Man who died in police custody looked normal, company official says

The inquest into the death of Ademola Adedeji unfolds in grey hues.

The controversy surrounding the death of Ademola Adedeji, who died in police detention, was again brought to the fore during a coroner’s inquest, on Wednesday, when an official of Rite Foods Limited stated that the deceased looked “a normal human being” hours before his death.

An autopsy report released after his death, last February, stated that he died of a cardiac arrest.

But Mr. Adedeji’s wife and family members who had testified earlier maintained that the deceased “did not have any health issues and had never been admitted to any hospital.”

While under cross examination, Innocent Osuji of Rite Foods Limited said that Mr. Adedeji looked “healthy” when he was arrested and taken to the police station.

“He was even drinking a bottle of Fanta and water bought by his wife and a friend who is a police officer,” said Mr. Osuji, Chief Security Officer at Rite Foods.

A deadly debt

Mr. Adedeji, 39, owed Rite Foods Limited, where he was a distributor, about N10million, according to the company.

He was arrested by Rite Foods management after he allegedly issued them four dud cheques.

Mr. Osuji said that he was told by the company’s managing director that they had been meeting with the deceased over the unpaid debts.

“After questioning him, he admitted to issuing the dud cheques… I called the police to arrest him,” Mr. Osuji said.

Mr. Osuji also stated that the deceased had no intention of paying the money he owed.

“One of those cheques was issued on 15th November, 2011, and we were talking about February 9, 2012.

“Yet he had not paid the money, if he had the intention of paying, he would have paid,” Mr. Osuji said.

The counsel for Office of the Public Defender, Oluwaseun Akinde, noted that Mr. Osuji, who invited the police to arrest the deceased, and who drove them to the police station, showed no remorse after the incident.

Seated at the back row in the court, Cecilia Adedeji, the deceased’s wife, who had been playing with her one year old daughter before the inquest began, watched silently.

Mr. Akinde stated that seven months after the incident, the chief security officer does not know the hospital the deceased had been taken to, the mortuary his corpse had been deposited, or who signed the death certificate.

Mr. Osuji responded that the police did not give him room for questions at the time.

“They just said he’d been taken to the mortuary and when the family comes, we’d go to the mortuary. I cannot make any effort without the police,” said Mr. Osuji.

“At least, in my statement there I said sorry to the family. That’s enough remorse,” he added.

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