Rivers community mourn as first-class graduate, Rebekah is laid to rest

Emotions ran high on Saturday as Rebekah Sekidika, a first-class graduate of microbiology from Benson Idahosa University in Benin City, Edo State, was laid to rest at the Port Harcourt cemetery in Rivers State.

The sorrowful event followed the tragic passing of the 24-year-old, as her father, Sampson Sekidika, revealed to PUNCH Metro that she had lost her life during a medical procedure conducted by a team of healthcare professionals at Paragon Clinics and Image Diagnosis in Port Harcourt 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, chapters 4:13–15.

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 the handicap of mortals in death, says, “no man has the power to stop the spirit from departing when it is time’.

The cleric said he is consoled having learnt that the 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 emphasized 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.

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.

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 their child, Sekidika said in 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 Ph.D. programmes before death struck.

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 were 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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