By Simon Egbegbulem, Benin City
Each time people die, a prayer is said for the soul of the deceased to rest in perfect peace. But sadly, for the family of the late Mr John Enofe Omorodion, a retired military officer, the soul of their father is yet to rest in perfect peace as a result of the mysterious disappearance of the corpse from the mortuary it was deposited on January 9, 2010.
The resulting controversy deepened after the Edo State branch of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) through the committee set up to investigate the case of the missing corpse, exonerated the Medical Director of Time Hospital, Dr Taiwo Amusan, who owns the Ogba River Valley mortuary where the corpse was deposited. The family of the deceased led by Osaro Omorodion, had accused the proprietor of the hospital of using the corpse of their father for ritual.
The allegation did not go down well with Dr Amusan who headed to the High Court in Benin to sue the deceased family for defamation of character. However, in order to find an amicable solution to the raging war between the family and Dr Amusan, the NMA in the state led by Dr Osahon Enabulele constituted a six man committee to investigate the matter so as to know what actually went wrong.
Vanguard Metro learnt that the drama started on March 10, 2010, when the deceasedâ€™s son, Osaro went to the hospital to inform them of the intension of the family to take the corpse for final burial. He entered the mortuary to locate the corpse but found it missing. He raised an alarm and Dr Taiwo was contacted immediately. It was learnt that Dr Taiwo who was worried over the situation ran to the Ebvotubu Police Station to report the matter.
The family of the deceased equally ran to the same police station but there was a heated argument with Dr Taiwo, after they accused him of using the police to intimidate the family. However, following investigations, it was discovered that the corpse was actually missing.
The family of one Steven Aigbe mistakenly took the corpse of John Omorodion, thinking it was that of their deceased father Steven Aigbe and went on to bury him at Oghede town, out side Benin City. It was learnt that the family of the deceased Aigbe and the mortuary attendant, one Efe Omoruyi, failed to identify the corpse of their father and that led to the costly mistake.
However, Dr Taiwo made frantic efforts to ensure that the body was exhumed and returned back to the family. He succeeded after he fulfilled the sacrifice which was demanded by Oghede community which included a dog, hen, cock and other sacrificial objects, including the sum of N50,000. The community leaders claimed that the items would be used to sacrifice to the gods before the corpse could be exhumed.
The exercise was carried out successfully but the family of the deceased Omorodion alleged that they were not informed earlier about the exhumation so as to be able to identify whether the corpse was actually that of their father. But Dr Taiwo faulted their claim, saying that they were invited to witness it even with the presence of police pathologists and that the corpse has been deposited back to the mortuary.
The family of Steven Aigbe were consequently asked to come and pick their father since they buried the wrong corpse. However, in its recommendations, the committee set up by the NMA to investigate the matter stated that â€œthe root cause of the incident that led to the release of the mistaken corpse to Omorodion family was the failure of the mortuary attendant of Time Hospital Mortuary and the failure of the Aigbe family to properly identify the corpse of their late fatherâ€.
The report went on to commend Dr Taiwo for the standard of the design of the mortuary and urged all the parties to cooperate so as to find lasting solution to the problem since mis-identification of corpses in mortuary is not an uncommon finding. But the Omorodions, while reacting to the report, described it as â€œarrant nonsenseâ€ and rejected it.
They further described the report as an attempt to exonerate the proprietor of the mortuary, Dr Taiwo.Â The family through a petition, appealed to the Edo State Police Command and the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to investigate the matter so that they will not take laws into their own hands.
As at the time of filing this report, the body of Omorodion is still lying at the mortuary waiting for a second burial six months after his death. The family has decided that they will not accept the corpse which according to them was still missing until a proper investigation is carried out.
The matter is still raging and only God knows how it will be resolved.