Strange findings and outrage greeted the release of the remains of late mechanic, Chima Ikwunado by the police for identification and autopsy, last Monday, even as family of the deceased and a cluster of civil society organizations (CSOs) said he was butchered.
The pathologist engaged by the Rivers State Police Command, Musa Stevens had stunned Chima’s family, members of the civil society, the media and other stakeholders when he disclosed that no previous autopsy was conducted on the late mechanic’s corpse, contrary to earlier claims by the police.
The Tide recalls that spokesman of the State Police Command, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, at the wake of Chima Ikwunado’s death, had claimed he died of high blood sugar following an autopsy conducted on him by the police.
But the Pathologist of the Rivers State Police Command, Musa Stevens debunked that claim when he said that no incision or cut was seen on late Chima Ikwunado to show that a previous autopsy was done on the body.
Stevens disclosed this after the conclusion of a five-hour autopsy on the corpse of the mechanic at the mortuary of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH), just as he assured the family and stakeholders that global best practices were followed, insisting that the autopsy result would reflect the true cause of Chima’s death.
According to him, “We have done both internal and external examination, and we have seen our pathological evidence that will help us to conclude the cause of death, which will be communicated through the right channel.
“We took some due samples that will be analyzed to confirm the findings under microscopic examination. The pictures taken during the autopsy and the autopsy report with the death certificate will be communicated through the right channel.
“We are hopeful that in less than 10 days, this report will be handed over,” the police pathologist stated.
However, the late Chima’s family expressed shock over the condition of his body when they went into the morgue to identify it, even as tempers flared as some stakeholders who were outside said there was no need for an autopsy because the cause of death was already known due to the multiple cuts and injuries on his corpse.
Father of the late mechanic, Kelvin Ikwunado, alleged that his son was murdered because his body was visibly mutilated.
Mr Ikwunado, who broke down in tears after seeing his son’s remains, said in Pidgin English, “See as them butcher Chima as them they take butcher meat. Inside Chima. see black blood whey they for him body just congest.
“The blood congest as them they torture him, no way for the blood to rush out unless like knife when them they take butcher him leg and hand,” he stated.
Similarly, a coalition of the civil society organizations (CSOs) in Rivers State said that an inspection of the corpse confirmed that he was tortured by the personnel of the E-Crack Team.
The Chairman of the Coalition of CSOs in Rivers State, Enefaa Georgewill, who was part of those that inspected the corpse of late Chima, described the alleged treatment meted out to late mechanic as inhuman, noting that the multiple injuries on his body shows that what happened to him was beyond torture.
“The kind of injuries we saw on Chima body show that what happened to him was not just torture. This is butchering. We can confirm that Chima was butchered to death. In fact, our opinion on this matter is that there is even no need for autopsy because we have already seen the cause of death.
“Let us put on record that when we identified Chima, there was no mark of any kind. What I mean by mark is in terms of any knife cut showing that there was previous autopsy.
“There was nothing, because if there was an autopsy, there would have been incisions, there would have been marks from a pathologist. So, we can say for free that there was no previous autopsy”, Georgewill stated.
Reacting, the family of late Chima Ikwunado said they were determined to fight for justice after seeing his corpse.
The cousin to late Chima, Mr. Obinna Ezirim, who spoke on behalf of other family members, said the late mechanic’s body was bent over with machete wounds, while his hands had visible handcuff marks.
He said, “The condition of Chima is too bad. They butchered Chima. Even if they rushed Chima to hospital, he cannot make it because they butchered him. All over his body was butchered. Chima cannot survive it. All I want is justice.
Meanwhile, the scheduled press conference on Monday by the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura on the issue was abruptly put off, according to spokesman of the Police Command, DSP Nnamdi Omoni.
Omoni, said the news briefing would now hold when the result of the autopsy on the late mechanic’s body is out and when he receives report from the team investigating the matter.
Also speaking, the Pathologist engaged by late Chima’s family, Mr. Chukwuegbu, said only one result will be tendered by both pathologists, as it would be an abuse of the profession to tender two results in the same case except disagreements arise on possible cause of death between the pathologists.
He, however, added that he would authenticate the autopsy report before it would be made public.