Criminals have now begun to engage in the dangerous act of kidnapping dead bodies from mortuaries in Imo state.
*From left: Chukwudi Chukwu and Bethel Ibeh, suspected kidnappers of a female corpse in Imo State. Photo by Chinonso Alozie
If nothing is done soonest, relatives of the deceased in the morgue, may start facing another dimension of sorrow for keeping the dead in the mortuary.
South-East Voice gathered in Owerri, that kidnappers might have found a new dangerous trend, whereby they break into motuaries and collect the dead bodies after which they demand for ransom either from the relatives or a proprietor of the targeted mortuary.
One of such incidents happened in Imo State, where a female corpse was stolen by two young men after which they were said to have asked the manager of the mortuary to pay them a ransom of N5million.
In what some had described as a new trend by kidnappers, took place in the month of September, 2018, in Ikeduru Local Government Area. The name of the affected mortuary where the suspects stole the dead body was given as Jesus Hospital Motuary.
The suspects who were arrested and paraded at the Imo Police Command, gave their names as Chukwudi Chukwu, 28-year-old man and Bethel Ibeh 29-year-old man.
One of the suspects, Chukwu told South-East Voice, that he is from Okwu while Ibeh claimed to be a native of Ugiri Ike, both of Ikeduru Local Government Area in Imo State.
The two suspects were said to have gained entrance into the mortuary in the night through one of the windows and pulled out the dead body.
They went to the forest and deposited the lifeless body and started communicating with the man in charge of the mortuary to offer them a sum of N5million before they would release the body to him.
The deceased was in the forest for more than a week, according to the manager of the mortuary, Mr. Prince Charles Nwanshi.
He said: “I was worried when they called me to give them N5million. I was thinking of what to tell the owners of the dead body. I was comfortable because the relatives of the kidnapped body will hardly believe me.
“I was confused. I was advised to report the matter to the Police, which I did. It was after a week that the body was recovered and these two boys were captured.”
Nwanshi continued: “I am surprised that one of the boys is my former staff. I could not believe it. I want to tell you that I have suffered and I thank the Imo Police for handling this matter professionally.”
Speaking to South-East Voice, both suspects confessed to the crime and pleaded that it was poverty that led them to committing a thing like that.
While Chukwu, said: “I did not know when I did it. I want the police to forgive me.” Ibeh said: “I was encouraged by Chukwu to join him in this business. I will not do it again.”
Meanwhile, residents were thrown into shock as they discused among themselves what could have prompted young boys to visit the mortuary just to steal dead bodies and demand for ransom without any iota of fear.
Reportedly, the number of motuaries in Imo State had increased which may also portend great danger.
With residents calling for improved security in the state, there is also need to monitor activities in and around mortuaries to curtail similar development.
This is as motuary proprietors in Imo State had been advised to establish a quick information dissemination in case of any threat to their businesses.
A resident, Mr Okechukwu Ibeh, who spoke to South-East Voice, said: “For me, I am shocked. How can young people think of going to a mortuary to steal dead bodies? They want to make money and I ask which type of money is this? Will they be alive to enjoy this money?
“My thinking is that, the police must introduce different tactics in this early time just to nip it in the bud.”
Also, a mortuary attendant who did not want his name mentioned said: “Some of these mortuaries are not protected. They don’t have fence. You can even see the dead bodies from afar. They expose them and leave the bodies outside. They are even beaten by rain.
“Another problem is that some people who establish mortuaries don’t even manage them well, that is why you hear stories of people coming to a mortuary to carry a corpse that is not their relative. I think the government should intervene in this matter.”