Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola Wednesday approved the repatriation of 54 dead bodies of South Africans who were among the 116 that lost their lives in the Synagogue Church building collapse that occurred in Ikotun area of the state.
Fashola gave the approval at a meeting with delegates of the South African government, amid complaints by the bereaved that the bodies were being held for too long.
Sympathising with the South African government over the loss of lives, the Lagos State governor explained that his administration had no reason to delay the bodies from giving proper burial according to traditional rites, but noted the need to ensure proper identification.
He said: “We have no reason to deny you the right to take those 54 bodies, you have my word, you can take them whenever you are ready to do so. It is left for you to decide whether to take them in batches or wait until we conclude the exercise. But if you are ready, my team will ensure that you take them without any delay.
“We regret that this has happened here. Unfortunately, I have managed such issue during the Dana plane crash and I understand the anxiety of families who want closure and the religious undertone as well. Our responsibility is to ensure that families get closure. And those culture exist here. I know that this is an issue that has attracted global attention.
“I understand the call by South Africans to get the bodies of their relatives but we cannot at this time get the process wrong because if we release a body, we want to ensure that each family takes the body of their relative. It will be unpardonable for us to make mistake.
“The choice of South Africa for the test was a special decision to make the process easier for South Africans who bore the bigger brunt of the tragedy. So since the relatives were in South Africa, it was easier to use a laboratory in the country, where we could easily take samples from the deceased families for the test. It was meant to further demonstrate what our intentions were,” Fashola said.