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Mobitel: Coroner Orders Joseph’s Body Exhumed

Posted by By Chika Amanze-Nwachuku on 2005/11/16 | Views: 683 |

Mobitel: Coroner Orders Joseph’s Body Exhumed


A Coroner has ordered that the body of the late Chief Executive Officer of Mobitel Limited, Mr. Charles Alaba Joseph be exhumed Saturday, October 15, 2005 for a fresh autopsy, to unravel the real cause of his death.

* US pathologists to conduct fresh autopsy

A Coroner has ordered that the body of the late Chief Executive Officer of Mobitel Limited, Mr. Charles Alaba Joseph be exhumed Saturday, October 15, 2005 for a fresh autopsy, to unravel the real cause of his death.

The Coroner, Chief Magi-strate Ayo Odugbesan, was appointed by the Chief Judge of lagos State Judiciary, Justice Adetula Ade-Alabi, to conduct a coroner's inquest into the death, September 15, 2005 of the Mobitel chief.

The fresh autopsy will be carried out on the body, laid to rest at the Victoria Court Cemetery October 14, by experts from Nebraska Institute of Forensic Science, United States.

The team of pathologists will be led by a Nigerian, Prof. E.J.C Nwana, a professor of pathology in the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital. Others are Dr. Mattais Okoye, Dr. Thomas Benneth, Dr. Paul Mellean, and Mr. Dale William.

The deceased Mobitel boss was found dead in a pool of his blood at his company premises in Victoria Island area of Lagos on September 15. This was the same day, Mr. Kemi Pinhero, the receiver/manager appointed by Intercontinental Bank, over the assets and liabilities of the company came to take over the company.

His death elicited reactions from both his family and other Nigerians, who have continued to call for justice.
An autopsy had revealed that the deceased died as a result of gunshot while the police in another autopsy claimed that Joseph died as a result of injuries sustained after a fall.

Following the controversies generated by his death and coupled with conflicting results of the autopsies conducted on his body, Lagos State Government recently applied to the state court asking for an order to convene a coroner's inquest into the death.

The Attorney-General (AG) and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Yemi Osibajo SAN, had stated that the request for an inquest followed an appeal by Joseph's widow, who asked for an independent inquiry into the death of her husband.
The application which was brought exparte, was granted by the Chief Judge, who appointed Odugbesan, a Chief Magistrate, the Coroner.

Three witnesses, a personal assistant (PA) to the deceased, his driver and one of his wives, Folashade, testified at the resumption of the inquest which took place at the Lagos High Court yesterday.

Led in evidence by the AG, the PA, Mrs. Omowunmi Fadeyi said the news of the death of her boss was made known to her by his driver, Lukman Kareem.
She stated that Lukman informed her that he saw oga (Joseph) when he fell down.
The PA also said she did not hear any gunshot and that all the people who came with the receiver/manager did not see her boss.

She denied telling the widow of her boss that her husband was shot and did not also know who broke the news to her colleagues that her boss was shot.
The witness also affirmed that she referred Mr. Pinhero to the legal department of the company because she did not see her boss and that she later made statements to the police.

On his part, the driver, Lukman, who said he started working with the deceased on January 11, 1999, told the Coroner that he drove his late boss to the office that fateful September 15.

He said he had gone to stay with a nearby vulcaniser because the PA and the company's legal adviser had asked them to leave the premises.
He said on inquiry, he was told that some people whose mission were not known were in the office.

Continuing, he said, "i noticed that some mobile policemen were pointing towards a direction. Then, i turned and i saw my boss going slowly. I was afraid because i never saw him in that state of fear.
"Shortly, he bent low, carried his left leg towards the corridor above our car park, and his leg slipped."

When asked by the AG if he told the vulcaniser when he saw his boss fell down, he said no.

Lukman said, he told the police in his statement that he saw his boss on the balcony when Mrs. Omo asked them to leave the car park and that he told only the PA how his boss fell down and that he asked her not to tell anybody.
The driver also said he saw the body of his boss but still did not tell anybody what happened apart from Mrs. Omo.

At cross examination by Counsel to Pinhero, Prof. Alfred Kasunmu, SAN, the driver said that on the said September 15, when he saw his boss alone at the corridor, he did not hear any gunshot.

He said all the staff were saying that his boss had been killed and that he saw how everything happened but that he did not say anything because he was scared to speak.

He corroborated his statement to the police that that was not the first time his boss had hidden from the police.

Asked at re-examination by the AG whether it was not strange that he saw his boss falling down and still did not tell anybody, the driver maintained that he was afraid in the state he saw himself and could not tell anybody.

In her evidence, the deceased's wife, Folashade, said the driver informed her that her husband had been shot and that he wanted to help but people stopped him. She also said the driver never told her that her husband fell down.

"He (driver) said, he wanted to help because he thought Joseph was still breathing. He told me that when he left, it occured to him why did he have to leave when he had not done anything. And that when he returned back, he realised that his boss had been shot. That was the first time.

"At no time did Lukman ever told me that he saw my husband falling. He told me that when he dropped him in the office, he left.

"My husband told me he was going to resign in July and that would be effective from September. I told him that he was completely fed-up with Mobitel, he should leave.

"But he said to me afterwards that one of the directors, Peter Obi had told him not to leave that he was going to go to Intercontinental to speak with them. Two days before his death, he told me that he was going to have a meeting with Intercontinental.

The driver of my husband told my friend, one Mrs. Balogun that they just killed my husband for nothing", Joseph's widow said.

At cross-examination by Kasunmu, the widow said, the day she went to the mortuary she was allowed to see her husband's body and that she saw a hole in his eyes. She insisted that her husband was shot and that the autopsy was authorised by the deceased's family members. The inquiry continues today.


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