See Why Graves Disappear in Lagos Cementeries’

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When I was in the university, my coursemate told me her younger brother’s grave was dug up within two weeks but i didn’t believe her. Now I do.

Read about this disturbing trend below:

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“May the soul of the faithful departed rest in perfect peace. Amen.”

These were the closing words at the burial of Anthony Ademodi, a 40-year-old who had just died after brief illness and was being buried at the Ikoyi cemetery, Lagos, Nigeria.

The family and friends of the young man, who was eulogised to have lived “a short but selfless life”, were still soaked in their own tears as the crying consoled the tearful.

Tears flowed like a ceaseless fountain as those concerned made their way from Ademodi’s resting place. They looked back at intervals, hoping for a miracle that would see them have their young brother again.

“Is that the end of Tony,” the lady, who was confirmed to TheCable as his sister, asked while leaving her brother’s resting place. But she was held by her friends who were themselves in tears.

In a few minutes, it was goodbye to Tony, as the family and friends made their way out of the cemetery. It was tears for the family; it was joyful cash for the undertakers and the funeral managers.

After the burial, the unperturbed caretakers were approached. One of them was willing to talk. A second said he would not reveal anything to us if he knew we were investigating the cemetery.

When asked how much it cost to get a resting place for the dead, he was characteristically enthusiastic and led the reporter through the burial vaults within the cemetery.

We eventually got to what looked like the end of the cemetery, where new vaults had been dug up to receive “Nigeria’s teeming dead”, as he described it.

“You see these vaults here, N480,000 for one space,” Ladi Sanwo, who inherited the business from his father, told TheCable.

“If you want to add marble, the price for that is separate and its N500,000. In all, you’d pay N980,000 for the vault, the plastering, the covering, the marble and your own inscription.

“Is that the final price,” TheCable asked. The man retorted with the cliché common to every informal transaction in Nigeria: “Mi o charge yin,” Yoruba for saying the price was not exorbitant.

He revealed that the other burial places that cost less than N480,000 in the same cemetery were temporal and could be dug up after two weeks to accommodate a new body. This explains why many keep complaining after a month that they could not find their dead.

It is unclear if this is responsible for the “missing grave” of Nigerian music act, Margaret Joseph, popularly known as Zara Gretti, who was buried on April 4, 2014, only for her resting place to be declared missing just a year later.


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