The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Oyo State Council on Tuesday demanded justice for citizen Jelili Rasaq and late Kehinde Omotosho who died in police custody recently.
The duo were on Friday July 17th arrested and detained till Wednesday July 22nd in lieu of another suspect, Kabiru during which Omotosho allegedly died in a mysterious manner in the hands of anti-Cultism Unit of the Oyo State Criminal Investigation Department.
The NUJ in a statement by its Chairman and Secretary, Comrade Ademola Babalola and Sola Oladapo respectively decried the ill treatment and flagrant violation of the rights of the affected citizens.
According to the NUJ, the Commissioner of Police, Nwachukwu Enwonwu who assumed office recently warned officers against abuse of human rights of citizens of the State.
The NUJ regretted that the alleged human right violation of the duo came six weeks after the CP read the riot act to his men against tramping on fundamental rights of citizens.
“I expect you to respect the fundamental human rights of the citizens in the state as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution. If I discover that you trample on the rights of the citizens, you are on your own. I want to urge you to go back to your divisions and maintain high level of discipline,” Enwonwu said on June 1, in his maiden address to the rank and file of the officers of the command.
The union asked the police boss to ‘walk his talk’ and institute thorough investigation into the matter with a view of bringing recalcitrant officers to book.
Curiously however, the victims of police brutality occurred, “in the early hours of Friday, 17th July 2020 (at about 12:30am), when several police officers from the Anti-Cultism Unit of the Oyo State CID stormed the residence the duo of Rasaq and Omotosho at No. 2, Ifedapo Zone 2, Alaja Meta, Gbaremu, Idi-Obi, Ibadan, where the deceased resided alongside other tenants. The officers from the Anti-Cultism Unit were accompanied by some other police officers in Agugu Police Division, led by one officer identified simply as ‘SOJ’.
“After breaking down the door of Mr. Omotosho (now deceased), the police officers demanded to see one Mr. Kabiru who, about 5 months prior to that time, had moved to another apartment in a different vicinity.
“Upon realizing that their prime suspect, Mr. Kabiru, no longer resided in the apartment, the police officers arrested the two occupants of the house – Mr. Omotosho (now deceased) and one Mr. Jelili Razaq – in lieu of the suspect.
“At the point of arrest, both Mr. Omotosho and Mr. Jelili Razaq requested to know the crime for which they were being arrested but instead, the police officers gun-whipped them with their weapons several times. Thereafter, the police officers from the Agugu Police Division (led by SOJ) returned to the Agugu Station while officers from the Anti-Cultism Unit proceeded with both the deceased and Mr. Jelili Razaq to the State CID. They were thereafter locked in the cell, alongside about 130 (One Hundred and Thirty) inmates. This was around 1:20am on Friday, 17th July 2020.
“On Monday, 20th July 2020, the deceased and Mr. Jelili Razaq were brought before the Officer-in-Charge of the Anti-Cultism Unit for interview. In the course of the interview, the OC demanded that both the deceased and Mr. Jelili Razaq produce their prime suspect, Mr. Kabiru, before they could be released. However, both the deceased and Mr. Jelili Razaq informed the OC that they were all co-tenants, and that Mr. Kabiru had relocated to another place and did not inform them of his new location.
“Nevertheless, the OC insisted that their release would be consequent upon their production of Mr. Kabiru. They were, thereafter, returned to the cell. It was at the point of this interview that the police informed the deceased and Mr. Jelili Razaq that the prime suspect, Mr. Kabiru, was involved in a fight, which led to the death of a person. There was however no suspicion or allegation that either the deceased or Mr. Jelili Razaq were involved in the said fight or committed any crime whatsoever.
“The following day, i.e. on 21st July at about 5am, Mr. Kehinde Omotosho, died in police custody. Prior to his death, the deceased spent 5 days in detention while Mr. Jelili Razaq spent 6 days before being released on bail, both without any investigation, reasonable suspicion of crime, or arraignment.
“From the moment of their arrest and until the death of the deceased, the officers of the Anti-Cultism Unit prevented the deceased’s and Mr. Jelili Razaq’s family members from visiting them or providing them with food. Prior to his unlawful arrest, detention and death, the deceased had no underlying medical ailment”.
A law firm in Ibadan, Afe Babalola & Co, had last week, July 26th written a petition to the Inspector General of Police, reporting the arrest and detention of the duo of Rasaq and Omotosho, just as it detailed the suspicious death of Omotosho in police custody.