The Abuja judicial panel established to probe brutality and human rights abuses of the disbanded special anti-robbery squad (SARS) and other units of the force, has ordered the release of Ifeoma Abugu’s corpse to her family for proper burial.
SARS officials had arrested Abugu in her fiancé’s house at Wumba village near Lokogoma area, Abuja, on September 10, 2020, four days after her introduction ceremony.
The officers had alleged that Afam Ugwunwa, Abugu’s fiancé, was a drug dealer and when he was not seen at his residence, she was arrested.
On September 11, the police claimed that Abugu died of drug overdose.
However, on Wednesday, Ahmed Abimiku, chief consultant pathologist of University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada (UATH), who appeared following a summons, told the judicial panel led by Suleiman Galadima, former justice of the supreme court, that Abugu did not die of substance abuse as claimed by the police.
Analysing the result of an autopsy which he carried out on the deceased, Abimiku said he noticed that her fingernails, lips and tongue were bluish, indicating that she had a respiratory problem before she died.
He said there were also bruises on her knees.
The pathologist said a look at her organs revealed that there was an accumulation of fluid in her lungs causing pulmonary congestion, adding that an examination of her kidney also revealed a noncancerous cyst and multiple fibroids.
Explaining further, Abimiku said dead sperm was found in her vagina.
Following allegations that she had died of a drug overdose, Abimiku said body fluid was used to test for all eleven drugs commonly abused, including cocaine, rohypnol, diazepam, barbiturate, marijuana, narcotics, cannabis, tranquillizers, and amphetamines, but all results came back negative.
He explained that the cause of Abugu’s death was anoxia, a medical condition caused by lack of adequate oxygen supply to the lungs.
“And this can come about as a result of strangulation, choking or suffocation,” he said.
Under cross-examination by James Idachaba, police counsel, the pathologist said DNA test could not be carried out on the sperm deposit found in the deceased, because it had been there for over 72 hours
The case has been adjourned till March 23 for the defendants to appear before the panel.