Lagos - Some clerics on Wednesday condemned the passage of the law legalising voluntary cremation of corpses and unclaimed bodies in Lagos State
The Lagos State House of Assembly (LAHA) on Dec. 27 2012 passed the Cremation bill after it scaled through the third reading at its plenary.
In telephone interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the clerics described the bill as against all ethics and beliefs of religions in Nigeria.
Monsignor Gabriel Osu, Director of Social Communication, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, however, noted that some of the cemeteries in Lagos metropolis needed rehabilitation.
"The abode of the dead should be neat, decent and respected,” he said adding that it was, however, not enough reason for allowing cremation.
``The assembly should pursue issues and interests that would benefit the people in the area of housing, accommodation, security, food, health and environment.
``The legislators should look at laws on widows, women, child rights and the use of underage as child labour, rather than proposing and passing a bill on cremation,” he said.
Osu identified youth unemployment, insecurity, corruption, indiscipline and infrastructure decay as some of the challenges facing the country.
Also, Lekan Ajirotutu, spokesman, African Traditional Religion of Nigeria (AATREN), told NAN that cremation was not in line with African tradition.
``Cremation is against the African culture, tradition, and religion.
``In our tradition, one must be buried-- not just anyhow-- but in a coffin. It is Muslims that believe that a casket is not necessary,” he said.
In his reaction, an Islamic cleric, Imam Shuaib Abdullahi, said that the law was passed against the wishes of majority of residents of Lagos State.
Abdullahi, who is the Executive Director, Zakat and Fadaqat Foundation, said that majority of the populace had expressed objection to the law, during the public hearing on it.
“When the public hearing was conducted, the number of people that supported the motion was significantly low, as against the majority who were against the bill.
``If democracy is about number, I think they ought to have listened to the voice of the majority,” he said.
Rev. Femi Asiwaju, Vice President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Lagos State Chapter, said that cremation was ungodly, "and negates Bible, Quran and traditional doctrine.
``It is a heathen practice; it is ungodly. The Holy Bible makes it clear that the body is not ending its journey here; the body will come up as immortal.
``There is a scripture that says it is better for one to be born dead than not to have a good burial. It is not optional," he said.