Mother of baby who died while riding in father’s arms to sue police

A mother has spoken of her agony as she attempts to find out what really killed her child.

Eldera Lawal, 37, says she has struggled to cope with the inconclusive results of an autopsy carried out by authorities at the Lagos state police command.

She said: “At the end of the day, it’s really not right. It’s not right. I saw no surgical arrow coming out of his body. I don’t want to believe he was killed and I don’t want to believe that he was killed by a surgeon because if he was, why is there no spinal or brain injury? The impression I get is he was attacked and his body was hacked because he was dead.”

After allegedly being beaten, Lawal’s son David, then two years old, died in his father’s arms at the toll gate at the Lagos-Ibadan expressway on 11 August 2017.

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Police arrested the child’s father, Ishay Yussuf Lawal, 32, after a CCTV camera at the toll gate showed him carrying his son in his arms moments before the car they were travelling in plunged off the road. Yussuf has pleaded not guilty to the child’s murder.

However, 12 months on, Lawal says she still has no explanation for what happened to her child. The Medical Board that carried out the autopsy said it could not conclusively conclude that he had been a victim of a freak accident caused by car-smashing crash as claimed by both the child’s father and the child’s mother.

She said: “They said some injuries were caused by car and air crash and how he was killed. But my son died in my arms. I want them to tell me what happened. I want them to tell me what caused my son’s death.”

The child’s mother told the Guardian that he had come back a healthy boy and that he had been happy and playful. She added: “Why has the police not arrested the man who killed my child? Why did they just give him bail? They had a chance to catch him and he was released. The police also said they couldn’t find any physical evidence. But if I was kidnapped or my car was stolen, I’d want my police to come back and follow all leads because if my car was stolen, they can follow the leads.”

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The medical board’s report states that “the cause of death is not known as of now, there is no physical evidence that can be shown at this stage which clearly and conclusively constitute a point of causation for this manner of death”.

Josephine Edeh, principal investigator for the panel, said: “I consider that before the conclusions could be drawn, it was appropriate that the pathologist should be given a little more time to have the time and resources to collect and examine further. To allow time for further tests to be done on the deceased and his body to confirm the cause of death.”

Lawal and Yussuf’s pre-trial appeal for bail is due to start on 3 February in Igbosere magistrates’ court.

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