Human Rights

Nigeria: Theft of Human Parts At Kwara Cemeteries On the Rise

Cemeteries in Kwara State are no longer a resting place for the dead.

They are now being regularly violated no thanks to robbers and scavengers targeting bodies in graves for mutilation and theft of choice parts.

The practice these days is a far cry from when, decades ago national attention was riveted by revelations that criminals invaded the grave of the late wife of a governor in the east.

Then, the grave yard vandals did not steal her body parts but helped themselves to the cash, expensive jewellery and clothing materials she was alleged to have been buried with.

But the criminals and practitioners of rituals these days go for selected body parts such as genitalia, skulls, heart, liver and whatever else they may fancy in the decomposing body.

But offensive as this seems, it is not new in some other parts of the world.

A story was published in the Argosy magazine in 1879 that Shakespeare’s skull was stolen from Holy Trinity in 1794.

In Ilorin, Kwara State capital, digging up fresh graves in search for selected human parts has become a daily occurrence that “Rest in peace” and “Sleep on beloved” often engraved on tombstones have become meaningless as the dead are violated in their resting place by ritualists.

Sources told The Guardian, Muslim cemeteries at Oseere and public cemeteries at Oke-Oyi, a sleepy settlement adjoining Ilorin from the east, are the worst hit.

“We took the remains of a brother to the cemetery early this month and laid him to rest according to the Islamic rites. But when we returned to the grave two days after with the aim of putting concrete on the tomb, to our surprise we met a dismembered body outside the grave,” a source told The Guardian in Ilorin.

Another source said: “At Oke-Oyi, we went to pray at the tomb of our departed mother barely a year after her death only to see bits of the wooden casket on the tomb rather than inside the grave suggesting that some people might have tampered with the remains after burial.”

Former Secretary of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Dr. Olusola Ajolore urged the government especially local councils, to intensify efforts at providing adequate security at the cemeteries in Kwara State.

According to Ajolore: “Apart from profaning the cemeteries, the act should be seen as criminal and ungodly. But we need more security at the cemeteries to stem the vice.”

Similarly, the Chief Imam of Ilorin, Alhaji Mohammed Bashir cautioned “those directly or indirectly” stealing from the cemeteries to refrain “as such would not escape God’s judgment in the long run even if law enforcement agents fail to arrest them and bring them to book.”

Speaking with The Guardian on the development, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in Kwara, Ajayi Okasanmi said: “No such report has been brought to our knowledge”.

Okasanmi, however, urged members of the public to volunteer information to the Police on the vice just as he threatened that local security guards employed to keep watch may henceforth be prosecuted for any recorded theft at the cemeteries.

Source: The Guardian