It is a legal requirement in Nigeria that every death that takes place must be recorded and registered by the registrar of births and deaths for the area, in which the death occurred by entering in a register kept for that area particulars concerning the death.
Where a dead body is found and no information as to the place of death is available, the death shall be registered by the registrar of births and deaths for the area in which the body is found.
Person responsible for providing information about a death
· When death occurs at a house or any other place that is not a medical institution, the head of the house any relative or any person aged 18 years and above present at the time of the death should start by going to a nearby hospital and apply for a death certificate;
· When a death occurs in a hospital, health Centre, maternity or nursing home or other like institution, the medical officer in charge of or any person authorized by him in that behalf
· When a dead body is found deserted in a public place, the ward head, village head or the police officer in charge of the area, shall within forty-eight hours of such death give information concerning such death to the registrar for the area where the death occurred.
Medical certificate of death
Every qualified medical practitioner who has attended a person during his last illness shall provide a certificate of death without charge deliver to the person required to register the death a certificate which shall be presented to the registrar and the cause of death as stated in the certificate shall be entered in the death register.
When certificate is issued by coroner
Where an inquest is held on and a certificate rendered in respect of any dead body under the provisions of the Coroners Law, a qualified medical practitioner shall not be required to give a medical certificate. If the death had been previously registered, the particulars shall be so entered without any alteration of the original entry.
Registration of death free of charge
· Registration of death is free of charge before the expiration of seven days from the date of death or finding of the dead body of any person
· fees as may be prescribed by the Registrar-General, after the expiration of thirty days but within twelve months be registered by the registrar or Deputy Chief Registrar
· After the expiration of twelve months from the date of death or finding of the dead body of any person, such death shall not be registered except with the written authority of the Deputy Chief Registrar.
Issuing of certificate of burial for a child or still-born
· Upon registering a death or receiving information of the birth of any child as a still-born, the registrar shall issue a certificate in the form prescribed for the burial of the body:
· Provided that a registrar shall not, without the written authority of a coroner, issue such certificate in any of the following cases if-
(a) it appears to the registrar that there is reason to believe that the deceased died either a violent or unnatural death or died suddenly from a cause unknown or whilst confined in a lunatic asylum or in prison;
(b) the registrar considers that the circumstances connected with the death require investigation; or
(c) he is informed that a report concerning the death in question has been or is about to be made to the coroner.
Burial of deceased child as still-born
(1) No person shall willfully bury or otherwise dispose of or procure to be buried or otherwise to dispose of the body of any deceased child as if it were stillborn.
(2) A registrar shall not issue his certificate for the burial of any stillborn child before there is delivered to him either-
(a) a written certificate in the prescribed form that such child was not born alive signed by a qualified medical practitioner who was in attendance at the birth or who has examined the body of such child; or
(b) a declaration in the prescribed form signed by some person who would, if the child had been born alive, have been required to register the birth, to the effect that no medical certificate can be obtained and that the child was not born alive.
- Births, Deaths, etc. (Compulsory Registration) Act.