According to SaharaReporters, fresh information has emerged about how the Nigeria Police handled the killing of a student of the Lagos State University, Nurudeen Alowonle, aka Omomewa.
Nurudeen, the Lagos State Coordinator of a civil rights group, Education Rights Campaign (ERC), was murdered last Wednesday by unknown gunmen hours after appearing before the school's disciplinary committee.
SaharaReporters had earlier reported how the student activist was killed by unknown gunmen hours after appearing before the school's disciplinary committee over alleged admission racketeering and unlawful possession of university documents.
National Coordinator of ERC, Hassan Taiwo, aka Soweto, in a statement made available to SaharaReporters on Sunday, however, narrated how the police have shabbily handled the investigation into the killing of the student activist.
One, he said the police told the family not to demand an autopsy before the remains of Nurudeen would be released to them.
According to him, the police wanted Nurudeen hurriedly buried and had offered no assistance to quickly take the deceased to the hospital to see if he could be revived after finding his body.
He said, "The last straw that would break the camel's back was the request of the Divisional Police Officer (of Adoff Police Station) that the family must swear an affidavit that they would not demand an autopsy as a precondition for the release of the body.
"Of course, this request raised suspicion as to the motive of the Police. It appeared to us that the police just wanted the body to be buried so that the truth of what happened can be buried with it. This situation led to anger and raised tension."
He continued, "Also the family had procured the cloth for the body while also documentations for the body’s release were being prepared. One of the documents needed was a release letter from the police. We decided to ask some comrades in LASU to proceed to the Adoff Police Station in Iba to obtain this documentation.
"By the time they came with the documents, the DPO of Adoff police station, a woman police, was in their tow. According to her, Omomewa was her son and she felt the need to be there personally to secure the release of his body. However, it was her presence, suspicious utterances, and that of her men that eventually changed the situation and led to the non-release of the body.
"For instance, while discussing with the DPO, a few questions became apparent. One, the police claimed a patrol found the body around 10 pm. This patrol decided to call the Lagos State environmental agency to pick this body for disposal. The agency did not show up until 5 am the next morning. During this time, there was no record that the police offered any first aid assistance to Omomewa or even tried to take him to the hospital to see if he could be revived. As we all know, only qualified medical personnel, and not the police, can declare a body dead or lifeless.
"Secondly, the DPO claimed that the police patrol was around the vicinity where the attack and killing took place so they ought to have heard gunshot if truly Omomewa and Majek were shot. According to the police, they were not shot but stabbed. However, when the mortuary attendants who prepared Omomewa’s body and sutured his wound were interviewed, they claimed that the wound they observed on the body could only be caused by a gunshot. This also coincided with the testimony of the lone survivor, Majek, who said they were shot.
"Not so long after this, we realised that all the claims by the police about what happened were not an outcome of the investigation but rather simply ill-informed conjectures and lies. For instance, the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) who prepared the police extract for the body’s release revealed that he had not for once sighted the body for which he prepared a report neither had he or any officer from Adoff Police Station visited the scene of the crime or conducted any interview of potential witnesses. So in short, more than 24 hours after the killing, the police had not started any investigation. Meanwhile, the police were anxious and doing everything to ensure the body was released and buried that very day."
He, however, added that the Chief Pathologist of Lagos, Prof John Obafunwa later directed that an autopsy must be carried out on Nurudeen before his body would be released for burial.
"Of course, with this new development, both the family and the police had no choice but to submit. So eventually the burial had to be suspended," he recalled.
Soweto added that given the development, the family and civil society community "are now left with the option of pursuing a legal and political campaign for justice for Omomewa (Nurudeen)."
"This provides an opportunity to be able to force out the truth of what actually transpired and the motives for his murder," he said.
"We will continue to publish updates of developments around this case as well as information of every step we are taking. By tomorrow, a plan of activities to begin the pursuit of justice will also be out.
"We thank all those who have shown support and solidarity so far. We thank Comrade Ashiru, Chairman of ASUU UNILAG who helped settle the bill of N54, 000 which the morgue demanded to embalm and prepare the body. We are so grateful."
He was said to have got married six months before his death, leaving behind a three-month-old child.