Policemen to Face Murder Charges Over Suspects’ Death While In Custody—-IGP
By Wisdom Patrick, Lagos
He stated this while reacting to testimony of a Police Inspector, David Egbon, who was the investigating police officer, in the controversial death of one Mr. Ademola Adedeji in Police custody.
The Police boss told our correspondent in a telephone interview that, Policemen are expected to be civil and humane with suspects in their custody, “because they are presumed innocents until otherwise proven.”
“Therefore, if a Policeman went to arrest somebody, brought the person to the Police station, detained the person in Police cell, and later something happened to that suspect, i would hold first the AIG of the Zone, the Commissioner of Police of the State before the rest Policemen on the line responsible for such irresponsibility.”
The Police boss emphasized that the Investigation Police Officer, IPO, and those that were to be in-charge of the cell, “shall face murder charges no doubt about that. The law of this country is very clear in that aspect. So everybody must be alert to his or her duty and responsibility.”
It would be recalled that a police officer at the ongoing coroner’s inquest into the death of Ademola Adedeji, a Lagos based sausage rolls distributor, on Wednesday narrated his ordea l in the hands of the Force.
“I was detained at Alagbon from 13th March to the ending of June 2012 after which I was taken to Force CID cell in Abuja where I was detained from June to July, 2012,” Mr. Egbon said, in a witness deposition he submitted to the coroner.
“While I was detained in the cell, I suffered many infections in my anus, ear, which was swollen and my blood pressure (sic) risen to 200/130 and all efforts to be taken to hospital was rebuffed by the IPO Supol Solomon Igwe,” he added.
Although he told the court he was “fine” during his testimony, Mr. Egbon stated that he was still suffering from the infections he contacted while in detention “till date.”
At the last sitting three weeks ago, Philomena Enwerem, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said that in the aftermath of Mr. Adedeji’s death she was detained in a police cell for 58 days.
A tearful Mrs. Enwerem, who was the Officer-in-Charge of the case, said that she suffered a miscarriage while in detention.
Mr. Adedeji, 39, was arrested by the police after his employers, Rite Foods Limited, accused him of issuing dud cheques for goods purchased.
Mr. Egbon narrated to the coroner, the role he played on the night of February 9, when Mr. Adedeji suffered a cardiac arrest, the cause of his death according to the post mortem report.
The police witness said that he and Mr. Adedeji were headed to his office, after he had been instructed by Mrs. Enwerem to obtain a written statement when they ran into one Sergeant Egoh, the deceased’s neighbour.
“Sergeant Egoh told me he came for his friend, I plainly told him that I was only instructed to take his friend’s statement that he should wait for (Mrs. Enwerem) who went out for official assignment.
“As I was about commencing the recording of the statement, Sgt. Egoh requested to buy water for the suspect which I obliged him…
“After few minutes, Sgt. Egoh came in with a bottle of Ragolis water, break the seal, drank little of it after which he handed the remaining to Mr. Adedeji, which he drank,” Mr. Egbon said.
The police witness further stated that after recording the deceased’s statement, he wanted to put him in the police cell but Mr. Egoh pleaded to let them, including the deceased’s wife, remain in the DCB’s office until Mrs. Enwerem’s return.
Mr. Egbon said that when he left the office at 7.30p.m., Mr. Egoh, the deceased’s wife and a friend were discussing with Mr. Adedeji who was at the back of the police counter.
“On my (way) home, Sgt. Egoh called me back requesting to feed the suspect with mineral and biscuits based on which I went back with him to introduce him to the Writer in charge of suspect’s feeding and left the office for my house,” said Mr. Egbon.
At 11 p.m., Mr. Egbon said that he received a phone call informing him that Mr. Adedeji had slumped inside the prison cell. A few hours later, he gave up the ghost.
The deceased’s family insist their benefactor never suffered any heart problems while he was alive.
Mr. Egoh, who was supposed to be a key witness in the inquest had, during an earlier sitting, declined to testify because of “threatening text messages” sent to him.
The police Sergeant had said that one of the text messages told him that “they are aware that one of his children is in one of the universities.”