The Edo Civil Society has stated that the recent raid on an alleged ritualist den wherein mummified bodies were recovered, was not as reported.
Recall that on Wednesday, August 17, the Edo state police command had uncovered a hideout with 20 mummified corpses in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
The command’s spokesperson, ASP Jennifer Iwegbu, in a statement, said the suspected ritualist den was uncovered along Asoro slope, off Ekenhuan road, in Uzebu quarters.
Following internal investigation, the Edo civil society groups have refuted the report, stating that it’s a morgue, not a ritualist den as claimed by the police.
In a statement released by its Interim Chairman, Leftist Austine Enabulele, he said the building was newly built to accommodate the corpses after the operator was served quit notice from his former facility.
He added that there were name tags on some of the corpses and medical equipment’s were also found in the facility and it should have been a pointer that the place is not a ritualist den, but a morgue.
Read the statement below,
“It has been over 24 hours that the news of a ritualists’ den was discovered in Benin City allegedly. It has flooded the social media and mainstream media spaces making it viral. The news became worrisome to us as Edo people have no history of ritualism or its likes. More troublesome to us is the fact that, it was the Police Public Relations Officer of Edo state command that led a media report on same which would have suggested that proper investigation would have been carried out to arrive at what was reported in the media.
“Immediately the news got to us, we quickly dispatched a team of investigators to unravel the true situation of the matter and report accordingly for a follow up. Below were the findings of the investigation team.
“1. The said building where the mummified corpses were found is not a ritualists’ den but a newly built morgue to house evacuated corpses from an old facility because the operator had been given a quit notice there.
“2. The operational name of the morgue is St. Gabriel Funeral Home with other offices at No. 24, Ist Federal Road, Benin City. It has branches in Anambra state, Ebonyi state, Murtala Mohammed way and Ist East Circular road where the corpses were moved from.
“3. The shrine discovered was said to be a traditional form of worship by the proprietor as a spiritual protection for himself and the business.
“4. The police didn’t conduct investigation before addressing the media thereby raising an alarm of a ritualists’ shrine.
“5. As at the time of putting this report together, the police had not visited other branches of the morgue in different parts of the city.
“6. The videos of corpses in circulation revealed that some of the corpses had name tags and medical equipment were visible as well in the building. Further interview with one of the morgue personnel in another of their branch office revealed that there is a register of all the corpses in the facility and that some of the owners have started to call to take away their deposited corpses.
“7. Our team of investigators were denied access to the morgue by members of the vigilance group that have been stationed there.
“Flowing from the above, it is now convenient to state that, the insinuation by the police that it is a ritualists’ den is hereby debunked and dismissed as false alarm and an attempt to paint the good people of Edo in bad light. This is not to state that, the morgue might not be an illegal one or does not have the requisite permits to operate a morgue which should be subjected to thorough investigation by the police.