Governor of Edo state Adams Oshiomhole, has charge the State Commissioner of Police to investigate the circumstance leading to death of Mr. Chibuike Edeh, staff of a 5-Star Hotel in the state, who was accused of theft and kept in their custody.
He gave the order, while speaking to the family and friends of the deceased who staged a protest at the government house yesterday March 18th.
"Let me thank you for coming to Government House to lay your complaint in a very peaceful manner in spite of the pains in your heart and the gruesome murder of your son, your brother and our comrade. I read about this yesterday and the impression I was given was that he was handed over to the Police.
Whether or not the young man was a thief, whether or not the money was found on him or he threw it across the wall is not the issue. There is law. There is procedure to be followed to investigate alleged stealing, even alleged murder. The police can listen to complaint from anyone who has cause to complain or report theft or any crime or suspected crime to the police.
The responsibility of the police stops at arresting and investigating a suspect. They do not have the right to kill, to maim, to brutalize and to murder anybody. That is not acceptable. The responsibility of the police in our constitution is very clear; to protect lives and property and they are law enforcement agencies, they are not to execute people who are suspected of crimes. They are to arraign suspects in court and ensure that suspects are prosecuted according to our laws.
I have received since yesterday various accounts about whether or not this person died in the police custody, whether he died of natural causes or he died as a result of police torture or whether he died in the cause of allegedly trying to escape and he was knocked down by a vehicle. I will raise these issues with the Commissioner. If somebody runs across the road and a vehicle knocks him down, the vehicle will be apprehended and the driver will be known so it cannot be an unknown vehicle or driver. I do understand that when we talk of police custody, they call it protective custody.
The police are to protect suspects and they are deemed innocent until they are found guilty by a competent court and police cannot constitute itself into a court of law and even if a judge finds a man guilty of murder and sentences him to death, he cannot be executed except the governor approves of the death sentence so the laws are very clear. However, the issues for us to find out are whether this person died in police custody and if he escaped how he escaped from police custody because he wasn't reported to be an armed robber.
He was said to be at the very worst, that he stole money from somebody, he was not armed with any offensive weapon and so no one can say he was running and he was shot, so we will find out" Oshiomhole said.
Earlier, the spokesman of the family Mr. Tochukwu Edeh, had told the governor: "Some days ago, this boy that was brutally slaughtered, Chibuike went to work at the hotel. He called around 5:00 p.m. that he had been arrested for allegedly stealing N42,000. This is the same boy that has worked at the hotel for two years now and they pay him 40,000 naira every month out of which 10,000 is removed every month as savings for them. They said the boy stole money yet they did not deduct the money from his savings with them which is over N200,000. Instead they arrested him.
"On getting to the station, we gathered money to give to the Hotel Management so the boy could be released and they said it was no longer 42,000 naira but N48,000. We went and looked for the remaining N6,000 only to return and be told the boy was dead. We went around doing our own investigation, this was a boy that was inside police custody but his body was found at Imaguero College.
"The police PRO said the boy confessed to the crime. This is a boy that worked in the hotel for two years that they gave best staff award, a boy that returned 3,000 dollars in the same hotel, the same boy you said stole N48,000. They said he was knocked down by a vehicle yet we didn't see the vehicle or the driver. We made investigation along Sapele road and gathered that nothing of this nature happened there. They brutally murdered an innocent boy that had a promising future."