11th June, 2013
Mixed reactions have trailed the new Lagos Cremation Law, which was signed into law on Monday by Governor Babatunde Fashola.
While some religious leaders opposed the law on the ground that it’s unbiblical and unislamic, as well as being against the Nigerian culture and traditions, other prominent Nigerians are in support of the law.
Director, Muslims Rights Concern, Prof. Ishaq Lakin Akintola said the law is against the Islamic law, which espouses respect for the dead, as well as ran fowl against the African culture and tradition.
“We are not Buddhists in this country. In Islam, when a man dies, we buried him decently. The law will not only affect us but the Christians too and it is not in our culture. A Muslim who dies must have treatment and when you cremate, nobody will ask for forgiveness for him.
“The law is not likely to catch Muslims because of the way Muslims treat their corpses. Those to be cremated must be taken from the mortuary. My advise to Lagosians is that when their loved ones are missing, they should search for them diligently at police stations, mortuaries and other places before they are cremated as unclaimed corpses,” he said.
Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria, Dr. Ola Makinde said the law only provides a choice for Lagosians to either cremate their dead or bury them in the normal way, but noted that nobody would cremate him when he dies.
“The law is against our culture and tradition. Everybody has a choice of burial. My children cannot cremate me and nobody can compel me to be cremated. Cremation is English culture and it is not in the Bible. It is a type of culture where people write their will to be cremated when they died.
“I pity Lagosians, the government should think twice; they should pass laws that people will obey and we should not copy the white people foolishly,” he stated.
Lagos lawyer, Bamidele Aturu said there was nothing wrong with the law as long as it did not compel anyone to cremate his or her loved ones, saying it is just a choice.
Publicity Secretary, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Lagos State, Mr. Joe Igbokwe said the cremation law is a welcome development, saying it would help clean up Lagos, especially the abandoned bodies in the mortuaries.
“It is also voluntary for only those who want to use the services and it also allows those who still want to bury their loved ones to do so without hindrance. Lagosians should embrace it for the good of the commonwealth,” he said.
The Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere decries the cremation law, saying that it is against the tradition and culture of the Yoruba race.
National Publicity Secretary, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin said “in Yorubaland, the bodies of the dead are treated with respect. Three things are revered in Lagos State and they are naming ceremony, marriage and death. Cremation is alien to our culture and tradition.
“Afenifere does not support cremation law, but supports that bodies should be buried in accordance with our tradition. There is a level of spirituality in the mode of burial. We are for proper burial according to ur culture.”
The Director of Media, Catholic Church, Lagos, Gabriel Osu lamented that the rights of the living and the dead were often violated in the country, saying that the cremation law is anti-poor and anti-dead.
He called on those who passed the law to live by example by allowing their dead loved ones to be cremated first to show that they are really serious about the issue.
According to him, it is just an avenue to make more money by the government, saying that he was sure that the various crematoria were already on ground to begin cremation to make money.
“Something is wrong. This law is not in the interest of the dead but for commercial purpose. Government should think of how to improve the quality of life o the people rather than cremation. Our customs and traditions do not support cremation.
“Many people will not want to be cremated and I am sure they will reject it. We have enough land that is not being used. It is just for commercial purpose,” he stated.
According to Pastor Leke Akinola of the Upper Room Baptist Church, cremation is unbiblical and against the culture of the people, saying that he did not think Nigerians would want to cremate their loved ones.
“It is just a waste of time. People just sit down to make laws and waste time. An average Nigerian will not want cremation. I have not read about cremation in the Bible,” he said.