There was drama, anger, confusion, and protest at the Morgue of the Mainland Hospital, Yaba, Lagos State when activists, a lawyer, and family members went to demand the corpse of an allegedly murdered student activist, Nurudeen Alowonle, popularly known as Omomeewa.
Omomeewa was attacked along the Egbeda Igando Road a few hours after he appeared before a disciplinary panel set up by the university on Wednesday, August 18.
While the university authorities claimed that the 28-year-old activist and a staff member of the institution, Mr. Waheed Majekodunmi, were shot by robbers, a group, Education Rights Campaign, described the claim as “wrong and hasty”, demanding that a panel be set up to unravel the real motive behind the attack.
The PUNCH gathered that the drama started when the mortuary attendants mistook another person’s corpse for that of the activist on Saturday.
Protest over mortuary attendant’s error
The PUNCH was told that the mortuary attendants initially presented the corpse of a dismembered body, a situation that led to protest.
One of the eyewitnesses and a leading education rights activist, Mr Hassan Soweto, who narrated the incident said Omomeewa’s lawyer, Nurudeen Yusuf (Optimist), and other well-wishers were present when the incident happened.
He said, “We were shown what was said to be the remains of our dear Comrade Omomewa. It was nothing more than a mass of entrails which was highly decomposed and put together in a body bag. The Morgue claimed that those who brought the “body” – the Lagos State Environmental Agency (SEHMO) – claimed that vehicles had gone over the “body” between the period of 10 pm Wednesday night when he died and 5 am Thursday morning it was brought to the morgue.
“Upon seeing the state of the alleged body, we had to protest saying that there was no means to identify the entrail as a human entrail let alone a human body. We said there was no way we could present this to the family as the “body” of their son.
“Our protest including the assistance of sympathetic student doctors who studied in LASU and the HOD Pathology, eventually led to the revelation by the morgue attendant that they made a mistake and presented to us a wrong body.
“They eventually brought for us another body which was clearly and obviously that of comrade Omomewa. This body had a hole by the side just under the rib cage on the left-hand side of the chest. With this development, the tension which had built up calmed a bit.”
Anger as police, survivor give ‘conflicting’ reports
PUNCH correspondent gathered after Omoweewa’s corpse was identified, family members, activists, LASU lecturers immediately arranged for his burial.
Though the family initially disagreed with the delay in his burial because of religious reasons, the twist of events made them surrender the corpse.
It was learnt that the narratives given by a police officer and the LASU staff attacked alongside Omomeewa, Majek, and LASU management differed.
While the police said he might have been stabbed, Majek and LASU management said he was shot.
Soweto continued, “One of the documents needed was a release letter from the police. We decided to ask some comrades in LASU to proceed to the Adoff Police station in Iba to obtain this documentation.
“By the time they came with the documents, the DPO of Adoff police station, a female, was in their tow. According to her, Omomewa was her son and she felt the need to be their personally to secure the release of his body. However, it was her presence, suspicious utterances, and that of her men that eventually changed the situation and led to the non-release of the body.
“For instance, while discussing with the DPO, a few questions became apparent. One, the police claimed a patrol found the body around 10 pm. This patrol decided to call the Lagos State environmental agency to pick this body for disposal. The agency did not show up until 5 am the next morning. During this time, there was no record that the police offered any first aid assistance to Omomewa or even tried to take him to the hospital to see if he could be revived. As we all know, only a qualified medical personnel, and not the police, can declare a body dead or lifeless.
“Secondly, the DPO claimed that the police patrol was around the vicinity where the attack and killing took place so they ought to have heard a gunshot if truly Omomewa and Majek were shot. According to the police, they were not shot but might have been stabbed.
“However, when the mortuary attendants who prepared Omomewa’s body and sutured his wound were interviewed, they claimed that the wound they observed on the body could only be caused by gunshot. This also coincided with the testimony of the lone survivor, Majek, who said they were shot.
“The last straw that would break the camel’s back was the request that the family must swear an affidavit that they would not demand an autopsy as a pre-condition for the release of the body. Ofcourse, this request raised suspicion. This situation led to anger and raised tension.”
Former LASU VC Obafunwa wades in
A former Vice-Chancellor of LASU and Chief Pathologist of Lagos State, Prof John Obafunwa, was said to have intervened to douse the tension.
It was learnt that he ordered that the corpse should not be released until an autopsy is carried out to clear the confusion on the ground.
“But while this controversy was going on, a directive came from the Chief Pathologist of Lagos State, Prof Obafunwa, to the mortuary asking that the body should not be released until an autopsy is conducted. Of course, with this new development, both the family and the police had no choice but to submit. So eventually the burial had to be suspended,” the activist added.
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