Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola yesterday accented to the controversial Cremation Bill brought before him by the state House of Assembly to give legal backing after months of heated public debate on the cremation of the dead in the state.
Fashola, while signing the Bill into law said the cremation law was voluntary, adding that its enactment showed how the concept of globalisation had taken its roots in the state.
The governor, who lauded members of the state House of Assembly for responding to global yearnings, noted that their zeal in passing the law also showed that cremation was the best way to go. Dwelling on the content of the new law, Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General, Mr. Ade Ipaye, said the law only provided for voluntary cremation.
According to him, it would be voluntary in the sense that it would allow for voluntary cremation, whereby a person might signify interest to be cremated when he died or a deceased’s family members who must attain the age of 18 years could decide to have the corpse cremated. Ipaye also explained that the, “law now makes it legal for the state government to cremate unclaimed corpses in its mortuaries after a period of time.”
The attorney general added that if the owners of the corpse also failed to show up to collect the ashes after 14 days notice, it would be disposed by the state government subject to the consent and approval of the commissioner for health.
Ipaye explained that Section 2 stipulated that no cremation may take place except in a crematorium established by the ministry of health or by any other body upon the recommendation of the authority and approval by the commissioner for health.
Section 6 of the law, according to him, stipulated the guidelines to getting permission to cremate and listed those who could apply for permission to cremate to include a child or children of the deceased; a close relative of the deceased; an undertaker and an agent/legal representative.
The commissioner said Section 10 of the law stated that the cremator in charge of a crematorium must not dispose of the ashes remaining after a cremation except in accordance with any reasonable written instructions of the applicant.
Ipaye affirmed that the cremator in charge may bury the ashes in a burial ground if, “within one year after the cremation, the applicant does not give reasonable written instructions for the disposal of the ashes.”
The governor also signed law establishing Ibile Oil and Gas Company and law regulating the Christian and Muslims pilgrims’ welfare boards into law.
Fashola explained that though the state had laws enacted in the 80s to regulate the activities of the two boards, the state government decided to harmonise the amendments done on the law overtime to make it uniform and effective.