Nigerian and Iranian’s bodies lie unclaimed in Lahore morgue
By Shahnawaz Khan
LAHORE: The decomposing bodies of an Iranian and a Nigerian are lying at the city mortuary, with Pakistani and foreign authorities giving conflicting accounts of why the bodies have not been returned to their countries.
The Nigerian consul general said that they were unaware about the death of their citizen, while the Iranian press attaché said that they were waiting for documents from the Pakistani authorities that would prove the deceased’s nationality.
The Punjab health minister ordered an inquiry into the incident. Both foreigners were detained in the Kot Lakhpat Central Jail and died in the jail hospital of natural causes. Ababatunda, the Nigerian, died in the jail hospital on April 4. The hospital documents state TB as the cause of death. His body was sent to the city mortuary for an autopsy but the body started decomposing due to lack of proper freezing facilities at the morgue.
Muhammad Ghafoor, clerk at Kot Lakhpat police station, said that they had sent a letter to the Nigerian Embassy about this matter but did not receive a reply. “We will proceed after the Nigerian authorities give us written approval for carrying out the deceased’s funeral,” he said.
However, Alicheni, the Nigerian consul general, told Daily Times that he had received no information in this regard. He said that they would take the body back if the Pakistani authorities contacted them.
Farooq, deputy superintendent of Kot Lakhpat jail, said that the jail officials had informed and provided the whereabouts of the deceased to the Nigerian Embassy and a Nigerian official had visited the jail in this regard a couple of days ago.
The Iranian prisoner, Dr Abdul Dehkan, died of a heart attack on June 10. He was arrested in Pakpattan in 2003, while trying to enter Pakistan without proper travelling documents. He was sent to Sahiwal Jail and later to Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore, where he was awaiting trial. His body was sent to the morgue for an autopsy.
Investigation officer of the case, Muhammad Boota, an assistant sub-inspector at Kot Lakhpat police station, told Daily Times that he had met with the Iranian Consulate authorities. He said that the jail authorities had provided documentation and identification of the deceased to the Iranian Consulate but they had not replied.
Mir Dehkan, press attaché of the Iranian Consulate, told Daily Times that the consulate was waiting for documentation and identification of the deceased from Pakistani officials, which would prove the nationality of the deceased. Only then would they proceed, he added.
All four freezers in the city mortuary stopped working on Wednesday and the mortuary staff had to remove the bodies from the freezers. The Punjab minister for health, Dr Tahir Ali Javed told Daily Times that he had ordered an inquiry into the matter.