The Edo State Police Command has said that the building where mummified bodies were found can not pass for a morgue, as the principal suspect, Gabriel Otu, has no approval to operate such, noting that a severed body at the facility showed there was more happening at the place than claimed.
At a press conference on Monday, the officer in charge of the Criminal Investigative Department at the Command, Olawore Oluwole, said in the course of the investigation, there was an interface with medical personnel, lawyers, members of the public, representatives of the Benin Traditional Council, families of those who deposited corpses, as well as a pathologist.
Oluwole said, “Following investigations by the command’s team and health personnel led by the commissioner for health, some documents were recovered portraying an approved location from the ministry of environment and sustainability.
However, the principal suspect, Gabriel Otu, later reported and made statements, and some other hospitals and mortuaries were equally visited and the following facts emerged.
“The principal suspect didn’t acquire formal training but only worked at different mortuaries as a mortuary attendant. He doesn’t have the certificate to practice as a mortician or any certification from the traditional board, ministry of health, ministry of environment, or any other appropriate certification.
“The building utilised by him was not certified nor approved by the ministry of health or environment. Other facts revealed is that the mortuary is not a layout for trado-medical institution.”
He added, “Twenty three corpses, as well as a dismembered without a skull, were found, and it depicts an unlawful possession and violates section 329 of the criminal code.
“There were also sacrilegious effigies found at the scene; some were inside while others were outside. These depict criminal elements in his possession and against section 213 of the criminal code. Some specimens were extracted and have been sent to experts for forensic analysis”.
Also speaking, the Edo State Commissioner for Health, Obehi Akoria, said the state government had given September 9 as the deadline for mortuary operators who are yet to obtain operational licenses to get approval from the ministry of health.
Akoria urged owners of registered mortuary homes to present their proof of registration to the state ministry of health by Friday, September 30.
She said, “The Edo State Ministry of Health is using this opportunity to reach out to all persons who own or operate mortuaries or embalmment homes to come to the ministry of health, directorate of regulation and monitoring, with evidence of due registration if they are duly registered latest by September 30.
“However, for those who are not duly registered, we are giving till the close of business on September 9 for them to present themselves to the ministry of health, where we will give them the basic requirements for the operation of mortuaries or embalmment homes in the state”.