Fears gripped natives and residents of Ikare-Akoko in Akoko North-East Local Government Area of Ondo State as no fewer than 110 unknown dead bodies were conveyed into the town in three ambulances on Wednesday.
The people were shocked when they realised that the dead bodies were not of natives of the town, yet they were brought to the town for burial.
The bodies were ferried into the town in state government hearses for mass burial without the knowledge of the traditional rulers in the community.
It was later discovered that the corpses were evacuated from the morgues of the General Hospital in Iwaro-Oka, State Specialists Hospital, Owo, and State Specialist Hospital, Ikare-Akoko.
Ikare-Akoko, which is blessed with two traditional rulers, Oba Akadiri Saliu-Momoh, Olukare of Ikareland and Oba Kolapo Adegbite-Adedoyin, Owa-Ale of Ikareland, was selected as the graveyard to accommodate the 110 unknown bodies without the knowledge of the monarchs.
Asimi Omojola, the Caretaker Chairman of Akoko North East Local Government, who confirmed the incident, denied receiving any official notification in respect of the development.
He stated that he was not in the office when the bodies arrived at the town for burial.
The bodies were meant to be buried within the premises of the local council Secretariat.
But the council boss insisted that he had not received any official notification that his office premises were to be converted to a graveyard.
It was after the arrival of his neighbor-to-be that he received a phone call from someone from the state Health Board that he should prepare a place for the bodies to be buried.
According to Omojola, “An official of the Ondo State Health Management Board (HMB) contacted me, saying there was a directive from the state government for me to provide land for the burial of the unknown dead bodies.
“I ordered the return of the corpses to where they brought them from, aside from the fact that it’s against the norms of Ikare land.”
Head of Environmental in the local council, Mrs. Adeniyi Yemisi, denied being informed about the transfer of the unknown corpses to the council Secretariat for burial.
She said the development ran foul of ethics of health profession, warning that mass burial without compliance with proper ethical practice could lead to environmental hazards.
Expressing their displeasure with the attempt to bury the bodies in his domain with his knowledge, Oba Akadiri Momoh unequivocally declared that such act runs contrary to the traditional values of Ikareland.
He noted that before the government took such a decision, he should have been contacted and would have informed them of the spiritual implications of such an abominable move.
Likewise, Oba Adegbite-Adedoyin, disclosed that he was out of town when the bodies were brought in.
He said on his arrival, he immediately invited the local council Chairman, warning that burying such corpses in the town could lead to a serious traditional uprising and abominable occurrences.
The monarch said: “Therefore, such numbers of unknown corpses should not be brought to Ikare and it is against the tradition of the land. As a traditionalist, I state some dead bodies may be violent, some might have died of some critical diseases which will have some effects on the whole community.
“But the issues need to be considered from various perspectives apart from our own thought or imaginations.”
Dr Ayodele Ogunlade, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of State Specialist Hospital, Ikare, confirmed that some of the unknown corpses had been deposited at the hospital’s morgue.
He disclosed that the contentious dead bodies were abandoned corpses and the government thought it necessary to give them a mass burial at different locations.
The CMD revealed that the locations allotted for the mass burial of the bodies include Ore, Akure and Ikare.
He assured that it would not have any health implications because all the corpses had been treated with necessary chemicals.
The natives are having sleepless nights for fear that the government may decide to forcefully bury the corpses in the dead of night despite the spiritual implications noted by the traditional rulers.