Editorial Team

Emmanuel Udom-Managing Editor, Stephen Dijo Philemon-Deputy Editor, Janet Udom-Senior Correspondent, Precious Udom-Senior Correspondent, Williams Ita-Bureau Chief(Akwa Ibom/Cross River), Fabian Idoko-Senior Correspondent

    Manufacturer's Representative Import Export General Merchandise Contract Adress: Araromi Quarters, Owode Area, Ifo, Ogun state, Nigeria P.O.Box 2632, Oshiodi, Lagos Telephone: 2348166719412

    Monday, 4 April 2016

    Beggars storm cemeteries in Lagos

     By Emmanuel Udom


    Late last year, Mathew Omoraro, an indigene of Edo state, died after a brief illness at his Festac Town resident in Lagos at the age of 54.  

    The family agreed that he should be buried at Atan cemetery, located along University Road in Yaba, Lagos and amidst wailing, crying and lamenting, punctured by intermittent singing of church songs and dancing; the corpse of the departed was eventually lowered into mother earth.  

    While the carnival like show lasted from Festac Town all the way to the cemetery, the pall bearers from Ebony Casket in Lagos Island did a fantastic job of mesmerizing people with their electric-like dance steps.

    Others were not left out as the joined those carrying the coffin to dance their hearts out. But, after burial of the departed, sympathizers moved out of the abode of the dead and returned to the land of the living.  

    Atan is one of the many cemeteries in Lagos, the acclaimed commercial nerve center of Nigeria, with an estimated population of 18 people, spread across 20 recognized local government areas and 37 created local council development authorities.

    All over the world, cemeteries are planned and structured to be the final, befitting resting places for those that have passed through transition.   

    Therefore, governments ensure that the immediate surroundings of cemeteries have high aesthetic values, with flowers and trees planted to give it a peaceful, heavenly outlook for both the living and the death.

    But, the reality is that thick bushes,  trees, beggars, grave diggers, rodents, suspected ritualists,  dry bones, etc, have taken over the once popular Atan cemetery and those who have died and were buried there may simply not be resting in peace, but in pieces.

    Inside sources revealed that it is also the same at Ikoyi, Ajegunle, Mushin, Agege, Epe and Badagry, among other cemeteries in the center of excellence.  

    However, surveillance in the last two weeks showed that sympathizers, who accompanied their departed friends, relations, parents, etc, to the cemetery could be greeted at the entry points and exist points either  beggars or people praying for the departed.

    This was observed during the burial of Omoraro, where beggars and prayer warriors gathered while the coffin carrying his remains arrive the cemetery.

    While the beggars were directly begging for money, the prayer people were busy pleading with God to forgive the sins of the departed and admit him to his kingdom.

    The bottom-line of the prayers is to indirectly solicitude for arms from those who have come to bury the dead. “They make lots of money on some days, especially weekends when more coffins could arrive the cemetery for burial”, Biodun, a grave digger at Atan boasted.

     Nine years ago, reports quoted Hakeem Yunusa as saying that he gave his late mother a befitting burial as a worthy son at the cemetery, but later discovered on visiting the place years after that “another person has been buried on the same ground my mum was buried, even as the warders kept mute on the issue when I raised it”.

     The report also disclosed that one Alhaji Muniru Ashabi claimed that at Agege cemetery, the corpse of his brother was exhumed from its resting place.

    His words: “When I discovered that the body of my late brother has been exhumed, I made all efforts to know what went wrong, but I discovered that they may have sold the same portion of land to another person”.

     Authorities of some local government areas in Lagos seem not to be walking the talk as far as maintenance of cemeteries in the state is concerned.

    A visit to Agege, Ikoyi and Mushin cemeteries showed dirty, unkempt surroundings, with over grown grasses and tress. A warder said that suspected ritualists do visit some cemeteries, especially at night in search of human body parts.

      Mail sent to jijetgroup@yahoo.com, the official email address of Jimoh Raheem, Chairman, Yaba Local Government area was returned as undelivered.

    Efforts made to reach him on his cell phone for official comment on the level of maintenance being carried out by the LGA at Atan cemetery proved abortive.




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