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Activist seeks N2.6m compensation for Nigerian inmate who died of negligence in India

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SCB Medical College and Hospital Morgue Cuttack.      Source: DailyHunt

THE National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in India, has registered a complaint seeking compensation of Rs 5 lakh (about N2.6 million) for the death of a Nigerian undertrial prisoner (UTP) Augustine Odikpo.

The complaint filed by human rights defender and the International Public Peace Prize winner said Akhand Odikpo allegedly died due to medical negligence at SCB Medical College and Hospital on May 26, 2022.

He was lodged in Puri jail on February 11, 2019 following his arrest in connection with a cyber-crime case, but fell ill and was taken to the Puri district headquarters hospital on May 9, 2022, for skin infection.

Odikpo’s situation, however, worsened and he was later referred to the medical college’s hospital in Cuttack and admitted on May 24.

Sadly, the hospital pronounced Odikpo dead after two days and his corpse has been lying unclaimed at the mortuary of hospital for over two weeks.

“As he has no relatives here in Odisha and no attendant also, he was deprived of proper treatment in the hospital. The insensitive government agencies have turned a blind eye as the body is lying at the mortuary.

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“As in life, so in death, human dignity should be ensured in a civilized and democratic country. But ironically, it is on the contrary in Odisha,” Akhand noted.

The rights activist also alleged that Odikpo was not provided free legal aid, which an accused is entitled to, in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.

The deceased’s elder brother Sylvester Obinna Ekwenze, who resides in Delhi, wrote a letter on May 27 requesting the district administration to arrange to send the body to the national capital as he could not afford the cost but his request is pending.

Ekwenze said: “I am not sure whether the body will be taken to Nigeria or the final rites will be performed in Delhi, where we have a large community.”

The state is responsible for the security, safety and well-being of any person in custody.

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