#EndSARS: 99 dead bodies deposited at LASUTH – chief pathologist

The Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry for Restitution for Victims of SARS related abuses and the Lekki Tollgate Incident, has urged victims of the Oct. 20 shooting of #EndSARS protesters by members of the Nigerian Army to come forward with their petitions.

Chief Pathologist of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Prof. John Obafunwa, yesterday disclosed that at least 99 dead bodies were deposited at the hospital’s morgue during and after the #EndSARS protest.

Consequently, the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Restitution for Victims of SARS and the Lekki Tollgate Incident ordered that the record of all 99 corpses deposited in Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) mortuary between October 19 and 24, 2020 be submitted to the panel.

Obafunwa made this disclosure before the panel investigating the Lekki incidents yesterday while counsel to #EndSARS protesters, Mr. Olumide Fusika (SAN) cross-examined him.

During the cross-examination, Obafunwa stated that prior to the deployment of the military to Lekki Toll Gate Plaza, where youths were protesting against police brutality, no one was killed.

The chief pathologist, who was summoned to present autopsy reports on victims of the Lekki shooting incident, told the panel that the reports showed different degrees of injuries.

He disclosed that a total of 99 bodies were recorded between October 19 and 24, 2020. According to him, three bodies were from Lekki as recorded by the people who brought them in.

Also at the sitting, Fusika said: “I want to prove to this panel that the claim that only three dead bodies were brought in from Lekki is not true,” Mr Fusika said, while questioning the pathologist.”

Fusika requested that the panel order the chief pathologist “to present the records of all 99 cases recorded during the period. Since he was told that only those three are from Lekki, he might have been told the wrong thing.”

Responding to Fusika’s request, Obafunwa said the bodies were deposited by the Lagos State Environmental Health Monitoring Unit (SEHMU), an agency in charge of recovering dead bodies.

He said: “I do not go about scavenging for dead bodies. It is when they are brought in that we are told and it is recorded where they were taken from.”

He said according to their records, the bodies were recovered from different parts of Lagos including Ikorodu, Lagos Mainland, Yaba, Mushin and others.

Lagos State Chief Coroner, Dr Mojisola Dada, called on members of the public whose family members are missing between October 19 and 27, 2020 to contact the Department of Pathology and Forensic Medicine, LASUTH for the bodies.

The revelation followed a public notice by the chief coroner, urging those who lost loved ones to come for their bodies.

The notice read in part: “This is to notify the general public that the Chief Coroner of Lagos State, Hon Justice M. A. Dada pursuant to Section 15, Coroner’s System Law of Lagos State, 2015 the pathology team would want all those who have lost loved ones between October 19 and 27, 2020 (that is, next-of-kin of the victims) to provide relevant information that would assist the identification exercise.”

Consequent upon testimonies from witnesses that many protesters were killed by the Nigerian Army, Fusika requested that the chief coroner be ordered to produce records of the 99 deaths to the panel, including autopsy reports.

Giving her position, Chairman of the panel, Justice Doris Okuwobi ruled that the chief pathologist should produce a record showing the 99 deaths at the next adjourned date.

However, she said autopsy reports will not be required as that would expand the work of the panel beyond the terms of reference. The matter was adjourned till June 19.

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