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Dana crash: Lagos coroner to summon Aviation minister, LUTH don

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Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah, has to appear before a Lagos coroner court to answer questions over the June 3, 2012 crash of a Dana Air’s plane in Iju-Ishaga area of the state.

The MD-83 plane belonging to Dana Air had crashed in Iju-Ishaga area of the state, killing the 153 persons on board and others on the ground.

The coroner presiding over an inquest into the crash, Mr. Oyetade Komolafe, on Thursday directed that witness summon should be issued on Oduah.

He also directed that such summon be issued on  Kunbi Banjo, a professor of anatomical pathology at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.

Banjo had consulted for the Accident Investigation Bureau to conduct medical examination on victims of certain air accidents in the past.
Komolafe said it was necessary for the minister to make an appearance before the inquest into the crash was concluded.

“Let the minister of aviation come and see what we are doing here and when she comes, we will have some questions for her,” he said.

No specific date was fixed for Oduah’s appearance.

The coroner however said she was free to choose from the May 20 to 24 dates already fixed by the court for further hearing.

AIB’s counsel, Mr.Babatunde Irukera, had earlier made a case for Banjo to be allowed to testify at the inquest.

Irukera said the testimony of the pathologist would assist the coroner come to a just and meaningful conclusion of the inquest.

He said Banjo, with her experience of post-air crash investigation she was not allowed to participate in the post mortem examinations carried out on the bodies of the victims.

The coroner had, earlier in March, turned down AIB’s request to call Banjo to testify. The coroner had said AIB had ealier had several opportunities to call on any witness of its interest.

But the Bureau had insisted that Banjo needed to refute certain claims earlier made by the Lagos State Chief Medical Examiner and Consultant Pathologist, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Prof. John Obafunwa, during his testimony before the court.

A lawyer, Mr. Chinedu Anene, who earlier made the request on AIB’s behalf had said that certain claims by Obafunwa during his testimony on  the medical examination conducted on the victims of the crash  were “far reaching allegations” which needed to be refuted.

But Komolafe in reversing his decision on Thursday, he would allow Banjo to testify in the interest of fair hearing.

Banjo is to appear before the inquest on May 22.

Counsel for the Lagos State Government, Mr. Akinjide Bakare, however insisted that Banjo ought to have voluntarily made herself available to the inquest when such opportunity was opened to everybody.

 

 

 

The Punch

 

 

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