Protesters at Dowen College
A pathologist, Dr Sokunle Soyemi, has informed an Ikeja Coroner’s Court that the first autopsy conducted at Warri, Delta, on the late Sylvester Oromoni Jnr., a 12-year-old student of Dowen College, was botched.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Soyemi, who has 17-year experience in the field of pathology, made the claim on Tuesday while testifying for Lagos State Government at an inquest set up to unravel the cause of the student’s death.
He was led in evidence by Dr Jide Martins, the Director of the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).
Soyemi testified that the body of late student was brought to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital on Dec. 13, 2021, and he conducted an autopsy on him 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.
“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,” Soyemi said.
The witness said further that 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.
“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,” Soyemi said.
Counsel to the Oromoni family, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), however, objected to the evidence of the pathologist.
He said that Soyemi was testifying on a matter (first autopsy report) which 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 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,” he said.
Responding, the DPP said that the witness, an expert witness, was speaking on the state of a body which 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.
The Coroner, Mr Mikhail Kadiri, 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.
“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,” Soyemi said.
He adjourned proceedings to Feb. 14 for the continuation of hearing.
NAN reports that it was alleged that the 12-year-old student died on Nov. 30, 2021, from injuries sustained in an attack by five senior students of Dowen College for refusing to join a cult.
It was also alleged that he was forced to drink an obnoxious substance by his attackers.
The Lagos State DPP Advice released on Jan. 4, however, disputed the allegation, stating that an autopsy conducted in Lagos revealed the real cause of his death as acute bacterial pneumonia due to severe sepsis.