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Although 56-year-old suspect, Shuaib Atanda, is a contractor engaged by the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi Araba, to dispose unclaimed corpses of babies, police said his inability to give a satisfactory answer to what he was doing with some sacks stuffed with 66 dead babies, may soon land him in trouble.

click to expand image"He showed documents to back his claims, but he could not give a satisfactory explanation why he had to travel all the way from Idi Aba to Agbowa to dispose the corpses." Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Frank Mba, said on Tuesday.

But Atanda told PUNCH METRO that he had been a contractor with the LUTH for two years.

"What I do is to evacuate abandoned dead babiesfrom the university. It was not different last Saturday as I was given 66 dead babies to evacuate and deposit at Atan cemetery in Yaba.

Forty of the dead babies were those unclaimed for the month of March, While 26, were for the month of April." he said.

Atanda alleged that after bribing some staff of the LUTH, he discovered that the amount left from the N185,000 the hospital paid him would not be enough to bury the corpse at Atan cemetery.

He said,"There was no money left for me to buy a space at Atan cemetery where we usually bury them. The cemetery would collect between N90,000 and N100,000 before one can get a space. But I have bribed nearly everybody in that department (Morbid and Anathomy) before I could get that contract.

"For instance, I gave N50,000 to O/C mortuary; I gave N40,000 to one Everest in that department, two workers in the account department also collected N10,000 each. That was the usual practice; I have been doing this job for a long time.

"So at the end of the day, I had to take a risk and decide to find a bush to bury the children because I also needed money to feed my family. The police caught me on the way," he said, denying that he went with the corpses to Agbowa for any other purpose.

When questioned why he had to go as Agbowa to bury the corpses, Atanda, who denied having ulterior motive for his action, simply said, "I am sorry."

But the head of department of Morbid and Anathomy, Prof. Kumbi Banjo, said the LUTH was already investigating Atanda's allegation. "It is true that he is our contractor to clear unclaimed baby corpses. We have such corpses on ground because many people were so devastated by their losses that they just abandoned the corpses. We have to evacuate such babies who had been there for a long time. But the university is looking into this problem, he said.

The 'O/C mortuary,' who is actually the principal head Assistant of Morbid and Anathomy, Mr. Abraham Ekhome, denied Atanda's allegation. "It is a mere fabrication. We use about four contractors and I have Never collected any bribe or gift from them," he said.

However, Mba said police preliminary investigation into the matter also led to the arrest of some workers in the department of Morbid and Anathomy of the teaching hospital.

He said police investigation was still continuing, adding "For Now, we are satisfied that Atanda is a bonafide contractor with LUTH and that he was charged with the duty of disposing abandoned dead babies. We are sure the suspect is neither a ritualist nor a murderer nor trafficker. Other contending issues like corruption and abuse of office will be investigated."

----By Sesan Olufowobi

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