The coroner who had earlier in February, rejected the AIB witness, says her recent inclusion is in “the interest of fair hearing”.
The coroner investigating the Dana plane crash, Oyetade Komolafe, on Thursday, directed that a witness summons be issued on the Minister of Aviation, Stella Oduah.
Mr. Komolafe also subpoenaed a pathologist, Adekunbi Banjo, to testify following a request by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).
153 people on board the plane and some residents of Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos lost their lives in the June 3, 2012 crash.
At Thursday’s proceeding, the coroner said it was appropriate for Ms. Oduah to appear before the inquest before its conclusion.
“Let the minister of aviation come and see what we are doing here and when she comes, we will have some questions for her,” he said.
The coroner, who had earlier on February 28 rejected the AIB’s request to call Ms. Banjo, said the pathologist would be allowed to testify in the interest of fair hearing. He directed that she should appear before the court on May 22, but did not give a specific date for the minister to honour the summons.
Mr. Komolafe said that the minister was at liberty to choose a day from May 20 to May 24 – the dates fixed by the court for further hearing of the matter.
Addressing the court earlier, Babatunde Irukera, AIB’s counsel, insisted that Ms. Banjo’s testimony would assist the coroner in coming to a just and meaningful conclusion of the inquest. He said the pathologist had worked previously with the AIB on other crashes and added that she was being called to refute some of the claims made by John Obafunwa, the Chief Medical Examiner of Lagos State.
“She needs to explain why she was excluded from the team that conducted the forensic and pathology investigations on the bodies of the crash victims. It will do a disservice to the memory of the victims if she is not allowed to testify because her testimony is critical to this inquest,” Mr. Irukera said.
However, Akinjide Bakare, counsel to the Lagos State Government, said that the calling of additional witnesses was aimed at delaying the conclusion of the inquest.
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