Many Nigerian youths, who have been infected with the get-richquick ‘virus’, have taken their search for instant wealth to the graveyard, investigations by The Point have revealed. The restless youths, according to findings, exhume fresh corpses at high-brow cemeteries in Lagos, and ‘dispossess’ the dead of treasures interred with them.
A week-long investigation by The Point showed that most of the public tombs in isolated areas had been ravaged by treasure-hunters who felt they could have access to fortunes buried just a few metres below the earth surface. At the Atan Cemetery, in the Yaba area of Lagos, a close look at some of the shallow graves was quite revealing as the soil covering many of them had been tampered with.
Investigations further revealed that the invasion and illegal digging at the grave sites were possible as a result of the lax security at the cemeteries. The youths, apart from seeking for treasures, are also sent by older people in desperate need of human parts, according to findings.
In most cases, it was learnt, the invaders would dig and cut human parts in the dead of the night. Some residents of Atan, who spoke to The Point said that the kidinvaders were not acting on their own volition as those who sent them on such errands usually watched with the engines of their cars running.
A 17-year-old boy, who simply identified himself as Kusimo, said he was once approached by a herbalist to help exhume corpses for a fee. But he told The Point that he found it very repulsive to be involved in such a sacrilegious thing.
“They wanted to pay me N2,000 if I could help them out. But I refused, because the whole place was smelling. Besides, the Police could come and arrest us,” Kusimo said.
Speaking with The Point on the matter was Mr. Awolumate Tayode, a frontline herbalist from Irun-Akoko, Ondo State, who said that the youths could be digging up the graves, looking for human parts, which some evil people had been using to prepare herbs.
“Some fetish people believe so much in the efficacy of either human bones or flesh; and whenever they prepare herbs for people, they would add a little of this to the ingredients,” he said.
Tayode, who condemned that practice, however, added that some other people could be keeping human bones/skeletons in their homes as part of the practice of a religion, believing that the bones/ flesh could form part of a ceremony. Others simply believe that human parts have the potency of healing.
However, the police public relations officer in Lagos State, Mr. Joe Offor, a deputy superintendent of police, told The Point that it was criminal to exhume graves and steal from them. He said that once a body was buried, the dead should be allowed to rest.
Our correspondent also visited the Obalende Cemetery in Lagos Island, from where it was discovered that a local guard was recently employed to keep vigil over the place.
A resident of the area, who identified himself as Mr. Fatai Aileru, said when the community noticed the nocturnal activities of some youths around the cemetery, the leaders resorted to hiring a guard, who monitored the place as a matter of routine.
Aileru added that some of the tombs in the cemetery had lost some ornaments to the kid raiders, who would not allow the dead to rest. “Before the community employed the services of guards, many tombs had been plundered and stripped bare by the fortune seekers,” he said.
The Point was also told that the activities of the tomb/grave raiders were not limited to either Yaba or Obalende. It was learnt that at the Jafojo area of Agege, more than 20 graves had been invaded and the contents ripped-off. One of the attendants there, who identified himself as Sheu, said, however, that sanity was gradually being restored.
“Before, this place was like a jungle. About four or five years ago, everywhere was in shambles. Those boys that used to dig graves and sell human parts to people were everywhere. It is now a thing of the past. If you are caught doing that now, authorities will deal with you mercilessly,” he said.