Cameroon: Population outraged as SDO bans entry of corpses into Menchum

Par Atia T. AZOHNWI | Cameroon-Info.Net
Wum - 01-Jun-2020 - 16h06   1981                      
Abdoullahi Aliou, Menchum SDO Screenshot from amateur video
Abdoullahi Aliou, Senior Divisional Officer, SDO, for Menchum has come under criticism for an order banning the transportation of corpses into the Division.

With effect from Friday, May 29, 2020 when the order was signed, Abdoullahi said the corpses of persons who die as a result of COVID-19 or any other disease will not be allowed entry into Menchum Division.

“Any delegation of persons coming into Menchum Division with the corpse of a deceased person shall be sent back without prejudice to sanctions in accordance with the rules and regulations in force,” the civil administrator said.

Considering the looming threat of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, SDO Abdoullahi ordered that: “Any family in Menchum Division that has lost a member out of Menchum Division will only bury the corpse at the place of death and after that seek authorisation for exhumation.  But if for traditional or customs reason the corpse must be buried in his/her community in Menchum, then the family members will have to keep such a corpse in the mortuary at the place of death until this order is repealed, if and only if the grave situation of COVID-19 is improved.”

In what has now been considered a military-style order, the Senior Divisional Officer announced that burials within Menchum Division will henceforth be limited to the nuclear family of the diseased.

His words: “Henceforth, gatherings for burials of deceased persons who died within Menchum Division is strictly restricted to the nuclear family members of the deceased (parents, children, wives or husband) and they must disperse immediately after the said burial.”

Divisional Officers, the Forces of Law and Order, Directors of the Wum and the Benakuma District Hospitals as well as traditional rulers in Menchum Division are charged with the implementation of the said order.

Widespread condemnation

Friday’s administrative order banning the transportation of corpses into Menchum was received with condemnation from members of the elite and the local population.

Leonard Kum, President of development-centred Menchum Headway wondered why the SDO will take such a decision without consulting the people concerned.

“Why will an SDO take very important decisions, touching on the lives of an entire people without at least consulting them or some indigenous leaders? I have had to talk with some key persons on ground who themselves are surprised that such a move was taken without their input,” said Kum.

Menchum elite Mua Patrick, editor at The Guardian Post says the order is wanting on several counts.

Hear him: “The decision is stupid.  It lacks merit and should be repealed. There is absolutely no logic in stopping corpses from entering the division in the name of fighting coronavirus. Is coronavirus not transmitted by human beings? Why has the SDO not banned movements into and out of the division? To me, the decision was hastily taken. It doesn't make sense barring corpses of persons who died from COVID-19 unrelated diseases from getting into the division.”


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