Dana Air Crash Coroner Presents Findings

dana_crash_site_debrisThe coroner inquiring into the cause of the Dana Air crash in Lagos two years ago, Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, has come out with his findings, saying that the court could not arrive at a specific verdict on the cause of the crash.  

Exactly two years after the crash which killed all 153 passengers on board, Magistrate Komolafe on Tuesday held that the inconclusive investigation by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) affected the verdict.

The coroner, however, recommended some steps that should be taken by authorities to avoid future mistakes as well as improve rescue operations whenever such incident occurs.

In a nine-point recommendation to the authorities, Magistrate Oyetade called for the establishment of a national body for logistics and supply for body handlers and retrievals, an urgent need for a forensic science laboratory in each geopolitical zones and any state that can have such.

He also called for the enactment of a National Coroner System, the provision of fire services in each local government of the federation, provision of equipment for all emergency agencies, establishment of radio unit service in all emergency units that will be linked to each other and establishment of national and state corps and inter-agency cooperation among all emergency agencies.

Other recommendations by Magistrate Komolafe were; need for periodic meetings among all agencies and units and a necessary public enlightenment on how to behave during rescue operations.

The inquest commenced on June 18, 2012 and 17 witnesses including security agencies, emergency agencies, the state Chief Pathologist, Prof John Obafunwa, representatives of the airline and other governmental agencies gave evidence before the court in respect of the incident.

The Dana Air crash of June 3, 2012, claimed the lives of all 153 people on board the aircraft  and about 10 victims on the ground.

Court Fixes February 21 To Deliver Judgement On Case of Slain Banker

The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has fixed Friday, February 21 to deliver judgment in the case of alleged murder, filed against Akolade Arowolo, charged with stabbing his wife, Titilayo, to death.

Our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele reports that the date is contained in a hearing notice, issued to the Prosecution and Defence counsel.

Mr Arowolo was arraigned on December 21, 2011, before Justice Lateefat Okunnu, on a one-count charge of murder. He pleaded not guilty and was remanded at the Ikoyi Prisons.

In the charge, the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mrs Olabisi Ogungbesan alleged that the accused murdered Titilayo on 24 June, 2011 in their residence at 8 Akindeinde St., Isolo, Lagos.

In proof of the charge, the DPP called 12 witnesses before closing its case against the accused on November 19, 2012.

The witnesses includes the late Titilayo’s father, George Oyakhire and her step-mother, Adetoun, both of whom testified that the marriage was characterised by domestic violence.

Another witness, Prof. John Obafunwa, a Consultant Pathologist and Chief Medical Examiner of Lagos State, had also testified that Titilayo was stabbed 76 times.

However, Arowolo, who testified before the court on May 22, blamed his in-laws for the trouble in his marriage.

He denied the allegation that he murdered his wife

Arowolo claimed that Titilayo died after accidentally falling on a knife she was using to stab him during a quarrel on his birthday.

In his final written arguments to the court, counsel to Arowolo, Olanrewaju Ajanaku, had submitted that there was no substantive evidence linking his client to the murder of his wife.

Mr Ajanaku maintained that since none of the prosecution witnesses witnessed the alleged fight between the couple, their testimonies were mere hearsay.

The lawyer also submitted that it would be improper for the court to convict his client based on the evidence provided by persons who were not present at the scene of the incident.

He urged the court to discharge his client since none of the prosecution witnesses were able to directly link his client to the murder of Titi.

But the Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs Olabisi Ogungbesan, had countered Mr Ajanaku’s submission saying that the state had provided enough evidence for the court to convict Mr Arowolo.

According to the DPP, the evidence provided by the prosecution showed that the defendant was the only person present with the deceased who forensic analysis proved was killed by multiple knife stabs.

She further argued that the defendant was seen with blood stains on his car by the police moments after the alleged fight with his late wife.

Mrs Ogungbesan also submitted that Arowolo’s act was intentional since he allegedly stabbed the wife more than 76 times.

She urged the court to convict the defendant as charged.

Cynthia Osokogwu Was Strangled To Death- Pathologist

Consultant Pathologist, Prof. John Obafunwa, on Friday told a Lagos High Court in Ikeja that the late Cynthia Osokogu was strangulated by her killers.

