According to The PUNCH, the management of the Continental Hospital, Lagos, has said that it cannot release the bodies of the #EndSARS protesters.
The hospital says it received a directive from the state Health Ministry not to hand over the bodies of suspected #ENDSARS protesters.
Our correspondent visited the Continental Hospital after the Chief Medical Examiner of the State of Lagos, Ms. Mojisola Dada, through a public announcement, directed family members who had lost loved ones between October 19 and 27 to visit the Hospital. Professor at Lagos State University to identify and claim bodies of their loved ones.
The #ENDSARS protests had lasted between October 7 and 20 in Lagos and several other states of the federation.
During the protests, the relatives, friends and associates of the disappeared persons affirmed that their relatives had been killed or held incommunicado by security agents.
Of particular concern was the shooting at the Lekki tollbooth on Tuesday, October 20, where security agents fired at peaceful #ENDSARS protesters, resulting in a number of victims yet to be determined.
The shooting incident had sparked national and international protests, and the Lagos state and federal government were urged to unravel the identity of the shooters and who deployed them.
However, the Lagos State Coroner’s public notice did not indicate whether the bodies scheduled for release also included those of the people who died during the #EndSARS protest.
It reads in part, “This is to notify the general public that Lagos State Chief Coroner Hon Justice MA Dada (Ms) Pursuant to Section 15, Lagos State Forensic System Act, 2015, the team of pathology would like all those who have lost loved ones between October 19 and 27, 2020 (that is, the relatives of the victims) to provide relevant information that helps the identification exercise.
“Family members should contact the Department of Pathology and Forensic Medicine of the Lagos State University Hospital (LASUTH), Oba Akinjobi Way, Ikeja for the exercise of identification of the deceased.
“The closest family members will have to provide means of identifying themselves and their loved ones.
“Only parents, siblings or children, in that decreasing order of preference, are expected to come to LASUTH.
“These relatives will be required to come with clear photographs of the missing person and their own photographs of the upper body; and also provide samples for the reference DNA profile, when necessary.
“This profile will be compared with those already collected in the autopsy of the deceased.
“Only after a definitive scientific identification will the Office of the Chief Coroner deliver the bodies of the deceased to the closest relatives for burial.”
When our correspondent visited the morgue of the Continental Hospital in Yaba, Lagos, on Friday, the reception staff said that there was a clear directive from the state government for the dieners. [morgue attendants] release only the bodies of those who died before and after the #ENDSARS protests.
“If an individual was part of the #ENDSARS protest, we cannot identify him or do anything about it for now.
“But if the body was brought before or after the protest, I could pass the photo to see if the funeral directors had found the face in the morgue.
“Family members can come when the government lifts the ban on such bodies. We are just waiting for the announcement to be made before we begin to deliver those bodies to the families, ”said the assistant, who declined to give his name.
When our correspondent spoke with the Continental Hospital Medical Director, Dr. Abimbola Bowale, he maintained what the morgue attendant had said.
“It is only the commissioner (of health) or even the governor who can deliver the body to you, sir. Then you will have to contact him, ”he said.
Upon further investigation, the MD said, the matter was “at the commissioner and governor level.”
“It is not in my power. You will need to write to the honorable commissioner for permission before any corpse can be released.
“I hope you know that there is a pending court order in all cases related to # ENDSARS.
“With that precautionary measure, I begin to think that it may be necessary for the court, not even the governor or the commissioner, to agree to such a request. They may now have to involve the ministry of justice. Now it is a legal issue, “he said.
All efforts to reach out to the Health Commissioner, Prof. Akin Abayomi; and the Director of Public Affairs of the state Ministry of Health, Mr. Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, were unsuccessful.
They also did not respond to text messages sent to them.
However, the Lagos Information and Strategy Commissioner, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, said that the state government will soon react to the issue through a press release.
“The chief coroner issued an announcement Wednesday saying that people should go identify the bodies of their loved ones.
“There is a plan to release the bodies after the coroner’s investigation, in accordance with the law. That is to show you that the government has nothing to hide.
“I will issue a press release on that soon. We’re still fine-tuning it at the moment, ”he said Friday.
At the time of this report, the press release has not been issued.