Venerable Stephen Eseteru Ogue, JP, 53, of St. John’s Anglican Church, Agbarho in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State and author of several Christian books died at about 7.45 a.m. on Friday, December 11, 2015, two hours before he was supposed to officiate at a funeral service.
He reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away at Lily Hospital, Deco Road, Warri. His first daughter, Oghenenyoreme Ogue, said he had been suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure.
The hearse conveying the remains of the woman whose burial the paster was supposed to preside at, mourners, including a large delegation of the church’s Women Guild as well as members of the Anglican Fasting and Prayer Society, had gathered in front of the church building as early as 9.25 a.m. for the service billed for 10.00 a.m.
Unaware of the tragedy that had occurred, the mourners waited patiently for the officiating ministers to receive the body but no pastor was in sight. Meanwhile, other members of the church and visitors kept trooping into the church premises for the funeral service.
Worried by the development, members of the mourning family began to call the vicar’s phone but someone kept answering his asking them to exercise patient. The calls to Reverend Friday Erutere, billed to assist the venerable at the funeral service, were initially ignored until he answered to similarly sue for patience, saying he was on his way to the church.
After about 45 minutes after the burial ceremony was supposed to start, a Toyota car, said to be owned by the vicar/archdeacon, hurried into the church premises and made its way straight to the staff quarters ,to the relief of those waiting outside the church. Immediately, people started regrouping around the hearse with the hope that the service would soon begin. But that didn’t happen.
Eventually, 60 minutes after the scheduled time of service, Erutere, accompanied by two others, arrived at the West Door to officially receive the corpse and proceeded with the funeral service.
After the service started, people wondered where the original pastor was, because on several occasions he had enjoined members of the Women’s Guild to be punctual for that particular service and had promised to lead the church delegation to Okpara Inland for the interment.
As the mourners departed the church for Okpara Inland, venue of the interment, there was no word about the sudden death of the vicar of the Agbarho church where another Anglican canon, Rev. Benedict Akpoguma, took over proceedings. Put simply, neither the mourners nor well wishers, who had travelled from long distances, including Mr. John Salubi of the NNPC, Dr. Francis Eghwubare of Delta State University, Mr. Joshua Onoronimighwu of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Victor Onogagamue of Delta State Sports Commission, Barrister Joseph Ogedegbe, and a former NBA Chairman of Ughelli Local Government, were briefed on the reason for the funeral’s delay.
Only the first daughter, Oghenenyoreme, could volunteer comments,although, she was unable to explain the mystery behind the death of her father, as, according to her, they were trained to submit to the will of God in all circumstances.
However, the daughter said they had prayed together that morning in accordance with family tradition, without any visible signs of danger, and the ebullient father retired to the couch in the sitting room apparently to relax.
“After a while, I noticed that daddy was no longer breathing normally and I raised the alarm to draw my mum’s attention. She quickly called the driver and we carried him to the car and drove straight to the hospital in Warri. That is all I can tell you, because nobody told us anything about his state of health until the bishop came later that day to break the sad news to us,” she tearfully narrated.