary session.
Mr. Lukman, spearheading the discussion, highlighted that Emmanuel was an aspiring postgraduate in the Faculty of Medicine in the Philippines at the time of his untimely demise. The incident, which occurred in October 2023 in Mandaue City, drew immediate action from the Philippines National Police, leading to the arrest of six Chinese nationals for suspected involvement in the young Nigerian’s death, as reported by the NAN.
The tragic story took a grim turn when it was revealed that Emmanuel had been kidnapped following a minor disagreement with his Filipino girlfriend over a monetary issue. He was forcibly taken in a van and later found unresponsive.
In a recent update on the case, the Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, briefed the Senate Joint Committees on Diaspora and Inter-Governmental Affairs and Foreign Affairs, headed by Sen. Victor Umeh in Abuja. Dabiri-Erewa disclosed that Emmanuel’s employer, among five others, has been charged with murder. She reported this during an investigative hearing of the Joint Senate Committees.
NiDCOM’s Spokesperson, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, relayed that the Philippines authorities are actively seeking the main suspect, who is currently on the run. The Nigerian Embassy has been in constant communication with the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs and the Inspector General of the Philippines National Police regarding the case.
The police team, having completed evidence gathering, presented the case to the Mandaue City Prosecuting Department. The department evaluated the evidence and deemed it sufficient to file murder charges against Emmanuel’s employer and five other suspects, also implicating them in human trafficking and illegal business operations in the Philippines.
Dabiri-Erewa provided the Senate Committee with photographs of the suspects, which have been circulated across all Philippine exits to prevent their escape. The case awaits further proceedings upon the arrest of the primary suspect.
Ambassador Enya Francis, Director Consular in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reassured that they are closely monitoring the situation in collaboration with the Embassy.
The financial aspect of repatriating and burying Emmanuel’s body in Nigeria poses a significant challenge. The costs, estimated between N31 million to N35 million, starkly contrast with the lower expense of cremation in the Philippines, ranging from N10 million to N15 million. The daily cost of keeping the body at a funeral home is adding up, necessitating prompt action in the investigation.
Representing the bereaved family, Ikem’s elder sister, Blessing Essien, expressed the family’s deep desire to bring Emmanuel’s body back to Nigeria for burial, in accordance with Igbo tradition. As the only son of his family, his return for a proper burial is of utmost importance. She appealed to the Federal Government and the Senate Committees for assistance in this regard, underscoring the need for a dignified burial in his homeland.