By Gabriel Dike
Controversy has continued to trail the killing of a student of Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, Nurudeen Alowonle, as mortuary attendants at the Mainland Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, produced a wrong corpse for the family, activists and friends who had gathered to pick the corpse for burial on Friday.
Alowonle, a Faculty of Education student of LASU and the Coordinator, Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Lagos State chapter was shot death on Wednesday night after Iba gate of the university while a staff of the institution with him was injured.
He was a student activist, a member of the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) and also a former presidential candidate in the students union elections of 2019, had early appeared before the Students Disciplinary Panel same day in an alleged contrived case of admission racketeering.
In a statement, the National Coordinator of (ERC), Hassan Taiwo, said ”many of you would have been surprised that contrary to initial reports that late Alowonle would be buried on Friday, he eventually was not buried.
His words: ”I got to the morgue of Mainland Hospital Yaba in the morning of Friday, August 20th. I met Nurudeen Yusuf in the presence of some doctors and other well wishers. We were shown what was said to be the remains of Alowonle. It was nothing more than a mass of entrails which was highly decomposed and put together in a body bag.
”The mortuary attendants said those who brought the ‘body’ – the Lagos State Environmental Agency claimed that vehicles had ran over the ‘body’ between the period of 10pm Wednesday night when he died and 5am Thursday morning it was brought to the morgue.
”Upon seeing the state of the alleged body, we had to protest 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 mortuary attendant that they made a mistake and presented to us a wrong body.”
According to him, the mortuary attendants brought another body which was that of Alowonle. He observed that the body had a hole by the side just under the rib cage on the left hand side of the chest.
Taiwo explained that tension began to build up and following discussion, it was agreed that an autopsy be conducted but the ongoing doctors strike made it impossible.
”This made the family to insist that the body be buried the very day. Those of us pushing for autopsy had no choice but to submit to the desire of the family. The family also gave us the right to choose any befitting burial place for him.”
He said some activists processed and got documents for the body to be released for burial but the disclosure by the Divisional Police Office of Adoff that the police claimed a patrol found the body around 10pm and called the Lagos State environmental agency to pick the body.
Said he: ”The agency did not show up until 5am the next morning. During this time, there was no record that the police offered any first aid assistance to Alowonle 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 but police said they were not shot but stabbed. When the mortuary attendants who prepared Alowonle’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, Wahab Majekodunmi, who said they were shot.
”The last straw that would break the camels back was the request of the DPO that the family must swear an affidavit that they would not demand an autopsy as a precondition for release of the body. Of course, this request raised suspicion as to the motive of the police. It appeared to us that the police just wanted the body to be buried so that the truth of what happened can be buried with it, ” he stated.
Taiwo explained that while this controversy was going on, a directive came from the Chief Pathologist of Lagos State, Prof John Obafunwa, to the mortuary that the body should not be released until an autopsy is conducted.