U.S. Lab Disputes Lagos Govt’s Claim, Denies Conducting Mohbad’s Toxicology Test

The administration of the National Medical Services Laboratories in Pennsylvania, United States of America, has denied that the Lagos State Government conducted a toxicology test to determine the cause of singer Ilerioluwa Aloba, alias Mohbad’s death, at its facility.

The NMS Labs assertion came in response to Punch’s inquiry, which led to a fact-finding trip to determine the musician’s cause of death.

Before embarking on the fact-finding mission, some concerned members of the public reportedly objected to a pathologist’s claim, made before the Coroner’s Court on Wednesday, May 15, that an autopsy could not determine Mohbad’s cause of death because his corpse had decomposed.

According to reports, the state government’s counsel, O. Akinde, told the Coroner’s Court in the Ikorodu area of the state sometime in November 2023 that a toxicology test, which is part of an autopsy to determine the cause of Mohbad’s death, was conducted in the United States.

To back up this claim, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, stated during a live phone call with Ahmad Isah, the anchor of an Abuja-based online programme, Brekete Family, in February 2024, that the toxicology test was being conducted at the NMS Labs in Pennsylvania, USA.

“The matter is being handled by the state DNA and Forensic Centre, but they are doing skeletal services, and they have affiliate centres which are three.

“So, if there is an emergency like this one that we have, they will not say they cannot handle it. So, there are three of them in the US and the one handling this particular one is the NMS in Pennsylvania, USA,” Omotoso said during the live programme.

The test results apparently arrived in Nigeria in April 2024 and were sent to a pathologist for interpretation.

Appearing before the coroner’s court, the pathologist disclosed that the autopsy could not ascertain the cause of Mohbad’s death because the corpse had decomposed.

However, during the fact-finding tour, Punch independently verified the site of the NMS Labs at 3701 Welsh Road in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, as well as two NMS crime labs on Stratford Avenue in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, and another in Grand Prairie, Texas.

The single e-mail address that these labs had been using for correspondence was also identified on the NMS Labs website, prompting an inquiry to check whether a toxicology test to determine Mohbad’s death was performed at their facility.

The inquiry read in part, “I am a journalist from Punch Newspaper in Nigeria, currently working on a story involving the death of Nigerian hip-hop artiste, Ilerioluwa Aloba, aka Mohbad.

“Following the Lagos State Government’s active interest in the case, the state Commissioner for Information revealed that the government conducted a toxicology test on the late artiste at your facility. Here is the link where he said so at 32:21 (https://youtu.be/SW59DTJZV3I?si=ty0OaXJSTvfuC4Oz).

“However, conflicting reports have emerged, casting doubt on whether or not the toxicology test indeed took place at your facility. As a journalist committed to factual reporting, I am independently reaching out to your facility to verify the authenticity of this claim. Clarification on this matter will contribute significantly to resolving the discrepancies surrounding the artist’s demise.”

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Esther Dede, the Client Services Associate, Forensics Division, NMS Labs, responded to PUNCH Metro on May 17, refuting the state government’s assertion that Mohbad’s toxicology test was performed in one of their laboratories.

“Unfortunately, we do not have a case for that patient,” Dede said.

Dede, however, noted, “To maintain our compliance with HIPAA privacy regulations, we would need authorisation from the submitting agency.”

When reached on Wednesday, Omotoso, the Commissioner for Information, stated that the state DNA and Forensic Centre had given him the name of the lab.

“This was what I was told by the Lagos State DNA and Forensic Centre officials who took the sample there. We are dealing with the officials of the centre, they have three other labs that they have affiliations with. If they have an emergency, they can go to any of the three labs. I asked which particular one did they go to and they answered it was that one. That means I will have to go and check again because that was what I was told.”