A toxicologist, Benedict Agbo, on Tuesday, told a coroner court investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a 12-year-old pupil of Dowen College, Sylvester Oromoni, that he did not get any request to test a blackish substance found in the intestine of the deceased.
The blackish substance was found in the second autopsy conducted by a pathologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Sunday Soyemi.Counsel for the deceased’s family, Femi Falana, asked Agbo if any blackish substance was sent to him for examination.
Agbo said, “No, I didn’t get any request.”The doctor, who had worked as a toxicologist for the police for about 25 years, said he was contacted by the Police Area Commander in Warri, Delta State, that an autopsy was going to be done on the deceased.He added that after the autopsy was carried out, he discussed it with a pathologist in the state, Clement Vhriterhire, and received samples for chemical analysis.
He said the samples sent to him were tagged: A (containing cake dark brown labelled heart blood); B (containing a greyish liquid substance labelled stomach content); C (a sample note containing greyish brown mass of flesh labelled liver), and a sample bottle containing light reddish coloured liquid labelled fluid from the eye.Agbo noted that he conducted physical examination up to the microscopic level.
“Were you the one that suggested to the pathologist in Warri what to send?” Falana asked.
The toxicologist replied in the affirmative.
“Is it normal to use clotted blood for toxicology tests?” the counsel asked.
“Yes, if that is what is found,” Agbo replied.
He added that the police laboratory at Alagbon was functional for toxicology, adding that it was inaugurated in 1997.When he was asked about the condition of the equipment between November 2021 and now, he said, “I will have to go back to take stock.”According to Agbo, the functionality of a toxicology laboratory does not depend on the equipment, but on expertise.
“Do you have equipment for testing poisons?” Falana asked.Agbo replied in the affirmative.The doctor said he used solvent and solid extraction procedures to test the samples.
“You will agree with me therefore that if the biochemical assay has not been carried out, you cannot conclusively say that your report is final?” Falana asked.“No, I can’t say that,” Agbo replied.According to the witness, a biochemical assay is to know if the liver, heart and other vital organs are functioning well before the cessation of life.
The coroner fixed further hearings for April 11 and 12.The news of Sylvester’s death went viral following a social media post by his cousin, Perry Oromoni, who alleged that some senior pupils of the college beat him up in his hostel because he refused to join a cult.But the school denied the claim, stating that the boy complained of leg pain following an injury he sustained while playing football.
A coroner’s inquest was subsequently set up by the state government to look into the case.