8 February 2013

Nigeria: AIB Wanted Dana Crash's Autopsy Restricted to Pilot, Co-Pilot, Pathology Tells Coroner

The Consultant Pathologist and Chief Medical Examiner of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Friday, said that the Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, had insisted that post mortem examination be restricted to the bodies of the pilot and co-pilot.

Professor John Obafunwa stated this during a coroner's inquest into the cause of the June 3, 2012 Dana air mishap.

"Two engineers of AIB that we met with at the Board Room of LASUTH on June 5 (2012) told me I did not need to carry out post mortem on all the victims but should be restricted to the pilot and co-pilot," Mr. Obafunwa said, during a cross examination by Babatunde Irukera, AIB's counsel.

During his testimony, last month, Mr. Obafunwa had stated that the bodies of Peter Waxtan, 55, the American pilot, and Mahendra Rathore, 34, the Indian co-pilot; and nine others may have been "completely incinerated."

Pressure from within

In what appeared to be a shocking revelation, Mr. Obafunwa also cleared the air on why Kunbi Banjo, a pathologist at the hospital, was excluded from the team of pathologists who conducted the post mortem examination on the crash victims.

Mrs. Banjo, a Professor of Anatomical Pathology, doubles as a consultant for AIB and had been involved in the agency's past air accident investigations

The consultant pathologist said that Mrs. Banjo had also tried to dissuade him from carrying out post-mortem tests on all the crash victims.

"If we did not carry out autopsy on all the victims, how do we identify the pilot and the co-pilot? That is a question nobody could answer," said Mr. Obafunwa, a Professor of Forensic Pathology.

"If we did not do the autopsy on all the victims, we would not have been able to identify them and we would have adopted the old method of mass burial which is the old method we insisted we were not going back to," he added.

Mr. Obafunwa also said that there is a dearth of pathologists in Nigeria, noting that there are about four forensic pathologists in the entire country.

The rest are anatomical pathologists, according to Mr. Obafunwa.

Oyetade Komolafe, the coroner, adjourned till February 28 for further hearing.

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