Tensions were high 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.
It was gathered that the drama started when the mortuary attendants mistook another person’s corpse for that of the activist on Saturday.
It was learnt that the mortuary attendants initially presented 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 Omomeewa. 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 run over it between the period of 10PM of Wednesday when he died and 5AM of Thursday when it was brought to the morgue.
“Upon seeing the state of the alleged body, we had to protest, saying that there was no means of identifying the entrails as a human entrails, let alone a human body. We said that there was no way we could present this to the family as the body of their son.
“Our protest, with the assistance of sympathetic student doctors who studied in LASU and the HOD of Pathology Department, eventually led to the revelation by the morgue attendant that they made a mistake.
“They eventually brought for us another body which was clearly and obviously that of comrade Omomeewa.
“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.”
‘Police, survivor give conflicting reports’
Our correspondent gathered that, after Omoweewa’s corpse had been identified, family members, activists, and 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 member that was attacked alongside Omomeewa, Majek, and LASU management were different.
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 with them.
“According to her, Omomewa was her son and she felt the need to be there 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 that a patrol found the body around 10PM.
“This patrol decided to call the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency to pick this body for disposal. 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 Omomewa or even tried to take him to the hospital to see if he could be revived. As we all know, only qualified medical personnel, and not the Police, can declare someone 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 Omomeewa and Majek were shot. According to the Police, they were not shot but might have been stabbed.
“However, when the mortuary attendants who prepared Omomeewa’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 to an affidavit that they would not demand an autopsy as a pre-condition for the release of the body. Of course, this request raised suspicion. This situation led to anger and raised tension.”
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.
“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.Follow us on social media