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Sylvester Oromoni: Toxicologist Says He Didn’t Test Blackish Substance Found In Deceased’s Intestine

Channels Television  
Updated April 5, 2022
A combination of file photos of the front gate of Dowen College and Sylvester Oromoni.

 

A forensic toxicologist, ACP (Dr.) Benedict Agbo, employed with the Police Force Criminal Investigation Department has told the coroner inquiring into the controversial death of late Sylvester Oromoni that he didn’t get any request to test the “blackish substance” found in the deceased’s intestine.

Dr Agbo who said he had worked as a toxicologist for the police for about 25 years said he was contacted by the Police Area Commander in Warri, Delta State that an autopsy was going to be done on the deceased.

He said after the autopsy was carried out, he discussed with the pathologist in the state, Dr Clement Vhriterhire and received some samples for chemical analysis.

He identified the samples sent to the toxicologist as being tagged A: (containing cake dark brown labelled heart blood), B: (containing greyish liquid substance labelled stomach content), C: (sample note containing greyish brown mass of flesh labelled liver), and sample bottle containing light reddish coloured liquid labelled fluid from the eye).

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There was no mention of the “blackish substance” found in the late student and this elicited questions from counsel to the Oromoni family, Femi Falana.

At a previous proceeding of the coroner sitting in Ikeja, a Consultant Pathologist with the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Dr. Sunday Soyemi had told the inquest that he discovered the “blackish substance in the boy’s intestine during autopsy.

While answering questions under cross-examination from Femi Falana a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr Soyemi, however, testified that no test was carried out to determine what the blackish substance was as LASUTH had no toxicology laboratory to conduct the test.

The Senior Advocate had wondered why the blackish substance was not tested despite the allegations by the deceased’s father that his child was beaten by some senior students and forced to drink a liquid that killed him.
A pathologist who examined the student in Warri had also come to the conclusion that the deceased died of acute lung injury arising from chemical intoxication.

But his school, Dowen College had denied the claim, alleging instead that the student sustained injuries while playing football with his mates.

At the coroner proceedings on Tuesday, Mr Femi Falana returned to the issue of the “blackish substance”.

While cross-examining the toxicologist, he asked, “was any blackish substance sent to you for any examination from LASUTH?”

“No. I didn’t get any request,” the toxicologist replied.

The lawyer also asked questions on whether the police laboratory for toxicology is the only functional toxicology in Nigeria, to which Dr. Agbor replied that he was not aware.

The doctor mentioned that the police laboratory for toxicology in Alagbon, Ikoyi, Lagos was commissioned in 1997 and has remained functional even though he admitted that ‘some of the equipment sometimes breaks down and some people are called to fix it’.

When he was asked about the condition of the equipment between November and now, he said, “I will have to go back and take stock.”

When the lawyer insisted on getting answers to the question, he testified that “for DNA, the gas chromatography was faulty.”

The witness, however, stressed that the functionality of a toxicology laboratory does not depend on the equipment, but “it depends on the expertise.”

Do you have equipment for testing poisons? The lawyer asked.

The witness replied in the affirmative.

He said in testing the samples, he used solvent and solid extraction procedures.

“You will agree with me therefore that if the “biochemical assay” has not been carried out, you cannot conclusively say that your report is final? the lawyer asked.

“No, I can’t say that. A biochemical assay “is to know if the liver, heart and other vital organs are functioning very well before the cessation of life.”

It remains unclear why the “blackish substance” was not sent to the toxicologist for testing but the coroner, Magistrate Mikhail Kadiri has given an indication that he will summon some expert witnesses alongside others to help the inquest with unravelling the controversial death of the late Sylvester Oromoni Jnr.

Further proceedings have been fixed for April 11 and 12.