Police witness weeps during testimony at coroner’s inquest

Ademola Adedeji

The police officer said that she was persecuted for the death of a suspect in police cell.

 

Nov. 1 (PREMIUM TIMES) – A police officer testifying at the coroner’s inquest into the cause of death of Ademola Adedeji, who died in police detention, Wednesday, was reduced to tears as she recounted her ordeals in the hands of her superiors in the aftermath of the incident.

A Deputy Superintendent of Police, Philomena Enwerem, told the coroner that she was detained for 58 days after Mr. Adedeji’s demise.

“First of all I was detained at (State Criminal Investigation Department) Panti…

“I was admitted at Police Hospital at Alagbon, they rejected me, then I was admitted to Island Maternity,” said Mrs. Enwerem, who added that she lost a pregnancy in the process.

“I’d never experienced this kind of thing in my life,” she said.

Mr. Adedeji, a former distributor at Rite Foods Limited, was arrested by the police at the behest of his employers after they accused him of issuing the company dud cheques for goods purchased.

Under cross examination by Clement Eko, counsel to the deceased’s family, Ms. Enwerem said that she “personally” brought the deceased to the police station and handed over to the investigating police officer.

“I was called by the Charge Room Officer and so I went to see the DPO. He said I should take a woman Sergeant from the department…

“We arrested the deceased in the premises of Rite Foods,” said Mrs. Enwerem, who was the Officer in Charge of Human Rights at the Ikeja Police Division at that time.

She also corroborated earlier testimonies at the inquest that the deceased appeared healthy on the night he died in police custody.

She noted that the cell condition at the Ikeja Police Division “is of the standard of Nigeria cells.”

Controversy has continued to trail the cause of Mr. Adedeji’s death. A post mortem report released after he allegedly slumped and died stated that he died of cardiac arrest.

However, the deceased’s wife and family member have continued to insist that the 39 year old never had a medical history of any illness.

Ms. Enwerem also stated that the police did not “need to investigate” the claims by Mr. Adedeji’s employers about issuing the cheques because he admitted to the crime.

The ‘security threat’

Mr. Eko’s request that the police make available, the name of the Charge Room Officer who was on duty on February 9th, the night Mr. Adedeji died, was met with a spirited objection from the police counsel.

the police counsel, Cyril Ejiofor, told the coroner that making police duty rosters available to the public amounts to a security threat.

“In as much we appreciate that the duty roster is a public document, it will be a security threat to expose the names of 500 officers and their designation,” Mr. Ejiofor said.

“The roster involves the names of those serving in the banks, hospitals, elsewhere. We don’t know where it will be used.”

Mr. Ejiofor also said that the Police Inspector General’s directive to put the details of police officers into the public domain has harmed the police.

“We have lost so many officers due to that publication because they have been publishing their duty posts,” said Mr. Ejiofor.

“Just last two weeks, we lost four officers at Agege due to that publication.

“We in the legal department are pressing for the IG to rescind that decision,” he added.

The coroner, Tajudeen Elias, directed that a witness summon be served on the officer in charge of the Charge Room on the night of the incident.

The inquest was adjourned till November 7.

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Ben Ezeamalu is an Assistant Managing Editor and the Head of Lagos Operations/Metro Editor at PREMIUM TIMES. A graduate of Microbiology from the University of Jos, Ben won the 2015 Africa Fact-Check Awards and was a runner-up in the 2014 CNN/Multichoice African Journalists of the Year.

Twitter: @callmebenfigo.


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