Enya Egbe, then a student at University of Calabar in Nigeria close to the border with Cameroon, described the horror of seeing his friend lying on the operating table
A medical student fled an anatomy class in tears after learning the body he was about to work on was that of an old friend who had been killed.
Enya Egbe, then a student at University of Calabar in Nigeria, close to the border with Cameroon, described the horror of seeing his friend of seven years, called Divine, panned out on an operating table with two other corpses.
The 26-year-old told the BBC: “We used to go clubbing together. There were two bullet holes on the right side of his chest.”
The macabre twist of fate emanated from a wider issue in Nigeria, where extrajudicial killings by police forces often see people go missing, or their bodies remain unclaimed by family members because they don’t know where they are.
In Nigeria, unclaimed bodies routinely end up in government mortuaries before being handed to schools
Because of a law in the west African country, these unclaimed bodies routinely end up in government mortuaries and then are handed over to medical schools for students to learn from.
Oyifo Ana, a fellow student who witnessed the episode with Enya, said: “Most of the cadavers we used in school had bullets in them.
“I felt so bad when I realised that some of the people may not be real criminals.”
Enya contacted Divine’s family and learned that they had been looking for his body, contacting three police stations to no avail.
This was after he and three friends were arrested by security agents on the way home from a night out.
The family were eventually able to reclaim his body and reportedly got some of the officers involved in his killing sacked.
Meanwhile, Enya was left with lasting psychological damage as he constantly imagined his friend standing by the door of the anatomy room, meaning that he had to delay his studies and graduate a year after his classmates.
Nigeria’s association of anatomists is now lobbying for a change in the law that will ensure mortuaries obtain family consent and full historical records of bodies donated to schools.
Head of the association, Olugbenga Ayannuga, told the BBC: “There will be a lot of education and a lot of advocacy so people can see that if I donate my body, it will be for the good of the society.”