Police deny suspect’s death in detention, as lawyer calls for probe - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Friday, January 5, 2024

Police deny suspect’s death in detention, as lawyer calls for probe

The Ogun State Police Command has clarified that a suspect, Ezekiel Okewusi, died in the hospital, contrary to insinuation  by his family that he died in Police cell at Ajuwon Police Station.

The command spokesperson, Omolola Odutola who made the clarification said, the deceased complained of body pain after he was taking to police station, but was taking to a hospital for treatment, where he later died.

She said, “I was informed that the deceased complained of body pain after he was brought to the station, but what the police suspected was that probably he had been beaten up before he was brought to the station.

“So, what the lady told me was that when the guy said he was complaining that he was not feeling fine, they took him to the hospital.

“So, the story that somebody died in the police station is not true. He didn’t die in the police station, he died in the hospital.

“After Okewusi came to the police station, it was the police that took it upon themselves to go and look for his family. Because nobody could give an accurate account of who the deceased was.

“Even in the place where he lived before he passed on, they couldn’t even find any of his relatives. So it was the police that took it upon themselves to go and start looking for his family members. That was the narration I had. So, when the man was brought to the station, he didn’t complain that anybody had beaten him, whether any OPC or vigilante beat him up.

 “The only thing he complained of was that he was feeling pains. And it was when they took him to the hospital that he died.

“Right now, we have not even seen the complainant. We have been looking for the complainant. Yes, according to what they said now, the complainant is at large,” she added.

Meanwhile, a Lagos-based lawyer, Alayo Akanbi, had in a petition called on the Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alamutu, to investigate the case of how Okewusi allegedly died in Ajuwon Police station, after spending four days cell.

In the petition written by Akanbi, the lawyer to the Okewusi family, the deceased was accused of stealing a phone and was reported to the Oodua Peoples Congress who allegedly beat him to the point of death before handing him over to the police at the Ajuwon Divisional Police.

He stated that rather than providing first aid or allowing his family to give him medicare, the police locked him up in a cell where he died four days later.

Okewusi was alleged to have died on December 15, 2023, at the Ajuwon Police Station.

According to Akanbi, it was gathered that Okewusi was seriously beaten by his assailants who used excessive and unwarranted force on him where he sustained a serious injury before he was dumped at the Ajuwon Police Station on December 11, 2023, and he died on December 15, 2023, while in police custody.

The petition partly read: “please be informed that Mr. Ezekiel Tunde Okewusi who died in police custody left behind three kids and an aged mother who are still mourning his untimely death. Ezekiel’s landlord also confirmed that Okewusi did not come home for four days until the news of his death in police custody at the Ajuwon Police Station filtered to the public.

“We further gathered that Okewusi died as a result of brutalisation and torture by his assailants coupled with arbitrary and unlawful detention for four days by the police under harsh and life-threatening conditions at Ajuwon Police cell without medical facilities.

“Eyewitnesses’ accounts showed that Okewusi was alleged to have stolen a phone while the ‘complainant’ mobilized OPC boys who tortured and brutalised Okewusi. Meanwhile, it was reported that the deceased suspect had been beaten on several occasions by the ‘complainant’ as one of the relatives confirmed that he saw Okewusi with a swollen face about weeks ago.

“Sir, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria protects the right of life of every Nigerian citizen and prohibits torture, inhuman and degrading treatment meted on Okewusi by his assailants resulting to his death and that detention of Okewusi at Ajuwon Police station for four days without charging him to court is illegal.

“Our client’s concern is that police officers at Ajuwon Police Station ought to have immediately arrested and questioned those who brought Okewusi to the station and promptly contacted family members of Okewusi.

“However, police officers are culpable for the detention of Okewusi for four days; for their failure to provide medical facilities for Okewusi and for their failure to contact any family member of Okewusi while he was in their custody for four days as the family member was only contacted after his death on the December 15, 2023 and that his corpse had been deposited in a mortuary in Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State.

“Our clients further discovered that police officers at Ajuwon Police Station demonstrated an unacceptable level of insensitivity when they allowed suspects to walk freely until our clients requested his arrest and subsequently, the police requested for our client’s family to provide logistics to transfer the suspect to the State CID Abeokuta.

“Our clients honestly believe that human life is sacred and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life save as provided under the law.

“We therefore passionately appeal to the Nigeria Police to intervene decisively and consequently direct a full-scale investigation (including conducting autopsy) into the circumstances of the death of Mr. Ezekiel Tunde Okewusi who died on December 15, 2023 in police cell at Ajuwon Police Station and bring those involved including police officers at Ajuwon to face the wrath of law for their roles in the illegal taking of Okewusi’s life.”

Odutola stated that Okewusi died in the hospital contrary to the insinuation that he died in a police cell.

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