June 23, 2024

Death in police custody: Okubo’s family cries out for justice

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Nathan Tamarapreye, Yenagoa

The family of Aboye Okubo has cried out for justice over the death of their  son, Omokinyeme, at a police station along the Ejinrin Road, Ketu, in Lagos State.

The family believes that the deceased was allegedly tortured to death at the police station where he was taken to by his employers, EXUS Pharmaceutical Nigeria Ltd with head office at Opposite General Hospital, off Ketu-Ejinrin Road, Ketu, Epe, Lagos, over financial issues.

The late Omokinyeme’s father, Mr Aboye Okubo, said that the graduate of Microbiology from the University of Port Harcourt was employed by the company in 2019 and was its sale representative at its branch in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

He stated that the 36-year-old Omokinyeme died on July 20, 2023, two days after he was summoned by the pharmaceutical firm’s head office for an auditing exercise.

Okubo said one of the managers of the company identified as Pharmacist Osakwe told him that Omokinyeme was asked to report at the head office over shortages observed in the proceeds from sales.

He said, “They called him on July 18 and asked him to report at the head office for auditing due to alleged shortages in sales, according to Pharmacist Osakwe, the manager of the company.

“Our son explained to the company that the shortage in the proceeds was because some customers who collected pharmaceutical products on credit had not paid him. He showed them the records but, perhaps, they were not satisfied with his explanations.

“They (the company), therefore, arrested him and took him to the police station at Ejinrin Road in Ketu, Lagos, in order to force him to vomit the shortage and in the process, he was beaten and tortured until he died. This happened on July 20, 2023.

“But we understand that before July 18 when Omokinyeme was summoned to the head office, the company has been deducting an undisclosed sum of money from his monthly salary.”

According to him, there were signs of bruises on the body of the victim, which indicated that he underwent beaten and torture before he died.

Okubo, who said the family wants justice, wondered why the pharmaceutical firm would involve the police as Omokinyeme did not run away from his duty post and was ready to report anytime he was summoned by the head office.

He lamented that the victim also had a guarantor through whom the company’s management could rely on for debt recovery if any allegation of theft was established against the deceased.

“We want justice. All we want is justice for the death of Omokinyeme, though I know that no amount of money can replace a lost life. But all we are asking for is justice. You called him from his post and he came. He was not on the run, he was at your beck and call, and he had a guarantor that you can contact and do your recovery if it was confirmed that he committed any such offence,” Okubo cried.

When contacted, Pharmacist Osakwe said that Omokinyeme’s death was being investigated by the police and the pharmaceutical firm was also awaiting the result of an autopsy on his body to know what to led to his demise.

He said, “As it is now, the case is in the (police) station and we, too, are trying to know what exactly happened to him. The case has been sent to Panti in Lagos and we are waiting for an autopsy. I thinks that’s where are now.”

The Police Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Command, SP Benjamin Hundeyin could not be reached for comments as calls to his telephone rang out. He did not also respond to text message that was sent to his telephone.

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