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100 Corpses Trapped As Kwara Shuts Mortuary Over ‘Ritual’ Activities

Posted by Samuel on Thu 22nd Feb, 2024 - tori.ng

The government’s team, led by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Amina Ahmed El-Imam, said the handling of the dead in the facility posed serious health hazards to the community and its environs.

Mortuary

Last week, the Kwara State Government closed down a privately owned mortuary located on Omosebi Street, off Offa Garage in Ilorin South Local Government Area, citing alleged illegal activities as the reason.

The government’s team, led by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Amina Ahmed El-Imam, said the handling of the dead in the facility posed serious health hazards to the community and its environs.

At the time of the operation, Daily Trust gathered that there were close to 100 corpses arranged on wooden beds locally constructed inside the mortuary.

Expectedly, the government’s action reverberated among residents given the popularity of the morgue among medical practitioners, religious leaders and security experts.

Findings by Daily Trust revealed that although the gigantic hospital that housed the morgue stopped operation over a year ago, the activities of the mortuary section continued.

While some saw the facility as an important one for the post-death activities of their loved ones, the management was allegedly involved in ritual activities, organ harvesting and financial enrichment.

Example, an online publication by Afrika Eyes published by popular film maker, Oloba Maroof Adebayo Afolayan, reported that: “The Chief Executive Officer of Almaroof Standard Investment who was allegedly involved in the killing of his friend, Mustapha Balogun, for ritual purposes disposed of the deceased’s body at Omosebi mortuary.

According to the publication, many powerful people, including some security operatives, were secretly using the mortuary as a dumping site whenever they killed their victims.

Afrika Eyes further reported: “It is business as usual. There’s a possibility that they’re using the mortuary for organ harvesting, and the government needs to investigate and arrest the perpetrators. When the morgue was sealed last October, many stakeholders, including a professor, began calling for a reconsideration of the decision, and the owner went behind to open it to commence his illegal business.”

However, the Chief Mortician of the place, Mr Christian Chimezie, described all the allegations as false, insisting that they were the handiwork of fifth columnists and business rivals.

Sting operation

During the sting operation carried out by the government last week, Dr Amina, who was accompanied by the permanent secretary and directors in the ministry, said the step was taken to deter other members of the public from engaging in such illegal actions, adding that the morgue did not have government approval.

She said, “We were here last year on October 9, 2023, and when we sealed off the premises, we saw for ourselves that they had utter disregard for human dignity; the risk to life and public health that this place poses to our people in Kwara State. We were not considering opening it in the way that it was structured.

“We came and verified that it was not a licensed mortuary. They have no permission or right to be handling the remains of our citizens. We immediately sealed the premises and called them for a discussion.

“While we were still working out the way to proceed, they apparently came and removed the government seal, which itself was an offence, and continued their activities.

“We received information indicating that they had resumed operations illegally and we are here to implement extensive, multifaceted approaches to ensure that this kind of illegality does not persist, not only in this facility, but throughout the state.”


Daily Trust further gathered that when the place was first shut last October, the government frowned at the stench coming out from the place, among other issues of hygiene and alleged inhuman treatment of corpses.

Residents speak

A resident who did not want his name in print said they were charged N50,000 for two days before being allowed to claim the corpse of a late friend who was a victim of an armed robbery attack.

When Daily Trust visited the area on Tuesday, it was observed that the morgue was still under lock and key although the government seal was almost falling off.

It was gathered that the mortuary had been in operation after more than two decades since the original owners of the building stopped operation over disagreement on rent by doctors that leased the property.

Another resident, Musa Abdulkareem, who lives opposite the facility, said, “It was after the government came to seal the place last year that the operators provided an air-conditioning system, light and water among other renovations. Since then, they have improved on their services which have lessened the odour from the place.

“As Christians, when they have Muslim corpses that the relatives demand be prepared under Islamic injunctions, they come to call us to help wash and shroud the bodies because we don’t have the facility to do that in our mosque.”


A woman who came with her relatives to collect the corpse of her late mother decried the closure of the place and the impact it had had on their plans.

She said, “I have not been able to claim the corpse of my mother since the latest closure. This has really disrupted our burial plans.”

Daily Trust further gathered that even some high officials took the corpses of patients and relatives to the mortuary before they fixed their burial.

‘We are not into rituals, organ harvesting’

Speaking with our correspondent, the mortuary’s Mortician, Mr Christian Chimezie, denied that the place was being used for ritual activities or organ harvesting, adding that their charges were low compared to the chemicals and other items they used for embalmment.

He said, “This is my over 20 years in this business, and not even once have we been found wanting on the issue you raised. The first time this place was sealed last year, the government said we should expand the place and also improve on the hygiene, among other things, which we have all put in place. The main issue now is that of certificate.

“We had the mortuary registered with the CAC at the federal level but they said we needed state certification to operate.”


Asked how they had been operating for over two decades, Chimezie said: “The Omosebi Hospital was functioning until last year when the doctor who was operating it left due to the increase in the rent of the building by the female owner who is based outside the country.

“Omosebi Hospital was then operated by the husband who became terminally ill and the building was leased out. Efforts to bring it back have not been fruitful because of the issue of the rent.

“They were demanding between N5m to N8m yearly from the doctors. So, while the place was functioning, there was no need for that, but now that we are alone, they said we needed state certification.”


He said the two options the government gave them to reopen was to get a certificate from an anatomist or a related organisation or enter into an arrangement to bring the hospital section back to life.

He further said, “But while we are exploring that, the government has told us to move to our facility at the Sobi Specialist Hospital. We are still discussing.”

On the several allegations, Chimezie said: “It is funny when people talk like that because the facts and our records are there. Most of the corpses that got drowned or are victims of fire, accident and other violent killings are brought here in decomposing states at times.

“Sometimes I operate on dead bodies for as low as N1,000 or N2,000 when the owners plead that they don’t have money. Can others or anyone criticising us do that?   

“The advantage we have is that we do dry embalming unlike the government hospitals that depend on refrigerators. And before we accept any corpse, there must be certification from recognised government or private hospitals.

“We don’t have visiting hours, relatives can come for their corpses anytime and they must certify that their corpses are intact the way they were brought before we release them. Others who can stand it are allowed to stay while we prepare their bodies. These and other measures were adopted to promote transparency.

“If what they are saying is true about us, why are top government officials, police and other security agencies and religious leaders, among others, patronising us.

“If those allegations are real, why is the government giving us the option of moving to their hospital? I think this is just a case of some people trying to run us down. We are too experienced on issues of handling the dead to be found wanting in such aspects because we know our onions.”

***

Source: Daily Trust



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