Photo: Sun News Publishing
The Chief Mortician of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), arrested by the police, over the controversial 66 dead babies found with a contractor, has explained his role in the saga.
Abraham Ekoma, a native of Agbor in Delta State, described his accuser, Shuiabu Atanda, as a drowning man who was only looking for someone to sink with him.
The man was accused by the police of collecting the sum of N50, 000, while his boys allegedly received N20, 000, before allowing Atanda, a contractor with LUTH, to evacuate dead babies from the mortuary.
Atanda was earlier arrested by the Lagos State police Command for being in possession of 66 dead bodies and he indicted Ekoma.
During interrogation, he told the police that he was a contractor with LUTH, whose assignment was to evacuate dead bodies, including dead babies. The policemen, who intercepted his Volvo car were said to have contacted the management of the hospital, which confirmed that Atanda was given the contract to bury the dead bodies at Atan cemetery, Yaba. LUTH, however, questioned his decision to take the dead babies to Ikorodu, many kilometers away from Atan cemetery and LUTH.
Passersby, who witnessed Atanda’s arrest had peddled rumours that the dead bodies were meant to be sold to ritualists but the suspect quickly denied the allegation, alleging that it was because the Chief Mortician and his boys fleeced him of almost half of the money the hospital paid him, that he decided to bury the dead kids in a forest at Ikorodu.
When Daily Sun spoke to Ekoma, he said: “My job in the past 30 years had been to preserve the dead. I preserve the dead bodies and make their owners happy.” “I am a human being, I have blood flowing in my vein so, as a human being, I am not happy seeing bereaved people weeping and wailing. That is why I am surprised when Atanda alleged that I collected N50, 000, as bribe from him, before he could evacuate dead babies. They were dead babies that were abandoned by their parents.”
“Twenty-six died in April, while 40 died in March, so, if you add the number, it would give you 66.”
He said more babies that died between the months of May and June were still being preserved in the mortuary. “So, that was the transaction I had with Atanda. I only cross-checked the papers he brought to confirm if they corresponded with the ones I had. I made sure he didn’t evacuate fresh dead babies, to prevent the parents of the dead babies from taking LUTH to court.”
On the allegation that he collected bribe from the contractor, Ekoma said Atanda should face his problem like a man. He said it was not possible for him (Atanda) to part with N70, 000, since he was only paid the sum of N120, 000, to evacuate and bury the dead babies. “Why did he leave Atan cemetery and went to Ikorodu, what was he doing at Ikorodu instead of Atan cemetery?”