When humans toil day and night to amass wealth for survival or inheritance, they do so tirelessly because they see earth as a working place.
Alas! life is short and humans are not destined to live forever. However, it is widely believed that there is life after death which is eternal and the race to eternity starts from the grave.
Truly, they say ‘a grave’ beyond its definition as an excavation for burial of a body is also a final resting place. If not exhumed, the permanent shelter of a dead body as his or her soul religiously journey to hereafter.
But for people of Hausa/Fulani/Kanuri community (Sabo extraction) in Ilesa, the former administrative headquarters of Ijesaland, their story is different. A ‘grave‘ is not a final resting place for any beloved who lost his or her life.
The actions of evil people who exhume corpses and chop off private parts, heads, hands and sometimes legs have made grave – hellish place for their dead ones.
On a Tuesday morning, WITHIN NIGERIA travelled to Ilesa, the former administrative headquarter of Ijesaland. At the mention of cemetry, okada riders would drive away. They simply do not want to hear the purpose of visit. The rising rate of money rituals did not help matter.
However, this reporter got an arranged transportation from popular roundabout to the ‘Hausa cemetry’ which is located along Ilesa-Akure express road.
When this reporter alighted from the bike, he wondered why people would travel such distance at midnight to perpetrate such evil act.
It was a very quiet place and its proximity to the main express road sent heart racing because one would wonder how perpetrators escape the watchful eyes of people and law.
This reporter moved closer to the cemetery but a short gate which was constructed at the centre of a barbed-wire fence did not allow him to move further.
The barbed-wire fence allowed one to see the bushy state of the cemetery and there were some pieces of unused clothes at a side.
There was a particular grave that appeared wet and new, a clear proof that life is temporal and we all would be buried one day after everything has come to an end.
‘This was purposely done to prevent random access to the cemetery due to past events’, this statement from the bike man rescued this reporter from deep thought about the vanity of life.
While exchanging words with the Okada rider, this reporter notices some people with baskets, cutlasses and hoes passing by which indicates that they are peasant farmers. We took a walk and saw people cultivating on their farmlands.
We walked back to the cemetery, mounted on the bike and journeyed to Sabo market to see the Seriki of the Hausa community in the market.
As we ride to Sabo, the thoughts of life and its vanity could not escape the mind of this reporter seeing people helplessly in cold.
This reporter alighted from the bike and discharged the rider. He sighted a man probably in his late forties struggling with his motorcycle at a corner. This reporter moved closer, assisted him and ended up requesting for his attention.
Mo n wa seriki Hausa of Sabo market? (I’m looking for Seriki Hausa of Sabo Market)?, this reporter asked.
He took this reporter to a building and asked him to sit down on a wooden chair. Why do you want to see Seriki? Are you related or you have business with him? He randomly threw three questions all in Yoruba language to this reporter.
“I am a journalist and I am here for important matter”, this reporter replied. He picked up his phone from a table and dialed a number. He spoke with the person for 2 minutes in a native language. After his phone conversation, he told this reporter to wait for the Seriki.
17 minutes later, a dark skinned man in his late forties who was later identified as Salisu Dahiru alighted from a bike and walked towards the building.
He signaled to the person who called him to bring this reporter to his office.
Countless dead bodies have been exhumed – Seriki Salisu
The Seriki of Hausas in Ilesa Sabo Market, Salisu Dahiru confirmed that the community has a cemetery and it is located along Ilesa-Akure express road.
Dahiru who revealed that the piece of land was sold to them also stated that dead bodies can only buried if the parents or close relatives of the deceased does not want the corpse to be transported back home.
Confirming the story of exhumation of dead bodies by unknown persons, Salisu Dahiru told WITHIN NIGERIA that the story is genuine and real.
“This sad incident is not new because it has been happening for years but it was very rampant last year”, he said.
According to Dahiru, several dead bodies were secretly exhumed and body parts chopped off.
“They normally observe before they strike. They would wait till we bury fresh corpses. Then we normally see dead bodies lying helplessly on ground without head, private parts or hand whenever we visit the cemetery for sanitation or to bury another dead body”, a rather sad man said.
Police vowed to investigate the matter but we’ve not been contacted since last year – Seriki
Dahiru while explaining actions the community had taken to arrest the situation told WITHIN NIGERIA that they reported the case to the police last year and the police vowed to investigate the matter but we have not received any development about the matter since then.
We’ve taken certain steps to secure the cemetery too – Seriki
He also disclosed that the community replaced the cement-made fence with barbed-wire type and elders urged members especially those who ply the route to always report strange movements.
We also intensify our surveillance skills and all our timely efforts have actually paid off because we have not recorded any evil action this year, he added.
We still believe in justice – Seriki
While expressing displeasure over the delay investigation, Dahiru stated that his people still believe in justice and the competency of the Nigeria Police to apprehend the criminals who exhumed corpses and chopped off their parts.
Dahiru further stated that the full might of the law must catch up with those evildoers.
“We are visitors in this town. We do not want troubles or any form of violence. We appeal to the government to secure our properties and make our people feel safe because this is where we work to feed our families”, he said.
While advocating for peace, Salisu Dahiru also called for financial and technical support from the government.
We want to expand the size of the cemetery in order to accommodate more corpses. We have commenced financial contributions to buy more lands and also construct barbed-wire to protect the acquired land, he added.
A police officer who prefers to be anonymous told WITHIN NIGERIA that the community truly reported the matter to the police and investigation was launched to unravel the matter.
“The matter was reported and we investigated. Our investigation only averted reoccurrence. We have not apprehended any suspect and non-availability of traceable evidence did not help matter”, he added.
However, WITHIN NIGERIA gathered that there are several unreported cases of exhuming of dead bodies across cemeteries in Ilesa metropolis which were aided by night guards employed to secure the vicinities.
There are also unconfirmed reports of host communities intentionally keeping the cases away from the police because they believe reporting such case might result into unwarranted arrests or giving host communities bad names.
As this reporter stepped out of the office of Seriki of Hausa community in Sabo Ilesa, several thoughts crossed his mind. How did relatives of corpses whose parts were chopped feel?
Should people struggling to make ends meet buy land and still construct barbed-wire because they want to bury their loved ones?
What is the police doing to solve this matter? What are we doing as people to curb this menace? Shall we continue to live in denial of all these evil actions when we probably have these evildoers as friends, relatives or neigbours?