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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

WHAT HAPPENED TO HESTIA THOMAS? This isn't going away soon! We need the truth. by Frank Tietie

The deceased with her husband and kids  

WHAT HAPPENED TO HESTIA THOMAS? This isn't going away soon! We need the truth.
by Frank Tietie

Executive Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER)


The Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER) views with utter seriousness the incipient Nigerian factor in what ought to have been regarded not only as a national tragedy but a callous challenge to our way of life, depicting us, usually as a nation of myopic, self centred and corrupt leadership even in matters regarding the truth about the death of no ordinary medical doctor, but a Paediatric Surgeon with distinction, Dr Hestia Idiodi-Thomas.

This Nigerian factor which has many facets is characterised by a national ethos that suffers from an amnesia which hinders development and refuses to respect the value of human life with the right to a standard or quality life.

Undoubtedly, the profession of medicine ranks the highest in relevance and responsibility hence, the high degree of love and respect that are accorded to medical doctors all over the world but here we refer to one who is not just an ordinary medical doctor but a consultant Paediatric Surgeon, whose circumstances of death have been so shockingly dramatic yet exposes the highly placed medical and health community as petty, divided and willing to trivialise this horrific death of Dr Hestia, in further devaluation of life as it is perceived in Nigeria.

No doubt still, we have our ways in Nigeria. That is why the Network News of Radio Nigeria reminded us on the 26th of October, 2015 that, 14 years have passed without the resolution of the death of the revered Bola Ige, SAN, who was murdered as a sitting Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If such a high profile murder as that of Ige has gone so unresolved and perhaps drowned in the ocean of amnesia, whither the resolution of Dr Hestia's death?

It does portend a forlorn situation where there have been a clash of claims, counterclaims and charges between medical doctors at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), the Nigeria Medical Association, Dr Hestia's family with friends and NGOs that have supplied intelligent conspiracy theories with conjectures that have been recently purveyed in the media.

However, one group of persons, so shocked and heartbroken beyond expression, reels from a deep but hushed cry for the truth regarding the death of Dr Hestia Idiodi-Thomas. CASER has therefore decided to stand with this group of persons in firmness.

Members of the 2003 Class of College of Medicine, University of Benin (UNIBEN), notably spent about 7 years in personal relations with the late Dr Hestia and many of them are yet to come to terms with the rude and crude death of their highly lovable, amiable, brilliant and close friend, the late Dr Hestia.

Dr Sunny G. Eyaru, on behalf of the 2003 Class of College of Medicine, University of Benin has expressed the collective grief of late Hestia's classmates who have steely resolved to ensure that the truth regarding her death is made known, in fact.

The Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER) has staunchly identified with the position of the 2003 Class of College of Medicine, UNIBEN and consequently, calls on the Inspector General of the Nigeria Police to truly and fully take charge of this most seemingly homicidal case. CASER is not impressed, in the least, the way the Nigeria Police is so distant from the centre of the preliminary investigation of the death of the excellent consultant neurosurgeon.

Whereas, CASER expects the Nigeria police to give daily and weekly news briefings on the progress of the preliminary investigations on the doctor's death, the confusion arising from skewed, biased and highly uniformed statements credited to Doctors at LUTH, NMA, the Idiodi family and members of the public reflect a deliberate attempt by the authorities by unresponsive omission to allow the questions regarding the doctor's death to go unresolved as usual in the Nigerian way.

It is curious that some of the leaders in the medical and health community have made reckless statements that reek of biased conclusions in such matters regarding autopsy and coroner's inquest in the case in question. CASER considers this to be unacceptable and expects that the police should have taken full control, leaving no room for unwholesome external influence in the investigative processes.

The opacity of the personalities involved in the investigation is quite unfortunate. CASER expects the particular coroner in the case to be publicly named. The commencement of an inquest must be formally announced and where there would be specialist medical practitioners to be involved in the processes such as autopsy, those medical persons must be named publicly. These pieces of information have been hard to get.

CASER believes, from information and analysis available to it, that the preliminary investigations of Dr Hestia's death are already being compromised, so sadly. CASER calls on the Nigeria Police and the Lagos State Ministry of Justice to ensure transparency and justice in this case by adhering strictly to the provisions of the Lagos State Coroner System Law of 2007.

CASER has therefore set up an independent team to monitor the investigations and has resolved to move to Lagos and apply pressure on the authorities to observe best practices in the investigations. CASER shall where necessary approach the courts to compell compliance and decry infractions.
CASER commends other civil society groups that have taken interest in Dr Hestia's case and call on them to sustain the campaign for truth and justice for the departed medical consultant.

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