There were indications policemen at the Police Area Command, Benin may have been responsible for the death of a young man recently. AGENE AKHERE writes on the mystery surrounding the death of Chibuike Edeh, a cleaner at Protea Hotel in Benin City, the Edo State capital…
rrested for Alleged Stealing
Chibuike Edeh was said to have been arrested on Friday, March 13 and taken into custody by the police on the invitation of the management of Protea Hotel over an alleged theft of N42, 000 belonging to a guest who lodged at the hotel.
Stanley Aiwierioba, a close friend of Chibuike said the CSO of the hotel had invited him and others to the hotel on Saturday that there was an issue to be discussed. “So we ran to the hotel and he said that Chibuike stole money from one of the customers’ rooms.”
“We asked him about Chibuike, he said he was at the Area Command, not too far from the hotel. On reaching there we saw the IPO, we saw Chibuike and asked him what happened and he said he did not take any money, but that they forced him to say that he stole the money. We asked the IPO what we were to do and he said we must pay the N42, 000 before they release the boy; that was on Saturday morning, “Aiwierioba said.
WESTERN POST learnt that the drama of the sudden death of the young man started when family members and friends stormed the area at about 10am on Saturday to buy him food, after which arrangements were made for his bail.
It was also learnt that the family members were told by the CSO of the hotel to pay for about N48, 000 as against the earlier N42, 000 as total sum the hotel claimed was lost in the hotel room occupied by a guest even as the family said they had only N42, 000 on them and pleaded that they be allowed more time to make up for the actual sum.
But there was a sad twist of the entire drama hours after the deceased’s mother Mrs. Edeh left the police station to make up the money to N48, 000; as she and other members of the family were shocked to learn on their return that ‘somebody’ had bailed their son and the he had since left the police station, a development that heightened their curiosity.
The family said the name of their son was listed as number 18 on police suspects’ crime board, stressing that his name was suddenly deleted from the board.
A cousin of the deceased, who gave his name as Alex Toochi Nwobodo said: “We were told that he stole N48, 000; we went to Protea with the money to pay them to release our brother, they said we should go to the Area Command. We went to the Area command, we saw his name on the board, Chibuike Edeh, they brought him out; we gave him food that was on Saturday. But for us to go back and bring the remaining money for them to release Chibuike we could not see our brother again.”
Mutilated and Burnt Remains of Edeh Found
Edeh’s body was later found dead, heavily mutilated with broken legs, head injuries as well as burnt neck and back, at Imaguero College, adjacent the Police Area Command on Sapele Road, at about 11:45pm on Saturday, March 14, 2015.
The body of the deceased was later deposited at the morgue of University of Benin Teaching Hospital and labeled ‘unknown person’ by the hospital authority, a development that angered the family members and friends, some of who spoke with the late Edeh for hours at the police premises after he was arrested.
A Mother’s Agony
Mother of the deceased, Mrs. Christiana Edeh, who is demanding justice over the alleged murder of her son, stated that the circumstances surrounding his death shows that it was premeditated.
According to her, “even after we went with the money they accused him of stealing, they still did not release him to us and my son (Chibuike) had told me on Saturday not to leave him then, that I may not come back to see him alive.
“Someone who saw it said they killed him and dragged his body from the Area command and dumped him in front of the library.
“I am poor and have no power to fight them back but God will do the fighting for me. I want justice over the cruel murder of my son,” she cried.
When our correspondent visited Protea hotel, which is just a stone throw from the offices Director of the State Security Services and the Commissioner of Police, it was observed that the entire premises was devoid of the usual lively activities with signs of no lodgers due to the streets protest that trailed the death of Chibuike.
A senior staff of the hotel, who did not want to disclose his name said, the late Edeh “had been the staff of the hotel for the past two years and last week I cannot tell you exactly what transpired. A guest complained about a missing item because he attended to the room and the matter was referred to the police. That is all I can tell you right now.”
Pressured further, he said “At this point that is all I can tell you; I am not the PRO. The Chief Security Officer who can give you all the information about that is with the police right now. He has gone to the police. You can speak with the police who will give you details of information about what happened.”
Police Denies Complicity in Death of Chibuike Edeh
The State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP, Joseph Edoigiawerie who briefed journalist on the issue, said the late Edeh was knocked down by a vehicle while trying to escape from the police.
The PPRO said the late Edeh had made a confessional statement, where he admitted stealing the money and had told the police that the money was still intact. He said, “In his statement, he said the money was hidden in a fence between the hotel and NNPC mega station along Sapele road in Benin.
“It was while he was taken there by the police to retrieve the said fund that he tried to escape and in the process was knocked down by a Toyota Camry car,” he said.
When asked about the deceased burnt body and scars on his body, the police spokesman could not provide answer to the questions.
Edoigiawerie however told journalist that the said vehicle was in police custody while he refused providing the identity of the vehicle driver and number plate on ground of security.
As the family continued to demand for justice in the matter, an appeal has been made to the state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Samuel Adegbuyi and the state Governor Adams Oshiomhole to wade into the matter with a view to unraveling the circumstances surrounding the death of the young man.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole Reactions
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has called on the State Commissioner of Police to thoroughly investigate the circumstance leading to death of Mr. Chibuike Edeh.
Speaking to the family and friends of the deceased who staged a protest to the Government House, seeking the Governor’s intervention, Oshiomhole said “let me thank you for coming to Government House to lay your complaint in a very peaceful manner in spite of the pains in your heart and the gruesome murder of your son, your brother and our comrade.”
Oshiomhole said “Whether or not the young man was a thief, whether or not the money was found on him or he threw it across the wall is not the issue. There is law; there is procedure to be followed to investigate alleged stealing, even alleged murder. The police can listen to complaint from anyone who has cause to complain or report theft or any crime or suspected crime to the police.
“The responsibility of the police stops at arresting and investigating a suspect. They do not have the right to kill, to maim, to brutalize and to murder anybody. That is not acceptable.