Man caught with bagful of dead babies in Lagos
Five staff of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-araba, are in police custody for allegedly selling unclaimed corpses.
The workers, who were attached to the Morbid and Anatomy Department of the hospital, are in charge of private contractors who assist the hospital to clear the mortuary of unclaimed corpses.
Luck ran out on them when one of the contractors, identified as Shiubu Atanda, was arrested by the police at Agbowa, in the outskirts of the city on July 3, with five Ghana-must-go bags containing 76 dead babies, which he was supposed to have buried at the Atan Cemetary at Yaba.
The police officers from the Agbowa Police Station at Epe who were on routine patrol along the road, sighted the man with the bags containing the decomposing corpses. They arrested him when he was unable to give a satisfactory answer about the corpses.
Mr Atanda, 50, and a father of six, however, said that he is one of the contractors hired by the teaching hospital to help in evacuating baby corpses from the hospital. He claimed that he decided to bury the corpses in a bush at Agbowa, because he was unable to pay the cemetery fees at Atan Cemetery.
"I am a private contractor with LUTH and I have been helping the department of Morbid and Anatomy to clear unclaimed babies corpses for the past two years. The corpses the police found with me are corpses for the months of March and April - 40 corpses for March and 36 corpses for April. I was supposed to bury the corpses at the Atan Cementery at Yaba but I was financially down because I have used almost all the money I requested from the hospital to bribe the people working at the Morbid and Anatomy Department.
"I also bribed people at the account department. I gave one Mr Abraham Ekohmi, the unit head of the Morbid Department, N50,000; I gave one Mr Everest, 40,000 and two staff of the accounts department 10,000 each, so that I can continue with my job.
"The money I charged the hospital for my service is N185,000 and it was Mr Ekhomi that inflated it to that amount. After settling all of them, I was left with nothing to bury the corpses at the Atan Cemetery at Yaba, because they were demanding N90,000 for each month from me before they will collect the copses.
Since I did not have the N90,000, I decided to help myself by taking the corpses to a bush at Agbowa to bury them. It was because I have to bribe my way that was why I could not afford the mortuary fees," Mr Atanda said. Mr Ekhomi, one of the LUTH staff arrested, however, denied demanding and receiving any bribe from Mr Atanda.
Kunbi Banjo, a professor and Head of the Morbid and Anatomy Department at LUTH, said the hospital is embarrassed by the unscrupulous behaviour of its staff and private contractor."This man (Shuibu Atanda) is one of our contractors in LUTH. He helps us to clear unclaimed baby corpses, for the past two years. We do not know why he did not bury the corpses at the Atan Cemetery where he was supposed to bury them."The issue of unclaimed corpses is a social problem we have at the hospital. Parents that are devastated by the death of their babies and those who cannot afford to bury them will just abandon them at the mortuary, so we have to take care of them. We will investigate the allegations of corruption against our staff. We will make recommendation to the hospital and the government so that the necessary action will be taken on this issue," said Mr Banjo.
Frank Mba, the police spokesperson, said the case is under investigation. Last month, a man was arrested with a decomposing corpse of a teenage girl which he excavated from a cemetery in Lagos