Admin l Wednesday, April 06, 2022
IKEJA, Lagos, Nigeria – For the second time, a toxicologist, this time from police, Benedict Agbo, on Tuesday told a coroner sitting in Ikeja that he did not get any request to test the black substance found in the intestine of late Sylvester Oromoni (Jnr).
An incriminating black substance, a pathologist affirmed was found during the second autopsy conducted by a senior pathologist, Dr. Sunday Soyemi at the Lagos State Teaching University Hospital (LASUTH) in December last year. In February, Dr. Soyemi told the Coroner that the blackish substance could not be tested because the Lagos State Teaching University Hospital, LASUTH lacked a toxicology labouratory to carry out the test.
At the resumed hearing of the coroner’s inquest set up to look into the circumstances surrounding the death of the 12-year-old, Magistrate Mikhail Kadiri asked the Forensic toxicologist some questions before handing him over for cross examination by counsel in the matter.
“Was any blackish substance sent to you for any examination from LASUTH?” Femi Falana (SAN), the lead lawyer for the deceased’s family asked.
“No, I didn’t get any request,” he replied. The witness, was a PhD and Chief Forensic Scientist at the Nigeria Police Forensic Science Laboratory, Alagbon. He has worked as a toxicologist for the police in the last 25 years. He 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 it with the pathologist in the state, Clement Vhriterhire and received some samples for chemical analysis.
The samples sent to the toxicologist are tagged A (containing cake dark brown labeled heart blood), B (containing greyish liquid substance labeled stomach content), C (sample note containing greyish brown mass of flesh labelled liver), a sample bottle containing light reddish coloured liquid labeled fluid from the eye).
“You were the one that suggested to the pathologist in Warri what to send to you? Mr Falana asked. The toxicologist replied in the affirmative.
Is it normal to use clotted blood for toxicology? The lawyer asked. “Yes, if that is what is found,” the toxicologist replied.
Mr Agbor said that the police laboratory in Alagbon is a “functional laboratory for toxicology” adding that it was commissioned in 1997.
“In other words, yours is the only functional toxicology in Nigeria?” The lawyer asked.
“I won’t say that. I’m not aware,” adding that 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, he mentioned that “for our DNA, the…gas chromatography,” was faulty.
However, the witness stressed that the functionality of a toxicology laboratory does not depend on the equipment, “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,” he said. According to the witness, a biochemical assay “is to know if the liver, heart and other vital organs were functioning very well before the cessation of life.”
The coroner fixed the next hearing to April 11 and 12 while noting that there are about nine more witnesses to be summoned.