A key police witness in the death of Ademola Adedeji, who allegedly died in police custody, failed to appear at the coroner’s inquest after claiming he had received threat messages.
Mr. Adedeji, 39, a distributor at Rite Foods Limited in Lagos, was arrested by officers of Ikeja police station after it was alleged that he issued the company four dud cheques which ran into millions of naira
Mr. Adedeji allegedly died in police custody although police authorities claimed he suffered a heart attack and subsequently gave up the ghost in hospital.
Audu Eghor, a police sergeant, said that one of the threat text messages he received told him “they are aware that one of his children is in one of the universities.”
“The young man is apprehensive of what is going to happen being that he is coming to testify on the side of the deceased,” said Clement Eko, counsel to the deceased’s family.
“Maybe the court would subpoena him to come and give evidence on his depositions,” Mr. Eko added.
Mr. Eghor’s testimony is vital to the inquest as the deceased’s family maintained that he was present when the investigating police officer for the case told them Mr. Adedeji suffered a stomach ache and not heart attack as officially declared.
Cyril Ejiofor, counsel to the police, said that Mr. Eghor’s reason for not appearing in court “does not hold water.”
“I wouldn’t know who would be witch hunting a sergeant,” said Mr. Ejiofor.
“He made this deposition outside the police because the legal department is not even aware,” he added.
Tajudeen Elias, the chief coroner, said that Mr. Eghor must come and testify since “this is a fact-finding tribunal.”
During cross examination, Jide Akinbode, the deceased’s mechanic echoed Mrs. Adedeji’s testimony that her husband had no health challenges prior to his death.
“I’ve known him for 15 years, there were no health challenge,” said Mr. Akinbode, who spoke through an interpreter.
Innocent Osuji, the Chief Security Officer at Rite Foods, said that the company’s managing director informed him of the dud cheques.
“Looking at the cheques, one was in December and the others were in January. And we were in February,” said Mr. Osuji, during cross examination.
“I asked Ademola (the deceased), why did this happen? He said that he doesn’t know but that he’ll pay.”
Mr. Osuji said he called the police to come and “investigate it” and two police officers arrived at his office, arrested Mr. Adedeji, and took him away to Ikeja police station.
He never returned.