BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO
The family members of a 24-year-old trader, Chukwudubem Iwuoba, have demanded justice for the deceased and also asked the police to release the body of their son to them.
Iwuoba was a trader in Asaba, the Delta State capital and was reportedly killed in a police cell in Anambra State by fellow detainees over drinking water.
The deceased was said to have travelled from Asaba to his hometown in Aguleri community in Anambra State to sympathize with his friend who was hospitalized.
He was said to have been arrested by the police alongside three other young men on the orders of the President General of the community on account of a violent act in a hotel.
They were later transferred to the Police Rapid Response Squad, Awkuzu in the Oyi Local Government Area of the state before Iwuoba allegedly died while in a police cell.
Speaking, his father, Sunday Iwuoba, who cried inconsolably, said his son was the breadwinner and a beacon of hope for the family and urged concerned authorities to ensure that justice is done in the matter.
“I asked the female Divisional Police Officer, ‘Where did you take my son to?’ She said she took my son to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (defunct) in Awkuzu. I have not seen my son while other people have come out.
“They (police) took four of them and three are now out but I did not see my son, Chukwudubem,” he said.
Explaining what happened to the deceased while being held in a police cell, one of the three young men arrested alongside Chukwudubem said, “The police arrested us and beat us up. The next day, we were transferred to RRS, Awkuzu and we stayed in custody from Monday to Tuesday.
“The place was overpopulated with no ventilation and the heat was unbearable. Chukwudubem was in pain and he cried for water. One person gave him water but he kept on begging for more. A detainee near him was holding water so he snatched it and drank.
“The detainee did not take offence but I still appealed to the detainee not to worry, that tomorrow, I would replace it. At that point, four other detainees pounced on Chukwudubem and started beating him.
“By morning, he was unconscious. The IPO asked me to identify who the perpetrators were and I did.”
Speaking on the matter, the President General of the community who was accused of ordering the arrest denied the allegation but confirmed that Iwuoba is dead.
“Subsequently, we were having a meeting on how they would come back home and that was why we went to see the Igwe (traditional ruler of Aguleri community) and other persons.
“Their family members were at the meeting. We agreed that the following day, the President of Anya would take them (family members) to SARS to tell the police that we wanted to settle the matter at home.
“It was at that point that we got to know that Chukwudubem died in the cell,” the President General said.
Reacting to the incident, the Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer, Tochukwu Ikenga, while calling for calm, condemned the incident, saying that the perpetrators had been identified and would be made to pay for their crime.
“The Command is sad with this development and however, appeals for calm. The Command has also added murder charges to the suspects who were already in custody on an alleged armed robbery and kidnapping case before they conspired and committed the act. They have been arraigned before the Otucha High Court in the State.”
Ikenga said, “For us, justice is justice anywhere in the world. What we have done is to make sure that the persons that are fingered in this act are made to face the law.”
Though the police have promised to release Iwuoba’s corpse to his family, the family of the deceased described his death in police custody as worrisome, especially as his alleged offence was bail-able.