by Adeniyi Abdul
A photojournalist with Leadership Newspapers was reportedly brutalised at the mortuary where the bodies of the Dana Air crash victims are being held. Benedict Uwalaka, who had been at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) to cover the release of corpses, was beaten up by unidentified assailants, believed to be mortuary attendants.
“I came to LASUTH in the morning to cover the release of the corpses of victims of the DANA Air crash,” Uwakala said. “Some vehicles were deliberately used to block the entrance to the mortuary to prevent access.
“From a distance, I took the pictures of the vehicles. Suddenly I heard a voice behind me, saying ‘show me your camera, show me your camera. What pictures are you taking’. Suddenly, somebody came from behind and snatched the camera from me.”
See more details from the Leadership report below:
The assailants numbering about four began to beat him mercilessly hitting him with their fists, sticks, bottles and other dangerous weapons, resulting serious bodily injuries, especially to his face.
A colleague, Mr. Kola Olasupo, told our correspondent that he witnessed the assault and stated that what he saw was a gory sight.
“I was walking in front of Uwalaka; both of us were moving towards the pathology side of the mortuary, then, suddenly, I heard a loud sound twice and quickly turned only to see two men using sticks to hit my friend, Uwalaka.
“As I tried to ask them what the trouble was, two other men rushed out from the door and slapped him and hit his eyes. I quickly called on my other colleagues to assist when another one came out again with an electric-prodding device,” Olasupo said.
According to him, it was the last man who inflicted the most serious injuries to his face, causing a serious damage to his left eyes, while the other two hit him with broken bottles at the back of the head, inflicting serious injuries.
“At that point, he slumped on the floor, lying in the pool of his blood before he was rushed to the Area F police station few blocks away from the hospital,” Olasupo said.
Collection of the bodies by relatives of the victims failed to go on as smoothly as planned due to late arrivals and non-compliance with directives. “Some of the relatives did not come on time and so we took their reference specimen late,” Chief Medical Director at LASUTH, Professor David Wale Oke, said. “I cannot say precisely how many bodies that have been released so far because some relatives were not ready and some others decided to keep the bodies in the morgue.
“Let me clarify this, as long as the corpses stay in the morgue, Lagos State Government is not charging any money from the relatives. I assure you if all the families are ready today they will get the corpses of their relatives accordingly. We are hoping that in the next one week we’ll be done depending on the relatives response,” he said.