The remains of Ms Lois Yusuf Davou, a Chief Nursing Officer at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH) who died eleven months ago is yet to be buried as her children, her late husband’s family and the man she was dating before she passed on, are fighting over the right to give her a befitting burial.
The controversy started many years ago when Lois began having an affair with a married pastor, Yusuf Davou. The Sun reports that their relationship resulted in the pregnancy of their first child, Benjamin. Despite the opposition of the church to their relationship, Lois and Yusuf decided to start a proper home. Yusuf abandoned his first family after he was suspended by the church and moved into an apartment with Lois. There they had two more children, 19-year-old Ephraim and 1 year old Ruth. Lois’s parents were vehemently against their union and refused accepting the brideprice Yusuf offered so he could legally get married to Lois.
Unfortunately, Yusuf passed on in 2007, leaving the children behind with their mother. His family disowned Lois and their children, saying they were not recognized by their family.
Years after, Lois found love again in the arms of one John Dominic who paid her dowry and married her properly. She however died on June 21st 2018.
The task of burying the deceased became a daunting one as the hospital management said they could not release the body of the deceased to Dominic as the deceased wasn’t bearing his name before she died. They also could not release her entitlements to him. Dominic who had already bought a coffin and planned to bury Lois immediately, had to halt his plans.
Her son, Benjamin then came in to retrieve his mother’s corpse for burial. After much discussions, he was informed by the hospital’s administrator, Bitrus Ali, that he must present a letter from the family of the late Yusuf Davou, before her remains can be released to him. He was also directed to clear the debt of his late mother at the cooperative society of JUTH. It was said that before her death the hospital owed her three months salaries but only N20, 000 and N18, 000 respectively were allegedly sent to the family from her salary amounting to about N300, 000.
Confused by the new development, Benjamin instructed his lawyer, L. E. Anyia to write a letter to JUTH, December 17, 2018, to plead with the hospital authority to release his mother’s body for burial. The hospital alleging that there are three families fighting over its ownership, refused and claimed that they need to know who has the legitimate right to bury it.
In a bid to address the issue, Benjamin in company of one of his aunts, paid a visit to Stephen Davou, the elder brother of his late father. Stephen gave Benjamin the permission to bury his mother. Arguing that he didn’t know anything about the relationship between his brother, Yusuf and Lois because he was away from home and recently retired from civil service before he came home and was briefed about the affairs, Stephen initially promised to follow Benjamin to the hospital for clearance the following day to enable him bury his mother. But few hours later he reneged, noting that he was going to bury his late brother’s wife according to Berom tradition.
Following the continuing controversy, the hospital management set up a committee over the matter. Benjamin, Stephen Davou and Dominic John were invited during their sitting and they all agreed that Lois’ body should be released to Benjamin for burial. It was also resolved that the woman’s entitlements be given to her children.
Not satisfied with the committee’s recommendations, JUTH authorities dragged Stephen Davou Jang, John Dominic, Benjamin Davou, to Plateau State High Court, Jos, through its counsel, K.M.G Pwul, praying the court to decide who among the three is entitled to be given her remains for burial. They also wanted the court to determine who among the defendants is entitled to the benefits accruing and due to the late Lois Davou Yusuf.
But in a counter-motion, the deceased woman’s children arguing that the state high court lacks the jurisdiction to adjudicate over the matter as the JUTH is a federal institution dragged the authorities and other parties involved to Federal High Court, Jos. Along the line, the parties, having exhausted the legal options, agreed to settle out-of- court with the children demanding N15 million as damages for time wasted and the trauma they suffered. But so far the hospital has refused not only to pay the amount but to also release Lois’ body for burial.
Speaking on the controversy surrounding the burial of the deceased, the elder brother to late Yusuf Davou, Steven Davou, said he initially agreed that not only should the woman’s body be released to her children to bury anywhere they like but that also her entitlements should be given to them.
“It’s true that the children belonged to my late brother, so we wanted to bury their mother according to our tradition but the children refused, insisting that they want to go and bury their mother in Kwol, Maingo,” he said. “It was when they took me to court that I disowned them. I don’t want to have anything to do with them. I was working to bring them back home but they are not thinking in that direction. The first son said they were born in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, so I don’t have anything to do with them. The corpse should be given to them with their mother’s entitlements.”
Also speaking, the second husband of the deceased, John Dominic, says he has agreed with JUTH to release the body to the children for burial so that Lois’s spirit can rest in peace.
“I don’t know what is still delaying the burial up till now,” he said. “I had wanted to do the burial. I had dug a grave, bought coffin and prepared everything but JUTH refused to release the corpse to me arguing that she does not bear my name. JUTH took the matter to State High Court for determination of who is the right person to release the corpse to but the children went to Federal High Court to challenge the jurisdiction of the court to attend to the matter. They later withdrew the case and opted for out-of-court settlement. I am not interested in the entitlement of their mother. I was only interested in the burial of my wife but since the children said they want to bury their mother, I have given them the permission to do that, the corpse should be released to them.” he said
On his part, Benjamin says he does not know why the hospital management is yet to release his mother’s body to him
“I don’t know why JUTH has not released the corpse. I don’t know when the Director of Administration will give me the body for burial,” he said. “The case has gone to court and we opted for out-of-court settlement but up till now, there is no cheering news from them. I am sad that my mother is 11 months now in the mortuary; there is no reason whatsoever for her body to be kept for that long. I am the first son. They should give me the body of my mother to bury. I am pained that I lost my mother at this age and my pain is compounded by the controversy that was introduced in the plans for her burial. As we speak now, I don’t know what the body looks like in the mortuary. I am begging that the body of my mother should be given to me for burial.” he said