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Dead on arrival: Lagos Assembly soft-pedals on cremation bill

by Isi Esene

The Speaker of the Lagos Sate House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, has assured Lagosians that the House will consider their wishes when deliberating on the cremation bill which is presently being considered for passage into law.

The bill which was sponsored by the Chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Health Care Services, Mr. Suru Avoseh seeks to legalise voluntary cremation of unclaimed dead bodies in the state-owned mortuaries.

Ikuforiji who spoke on Tuesday at a Ramadam lecture in Ikeja said since the members of the House are representatives of the people it will be a disservice to them if their wishes and interests are not taken into consideration in the process of decision making.

He said, “Let me assure our Muslim and Christian brothers and sisters that the assembly will not go against your wish concerning the cremation bill. If you say you do not want the bill, we will not pass it. We will not do anything to jeopardise your interests.”

The bill, since its introduction, has met with stiff resistance from prominent religious leaders who not only see it as ‘unAfrican’, but also regard it as a violation of their religious rights to proper burial. They advised the Lagos State lawmakers to jettison the idea and look for better ways of dealing with unclaimed corpses.

Ikuforiji continued saying, “I am a Muslim, I cannot allow my corpse to be burnt but we should allow those who want their dead bodies to be burnt have their way.”

He said people with different religious beliefs should be accommodated within the ambit of extant laws to treat their dead bodies as they choose as this will reflect the equal rights in the society which the government strives to promote.

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