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Sylvester Oromoni: Pathologist present at autopsy insists due process was followed

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A consultant pathologist at the Military Hospital, Yaba, Chikodili Nwigwe, has said that due process was followed during Sylvester Oromoni’s second autopsy.

Last week, the Lagos State Department of Public Prosecution DPP in its legal advice exonerated the five students and staff of the school that was initially arrested over the death of Sylvester. Parents of the deceased student say on his death bed, Sylvester mentioned five names of students that bullied him and gave him a substance to drink.

However, DPP in its statement said autopsy carried out on Sylvester’s body ruled out murder, and also the toxicology carried out on his body found no harmful substance. The DPP exonerated the staff and students and ordered their release from custody.

In a letter sent out to parents of other pupils in the school. the principal of Dowen College, Dr Adebisi Layiwola, said the management of the school is thankful for the outcome of the investigations carried out and eagerly awaits the directive of the state Ministry of Education for reopening of the school for academic activities to resume.

This led to claims by many that the process was manipulated, a claim the consultant pathologist at the Military Hospital, Yaba, Chikodili Nwigwe, strongly denies.

In an interview with AriseTV, Nwigwe, who was among the eight doctors that witnessed the autopsy at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital, said the necessary protocols were followed in conducting the autopsy on Sylvester.

In an interview with AriseTV, Nwigwe, who was among the eight doctors that witnessed the autopsy at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital, said the necessary protocols were followed in conducting the autopsy on Sylvester. According to her, the autopsy was transparently done and the findings can be reproducible and taken to any other place in the whole world. 

“Due process was followed. All the necessary protocols, methods, laboratory tests, radiological testing, were performed. We had about 8 pathologists there, at the Lagos State University hospital morgue where the second Autopsy was carried out.

As you know, there was an autopsy that had been done before somewhere before his body was brought to LASUTH where we all came together and did the autopsy. 

The autopsy was recorded from start to finish. Photographs were taken, not by one, by many. So whatever you have documented can be corroborated with video and picture evidence.

This can be reproducible, can be taken anywhere by other pathologists, whether in this clime or outside this clime can actually go through the findings, the picture, video evidence. The laboratory test results are all available, the toxicology results are all available and it says, “no poison, no toxin” because that was what was being queried.

Microbiological analysis were done, we proved yes, he had bacterial infection and this was sepsis. There was no bias in the process.”

When asked if there were underlying sicknesses that could be responsible for this disfiguration, the doctor said;

“Natural death means there was no suspicion of manslaughter or murder. It means disease, disease is natural. 

It does not mean that he was okay and then died, no. It just meant that he died of a disease, not that there was a problem or someone who caused it. Were there people who caused it? Was there something that was given? Was there something that led to the signs and symptoms that finally led to the complications that finally led to the death? 

Pain is a sign of so many diseases from headache. That someone is screaming of pain, it shows that there is an underlying problem, it might be mild, moderate or severe.

If the mother kept massaging the legs, we are not surprised because there were findings in the leg even during autopsy so we are not surprised. Even the massage wouldn’t have done anything good but worsened the situation from what we saw.

Sylvester was in shock but that shock was due to sepsis. We will call that septic shock. When we did the autopsy, we noticed that he had a bruise at the right ankle area, we took photographs and opened it up. We saw a pus-like collection of liquid coming out. We took specimen from there and sent to the microbiology lab to test what type of organism was there. We took samples from the muscles. 

On opening up too, we saw that the lungs were highly diseased, they weren’t reddish but whitish, when we took samples, we suspected but we took the samples to the lab to confirm our suspicion. The kidneys too, we took samples, then from the liver, brain, stomach, why the stomach, the stomach had signs of discolouration and mild erosion, we took samples because it could be anything.

When we took these samples to the lab for histology — study of tissues, we confirmed that he had Lobar pneumonia, bilateral, that is both lungs and then he had inflammation of the kidney, liver, then he had inflammation of the stomach bed. Then on that right ankle where he had inflammation of the muscles. 

Sylvester died of septicemic shock and this shock was what ceded the other organs. The pneumonia is bacterial because we took the specimen to the lab and confirmed it was bacterial pneumonia.

For reasons best known to me, I never knew I was going to be involved in this case, all those videos, I never saw them till now. I might not know the extent of what you saw. As a pathologist, it is what we saw on the table that we report, we removed bias, sentiments, affiliations, or inclinations. You report what you saw on the table irrespective of what a clinician, surgeon, relation has told you. Even if the person was the one who paid you for the job, if the person is wrong, he’s wrong, if he’s right, he is.

Its on conscience that pathologists do their work, they said they saw bruises but remember that the first pathologist was invited by the police and we were there, we asked to show us what he saw… I can tell you that where we actually saw bruises, yes the mouth had bruises, the head had some shallow cuts and bruises but I want to say something. There can be many causes of that blister, it could be a fever blister, it could be an impact or what we call haemorrhagic rash you see that in sepsis…”

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