9 February 2013

Nigeria: Dana Crash - AIB Discourages Me From Completing Autopsy - Pathologist

The Lagos State chief Pathologist and Chief Examiner of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Prof. John Obafunwa, yesterday told the coroner court investigating the June 3, 2012 Dana plane crash in Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos State that he was prevented by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) from carrying out autopsy on all the victims of the crash.

He told the coroner court sitting in Ikeja under cross-examination by AIB's counsel, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, that had it been the autopsy was not carried out on the victims, it would have been difficult to identify the victims, which would have led to mass burial.

He said, "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 further disclosed that the two engineers of AIB he met at the wake of the incident had said the post mortem tests should only be restricted to the pilot and the co-pilot.

Obafunwa said, "Two engineers of AIB that we met with at the Board Room of LASUTH on June 5 (three days after the crash) 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.

"But 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."

Irukera, however, said one of AIB's engineers had earlier testified at the coroner court that only the Chief Medical Examiner could provide the "medical cause of death".

Not comfortable with the claim, Obafunwa responded, "I want to believe AIB changed its mind along the line."

While putting him to task by the lawyer, the pathologist maintained that the opinion of the engineers, whose identity he could not mentioned, might not have represented that of AIB.

Like what he had said previously, he lamented the shortage of pathologists in Nigeria. According to him, there are only about four forensic pathologists, including himself, in the country, while the rest are anatomical pathologists parading themselves as forensic pathologists.

The coroner court presided over by Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, adjourned further hearing till February, 28, 2013.

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