The Ondo state director of the Legal Aid Council, Barrister Kuku Ikpidungise and the convener of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COHRD), Barrister Inibehe Effiong, on Thursday, 28 July, 2016 took the police in the state and a traditional ruler to task over the death of a pregnant woman whose name was given as Justina Joshua.
The deceased was killed by a tree that was being felled by an indigene of Idanre, a town in the state where she lived.
The corpse of the 28-year-old woman was allegedly held hostage by the traditional ruler and other chiefs who insisted that she must be buried close to the tress which killed her adding that this was the tradition.
Reliving how the corpse was finally released after a long battle with the community and the police, Effiong said the following took place:
The remains of the 28th year old pregnant woman departed Idanre general hospital this morning to the Ondo state general hospital in Akure accompanied by the relatives of the deceased, the Olu of Onipan who represented the Owa of Idanre (Oba Dr Frederick Aroloye), and the representatives of the killer logger and the farm owner. It was escorted by a team of armed police officers led by the O/C Homicide, Ondo state CID.
Upon our arrival at the mortuary of state general hospital in Akure, we discovered that the corpse has not only decomposed, but may have been tampered with.
Thus, we have rejected the corpse.
During a joint meeting with the deputy commissioner of police in charge of the state CID, we made the following demands as pre-conditions for us to accept the corpse and proceed with further discussions:
(a) That an investigation be carried-out immediately to unravel the circumstances surrounding the terrible condition of the corpse.
(b) That the corpse should be re-embalmed immediately by the other parties to prevent it from decomposing further.
(c) That an autopsy be carried out on the corpse to determine the cause of death (at least for the records).
The three demands were unreservedly accepted.
Accordingly, an investigation has commenced to unravel why the corpse is in such a terrible state. Our suspicion is that some parts of the legs may have been mutilated (cut-out) for rituals. There was however a suggestion that rats may have eaten the affected and troubling parts due to poor care. The investigation will unravel what actually happened and why the corpse was not embalmed properly. Already, a team of investigators led by the O/C Homicide has returned to the Idanre general hospital as part of the investigations.
Also, the corpse will be re-embalmed today and the autopsy will take place on Monday as agreed.