do Civil Society Organisations (EDOCSO), a coalition of civil rights groups in Edo State has said the building where mummified bodies were found in the State is not a ritualist den.
TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) reports Leftist Aliyu Unweni, Interim Public Relations Officer of EDOCSO on Friday disclosed this in a statement, stating that the State is not known for human rituals historically.
Recall that the Police Command in Edo State on Thursday announced the discovery of a ritualist den in the State, a building located along Asoro slope off Ekenhua road, Uzebu quarters, Benin city, where 20 mummified bodies were found.
According to the police, 15 mummified male corpses, 3 mummified female corpses and 2 mummified children corpses were discovered at the scene.
However, the TEC Chairman of EDOSCO and the entire members of EDOSCO have stated that the content of the viral video and content painting the State as a ritualist den is false and misleading.
Unweni accused the Edo State Police of rushing to the media hurridly to reveal that a ritualist den was discovered and busted in the state without doing proper findings. EDOSCO explained that the said the building was a newly built morgue and not a shrine as being painted by the Police.
He stated that Edo state does not have a history of ritualism or its likes, stressing that the disclosure is highly misleading, and paints a bad picture of the State, described as peaceful, loving and most accommodating in the whole of Nigeria.
Unweni further revealed that upon receiving the news of the busted shrine and ritualist den in the state, EDOSCO quickly dispatched a team of investigators and their findings have shown otherwise.
Below are the findings of EDOSCO’s investigators
- 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.
- 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.
- The shrine discovered was said to be a traditional form of worship by the proprietor as spiritual protection for himself and the business.
- The police didn’t investigate addressing the media thereby raising an alarm of a ritualists’ shrine.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. A call placed to the proprietor phone was answered by a police officer who stated that he is with them.
“This is a clarion call to members of the fourth estate of the realm who were expected to launch investigation into the issue by engaging the proprietor and the arrested workers to ascertain the true position before broadcasting and publication hook, line and sinker the position of the police. This falls below what is expected of investigative journalism and the doctrine of hearing the other side of a story. How the news hit the airspace would make one to believe it is a case of who plays the piper dictates the tone. The game needs to be stepped up.
“This development had shown that Edo state government lacked own intelligence gathering mechanism to filter stories as it was seen sharing same misinformation from the police to the de-marketing of the state and her people to the outside world. Edo state government should have been seen mitigating against the spread of such negative story from the state, instead it was a major promoter of it. This is disappointing to say the least.
“We want to reiterate again that Edo state is peaceful, loving and most accommodating in the whole of Nigeria. They are not known for human rituals historically. The state is open for visitation and business opportunities. Citizens can move anytime of the day without fear of the unknown.
“We await the final outcome of police investigation on subject matter and we believe it will be bold enough to put the record straight by stating the true position of the issues. Going forward, the police authority should always carry out investigation before engaging the media. Crimes are not fought with media propaganda,” the statement by EDOCSO reads.