Nigeria: How Anambra Teenager Died in Our Detention – Police

A Twitter user claimed the police demanded N50, 000 as a condition for the boy’s release.

The police in Anambra State, South-east Nigeria, have spoken about a teenage boy who died in their detention.

The teenager, Uchenna Okafor, died in Awkuzu Divisional Police Headquarters, Anambra State, on Wednesday.

He was arrested alongside two others in Awka, the state capital, on 23 December.

A social justice campaigner had, on Saturday, via her Twitter handle (@Ada_mummyya) claimed the deceased was arrested alongside two others “for fighting” with an undisclosed resident.

She also claimed that the parents of the three suspects were initially asked by the police to pay N50,000 for each of the arrested suspects – “being money for damages.”

But when Mr Okafor’s parents went to the station on Tuesday to pay the N50,000, according to @Ada_mummyya, they were asked to return on Thursday because the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) was not around.

The Twitter user further claimed that when the parents returned to the police station on Thursday, they were told that their son died on Wednesday night.

The police spokesperson in Anambra State, Tochukwu Ikenga, confirmed Mr Okafor died in police detention on Wednesday, but refuted other claims made by the Twitter user.

‘How the deceased died’

The police spokesperson said other suspects in the police cell “revealed” that while they were sleeping, Mr Okafor, the deceased, started acting abnormally.

“He screamed and hit his head on the wall before he slumped. He was taken to the hospital and was confirmed dead by the doctor,” the police spokesperson said.

Mr Ikenga, a deputy superintendent of police, also said Mr Okafor and two others were arrested by vigilante operatives and handed over to the police in the state.

He said they were arrested for armed robbery, and not fighting.

The victim of the robbery attack, according to Mr Ikenga, had identified the three suspects, prompting the police to detain them.

The suspects inflicted “serious wounds” on the victim’s body during the attack, the police said.

“The suspects’ statements were taken and they all confessed to the crime. They were detained with other (criminal) suspects in the cell,” Mr Ikenga said.

The police spokesperson said no money was “demanded or collected by the IPO or any policeman” for the release of any suspect and that even Mr Okafor’s father attested to that.

“Unfortunately, the Twitter handler’s mendacious publication is aimed at inciting the public against the police.

“Therefore, the command wishes to invite the Twitter handler, @Ada_mummyya to Anambra State Police Command by 11 a.m. on Wednesday 11/1/2023 to come with evidence and witnesses of persons (present) when the IPO demanded the sum of N150, 000 for (the suspects’) bail,” he said.

He said the evidence and the witnesses will enable the police to obtain facts about what transpired.

Autopsy and investigation

Mr Ikenga said while police await the arrival of the Twitter user at the police facility, an autopsy test would be carried out on Mr Okafor’s body to “find out the cause of his death.”

He said the police were investigating the incident and would “soon” make their findings public.

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