The burial of a Nigerian nun, Rev. Sister Angela Arhona Egbikuadje, is now in jeopardy following the refusal of the United States embassy in Lagos to grant her siblings entry visas.
Rev. Sr. Egbikuadje, who lived and naturalised in the United States, died a few weeks ago and can’t be buried because there is nobody to authorise and organise her burial.
Siblings of Rev Sr. Egbikuadje – Mrs. Anthonia Nwosu and Mr. Emmanuel Egbikuadje – applied for visas to travel to the US when they got a distress message that she was critically ill. Their visa applications were denied by the US embassy in Lagos with an excuse: “You have been found ineligible for a non-immigrant visa under Section 214(b) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act.”
When the siblings got a message that Rev. Sr. Egbikuadje had passed on, they reapplied for visas to go and organise her burial but were denied the second time, with the same excuse of ineligibility.
With no husband, child or sibling to authorise and organise her burial, Rev. Sr. Egbikuadje’s body is lying in the mortuary in Bakersfield in California, the United States. Without Rev Sr. Egbikuadje’s siblings getting visas and travelling to the US, her burial would not hold as the congregation she belonged – Secular Institute of the Missionaries of the Kingship of Christ (SIM) – has said it is in no position to inter her remains.
Dr. Franca Niameh, a member of the Secular Institute of the Missionaries of the Kingship of Christ, in a mail to Rev. Sr. Egbikuadje’s siblings, said: “We can only pray that the embassy will grant you the permission you need to come and bury your sister, as the religious congregation, the Secular Institute of the Missionaries of the Kingship of Christ, she belongs, does not take care of funerals.”
In the letter dated February 10, 2020, notifying the family of Rev Sr. Egbikuadje’s death, Dr. Niameh said: “Her body has been deposited in the Doughty-Calhound-O”Meara, a mortuary in Bakersfield pending when any family member will be able to come to initiate plans for the funeral.”
Earlier, in a letter to the US embassy introducing Rev. Sr. Egbikuadje’s siblings, signed by Dr. Susan Larkin, the Zonal Council President, the Secular Institute of the Missionaries of the Kingship of Christ, had explained: “We are awaiting the presence of the family to hold the funeral services and burial for Angela (Egbikuadje).”
As things stand, the remains of the late nun would lie endlessly at the mortuary, unless the United States embassy reviews the decision to grant her family members entry visas.
Explaining how pathetic the situation is, the late nun’s brother, Emmanuel Egbikuadje, said: “There’s nobody in US to authorise and organise her burial. That’s why the denial of visa to us is most painful.”