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Unending controversy over man killed by lightning, buried, exhumed

UMAR BAYO ABDULWAHAB reports how 47-year-old Adekunle Salami, killed by lightning and rejected by cemetery, was later buried after 47 days in the grave by same Muslim community that rejected him
After spending 47 days in the grave, the body of 47-year-old late staff of registry department of the Kwara state college of education Oro, Kwara state, Adekunle Salami was on Tuesday exhumed and buried at the Ilorin Muslim cemetery. The interment was witnessed by huge crowd of Muslims.
His body was exhumed from a cemetery via Oke-Ose in Ilorin East Local Government Area of the state where his remains were initially interred after it was initially denied burial at the Ilorin Muslim cemetery in September 2017 .
The process of retrieving the corpse was spearheaded by a Lecturer at the Department of Religions, University of Ilorin, Dr. Abubakar Aliagan.
It was learnt that officials of the state Ministry of Health performed the exhumation of the corpse after pathologists from the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital rebuffed all pleas to exhume the body.

Controversies over burial rites
Controversies had trailed the rite of passage for the late activist after he was killed by lightening in Oro in September 2017 .
The burial of the victim became a subject of controversy following the circumstance surrounding his death and what becomes of whoever conducts rite of passage contrary to the dictates of tradition.

How Salami died
The deceased was struck to death by thunder lightening and the circumstance surrounding his death generated reactions from individuals, groups and adherents of different faiths.
He was said to be leaving the institution’s examination office for the Registry Department at about 10: am on that fateful Thursday when he was struck by lightning during a downpour.

No sooner than the incident occurred that the victim’s death began to generate ripples from the members of the community.
The first mystery that greeted his death was that no one could move close to the victim’s body lying on the ground.
It was gathered that attempt by some people to rescue were repelled by a strong spiritual forces in form of electric shock.

Priests to the rescue
After failed attempt to resuscitate the victim, Blueprint gathered that some Sango priest were invited to perform some rites on the corpse of the deceased to appease the gods before it was possible for the body to be evacuated in preparation for burial.
Sources close to the family told our reporter that the priest requested for the sum of N500, 000 and a cow which was used to prepare sacrifice to appease the gods.
But that did not put an end to the whole episode as it was just the beginning of another controversy that trailed the young man’s death.

Controversy over burial rites
For more than 48 hours, the body of the deceased could not be laid to a final resting place following repeated warnings and threats by some people that burying him in that community could have negative consequence for the entire family, the entire town, including his former working place.
Sources told Blueprint that some Sango priest who made it possible for the victim‘s body to be evacuated had instructed that no any other ritual be performed on him before burial.

Rejected by cemetery
From Oro, the body of the deceased was moved to Ilorin with the intention to be buried at the Ilorin Muslims cemetery along New Yidi Road following warnings from sago priest that burying him in Oro town could have adverse consequence on the people.
But the instruction from the priest did not go down well with the management of Ilorin Muslim cemetery.
Consequently, after argument for and against which burial rite to be given the deceased by the management of the cemetery, the body was rejected.

Why body was rejected
Explaining why the management of the cemetery rejected the corps, the coordinator of the cemetery, Dr Abubakar Aliagan told journalists that the management rejected the burial of the deceased at the cemetery following an instruction that the corpse should not undergo the normal Islamic prayers and bath rites.
He said while the deceased was described as a practising Muslim during his life time, Muslims in his vicinity refused to accept that his death was an act of God.
Aligan, who is a lecturer in the University of Ilorin, said the performance of traditional rituals on Adekunle’s corpse after his death and the instructions warning against conducting Islamic rites on it were unacceptable to the management of the cemetery.
“If the late Salami will sleep in our Muslim cemetery, we have to do it in line with lslamic rites,’’ Aliagan said.

New twist
A new dimension was however introduced to the issue few weeks after the Muslim community in Ilorin got wind of the place the body was buried. The initial speculation was that the body was taken to his home town in Osun state for burial only to be discovered that it was buried at a cemetery via Oke-Ose in the outskirt of Ilorin.
As prelude to the final burial at the Ilorin Muslim cemetery last Tuesday, Muslim community in Ilorin had organised a prayer for the deceased which was done in absential for him as a rite to be accorded by Muslim after his demise.
A former Khadi in the Kwara State Sharia Court Appeal, Justice Saliou Oloruntoyin Mohammed led scores of Muslim Umam in observing the prayers for the deceased held at the Ilorin Muslim cemetery.

Daring the gods
Advancing reasons for exhuming the body , Aliagan told journalist after the interment rites that the retrieval of the body from where he was buried earlier was a major triumph for Islam.
He said the rationale behind his action alongside others was to douse the fear in some quarters that whoever performs another rites of passage on the deceased would die prematurely.
Aliagan, a renowned radio commentator, said the victim died as a muslim regardless of the circumstance and it behooves on muslim community to accord him a befitting Islamic rites of passage.


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