Trader dies in police custody after six days without trial

Photo: Courtesy Jide Oyekunle (via Facebook)

Kehinde Omotosho, a trader in Gbagi market, Ibadan, Oyo State capital, has died in the custody of the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the police, PREMIUM TIMES learnt

The police team stormed Mr Omotosho’s neighbourhood around Agugu area at about midnight of July 16.

The 49-year-old was arrested alongside some persons in the area by the operatives, who reportedly came to arrest his nephew, Kabir.

Kabir was allegedly involved in a fight that led to the killing of an individual in the area.

The officers of the CID, Iyaganku, who came to make the arrest, were led by an operative of Agugu Police division identified as ‘SOJ’.

Mr Omotosho was later remanded in the CID office at Iyaganku, for six days, as against the 48 hours ultimatum stipulated in the Nigerian law.

According to one of those arrested, Jelili Rasak, Mr Omotosho died in the cell on July 21 as a result of torture.

“He could not sleep because they were standing all night, day after day, inside this dingy cell. By Monday night, four days after our arrest, Mr Omotosho had developed so much discomfort that he became very ill,” Mr Rasak told PREMIUM TIMES.

This paper learnt that rather than have him access medical treatment, the police authorities at Iyaganku tied him with ropes and made him lie face down all through the night.

“By 5 a.m., Tuesday, 21st day of July, Mr Omotosho gave up the ghost in the cell,” Mr Rasak said.

He said before Mr Omotosho died, he screamed for help but was ignored until other inmates joined in the scream. He was eventually taken to a clinic where he died.

Defence

When contacted, the police spokesperson in the state, Olugbenga Fadeyi, denied that the man died in the police cell.

“There was a fight between OPC (vigilante) and some cultists and it resulted in the death of an individual. Police went to that place to randomly pick some individuals for interrogation with the aim of getting the culprit.”

“The man took ill while at the cell and was taken to the police clinic where he eventually died. Police called the family members and informed them,” the police spokesperson narrated.


He said the corpse has not been released because the police want to carry out an autopsy to ascertain the cause of his death.

When asked for the dates of these incidents and the duration of detention, he declined comments.

Discrepancy

This paper learnt that in order to cover up the case, the police officers at Iyaganku made a relative of the deceased identified as ‘Sekinat’, to swear to a ‘no-case’ affidavit, stating that the corpse should be released for burial without an autopsy.

However, the first daughter of Mr Omotosho, Khadijat Omotosho, has vehemently kicked against the decision, calling for justice.

Speaking with our reporter on Friday evening, Ms Omotosho said she wants the police authorities to investigate her father’s death and bring the perpetrators to book.

In his reaction, Festus Ogun, a lawyer and activist, said the police should be held responsible for the death of Mr Omotosho.

“The position of the law is that someone who is arrested should not be in detention for more than 48 hours. It is either he is charged to court for trial or the person is released through administrative bail.”

“It is a constitutional aberration for them to keep anyone in custody for more than 48 hours for no reason whatsoever. The police should be held responsible because the man wouldn’t have died if the deceased was not in their custody.”

Group Kicks

Akin Fadeyi Foundation, an advocacy group, has announced its readiness to take up the case until justice is achieved.

Akin Fadeyi, the founder of the group, told PREMIUM TIMES that the incident was first reported via Flag It, a mobile application through which Nigerians can report corrupt practices.

Mr Fadeyi, in a press statement, condemned the police actions and the attempts to cover up.

“I was curious that the Nigerian Police with all its exposure to professional capacity strengthening and best global practices, would even conjecture cajoling an uneducated family into picking up the corpse of an illegally detained man without (an) autopsy.

“We have a handwritten letter of Khadijat sent to our organization. Needless to say that Khadijat, her siblings and other members of the family have remained inconsolable, traumatized, horrified and in a state of shock.”

The foundation called on the Inspector General of Police to investigate thoroughly and bring to book all those responsible for the victim’s incarceration and death.

“We have put processes in place to ensure justice for Mr Kehinde Omotosho and shall make our approach known in a few days,” Mr Fadeyi said.

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