Says deceased’s ID cards, other items found a day after body was brought
Police officer who deposited body did not follow up
Reps observe one minute silence
The management of General Hospital, Wise, Abuja has exonerated itself from the delay in notifying the family and the public about the death of Vanguard reporter, Tordue Henry Salem, whose body is currently in its morgue.
Rather, the hospital asked the public to hold the police responsible as, according to it, the police has the constitutional mandate to inform families of victims arising from accidents, dead or alive.
Secretary of Wuse General Hospital, Mrs Hanatu Sani, told Vanguard yesterday that the hospital had no place in law to inform families of dead bodies brought in, saying it was the place of the police.
Sani said the non-release of information on Tordue’s death was because of the inability of the policeman that brought the body to follow up.
According to her, the police officer failed to show up, even when the hospital’s mortician called to inform him a day after the body was brought in that ID cards and other items had been found.
While disclosing that there were many unclaimed dead bodies in the hospital’s morgue, Sani explained that the medical centre does not release bodies brought by the police to their families or relatives without authorisation from the police.
This, she explained, was to avoid trouble ‘’because you may release a dead body to relatives and another set of relatives would come up saying the one with the body is a faction.”
She said: “If the police did not come, there was nothing we could have done. We have a lot of unclaimed corpses here in the morgue. Most of them are victims of these hit-and-run drivers.
“The law says after three months we can bury unclaimed bodies but here,we keep them even up to two years. It’s when after that and we don’t see the relatives that we write to the commissioner of police, the judge and other relevant authorities to bury them.
“The challenge we had in this case was the policeman that refused to come back after he brought the body. The mortician said he called him the very next day after he found the deceased’s particulars but he refused to come. He was calling him to come and check and see how he can contact the relatives but the policeman never showed up.”
On his part, the mortician who admitted receiving the body on October 13, 2021, said it came in very late that fateful night.
The middle aged man, who only identified himself as Mohammed, said: “We registered it (body) as unknown corpse because there was nothing to identify him. It was the next day I found his ID cards and other items.
‘’It was because of this I placed a call to the policeman to come down but he refused to come after I explained everything to him and he promised to come.
“I saw the items while we were stitching the dismembered body. He brought the body in the night with an FRSC officer in a Road Safety vehicle. But when we were stitching the body, I found items, including the ID cards and immediately called the policeman.
‘’That first time, he picked my call and we spoke. After informing him of the ID cards and the need to come pick them so as to inform the relatives, he stopped picking my calls, even after assuring me that he was coming.’’
On why it took the hospital so many days to disclose the information, he said: “It’s not our work to look for the relatives, it’s only that of the police.”
On how the body was identified by the Intelligence Response Team, he said: “When the IRT came, they asked whether we had any unclaimed corpse here and I answered that we have many here and they asked again whether we received any body here on October 13.
‘’When I answered in the affirmative, they now brought the picture of the person they were looking for and the name. I took them inside to see the body brought on the day and the ID cards we found on the body and they confirmed that it was the person they were looking for.”
When informed that the family has distanced itself from the body in the mortuary as that of their son, he responded: “That doesn’t concern us, the policeman should come out and clarify the issue.
“The policeman’s name is Isaiah Olumu from Utako Division. He brought the body in company of an FRSC officer. But while the policeman left his number behind, the Road Safety man didn’t,” he said.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives yesterday observed a minute silence for Tordue Salem before the commencement of main legislative proceedings.
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, after taking his seat, formally announced Salem’s death to members.
He then called a member of the House, Ossai Nicholas Ossai, to offer prayers for the repose of Salem’s soul.
Prior to his death, Salem was a journalist covering activities in the House for Vanguard newspapers.
He went missing on October 13, 2021 and his corpse was later found in Wuse General Hospital by the police after 30 days.
Police authorities, however, said the late reporter was killed by a hit-and-run commercial driver identified as Itoro Clement, on the night of his disappearance. – Vanguard news