BENIN CITY-Investigators are now searching for evidence to end the controversies that have continued to trail the discovery of a ‘ritualist’s den’ with 20 mummified bodies along Asoro slope, Ekehuan road, Uzebu quarters, Benin City on August 17, 2022.
It was scooped that the search team made several visits to the building with different experts and missions, last week.
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, last Friday gave police in the seven days ultimatum to unravel the true situation of the alleged ritualist’s den in Benin City.
It was gathered that the Governor’s matching order has set the police command on its toes.
Some policemen, officials of the Edo State ministry of health, Oredo local government area and Edo State Security Network, visited the site, last Friday, August 19, 2022.
They took close-up shots of tags on the mummified bodies and stumbled on a rain drenched Violation Notice with the heading “EDO STATE MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY”, and a subheading “Edo State Taskforce On Development Control And Environmental Issues”, issue to; The Owner/Manager St. Gabriel Mortuary, along Asoro Hill, Ekehuan road, Benin City, dated 13th May, 2022.
On the notice was a written remark “Treated and Cleared”.
Our reporter spotted the Officer-in-charge, homicide section, Criminal Investigation Department, CID, Edo police command, Benin City, SP Austin Osamede in company of others closely examined the document and achieved it.
A poster placed with a bold inscription “ST GABRIEL FUNERAL HOME, Asuen Hospital…”, also received the attention inside the facility.
The investigators further took shots of a stretcher, television and generating sets, beddings, shrines and other household property scattered in the apartment.
It will be recalled that the police had last week disclosed that they collected a card from one Nappier Osaro who claimed that the corpse of his biological mother was among the 20 mummified bodies.
Our reporter further scooped that expert examination of the mummified bodies has also be conducted to ascertain whether any part was removed for ritual.
Meanwhile, the state police command has appealed to residents to remain calm as it would soon reveal the outcome of its investigation.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police, Investigation, Olawore Oluwole told journalists last Friday that “Based on credible intelligence, we busted a bungalow located at Asoro, Ekenwan Road in Benin City where some dried bodies and items, like generators, gas and oxygen cylinder were found.
“Five suspects have already been arrested in connection with the incident. Those arrested include Chimobi Okosua, Samuel Okoh both from Afikpo in Ebonyi State; Gideon Sunday from Akwa-Ibom State; Victor Obeche from Anambra State and Yusuf Lawal from Katsina State; while one Otu Chukwu who was alleged to be the owner of the bungalow is still at large”.
Earlier, the Police Command in a statement by its Deputy Public Relations Officer ASP Jennifer Iwegbu late Wednesday night stated that its men have busted a ‘ritualist’s den’ and discovered 20 mummified bodies in a building along Ekehuan road in Benin City.
She said the discovery followed a tip off as three suspects were arrested during police invasion of the scene.
Also, the Public Relations Officer for Edo State Police Command SP Chidi Nwabuzor said five shrines were discovered in the building.
He said the building cannot be a morgue as speculated in some quarters.
SP Nwabuzor stated this while fielding questions from journalists shortly after a visit to the facility.
“The place cannot be a mortuary because the building is uncompleted as we speak.
“Secondly, there is no facilities to prove or ascertain that that place is a modern mortuary. A mortuary must have basic, modern facilities for us to call it a mortuary.
“Thirdly, there was no signpost, a mortuary should have a signpost telling members of the public, customers that they are opened for such business. These are signs to show that that place is not a mortuary.
“Lastly, we have shrine all over the place with flesh blood of animals all over the place, SP Nwabuzor said.
Some casket makers and sellers on the road to the a private morgue before the embattled building told our reporter that the facility is a mortuary and not ritualist’s den.
“That place is a mortuary, he is well known as a strong mortuary attendant and traditionalist, I am just surprised how he brought his shrine to his morgue. He has four morgues in this town, he relocated from First East Circular to here, Ekewan Road, that place is a morgue, I know him, I feel this is a gang up against rising competition in funeral services in this area”, a casket seller maintained.
Our correspondent investigation revealed that the corpses were relocated to the new building from a morgue operated by the fleeing Mr Chukwu Otu.
It was gathered that Mr Chukwu Otu is a mortician and traditional worshipper who owns other morgues in Benin City.
Investigation further revealed that the mummified bodies were labelled for easy identification ahead of claim, in line with mortuary practice.
It was learnt that the owner Mr Chukwu Otu acquired that parcel of land as he started erecting the embattled building recently.
No fresh corpse was seen among the 20 mummified bodies.
“The suspects we arrested so far made confessions that the man we are looking for who is on the run Chukwu Otu is a mortician with a private hospital in Benin City.
“Yes, the bodies we saw were tagged as it is done in mortuaries”, SP Nwabuzor added.