Following Federal Government’s (FGs) ban on inter-state movement of corpses in the country because of the outbreak of the Ebola virus, no fewer than 1,000 corpses of Igbo people are awaiting clearance in various mortuaries in Lagos State.
This disclosure was made yesterday being Friday, 29th August, 2014, by the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Lagos State, Chief Fabian Onwughalu.
It would be recalled that the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Khairu Al-Hassan, announced Federal Government’s decision to ban movement of corpses across the country at a meeting held at African House, Government House, Kano recently.
He said it was part of the means the government is exploiting to curtail the spread of the disease in the country.
Speaking on the plight of the deceased and their relations, Chief Onwughalu said: “As I am talking to you now, there are over 1000 dead bodies of Igbo people waiting at various morgues only here in Lagos State for movement to their homeland.
“The ugly development has serious effect on the families of the deceased because in Igbo land, we believe that the moment a late family member is buried, the pains of losing him will gradually fade away. But in a situation where you keep the body of a deceased family member unnecessarily, the pains will be increasing.
“The Federal Government should rescind the decision or decentralize the authority.”
Asked what the body was doing to address the problem, he said: “At the highest level, we believe there are consultations going on. But we are worried that it is taking too long to yield fruits.”
He added that the sole authority vested in the minister to give clearance to bereaved families before they can take their dead relations home as a violation of the Igbo culture.
The Ohanese chieftain advised that “the Federal Government should authorize other government health officers and doctors to issue certificates to bereaved families to enable them carry the remains of their deceased ones home for burial.
“If the authority to issue certificate is decentralized such that federal health centres and teaching hospitals would be able to attend to bereaved families and give them certificates within a short time, it will enable our people to convey the remains of their beloved ones to their ancestral homes in line with the traditions of their people.”
Since a Liberia diplomat, Patrick Sawyer brought the Ebola virus into Lagos on 20 July 2014, no fewer than six people have been confirmed dead from the deadly disease while over 160 people have been place on observation in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.