Obafunwa was testifying at the resumed trial of four men allegedly involved in the death of the 25-year-old lady who was murdered at Cosmilla Hotel, Lakeview Estate, Festac Town, Lagos on July 22, 2012.

The defendants; Okwumo Nwabufo , Olisaeloka Ezike , Orji Osita and Ezike Nonso were charged to court by the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Obafunwa, who is the Chief Medical Examiner of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, told the court presided over by Justice Olabisi Akinlade that he conducted autopsy on Osokogu’s body.

The pathologist, led in evidence by the Lagos State Attorney General, Mr Ade Ipaye, said their findings revealed that the deceased was gagged and choked by her killers.

“From our findings, the deceased was asphyxiated which means absence of oxygen supply to the body.

“That was the immediate cause of death. It was as a result of the blockage of her upper respiratory airways.

“This blockage was caused by the deceased being gagged and choked,” Obafunwa said.

He told the court that there were multiple bruises and abrasions in Osokogu’s body, adding that what appears to be bite marks were on the front of her two thighs.

Obafunwa also insisted that the injuries on the body of the deceased could not have been self-inflicted.

Meanwhile the court also admitted as exhibits, 15 photographs of the crime scene taken by one, Mr Lucky Enamelo, a professional photographer.

The judge dismissed the objections of the defence counsel and admitted the photographs as Exhibit P1 to PO.

Ipaye also called the manager of Cosmilla Hotel, Mr Victor Ugweke to testify before the court.

Ugweke said he was informed that a body was in Room C1 of the hotel by the receptionist after she opened the room with a master key he had given her.

He said he went to the FESTAC Police Station to report the incident, adding that the police later came and took the body to the Ikeja General Hospital.

The matter was adjourned till May 24 for continuation of trial.

Dana Air Crash: Bodies Of Pilot and Co-Pilot Not Found

The bodies of the two pilots of the crashed Dana Air’s MD-83 Plane which crashed and claimed the lives of 153 passengers were not found at the site of the crash as they were completely incinerated by the post-crash inferno.

153 body bags were recovered from the site of the Dana Crash of the 3rd of June, 2012. Of that figure, the Pathologists conducting an inquest into the cause of the crash were able to identify the bodies of 148 persons.

These details were given in court on Friday when the Chief Medical Examiner and Consultant Pathologist of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Prof. John Obafunwa, testified before a Coroner Court sitting at the Lagos High Court, Ikeja.

The American Pilot, Mr. Peter Waxtan, 55, and his Indian Co-Pilot, Mr. Mahendra Rathore, 34, whose bodies were not found were among the 153 persons aboard the plane and other persons on the ground, were killed in the crash.

Prof Obafunwa, who along with other experts conducted series of postmortem tests on the bodies recovered from the crash site, said a total of nine persons among the 153 persons aboard the plane could not be identified.

He said the team of experts could not identify the bodies of the Pilot and the Co-Pilot after exhaustive deliberation and consultation.

“Bodies of other crew members were however identified.”

He said apart from Waxtan, and Rathore, who were certain to be on the plane, the other seven names of passengers on the manifest whose bodies were not found, might actually not have boarded the plane.

The consultant testified that “it is either these individuals were not on board the plane or some other passengers used their names to get on board.

“It is also possible some of them were completely incinerated” he added.

According to Prof Obafunwa, among the 148 bodies identified with their names, three of them were identified through the DNA analysis carried out in the United Kingdom and the three were discovered to be among the bodies of those who died on the ground.

Bags of body parts

Led in evidence by the counsel for the state’s Attorney General, Mr Akinjide Bakare, the pathologist said three unidentified bodies were still being kept in the mortuary

He said among the 153 body bags received by his team, two among the bags contained different parts of the body of the same person.

The pathologist also tendered in court the final report of the series of tests carried out on the bodies.

The autopsy reports on the 148 identified bodies with their names and 170 CDs of images also formed part of documents admitted as exhibits at Friday’s proceedings.

The images in the CDs, part of which were shown during the proceedings contained the X-rays, dental structure, bodies of the identified victims and bone samples of some of the victims.

Prof Obafunwa said two-thirds of the bodies removed were burnt beyond recognition, some suffered “heat fracture”, a situation whereby some limbs were completely burnt out, and some were decapitated.

Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe has adjourned till January 25 for lawyers representing Dana Air and other parties to cross-examine the Pathologist.