© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
PROTEST IN BENIN OVER DEATH OF HOTEL ATTENDANT
Relatives of a 28-year-old boy, Chibuike Edeh, are demanding an explanation from the Edo State Police Command about how their son who was arrested and detained by the custody ended up in the mortuary of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH.
Edeh, a housekeeping staff of Protea Hotel Benin was arrested and detained at the Adesuwa police division last Friday, for allegedly stealing N42, 000 belonging to a guest of the hotel.
One of the younger brothers of the deceased, who identified himself as Chibuzo, said the family was informed of his arrest on Friday night and that they visited him on Saturday morning at the station where they were told by the police to provide the N42,000 stolen money and another N10, 000 for his bail.
According to Chibuzo, the first sign that something was wrong was noticed when they could neither find his brother at the hotel nor at the police station.
“We were at this (hotel) premises when a man called that we should meet him at UBTH and I wondered why because he was supposed to at the hotel or at the station. When we got there, we were shocked to discover that my brother was dead.
Chibuzo alleged that his brother was killed and that there was an attempt to cover up the matter.
“The policemen and the CSO of this hotel killed my brother. My brother has been working for close to three years and the so called CSO claimed that he (deceased) was not capable of stealing. We are appealing to the state government to help us in this matter.
The mother of the deceased, Christiana Edeh, who led about a hundred protesting youths, informed journalists in Benin that she saw her son on Saturday morning hale and healthy at the Police Area Command where he was detained and that the police asked the family to pay the N42, 000 and additional N10,000 for his bail.
”Around some minutes past 9.00pm on Friday, my son called me on phone and told me that he had a problem at his place of work. I became worried because he used to close around 4 pm. So, I told him that I would come and see him the next day.
“The next day, I chartered a cab with my other children to the hotel where he works. When we got there the people said that he had been taken to the police station. When we got to the station, my son told me that I might not see him alive again if I leave him there,” she said.
According to her, the family raised the money and when they took the money to the police at about 12 noon, they were told to return by 3 pm because all the policemen were on duty at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium where wife of the President, Dame Patience Jonathan, was addressing a rally.
She said somebody informed them that her son’s body was found along Sapele road by a good samaritan who took him to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) where he was confirmed dead.
“The last time I saw my son was at the police station. There was no injury on his body. We were told the IPO was not around. My children went back and ware told my son was not there at the police station. They said he was taken to Protea hotel. I earlier saw my son’s name on the police notice board but his name was not there around 3 pm.
“We were called at 10 pm that his body was at the hospital. He told me he didn’t collect any money. The hotel management has not told us anything now, “ the grieving mother said.
Some of the protesters who barricaded the entrance gates of the hotel said they suspect that the deceased was probably murdered for seeing what they did not want him to see.
The family also displayed photos of the deceased taken at the mortuary by the family members. The photos showed that he had suffered a deep cut in his left jaw, broken neck and broken right knee with his back severely burnt.
The public relations officer of the Police in Edo State, Joseph Edogiawerie, who confirmed the arrest of the deceased when contacted by journalists, added that he confessed to stealing the money and was knocked down by a Toyota Camry after retrieving the money.
He however denied complicity by the police in the death of the boy. But he could not explain how his corpse got to the UBTH mortuary.
The Police spokesman said the driver of the vehicle has been arrested but refused to give further details about the car and driver.
“A case of stealing was reported by the management of Protea Hotel where the deceased was working. He was arrested at Adesuwa police station and while there, he made a confessional statement admitting stealing the money. Even the theft was captured by Protea hotel CCTV camera,” he stated.
Edogiawerie said further that Chibuike also “told the police that money was still intact and that he had hidden it between the fence of the hotel and the NNPC mega station.
According the police spokesman, the investigating police office, IPO, and the CSO of Protea Hotel went with the deceased to recover the money and on getting to the hotel, he took to his heels.
“Ordinarily, the IPO and the CSO of the hotel went with him to recover the money and on getting to Protea hotel, he (Chibuike) took to his heels and in the process was knocked down by an oncoming Toyota camry car. The Toyota Camry car and the driver of the car are right at the central MTD.”
Commenting on the burnt part of the victim, he said, “That is for investigation to do. I’m not detailed for the investigation and I wouldn’t know. Of course if a vehicle knock somebody down and even result in taking the life of that person, I don’t imagine that the body parts of that person will still be very very much complete if we have to go by that.”