A Necessary Inquest

The death of a former governor of Osun State, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, sparked controversy after the news broke. The reason was that some persons suspected foul play because of the circumstances of his passing. Even during his burial, not a few persons expressed rage in pockets of riots at the scene. The state government, therefore,…”
Moroti Olatujoye
May 12, 2017 12:34 pm

The death of a former governor of Osun State, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, sparked controversy after the news broke. The reason was that some persons suspected foul play because of the circumstances of his passing. Even during his burial, not a few persons expressed rage in pockets of riots at the scene.

The state government, therefore, ordered an inquest into the cause and circumstances of the tragic incident. But the family issued a statement rejecting the exercise. In a strong language, the family said it “denounces in its entirety the ill-advised and self-serving coroner’s inquest ordered by the Osun State Government purportedly set up to determine the cause of death of our beloved Senator Isiaka Adeleke.”

The statement went further to call the order a “kangaroo inquest,” and described it as “predetermined by the state government and designed to serve its own interest with distorted facts and misinformation, which will clearly not be in the interest of the good people of Osun State in general and the Adeleke family in particular.

The state governor, Rauf Aregbesola, ordered the inquest because of what he described as “a sudden and an unexplained death of a person of high status (that) must be investigated and documented.”

It is understandable that the Adeleke family is grieving over the sudden passing of a man Governor Aregbesola described as “one of our illustrious sons.” The family promptly ordered an autopsy to ascertain the cause of his death.

Nevertheless, the family ought to exercise restraint in the matter. It should not run into a conclusion. The inquest is inspired by law. The Coroner law, Cap 32, vol. 1, law of Osun, 2002, empowers the governor to institute an inquest.

We understand how private the matter is to the family, but Senator Adeleke was also a governor and major law maker, and that makes his case inevitably public. The state government cannot shy away from it.

It was hasty for the family to describe without evidence the position of the state. This is a sensitive matter, and the best way to handle it is through transparency.

Hence the governor said, “the status of our brother, the late Senator Isiaka Adeleke, the suddenness and the circumstances of his death, would propel a responsible government to set up an inquest to unravel the circumstances of his death.”

The right attitude is to close ranks and ensure that the family works with the inquest under magistrate Olusegun Ayodele as appointed by the government.

Anytime a man of such significant stature as Adeleke dies, it calls for an inquest, especially if the demise happens in a cloud of suspicion. The family autopsy result will be significant but it is part of the inquest, especially if it raises questions about what happened before or after the tragic death. If the family is part of the inquest, it can help erase doubts about the outcome because it will always have an opportunity to call the exercise to account in a public way if it errs.

It holds a potential for rancour and bad blood if the exercise is privatised because it is already a public affair. Truth is best handled in the public square.

An inquest will entail hearings and people on both sides, including medical authorities, and that will ensure clarity and obviate the fears and doubts of a public that is already polarised.

The governor said “history will not be kind to us as a government if we fail to do the inquest into the circumstances surrounding his death.”

It is not only a moral or legal imperative. It is also a historic one.

Source: The Nation

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