Divine revelation shows that death is a natural phenomenon and remains inevitable for every mortal “The life of a man is in the hands of the Lord. And who is he that liveth and shall not see death or who can deliver himself from the hands of the grave?”
In fact, this divine axiom will no doubt continue to resonate in the minds of and be a source of consolation for the family of late chief Alfred Ikhine Aikhomu (JP), the Oyakhire of Ujagbe Kingdom, who responded to this divine injunction and was committed to mother earth last Friday in his compound at Idumebo, Irrua in Esan Central Local government of Edo state.
To many, the passing on of this great man (Chief Alfred Ikhine Aikomu at 89 years) that had made name for his family, community and the country, generated affectionate comments from members of his community. Perhaps, that accounted for why the sleepy town of Irrua, his ancestral village stood still for him during the ceremony that marked his final exit from this world penultimate Friday.
The final journey of Late Chief Alfred Ikhine Aikhomu(aka,Papalolo) who was born on December 31, 1927 to the family of ‘Okakulo’, Chief Aikhomu Akpene and Madam Otibho Okhae, both of Idumeakon and Izako quarters of Idumebo-Irrua, began shortly after his body laid in -state at his resident where many sympathisers trooped in to bide him final farewell.
Thereafter, in procession, his body was carried for prayer service at St. John Catholic Church, Idumabi quarters in the town where eight ministers of God, including, Rev. Fr. Augustine Okoedion, Rev. Fr. Charles Akue, Rev. Fr. Frank Okhah, Rev. Joseph Onolememe, and host of others ministered.
While the ministers of God pleaded to the Lord to “accept their prayers and be merciful to your son, Alfred whom you have called from this life”, they said those who have died still lives, adding that “our bodies do not perish in death, but transformed by the Lord’s power”.
These ministers in the Lord’s vineyard pleaded vehemently for him, saying, “Listen to our prayers and welcome your son to the company of Abraham our Father in faith and raise him up on the last day, the day of judgement. In your love, cleanse him from every sin he has committed during his life on earth”.
Taking readings from Revelation 21:1-7 and John 14:1-6, in their sermon, the officiating ministers positioned that “Christ our Lord by His death and victory over sin has opened the gate of heaven for His people; at this backdrop, he prayed to God that the soul of Pa Alfred Aikhomu should come to his true home in heaven.
Following the prayer and spiritual cleansing by the officiating ministers of God, Pa Alfred Aikhomu, who many sympathisers said was an quintessential man of character, was finally laid to rest in his resident at idumabo- Irrua amidst tears and screaming of life well spent on earth.
A description of him by a member of the family summarised it all:”No doubt, our beloved father, uncle, cousin, nephew was a key father figure in the entire Akpene dynasty. He was source of inspiration to all. He was a role model and peace maker”.
The reception to round up his burial ceremony speaks volume. It attracted creme de la creme in the society. In short, it was all sea of heads as people from all walks of life abandoned their schedules to pay him their last respect. With a standing naval band, Papalolo was celebrated throughout the night of Friday to Saturday morning.
Perhaps, the words of his children and community elders could provide an insight to the character of the late Alfred Ikhine Aikhomu, in his sojourn on earth.
For instance, Rear Admiral Joe Aikhomu, his son says, “Father, you were the pillar of the family and rekindle in us the utmost importance of hardwork, perseverance and education; my mentor, you an epitome of peaceful coexistence, not only to your immediate family but to other members of the extended family, friends and entire community”, adding that “if life is to be a transaction, I will offer to buy and elongate your life, but then, death is beyond man and life is a mystery”.
But his daughter, Tessy Aikhomu sees the love character of her father: “you thought me how to love, how to be humble and most importantly how to be satisfied with whatever I have”.
To his son, Air Commodore Victor Isimeme Aikhomu: “Although some may call your death a celebration of life because of your age, I must confess that your death remains painful to me. Baba, you are a great father, a mentor, peace maker a friend and a special adviser to me”.
And for his daughter, Mrs Obehioye Eviebor: “Baba, I appreciate all the good virtues you taught me;’ that I should always push for success; never over depend on people, but God; never allow people to intimidate you. Papalolo, goodnight”.
Yet, the community via Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital’s committee on community relations said of Papilolo: “his contributions to the community are immeasurable, and this made it possible for the peace to be attained in the hospital, especially with the neighbouring communities. He was a uniting force who endeared himself to everyone. The vacuum created by his death will be difficult to fill”.
By all standard, late Pa Alfred Ikhine, 3rd in the family of 8, and a senior brother of late Admiral Augustus Akhabue Aikhomu,5th in the family and the former vice president to General Ibrahim Babagida that ruled between 1985 to 1993 died a great man. A historical account posited that late Alfred’s father, Chief Aikhomu Akpene said to be a great warrior and skilful farmer raised him to be “hardworking, bold and honest”, a virtue he said to have expressed completely in his earthly journey.
Friday Magazine learnt that his father died when late Admiral Augustus, his younger brother was merely three years. The death of his father made him and the younger Augustus orphans instantly. They were later left in the hands of relatives for upkeep. Late Afred Ikhine grew up and later joined the police force where he “develop, nurture and train young Augustus Akhabue till he enlisted in the British Navy in 1958”, and made his own marks before he died years back.
Late Alfred, who went through the ranks in the Nigerian Police Force(NPF), (from constable to superintendent) and retired after a meritorious service to his father land in March 1978, went through several trainings and peace keeping operations within and outside the country. As a man not given to dull moment in life, shortly after retirement from NPF, he went into business and politics where he brought his experience into bear and made name for himself and fortune for the family.
Late Alfred Aikhomu is survived by 6 children(4 men,2 women), among whom are Rear Admiral Joe Omozoya Aikhomu, Ms Theresa Ihoeghian Aikhomu and Air Commodore Victor Isimeme Aikhomu; grand children, cousins, Nephews and host of relations.

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