Tension in Yola over death of student in police custody

Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar

A serious controversy is raging in Yola over the death of a 20-year-old student of Government Day Secondary School, Damare, Ismail Mohammed, who allegedly died while in police custody.

His family members believe he was murdered by the police, and are asking for justice.

Mr. Mohammed’s death yesterday sparked riot in Yola as angry youth marched through the streets with his corpse, making a stop at the palace of the Lamido of Adamawa to register their complaints.

They then proceeded to the Damare Police Division, where the deceased was detained before his death, fuming and chanting anti-police slogans.

It did appear they were going to overrun officers and sack the station. But officers had sensed trouble and taken to their heels once they saw the rampaging youth approaching. The protesters arrived to an empty station.

The youth left, threatening to return to deal decisively with the police.

According to the late student’s uncle, the school had reported Mr. Mohammed’s defiant conduct to the police, who promptly effected his arrest, taking him to the nearby Damare police station on the outskirts of the town, where he eventually died in the hands of the police.

But the Adamawa police spokesperson, Altine Daniels, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, told Premium Times the student’s death is still surrounded by controversy.

She explained that the police were yet to ascertain whether it was their men who beat the student to death and were awaiting the autopsy report on the cause of death.
Ms Daniel said his men found marijuana in the deceased student’s possession and then arrested him following complaints from his school that he was trading in the illicit drug even while in school.

But Mr. Mohammed’s family and friends say the police’s explanation is bunkum.

They say the murder of the student has ridiculed the so-called reform of police’s bail conditions.

Prior to this statement, Ms Daniel had claimed that the police had no hand in the manhandling or death of the student.

She said, “Well what happened was that the boy was caught by teachers of GDSS Damare and was beaten by the teachers before the police were called in and the police took him to the station, in his condition after taking indian hemp and the beating by the teachers, the boy started [foaming] that was when the police took him to the hospital where he died!

“The boy is a known drug user and distributor in that school. Investigation is still on, while the policemen on duty and the teachers will be interviewed by the CP to find out the truth. The boy’s name is Ismaila Tukur,” Ms. Daniel said in a text message in response to enquiries by Premium Times.

Hassan Umar, a relative, however said that the police indeed took the boy into custody and said the police denied him access to Mr. Mohammed while in their custody.

Mr. Umar said in Hausa, “Yesterday(Wednesday) at about 5.p.m., we got news that Ismail has been arrested by the police.

And that he was in possession of some hard drugs. One of our emissary, Nisan “Wakili Bidiga”, was at the station, and impressed on the police to see the lad and effect his bail.

“But the police denied him access and told them to return the following day.However, in the morning when Nisan returned and called out to Ismail in the cell where he was locked up, there was no response,” Mr. Umar said.

He explained that the attention of the police was drawn to the fact that the boy was not responding to calls, but that the police dismissed their fears saying the “boy has probably fainted.

“He said the police then asked the relations to take him to the Federal Medical Centre, Yola.

The doctors in the FMC hospital confirmed the boy dead.It was while the corpse was to be taken for burial in accordance with Islamic rites that some youths refused, demanding that the police be brought to account for the extra-judicial killing of Mr. Mohammed.

The restive youth marched to the palace of the Lamido, and afterwards the police station which, by the time, was already deserted as most of the police men had fled.

Meanwhile, the corpse of the deceased student has been deposited at the Federal Medical Centre, Yola, for post-mortem examination.

The police say the result of the examination will help their investigation into the death of the student while in custody. demise of the student while in detention at the station.

Ms Daniels, the police spokesperson, said the policemen on duty as at time the deceased died were already being detained at another police station pending the release of the autopsy report.

But the youth are still very much agitated. As far as they are concerned, the officers who killed Mr. Mohammed must pay dearly for the crime.

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