THE Catholic Church has asked the Lagos State House of Assembly to allow the dead rest in peace by throwing out its proposal to pass a bill legalising voluntary cremation of unclaimed dead bodies in the state-owned mortuaries.
The bill seeking to legalise voluntary
cremation of the dead and unclaimed corpses has already scaled the
second reading on the floor of the House of Assembly.
bill to legalise voluntary cremation of corpses and unclaimed corpses
in Lagos State,’’ the bill was sponsored by the Chairman of the
Assembly’s Committee on Health Care Services, Suru Avoseh.
in a statement yesterday, the Administrator of the Catholic Archdiocese
of Lagos, His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, said it was totally
against any move to legalize cremation or the desecration of human
corpse in any guise as it believes in life after death.
is the process of burning the human corpse to ashes and sprinkling the
ashes into the sea as is practised in India by the adherents of Hindus,
which is the predominant religion in the country and some other parts of
The statement signed on Okogie’s behalf by the Lagos
Archdiocesan Director of Social Communications, Very Rev. Monsignor
Gabriel Osu, advised the law makers to quickly jettison the idea of
legalizing cremation and instead concentrate on building more modern
cemeteries to cater for the growing number of unclaimed corpses in the
Okogie’s statement read in part, “The issue of
cremation is a very sensitive one because it bothers on our culture,
tradition and religion. As Africans, it is against our culture and as
Christians it is against our religious beliefs. In the Koran, the
respect of the dead is very clear.
They do not allow the corpse
to stay long, not to talk of cremation. We believe after life and the
need to give the dead proper burial as prescribed in the Bible.
do not see any one who would want his corpse or that of loved ones
cremated. Already you can see the response of Lagosians during the
public hearing. Most of those who spoke are vehemently opposed to it. It
is not acceptable at all. My advice is for the law makers to quickly
jettison the idea and look for better ways of dealing with unclaimed
He then urged the government to build more modern and
affordable cemeteries in various parts of the state and rehabilitate the
old ones that are already in very bad shapes or condition.
to him, “It is only in Africa that we have no respect for the dead. Go
to Atan and Ikoyi cemeteries, for instance, they have been over-taken by
weeds. Security is another issue entirely.The dead deserves to rest in
While intimating his colleagues on the need to support
the cremation bill, Avoseh said it addressed the pathetic state of
public mortuaries and challenges being faced by health officials due to
shortage of land for mass burial of unclaimed corpses.
decried the present situation in which corpses were abandoned in
mortuaries for several months, thereby stretching the capacity of the
mortuaries to their limits.
He said: “During our visit to the
mortuaries as a member of the ad-hoc committee, I was disturbed to see
heaps of corpses that were not claimed by their relatives. So, Lagos
should once again take the lead in the introduction of this legislation
(cremation) in the country.”