The death, in controversial circumstances, of a Consultant Pediatrician and Head of Pediatrics at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, and proprietor of Universal Medical Clinic, Dr. David Akintayo Oguntuase, in his hospital in Oke-Ibukun, off Araromi area, Akure – both in Ondo State – in the night of Christmas Day eve is unfortunate indeed. Initially, it was reported and widely believed that Dr. Oguntuase was killed by a fire outbreak that was sparked by gas explosion in his hospital. His burnt lifeless body was found on the floor after the fire incident.
Coming two weeks after a gas explosion occurred in Akure, the Christmas eve fire incident was easily believed to be another gas explosion accident. Initial comments from even the Ondo State Police Command to the press reinforced this position. However, fresh discoveries and evidences from the deceased’s family and the Nigerian Medical Association to which the deceased belongs, later pointed to the contrary.
The Oguntuase family, in a statement signed by Otunba Ben Oguntuase, the deceased’s elder brother, said, “The picture of the burnt carcass is the tragic remains left behind by the assassins who obviously took their time to set the body ablaze after killing him. Evidently, they shot him in the main clinic area and carried his body to the room in the back area where they left him face down.
“Not done, they severed his hands and legs before proceeding to douse the body with petrol. The rest of the building on the inside was sprinkled with petrol before it was all set ablaze. It obviously was an inferno that raged leading the building to implode as the roof caved inward. Interestingly, the neighbouring buildings were not affected. No doubt this was a most professional job that was obviously very carefully contracted and crafted.
“The Oguntuase family is aware of some running issues between David and the MD of the Federal Medical Centre, Owo. Some six weeks ago, on the trumped up, very false, baseless and malicious allegation by Dr. Olufemi Omotoso that David and some others in the FMC were planning to kill him, David was arrested by the Police in Owo where, upon investigation, the falsity of the allegation was established. We are aware that this same MD has been a regular guest of the ICPC and very recently, EFCC was granted leave to arrest and prosecute this same man.”
The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Ondo State chapter, also debunked the killing by fire/gas explosion theory, claiming that its investigations revealed that Dr. Oguntuase was murdered before he was set ablaze – a reinforcement of the Oguntuase family position. The Chairman of the NMA, Ondo State chapter, Dr. Bamidele Betiku, while briefing pressmen on the development said, “The body was dismembered on the upper and lower limbs and the area of the silhouette was still somewhat wet and one of the small bones of the foot was found on the floor. The room where the body was had a burglary of its window destroyed (the only one noted to be so).
“There were two empty gas cylinders that were intact. We were also reliably informed that there was no power supply throughout the night of the incidence and the generator was intact.”
Dr. Betiku decried the management of the incident by the Police, saying, “The scene of the incident was initially a free for all to come in and out of the premises before concerted efforts were made by the NMA on the police to cordon off the environment such that the abundance of evidence be adequately utilized.
“The manner of evacuation of the burnt body from the scene was to say the least unscrupulous with a considerable likelihood to compromise the results of investigations. As if this was not vexatious enough, the scene, which apparently was cordoned off following intensive efforts by the NMA, was not the case when it was subsequently visited. The press release by the PPRO of Ondo State Police Command, Mr. Wole Ogodo, narrowed the incident to electricity surge even when the neighbours confirmed that there was no electricity supply at the time of the incident.”
He wondered the premise on which the Police position on the issue was predicated when the security outfit had yet to conduct preliminary investigations into the matter as at the time of going to press.
The gale of suspicions, allegations, facts and evidences provided by the Oguntuase family and the Ondo State chapter of the NMA should nudge the Police to carry out a full and unbiased investigation into the death of Dr. Oguntuase in the interest of justice.
The world expects the Police to professionally explore the various theories inherent in the claims of the NMA and the Oguntuase family and, indeed, other theories that may emerge from their investigations. The Police need to find answers to the various posers put forward by the complainants: Was Dr. Oguntuase a victim of fire accident? Was he alone in the hospital when the incident occurred? Was he shot dead before being set ablaze? Were his limbs and hands severed? Was Dr. Oguntuase arrested together with his doctor colleagues by Dr. Olufemi Omotoso, his boss at FMC, Owo, for allegedly wanting to kill him and later released for want of evidence? What necessitated the claim of threat to Dr. Omotoso’s life? Were the issues resolved? Where there post-arrest squabbles?
There is a need for the Oguntuase family and the NMA, Ondo State chapter, to formally petition the Police on the matter with a view to assisting the security body to carry out the required investigation into the matter.
The Police must liaise with the leaderships of the EFCC and ICPC to unravel the veracity of the Oguntuase family’s claim that Dr. Omotoso was a regular guest with the two anti-corruption bodies. Was Dr. Oguntuase in possession of some facts in respect of Dr. Omotoso’s alleged issues with the anti-corruption bodies? The avalanche of suspicions, displeasures and allegations expressed against the Ondo Police Command handling this matter requires the intervention of a higher command in the interest of justice for all the parties involved.
The Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, must step into the case to convince the public that justice will be done as justice must not only be done but be seen to have been done.
The nation’s Police are known for their notoriety for not resolving murder cases. The world is waiting to see if the Police under IGP Abba will wean itself of this damning scorecard.