A husband and father of two children, Lukman Ogundele, has died in the custody of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Lagos State Police Command.
It is still unclear if the auto parts dealer in the Owode Onirin area of Lagos State, was tortured after he was arrested of introducing a buyer for a stolen car, Toyota Camry.
But Punch reported that the police apprehended Lukman in the midnight of December 29, 2017 and took him into custody in Ikeja, where he was detained alongside Abayomi and two others.
According to the report, Abayomi and Lukman’s families searched for them at police stations across the state, until on December 31 when Abayomi’s mother traced him to the SARS office.
The police violated Nigerian laws by keeping his family in the dark about his whereabouts. Section 6 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act which imposes a duty on any authority having custody of a suspect to notify the next of kin or relative of the suspect of the arrest at no cost to the suspect.
Lukman’s wife, Wunmi Ogundele, and relatives reportedly visited SARS office on several occasions, but were not allowed to see him.
“Any time we went there, policemen would chase us away and they did not allow us to see his friend, Saheed (Abayomi), so we could ask after him (Lukman). I had travelled with the children for the Yuletide when he was arrested,” Wunmi added.
The police have not officially communicated Lukman’s death to his family. However, Lukman’s uncle, Pastor Bolaji Michael, said a policeman confided in him that he was dead and appealed that the family should take the death in good faith.
Also a police charge sheet sighted by the Punch marked his name ‘late’.
However, the Police lied to Lukman’s cousin, one Isaac, who went to the station on January 6. He was reportedly told that the Investigating Police Officer, Inspector Edwin Obam, had taken him out.
But Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Chike Oti, told the newspaper tzat Lukman died naturally on January 2, adding that the victim’s relatives were informed about the death through a family member, who is a policeman.
He said, “The boy was arrested for armed robbery with four others. Along the line, he was sick while in the cell and was taken to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja. The doctor treated him and the police took him back. He was returned to custody.
“The next day, he collapsed and was rushed back to the hospital. On getting to the hospital, he was confirmed dead by a doctor. Other gang members have been arraigned and remanded in prison.”
If the claim of Mr. Oti were true, why was it hard then for the Police to tell the family what happened?