How did Dr. Hestia Idiodi-Thomas die?
This is the million-dollar question the police, Lagos State government, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) where she was a consultant, and the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, are battling to answer. While there are speculations that her death was a case of domestic violence, there is a school that believes it was suicide.
Meanwhile, sources at LUTH alleged that the mother of two had a history of depression. In the midst of these conflicting views, it is difficult to really draw up a conclusion. This is even as the Lagos State branch of the NMA set up a committee to investigate the circumstance surrounding the death. For its path, Lagos State government has vowed to see the case to its logical conclusion. The young consultant paediatric surgeon was said to have been brought to the LUTH Accident and Emergency Department, on Tuesday, October 14, following injuries she allegedly sustained in curious circumstances at home.
According to a statement by the management of LUTH, all efforts at resuscitating her failed; she was pronounced dead.
In the meantime, there is the allegation that Idiodi-Thomas could have been a victim of domestic violence, going by her state after she was rushed to hospital that day.
A source at her department at LUTH claimed that the victim came in a pool of blood with a nylon bag covering her head, face smashed while her chest and arms were fractured.
“The husband told us she had a history of depression and suicidal attempts. I heard that she jumped off the second floor. I spoke with some of her colleagues, it seems it’s a case of suicide. The family of the deceased has maintained that their in-law, who was like a son to them, was not responsible for their daughter’s death. The mother of the deceased was said to have pleaded with some of the members of NMA , who visited her home, not to abandon her son in-law, ”the source told Sunday Vanguard. The mother of the deceased was said to have wondered why someone will be as insensitive and wicked as to conclude that her son-in-law killed her daughter.
“She cursed those who started the killing rumour because it only added to her pain which was already unbearable. The mother, who claimed to be a principal officer in a university and has some background in psychology, claimed she knows the tell tale signs of domestic violence.
According to her, she visited the couple often and would not have hesitated to forcefully drag her daughter out of the marriage had that been the case”, the source added. The source said the old woman broke down when she saw the newspaper that carried the story. Further investigations by Sunday Vanguard revealed the family had since directed the police to stay further investigations into the case. Sources close to the police at the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, SCIID, Yaba, said the family demanded that the late consultant’s husband, Dr. Femi Thomas, be released unconditionally and further investigations into the death halted. According to the sources, the family believes the husband of the deceased had no had in the death of their daughter. It was also gathered that the family may have collected a coroner inquest permission to enable them bury the deceased. When approached by Sunday Vanguard, the husband declined to speak on the issue as, according to him, it was a coroner case. Thomas believed that once the coroner inquest report is out, the controversy will be rested.
NMA to unravel mystery
Shocked by media reports, Lagos State branch of NMA condemned the linkage of the death of the deceased to the husband. The NMA, through its Public Relations Officer, Dr Ibrahim Ogunbi, wondered why some journalists should carry stories of such sensitive matter without proper investigations. . “We in the NMA are not happy with what is reported in the social media and the national dailies”, Ogunbi said. Dr. Tope Ojo, Lagos NMA Chairman, also described the case as a sensitive issue that should be treated with caution. Reacting to alleged withdrawal of the case from the police by the family of the deceased, Ojo, who said the NMA was not aware of the development, said that will be strange. To him, the case is beyond the family because it is now a coroner case. “Whether they want it or not, it does not matter. Their view does not count at this level. It is now a coroner inquest. For now, there is no litigation”, the NMA boss said.
While calling for speedy completion of the coroner inquest, he said part of the things delaying the report is that there may be need for forensic expert who will link the autopsy to the environment where the incident took place. He, however, called those in charge of the procedure to hasten the process. The climax of the controversy trailing the death was the condemnation of domestic violence and abuse of women. The death sparked off condemnation from some human rights bodies which called for sanctions against domestic violence. One of such groups is the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team, DSVRT. The group, through its Coordinator, Mrs. Titilola Vivour-Adeniyi, demanded speedy release of the autopsy report and submission to the Directorate, Public Prosecution, DPP, Lagos State Ministry of Justice. It threatened that if the report indicated that Idiodi-Thomas was a victim of domestic violence, the state government will not hesitate to act.
Another group, Project Alert on Violence Against Women, demanded fresh autopsy on the deceased’s body.
According to the group, an independent team of medical experts should perform a fresh and unbiased forensic autopsy on the late doctor. The Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode, had, in a statement, appealed to the public to respect the memory of the dead and leave the family to mourn, confirming that the police were promptly informed and a coroner’s inquest into the case was almost completed.