146th Inaugural I Speak For The Dead To Protect The Living ~Seleye-Fubara By Humphrey Ogu

Every human being who dies through violence or natural causes, has to be spoken for through proper medico-legal investigations to establish the cause and circumstances surrounding such death with a view to prosecuting, convicting or discharging the suspect(s).

Professor of Anatomic Pathology in the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, Daye Seleye-Fubara, made the submission while delivering the 146th Inaugural Lecture of the University ominously entitled: “Speaking for the Dead to Protect the Living” at the Ebitimi Banigo Auditorium on Thursday, May 10, 2018. 

“The judiciary does not only consult the Anatomic Pathologists in the medico-legal investigation of death, but also subpoenas them to attend court session to 'speak for the dead' to either free or punish the accused,” Professor Seleye-Fubara told the audience. He further described the Anatomic Pathologist as not just a consultant to other medical consultants, but also to the judiciary in the area of medico-legal investigation of death, where his opinion is highly sought after and used in the proper and speedy administration of criminal justice.

The Inaugural Lecturer noted that “the Anatomic Pathologist also conducts autopsy, which is the examination of the dead with a view to determining the cause and circumstances surrounding the death.” He pointed out that autopsy also enables clinicians learn from their mistakes in cases of misadventure in patient treatment.

Professor Seleye-Fubara added that it was the Pathologist's professional judgement that determines whether death investigated by the coroner was likely a result of homicide, suicide, accident or natural cause.

“Thorough autopsy and the establishment of cause of death allay the anxiety of deceased's relatives, as in cases of sudden, natural or unnatural deaths. It teaches the surviving siblings and other relatives how to take precaution about some diseases that run in the family such as hypertension, diabetes and suicidal tendencies,” he declared.

“Finally, as autopsy findings and their interpretations by the Anatomic Pathologist speak for the dead to protect the erroneously accused persons, I speak for the dead to protect the living,” Professor Seleye-Fubara submitted. He stressed the need for Faculties of Law to liaise with Departments of Anatomic Pathology to start or strengthen medical jurisprudence that would equip trainee doctors and lawyers. 

On his contribution to knowledge and professional practice from 1993 to 2012, when he became Professor, the Inaugural Lecturer said: “I have attended to 30,000 patients (living) through histopathology services. The diagnosis made were used to determine their successful treatment, educate other living relatives about how to take precautions on some diseases that run in the family and teach both undergraduate medical students and postgraduate doctors specialising in anatomic pathology, paramedical, laboratory scientists and technologists.

“I have worked on 1,265 bodies during this period of which 870 were violent death cases (68.8 %), 380 (30.0%) were due to natural deaths and 15 (1.2%) were deaths from no obvious cause. The violent death cases further classified into 385 (44.3%) accidental deaths, 470 (54.0%) homicidal deaths, 15 (1.7%) suicidal deaths,” he disclosed. Professor Seleye-Fubara added that the diagnosis and autopsy procedure were used to teach students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, render services to the hospital community, the public and attend to legal issues.

Citing five different cases in which he helped to speak for the dead to punish the culprit and exonerate the wrongly accused, Professor Seleye-Fubara revealed that about 200 resident doctors in pathology and other specialties also benefitted from the autopsies. He disclosed that ten of the resident doctors were presently consultant Anatomic Pathologists practising at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital and elsewhere, including two in Canada.

Speaking after the Lecture, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Professor Regina Ogali, who stood in for the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ndowa Lale, commended the Inaugural Lecturer for doing justice to the topic. “I was dumbfounded at the beginning of the Lecture, but at the end, I understood how and why Professor Seleye-Fubara speaks for the dead.

“As an Anatomical Pathologist, who speaks for the dead, Professor Seleye-Fubara also speaks for the living. He made us to understand that things are not always what they seem. I think the Inaugural Lecturer has credibly proved his mettle and has been discharged and acquitted,” Professor Ogali declared. She announced that the 147th Inaugural Lecture will be delivered by Professor Prince Nwakanma of the Faculty of Management Sciences on May 31, 2018.

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