“The Coroner’s inquest into the cause of June 3 Dana Air crash in Lagos has been suspended and postponed indefinitely, following a suit challenging the coroner’s jurisdiction.
The coroner’s jurisdiction in the matter is being questioned by a group, ‘Civil Aviation Round Table Initiative’, in a suit filed before the Federal High Court, Lagos.
Headed by a retired pilot, Dele Ore, the group stated that the Lagos State Coroners’ System Law does not cover the investigation of deaths arising from aircraft accidents.
Ore urged the court to declare the State Coroners’ Law inapplicable to aviation accident and deaths.
He accused the coroner of delving into technical issues relating to the crash and prayed the court to stop the proceedings of the inquest and the nullify steps taken by the coroner to invite witnesses to testify or give evidence.
“He has also scheduled appointment to visit the Control Tower at the Murtala Mohammed Airport to see how the Air Traffic Controllers carry out their duties,” he said, adding that the coroner had also wrongfully ordered the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) to produce the crashed plane’s Black Box and Technical Log Book.
According to him, investigation into such technical issues should be better left to “the experts in aviation technology that apply scientific investigation techniques that can ascertain the probable or exact cause of each air crash.” . . .” The Daily Times Nigeria
What is a Coroner’s Inquest and how does it work?
I found the following information from Adam’s County Coroner’s Office in Illinois to be a very simple explanation that should be easy for all to understand.
“A Coroner’s Inquest is an inquiry into the manner and cause of an individual’s death, conducted by the Coroner or Deputy Coroner with a court reporter and six jurors present. The jurors are citizens of the county in which the death took place.
The purpose of an inquest is to present information concerning the victim’s death in order for the jury to determine the cause and manner of a death. The cause of death is often readily apparent and obvious, based on the facts, circumstances, medical evidence and in some cases, toxicology and autopsy results. The real essence of the jurors’ responsibility is to establish the manner of death (Suicide, Homicide, Accident, Natural or Undetermined).
The Coroner will summon to the inquest the individuals who have pertinent information concerning the incident. This often includes, but is not limited to, the person who found the deceased, witnesses to the incident, those involved, police officers and investigators, and in some instances, a direct relative. Individuals summoned will present testimony to the jury. Any professional reports (autopsy, toxicology, x-ray and laboratory reports) will be presented at that time. These reports are not released to the public until the inquest procedures are concluded.
All information and testimony at the inquest is recorded and/or transcribed by a certified court reporter. The inquest is open to the public and may not be closed pursuant to any requests to do so. Anyone may attend.
Upon completion of the testimony, the Coroners jury will deliberate in private. They may request additional testimony, evidence, or conference as they deem necessary. When the jury has concluded their deliberations, they will issue a verdict through the foreman as to the cause and manner of death( accident, homicide, natural, suicide or undetermined).
The Corner’s verdict has no civil or criminal trial significance. The verdict and inquest proceedings are merely fact finding in nature and statistical in purpose. However, if a person is implicated as the unlawful slayer of the deceased or accessory thereto, an arrest may be affected. This is extremely rare, as this function is now performed by the State’s Attorney’s grand jury proceedings.
The testimony presented at the inquest is sworn and under oath and properly documented and/or recorded. Because of this, testimony may subsequently be used in perjury proceedings if such testimony should change in future civil or criminal trial proceedings.”