Sokunle Soyemi, a Lagos pathologist, has argued to the Ikeja coroner’s court that the first autopsy conducted on Sylvester Oromoni (Jnr) in Warri, Delta state was botched.
Oromoni died last November after he was alleged to have been beaten by five colleagues for refusing to join a cult.
His father had claimed he was attacked and fed a liquid chemical that eventually led to his death.
Dowen College, however, dismissed the claim and alleged that the boy sustained injuries while playing football.
Two autopsies were carried out, one by the Delta police and the second by the force’s Lagos command.
The first autopsy had revealed that Oromoni died of “acute lung injury due to chemical intoxication”.
The department of public prosecution (DPP), after the second autopsy, said instead that Oromoni died naturally.
NAN reports that Soyemi, who has 17-year experience in pathology, testified at Ikeja coroner’s court for the Lagos government on Tuesday during the latest sitting of the inquest set up to unravel the cause of the student’s death.
He was led in evidence by Jide Martins, the director of the Lagos state directorate of public prosecution (DPP).
Soyemi said the body of Oromoni was brought to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) on December 13, 2021, and he conducted an autopsy the following day in the presence of seven other pathologists.
“Before I started the autopsy, the doctor who conducted the first autopsy was in attendance throughout. I observed the first incision that was made for the first autopsy,” he said.
“I observed the first autopsy was not properly done. All the things that were not properly done were documented in my report.
“At the first autopsy, the pathologist never opened the oesophagus (the food pipe). He also did not open the trachea (air pipe). These are vital things he should not have left out.
“The conclusion in his report was chemical intoxication. For one to be intoxicated with a chemical, that chemical has to pass through the food path.
“If one does not open the food path, one cannot talk about chemical intoxication. The chemical that should be injurious to one should pass through the oesophagus.
“It should not have been anything near chemical intoxication if it did not pass through the oesophagus.”
The witness further said the pathologist who conducted the first autopsy in Warri, Delta, did not look into the lungs of the deceased and also did not detach the heart from the lungs as was the standard practice.
“If he had done that and weighed the lungs, the weight alone would have told him that something was wrong with the lungs,” Soyemi added.
“Your honour, these are a few of the things he did not do. I will say that he did a botched autopsy. Your honour, this is the cause of the controversy concerning this case.”
Femi Falana (SAN), counsel to the Oromoni family, objected to the evidence of the pathologist.
He said that Soyemi was testifying on a matter (first autopsy report) that had not been tendered before the inquest by the DPP.
“We urge the coroner to stop the move by the DPP to turn the witness to an expert in a matter that is not before the court,” the human rights lawyer argued.
“The learned DPP should have tendered the first autopsy report and asked the witness to compare it with his own. It is not his duty to speak on another autopsy report.”
Responding, the DPP said the witness was speaking on the state of a body that was before him prior to carrying out a postmortem.
“He owes this court a duty to explain all the issues that are relevant to the determination of this inquest. He needs to explain to this court the findings of the examination he carried out,” Martins said.
Mikhail Kadiri, the coroner, in a short ruling, allowed the testimony of the pathologist on the first autopsy.
He said the witness was shedding more light on the autopsy he conducted on late Oromoni particularly the state of the body of the deceased.
The coroner said that the information would aid the inquest in its fact-finding mission.
Following the ruling, Soyemi revealed his findings to the inquest.
He said the late Dowen College student had lobal pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and infection of the liver.
“He also had an infection of the kidney and an infection of the right ankle, the soft tissue and the muscle covering the bone of the ankle,” the pathologist said.
“Against these findings, his death was ascribed to septicemia, lobal pneumonia with pyelonephritis (infection of the kidney) arising from the pyelonephritis of the right ankle. The summary of this is that he had a generalised infection.”
Kadiri adjourned proceedings to February 14 for the continuation of the hearing.
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