Controversy Rages Over Beheading of Nigerian New-Born

Nigeria: Controversy Rages Over Beheading of New-Born Baby in Warri (

CONTROVERSY continued, yesterday, on the beheading, weekend, of a day-old baby by a medical doctor in Warri to save the life of the mother as some medical doctors described the decapitation as archaic, but the doctor at the centre of the storm, Dr. Lanre Obasa insisted that he did the best thing a professional could do in the situation in good faith. The father of the dead child who was not around the night his wife went into labour was said have been gripped by hysteria at the clinic when he was presented, the next day, with a corpse of a baby boy instead of a live baby boy he expected.

Naturally, passersby were attracted to the scene and with the headless body of the child as evidence, they were moved to burn down the hospital and would have killed the doctor if he was around. Because of the hullabaloo generated by the beheading of the child, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) in Warri has stepped into the matter and the executive is likely to address newsmen today on the association’s position.

Though, some of the doctors Vanguard spoke to agreed that it was good to save the life of the mother in the circumstance that prevailed at the clinic, they argued that medicine has advanced beyond the level of decapitating a child to perform a surgery. They were, however, stunned at the burning down of the Dayspring Clinic by an irate mob and the NMA, it was learnt, yesterday, might press on the police to arrest the culprits and make them to rebuild the clinic as well as replace the destroyed equipment.

Dr. Obasa could not be immediately reached yesterday for comments but in an earlier interview in Warri, he posited that the pregnant woman was in shock, her blood pressure low and pulse very fast when she was rushed to his clinic, last Sunday, at about 10.30 pm, adding that when he discovered that leg, arm, shoulder of the baby had come out, remaining the neck and head, he knew there was danger. “I discover that the bone of the neck had been broken, probably in the process while they were trying at the C.A.C. Maternity (the clinic from which she was rushed to Dayspring Clinic) to pull out the baby. It was only the skin that was holding the head and the neck.” Dr. Obasa who took no kobo before he went on the rescue operation for the mother, said that he got the go ahead of a sister of the woman in labour to save her life instead of both mother and child losing their lives, adding that he was astounded that the husband of the woman was accusing him of beheading his baby instead of thanking him for salvaging the situation.

Truly horrific.

I stumbled on the story, now a few days old, at GoogleNews looking to see if I could determine a sudden surge in referrals to beheading posts. It occurs to me that the hostage beheadings in Iraq by Zarqawi and others, once near-daily occurrence, have seemed to stop in recent weeks.

FILED UNDER: Africa, Policing, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.