Pathologist’s absence stalls Dana crash inquest

The inquest is expected to end this week.

The absence of John Obafunwa, the Pathologist and Chief Medical Examiner of Lagos State, on Monday stalled the coroner’s inquest into the cause of last year’s Dana Air crash.

Mr. Obafunwa, a professor of Forensic Medicine, was unable to attend the inquest due to a “crisis” at the Lagos State University, LASU, where he is the Vice-Chancellor, according to the Akinjide Bakare, counsel to the Lagos State government.

“I spoke with him last night and this morning, he said he had a crisis in LASU that he had to attend to,” said Mr. Bakare.

“He hoped to be here this morning but, unfortunately, he could not make it,” he added.

The June 3, 2012, air mishap claimed the lives of 153 people on board the aircraft as well as about 10 victims on the ground.

After the last sitting in April, the inquest was adjourned to continue with the cross examination of Mr. Obafunwa, who had provided details of the post-mortem results of the crash victims.

Bolaji Ayorinde, counsel to Dana Air, urged the coroner to subpoena Mr. Obafunwa to ensure he appears on Tuesday.

“When I was cross examining him, I said it was impossible for him to be chief examiner and vice-chancellor at the same time,” Mr. Ayorinde, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said.

“It is not right for somebody to say ‘my other job’ was the reason for my absence when all of us have gathered here. He must be here tomorrow,” Mr. Ayorinde added.

Mr. Obafunwa, who headed the post-mortem examination team, had also testified that Adekunbi Banjo, a consultant for the Accident Investigation Bureau, was excluded from the team after she attempted to dissuade the team from performing the investigations.

Instead, Ms. Banjo, a professor of Anatomical Pathology, urged the team of pathologists to restrict the post-mortem examination to only the corpses of the pilot and co-pilot.

After initially turning down requests for Ms. Banjo to be summoned to state her side of the story, the coroner directed that she testify “in the interest of fair hearing.”

Ms. Banjo would testify on Wednesday.

Stella Oduah, the Minister of Aviation, is also expected to testify during the week before the inquest draws to a close.

“By God’s grace, we should round up (the inquest) this week,” Oyetade Komolafe, the coroner, said on Monday, while adjourning till Tuesday to continue with Mr. Obafunwa’s cross examination.


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