A consultant anatomic and forensic pathologist, Professor John Obafunwa, on Saturday, told the Lagos state judicial panel on restitution for SARS-related abuses and other matters that the coroners office conducted post mortem autopsies on 99 bodies between October 20 and 27.
Obafunwa made this disclosure while testifying to assist the panel in investigating the October 20 Lekki toll gate shootings.
The pathologist, who was involved in coroner services through the office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Lagos State, said the 99 bodies were picked up from different locations by officers of the Lagos State Environmental Health Monitoring Unit LASEHMU.
Of these 99 bodies, the pathologist said that only three were identified as victims of the Lekki shootings, ChannelsTV reports.
He proceeded to speak to the post mortem report and the cause of death of each of the three victims, all-male.
The witness also played video evidence detailing the extent of the injury suffered by the deceased and the cause of death.
According to the witness, the first body of an unknown victim identified as number 005, EndSARS/Yaba/2020 and brought in from Lekki bridge on October 24 by the Lagos state government agency showed a fracture, a laceration on the left side of the skull and a body that was already decomposing.
The pathologist gave the cause of death as “a result of bleeding into the chest cavity, following a blunt force trauma to the chest.”
According to the witness, the second body, “041 unknown identity”, was said to have died at about 1.45 am on October 21; he was taken to Reddington hospital Lekki in an unconscious state as a result of an open skull fracture, an attempt to revive him failed and he was pronounced dead after which he was taken to LASUTH on November 1 for post mortem.
“X-ray conducted before touching the body showed no bullet or pellets in the body,” the witness said. “The x-ray revealed multiple skull fracture."
An autopsy showed a ragged laceration running from the left side to the right side of the skull, further exploration of the wound showed bleeding into the scalp, multiple fractures of the skull, bleeding into the brain tissue. In the chest, there were bruises of the anterior, fracture of the left rib.
“Generally, the internal organs were pale and it suggested there was severe blood loss. Hypertensive heart disease, upon examination under the microscope and samples for DNA, death was as a result of skull and brain injury which was due to blunt force trauma.”
The third case, identified as “062 unknown identities”, was also said to have died at Lekki tollgate. The body was said to have been taken to the General Hospital Yaba and an autopsy was conducted on November 2. The cause of death was severe blood loss due to disruption of the major blood vessel, caused as a result of gunshot injury.
Counsel to some of the #EndSars Protesters, Olumide Fusika, however, faulted the testimony that only three of the 99 bodies were related to the Lekki shootings.
He made an application that the witness must produce details of all 99 bodies to enable him to fully conduct his cross-examination of the pathologist.
Counsel to the Lagos State Government, Olukayode Enitan objected to the granting of the application.
He noted that the summons that commanded the attendance of the witness at the panel required him to give reports of October 20, which occurred at the Lekki toll gate, to assist the panel.
For him, anything outside this will amounted to inviting the panel to go beyond its terms of reference and the instruments setting it up and this will be tantamount to acting ultra vires. He urged the panel to refuse the application.
After taking submissions from other lawyers in the matter, the panel chairman, Justice Doris Okuwobi, noted that though it would take a lot of the panel’s time to sit through looking at 96 more bodies, she would bow to the majority decision of the lawyers.
The panel then ordered the pathologist, Prof Obafunwa, to produce the records and autopsy reports of the remaining 96 bodies.
Further proceedings on the matter were adjourned to June 19