Family says Nigerian man tortured to death by police; demands justice

The Police Inspector-General (IGP), Mohammed Adamu. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official twitter handle of the Nigerian Police]
The Police Inspector-General (IGP), Mohammed Adamu. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official twitter handle of the Nigerian Police]

The family of Olaoluwa Bolarinwa, a 47-year-old suspect who reportedly died in police custody, has called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to probe his death.

Mr Bolarinwa, a father of two was arrested at his residence at Ekotedo, Iya Olobe street, Ibadan on March 26, alongside his nephew, Oreoluwa Abiona.

They were arrested by police officers attached to the Inspector-General of Police Special Tactical Squad, located at Itele area of Ayobo, Lagos State in connection to a robbery at Ile-Oluji, Oke-igbo Local Government Area, Ondo State which took place on February 7. Four police officers were killed during the robbery.

Mr Abiona was granted bail after allegedly paying the sum of N10,000, while Mr Bolarinwa was detained by the police to aid their investigation into the robbery, the family said.

The police deny any wrongdoing.

Family of victim’s account

Blessing Bolarinwa, the wife to the deceased suspect, told PREMIUM TIMES that her husband was arrested at their residence on March 26 and was detained at a police station in Mokola area, Ibadan.

Mrs Bolarinwa said the police stormed their compound on the fateful day asking for ‘Olu’.

“It was Olaoluwa that attended to them. He told them there was nobody called ‘Olu,’ that his own name was Laolu, he told them to call the phone number of the Olu.

“They asked Olaoluwa (for) the owner of a particular shop there, he replied that it belonged to his wife. They started beating him. They went into our apartment and carried two televisions and a decoder. They collected my phone, those of my child, friend and customer,” Mrs Bolarinwa narrated.

After his arrest, she said the Investigating Police Officer, Yomi, known as System Ijaya, called her to come and bail Mr Abiona, her husband’s nephew, “but rejected the bail of her husband”.

Adeshina Boyo, the deceased’s elder brother, also told PREMIUM TIMES that the police told the family that their brother had not committed any crime “but they need him to track the suspects connected to a bank robbery”.

“I told them my brother is not a robber and that I want to see him. When we got to the police station, they said he has been transferred to somewhere in Ogun State.

“It was from the incident register at Mokola Police Station, that we got to know that Olaoluwa and others were moved to Obada Police Station, which is some kilometres from Sango-Ota, Ogun State.

“The following Saturday, I went to Obada Police Station, where I was told that they didn’t have such a person in their custody. We were directed to the Ogun State Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (SCIID), Eleweran. When we got there, we were directed to IGPSTS Unit,” he said.

Mr Boyo said after several attempts and going back and forth on the matter, “they found out that the policemen were truly from IGPSTS in Lagos and (they) went to their office where the police officers denied knowing any policeman called System and said there was no case of any Olaoluwa there”.

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He said they were subsequently told that all suspects and their IPOs had been moved to Abuja and they would need to wait until after the coronavirus lockdown.

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Mr Boyo narrated that with the help of their sister, who is an army officer, they met the head of the IGPSTS Unit, Toyin Omosebi, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), who told them “the suspects had confessed to armed robbery.”

He said he told the commander there was no way his brother could be an armed robber and even if he was, he deserved to be taken to court for trial.

“The commander ordered that the suspects be brought out, I thought they went to bring Olaoluwa, instead they brought out four guys. The first guy, who claimed to know Olaoluwa, said Olaoluwa was their financier and that he was in charge of providing guns for them during operations.”

Mr Boyo said the deceased “has no money and it was the family that was paying his children’s school fees”.

Extrajudicial killing?

Mr Boyo sid the commander of IGPSTS unit told the family that Mr Bolarinwa died three days after he was taken into custody, refusing to explain how he died.

Mr Bolarinwa was an electrician and his wife a hairdresser. Their 11-year-old and 9-year-old children attend Moret International School in Ibadan, financed by the family.

“The commander told us that Olaoluwa died on the third day after his arrest. They had forgotten that two weeks after Olaoluwa’s arrest, they gave him a phone to speak with his wife. They are now saying that he died three days after his arrest. We asked them to release his corpse to us, but the commander said that because Olaoluwa was an armed robber, they wouldn’t release his corpse,” he narrated.

The distressed family accuse the police officers of torturing their brother to death and demand that his death be investigated.

“They called my brother an armed robber even without taking him to court. Nigerians should stand up and fight for us. My brother’s death is a case of extrajudicial killing, he was murdered. My brother was not a thief and neither was he an armed robber. My brother was a community leader in his community and everyone knew him,” Mr Boyo said.

Suspect died of ulcer- Police

Efforts to the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Frank Mba, to know the circumstances of Mr Bolarinwa’s death proved abortive as calls and text messages from the reporter were not responded.

However, PREMIUM TIMES contacted Toyin Omosebi, the head of the IGPSTS unit over the matter.

Mrs Omosebi, who directed our reporter to the force spokesperson, said “the suspect did not die in police custody but died of ulcer.”

Mrs Omosebi said she was not at the office at the time the suspect died because she was hospitalised, but she received the full brief of the matter.

“He was not tortured, he cooperated with the police and confessed to the crime. Olaoluwa was an ulcer patient. I asked the IPO, Ijaiya, to get drugs from the family members for the suspect. Later on, he had an ulcer attack and was rushed to the hospital where he died,” she said.

She added that police could not release the corpse because the police had to carry out a post-mortem on the corpse.

Family reacts

When PREMIUM TIMES called the family members on the police’s claim, Mr Boyo confirmed that there was a time the IPO called his sister to bring his drugs.

“The IPO told my sister that my brother had ulcer and we should bring medicine for him. We didn’t answer because we knew he didn’t have ulcer and we said we want to see him. Where do we take the drug to when we don’t know him or where the suspect is.”

Mrs Bolarinwa, however, confirmed that her husband had been suffering from ulcer for two years.

“We use mistmag (medication) because the ulcer is not serious, it does not hold him too much. Just small and he will take mistmag,” she said.

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