Working Lives: The Cemetery Supervisor Who Got a “Thank You” Visit from a Ghost
“I also pray for the families of the deceased after the burial. I ask all of them to come together and I pray for them. Especially those who have left wives and little children”.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Peter Agboola. I am from Aromoko area in Ekiti State. My mum is from Ikorodu here in Lagos State while my dad is a bonafide indigene of Aromoko community in Ekiti State.
Tell us about your education.
I attended Bishop Ajayi Crowther Memorial Primary School in Bariga. I finished primary school in 1981 and proceeded to Bishop Ajayi Crowther Secondary School. I completed secondary school in 1986.
How did you get into this line of work?
I started a government job in 2003. I was employed as a local government worker through the Kick Against Indiscipline (KIA) scheme. Then in 2005, I converted to Lagos State Traffic Management Officer (LASMA) as a coordinator. I was asked to come to the cemetery two years ago to replace an officer who passed away. He was a pastor.
How much do you get paid monthly?
My salary is close to N100,000:00
How much do you save and where do you keep your money?
I save between N35,000:00 and N50,000:00 monthly in the bank. I am also a member of a cooperative society in the local government. I save a little money there. The benefit is that I can borrow money from the cooperative if I have an important thing to do that requires a huge amount.
Where do you live and how much do you pay for rent?
I live in Kajura area of Ikorodu. My rent is N150, 000:00 per annum for a room and parlor self-contain.
Do you believe in stories about ghosts and strange things in the cemetery?
You are calling these strange incidents superstitions because you have not experienced them. We have seen the things you call superstitions with our eyes here and heard them with our eyes. I can tell you many things. Once, a colleague was sleeping here after smoking a cigarette. Suddenly, someone slapped him. When he opened his eyes, he did not see anyone. The slap was not a dream. He felt the force on his face for some time even after waking up. I have had my own personal experience. I am a Muslim and I help people perform the janaza, the Muslim funeral prayer free of charge. I don’t know why God brought me here to work. I don’t ask them to pay me even some of the money they would have paid if they invite a cleric to perform the prayer.
I got home one evening, said my prayers, and went to bed. A dead person appeared to me in my dream. Then I heard a voice asking me to open my eyes. He told me I was not dreaming. When I eventually opened my eyes, I saw the man who was speaking. He waved at me and said “thank you” three or four times. Then he disappeared. It must have been one of the dead Muslims I said the janazaover. I continue to do this. I also pray for the families of the deceased after the burial. I ask all of them to come together and I pray for them. Especially those who have left wives and little children.
Before I started working with the government, I was working somewhere at Oshodi with a company that produced textiles. To resume at 6 am when I was on the morning shift, I usually left home around 5 am. This was in the early 1970s. Oshodi was mostly filled with bushes. On the way to work early in the morning, I used to see dead people walking around. I saw some leaving the cemetery while others return. Sometimes they would even block my way. I used to just pray silently. Sometimes I say to them, “I don’t have anything to do with you, let me pass”. Then they would move out of my way.
Ghosts never scared me. I am a firm believer in Allah. So, I am not afraid of anything. Besides, God has given a gift to each one of us. He has blessed me with the ability to deal with encounters with ghosts in a calm way. What I am telling you is real. It is not superstition. Some people come to the cemetery and say they want to go and see the graves of their loved ones and you will not see them coming out again. Those are the ghosts that are going back to their graves.
Do you face any dangers on this job?
Yes. There are people who want to take the body parts of buried people. Some people who are working on charms beg us and offer us money to allow them to just sleep in the cemetery for seven days.
Do you need charms to do this job?
No, you don’t need charms to do this job. That is what I used to think before. But today I am here. Do I have charms with me? No. I have never seen any of my colleagues with charms. The only thing is for you to have a clean conscience before God and man. Make sure your hands are clean. Do not engage in any evil deed. You can then rest assured of God’s protection in everything that you do. I only rely on Allah’s protection.
What are your future plans?
My future plans are in God’s hands.