DIYA'S HUMAN PARTS STORM: OUR STORY, BY LOTAD MANAGEMENT
Initially, it started as a rumour. And with time it spread like a wild fire. The story about the involvement of former Chief of Army Staff, General Oladipo Diya in human parts sales published recently in a weekly newspaper came as a rude shock to many people.
But the management of LOTAD Mortuary Services have debunked the allegation, describing it as falsehood and blatant concealment of facts. The management said the allegation was a mischievous attempt to embarrass the retired general.
The company's counsel, Segun Osefobamu, while speaking with Daily Sun , said the publication was an afterthought, a desperate and calculated attempt by a former employee, Mr. Oluwatosin Onamade, to hold on to anything for survival.
The story had described General Diya and his company as being 'mired in a scandal of pilfering and selling vital organs of corpses deposited in its care.'
The publication stated that Onamade had through an internal memo raised the alarm in July 21, 2007, about a security staff in the company, Mr. Jamiu Saliu, who was purportedly converted to an auxiliary embalmer, indulging in pilfering and selling of vital human parts. He also accused Saliu of diverting the company's business to competitors. It was based on the allegation that Onomade claimed to have sacked Saliu. Saliu was recalled however, and Onamade therefore, saw the reinstatement as a 'tacit endorsement by the management of the company'.
But management of LOTAD described the claims as a pack of lies and an attempt to divert from the main issue which is pending in court.
The lawyer said Onamade was introduced to General Diya in 2006 as a person who could manage and operate LOTAD Funeral Services. He noted that the Board of Directors of the company entered into a lease arrangement with Onamade for one year. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), he disclosed, was drawn and signed between the two parties granting the management and operation of LOTAD to Onamade for one year.
Osefobamu further explained that at the expiration of the one year arrangement, the MOU was not reviewed and Onamade was subsequently relieved of his duties in 2008.
'After 2007, when Mr. Onamade's lease agreement was not renewed, the Board of LOTAD was inundated with information of how he sacked two senior managers, Mr. Jimoh Saliu and Prince David Adesina Adegun to mention but a few. He also sacked all the embalmers so that he could be the only embalmer left, and disengaged LOTAD security guards to pave way for his own security guards who would be totally loyal to him. There were also stories of caskets being sold and taken out of LOTAD's premises, which was not part of the lease agreement,' he said.
The lawyer stressed that Onamade unilaterally took decisions without the knowledge and consent of the Chairman and the Board of LOTAD, and also contrary to Section 29 of the MOU.
'It was based on these cases of anomalies that the Board of LOTAD in 2008 decided to end the management/operation of Oluwatosin Onamade. In accordance with Clause 23 of the MOU, a six-month written notice was given to him to determine the agreement on the 31st of July 2008.'
He explained that rather than reply the board, Onamade went to court in October 2008, to challenge LOTAD and ask for N30 million as aggravated damage for assault and battery.
He them wondered why the former employee would resort to publishing what he described as 'lies' instead of waiting for the trial to commence.
'Who are the sellers and the buyers of the organs? The police need to be invited into the matter. The question is where lies the fallacious headline, 'Diya in Human Parts Scandal?' Onamade claimed that Saliu, the man allegedly involved in the pilfering of vital human organs was reinstated a year after his appointment was terminated. If General Diya knew about the allegation of human parts sales and was also involved as he claimed, Mr. Saliu would have been reinstated immediately after the purported dismissal. So, Onamade's allegation was a plot to justify the wrongful dismissal of staff, which he carried out in 2007, and an attempt to hijack the operation of the company without the knowledge of the owners.
'If the allegation made by Onamade about the pilfering of human organs is true, have there been any complaints by any depositor of corpses on missing organs? If Onamade claimed to have sacked Mr. Saliu in 2007 for such criminal offences, what steps has he made to hand him over to the police? Why did Onamade not raise the allegation of human parts scandal in the case he instituted in court? Is the N30 million he is claiming as cost for aggravated damages meant to be a compensation for his knowledge of the alleged sale of human organs?'
Osefobamu urged the police to wade into the matter to investigate and determine the veracity of the allegation.
The company's secretary, Mr. Kehinde Diya, while condemning the publication, noted that LOTAD officials are law abiding citizens who respect the sanctity of the human being.
President of Nigeria Association of Funeral Directors, Adewale Shenbare, said Onamade was a former pall bearer with a funeral home in Lagos and was never registered with the organisation as a funeral manager.