By Sola Ogundipe & Chioma Obinna
LAGOS — TWO families, yesterday, laid claim to the same corpse of the Dana air crash which degenerated into abusive exchanges at the Lekan Ogunsola Memorial mortuary of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Ikeja.
This came as an unidentified relation of one of the deceased attacked LASUTH officials with a machete.
Trouble started when relations of late Mr. Jones Ifekanwa and that of another victim, identified a body of one of the victims as theirs.
Findings by Vanguard revealed that earlier, Chief Medical Examiner, LASUTH and Consultant Pathologist and Forensic Medicine expert, Prof. John Obafunwa, had invited the Ifekanwa family to identify their late brother’s corpse which they did with some difficulty unlike last week when they said the body was easily identifiable.
The other family, it was gathered, after being invited to identify its corpse, eventually picked the same corpse earlier selected by the Ifekanwa family, as their late brother who died in the same air crash. An argument ensued and Obafunwa was forced to deny both families any claim to the body. He rather, urged them to wait for the DNA test result that would be available in about four weeks.
Enraged, the two families engaged in verbal war and came close to exchanging blows but for the intervention of security men.
It was gathered that while the Ifekanwas were very sure the body they identified was their late brother’s, members of the other family told Obafunwa they were not so sure that the body was actually theirs.
The Ifekanwa family, however, complained of the deplorable state of the corpse who they said was their youngest sibling, saying yesterday was the third time they had come to identify him. In their view, the corpse was getting worse with time.
A visibly shaken Jennifer Enanana, elder sister to the late Jones Ifekanwa told newsmen: ”I am testifying just for my brother, Mr. Jones Ifekanwa. He was identified at the crash site. He wasn’t burnt. He had his identity card with him and some other documents in his pockets, with that they identified him.
“When we were there last Tuesday, it did not take them up to five minutes to get him to us. They even told us that we were very lucky, so they wrote his name on the body bag he was in. When we went in there, we identified his clothes and birth marks on him and everything was okay. They told us that within 48 hours he would be released. But that was not to be because they said they wanted to do DNA.
“So on Saturday we went back to check if he was properly taken care of, we found out that he was getting worse. His face was peeling off, he was deteriorating and I expressed my grievances and I told them that I did not like this and asked them when they were going to release his body to us.
“Luckily enough, Fashola said we should meet him on Sunday, which most of us did. The place was packed with people. It was agreed there that all identified bodies should be released. Can you imagine as at last Friday, they had released six bodies without us knowing.
“Meanwhile, they were claiming to us that they need DNA but they were releasing bodies without people knowing. Six bodies have gone out. It was yesterday (Monday) that we got to know about it.
“So this morning (yesterday) I and my family came to claim our body that had been identified by them and confirmed by us to be our brother, only for us to get there, Prof. Obafunwa took us in again, traumatising my family to identify the body that had already been identified by them and confirmed and identified by us.
“They took us in and they wrapped him up as if it was a gift pack showing just his face not his ears, not his head and wrapped him up, can you imagine? And we were telling them that this is our brother whom we had identified. He has a mark on his lips and on his fore head, it is just a unique feature of him and all that.
“Could you believe that another family went inside and identified the same Jones’ body. A body that has been identified by them and confirmed by us twice, they took another family to go and identify the body, the family was already devastated and the girl came out. Because she wasn’t sure of the body, she asked him to bring out his hands because their own person has a mark in his hands. The professor refused.
“The professor came out to tell us that there was a problem on our body, that there was a contention. He said because of this he would not release the body. That means they did not store the bodies properly, that means there is something fishy going on.”
Relation attacks LASUTH officials
In another development at the same venue, a drama was played out when an angry relation of the victims of the crash attacked LASUTH officials with a machete. Luckily, the unprovoked assault was aborted by a special squad of the Rapid Respond team of the Police who held on to the angry man as he shouted: “You people can eat my brother’s body if you want, since you don’t want to release him to us.”
In anticipation, the Police have stationed a special squad of the Rapid Respond team to man the mortuary for 24 hours because of such unpleasant development.
Officials of the hospital, including Obafunwa, maintained stoic silence over the matter and rebuffed overtures by media men to get his response on the development.
Two more bodies were claimed yesterday, bringing the number of claimed bodies to eight.