Concerned families on Wednesday thronged the popular Abari cemetery in the Lagos Island East Local Council Development Area following report that an ancient tree, felled by storm, has destroyed some tombs in the graveyard.
Eyewitnesses said the constant movement by a retinue of people, who turned up on Wednesday to ascertain if the graves of their loved ones were affected, has disrupted the peace and tranquility of the public burial ground.
PUNCH reported that more than 50 graves were damaged by the tree, which shattered a considerable number of the vaults.
Narrating the incident, one of the eyewitnesses who was a worker at the cemetery explained that they had closed for the day when the tree fell around 9pm.
Shortly after it fell, a heavy downpour followed.
While some graves were destroyed, others were partially damaged.
Another worker who spoke on the contion of anonymity revealed that it was the second time a tree would fall and shatter graves in the cemetery.
He said, “This tree has been here for long; we can’t even say the exact number of years because the elderly guards that we met here said it was there when they were young, so that showed that it had been here for more than 100 years.
“A branch of a tree had fallen before and destroyed some graves, so we got someone to cut the tree into pieces. But last week Wednesday, we had closed and were at home when one of the labourers that used to come to the cemetery to work called me that the big tree in the cemetery had fallen.
“When we got here the next day, Thursday, we saw that the tree had covered some graves. It was the storm that uprooted the tree. We cannot be certain about the number of graves that were affected till the tree is cleared because there are a lot of graves under the tree.
“The chairman of the council, Alade Folawiyo, came here yesterday (Tuesday) with some management staff and the council engineer to inspect the cemetery.
“Since yesterday, families have been trooping in to check if their graves are affected and we are also taking records of people trooping in, but they can’t repair them now because the tree has not been removed.”
The worker added that the council chairman had contracted some people to cut the tree to enable the affected families to repair their graves.
While the correspondent counted 50 damaged graves that were visible, a council official who asked not to be quoted said over 100 graves were affected.
The Chief Press Secretary to the council Chairman, Olushoga Olushola, in a statement on Wednesday, urged families whose loved ones were buried in the cemetery to contact the council engineer.
The statement read, “This is to inform all the families that buried their loved ones at Abari Muslim Cemetery, Lagos Island, that there has been a natural disaster (the biggest tree fell heavily with its branches) which happened a few days ago as a result of heavy downpour. This has affected many burial vaults. Families are directed to get in touch with the council engineer for more information.”