Who killed Benson Obode…?
Family members demand justice for son’s death in police custody
THE family of Benson Obode has been thrown into mourning and is demanding for justice over the death of their 26-year-old son, who was said to have been arrested on May 2, 2015 by policemen who claimed they were from Lagos and accused Benson of buying a stolen vehicle.
His family members and lawyer were never allowed to see him. The family said they were first told he had been taken to Abuja and later Lagos, only to be told last week that their son died in police custody.
As at the time of filing this report on Wednesday, no formal information has been given to the family by the police authorities.
In fact, it took a local radio crew that travelled to Lagos and Abuja on several occasions before the police in Lagos said Benson allegedly died from ‘mob action’.
The crew said they were told by the police that investigation was still on about the death.
Family members, friends and associates Wednesday protested the killing of Benson whose corpse it was gathered was deposited in the mortuary by one Corporal Oniyon Musa the same day he was arrested.
The protesters stormed the premises of the Edo State House of Assembly, Edo Government House and headquarters of Edo Police Command demanding for independent autopsy to ascertain the actual cause of Benson’s death.
His elder brother, Solomon, said the police was yet to inform the family what happened to Benson since he was arrested adding that N200,000 cash, phones and ATM cards belonging to his late brother were still missing.
He said his brother’s body was deposited at the morgue as Benson Agu instead of Benson Obode. “Until now, they have not told the family anything. They broke the news to journalists in Lagos and not the family. We don’t know what has happened to our brother. How could somebody you arrested be mobbed?”
“We saw him at the morgue that he was killed by torture and was shot. His landlord, who was also arrested, said my brother was tied and hung on a tree while blocks were placed on his chest.”
“We have informed our lawyers. They have written to the IGP and we are asking the police to produce our brother. They said the boy bought a stolen car, who is the complainant, we do not know. How did he die? The police should tell the family what happened,” he said.
Elder sister to Benson, Mrs Osawaru Uzehi, said they had travelled to Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt in search of where police said they took their brother to but didn’t know that he had since been killed
Osawaru said her late brother was innocent of the crime he was accused of and that she was at the police station on the day her brother was arrested.
She stated that injuries on his corpse showed that he was shot as there was a big hole indicating gunshot.
She recalled that on May 21, Benson spent the night in her place, helped her to sweep the compound the following day and then left for his apartment. Few minutes after, she was called that her younger brother was in trouble.
She rushed to the place only to see her brother being held down by neighbours and the landlord who said police had come for him for an undisclosed crime.
Eventually, the policemen who claimed they came from Lagos came and took her brother away to the State Command headquarters and two days later, she was first told he had been taken to Abuja and later again that he had been taken to Lagos and till date, that was the last they knew about Benson.
Uzehi, who broke down intermittently, said a legal practitioner in Lagos had written the police but till date, no response was heard from the police about her younger brother’s whereabouts neither was he charged to any court for any criminal offence.
She said her aged mother who stays with her since they lost their father a few years had become hypertensive and always troubled asking for her son.
She said her fears was increased because one of the policemen confronted her for bringing a lawyer to the station for her brother.
She says her brother has always been a responsible person. “He (Benson) passed the night in my house and in the morning, he swept round the compound and left to his rented apartment. I was later called that people were holding him and when I got there, I saw his landlord and other people holding him down, I asked what happened and he said he doesn’t know but they said police came to arrest him but that he did not know what offence he has committed.
“Not quite long after, the policemen came back in a Toyota Highlander ash colour, they were wearing earrings and dreadlocks. If not for the police colour on their rifle, I would have doubted if they were real policemen.”
She said: “Benson sells cars, he is 26, he goes to Cotonou to buy maybe a car and sell with little gain. At times, people send carS from abroad and he helps them to market it. He has never been linked with any act of violence at all and he never told me he had any issue with anybody. He has been staying with me since our father died. Assuming he was a stubborn person, we wouldn’t have taken it like this.”
A copy of the family’s letter to the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State by Peter Ehijinwa of Peter Ehijinwa & Co dated June 29, 2015 identified the team that travelled to Benin to arrest Benson as Corporals Adeleke Adedeji, Abenna John, Henry Shobowale and Oniyo Musa. “They arrived Benin on the 18th May 2015 in a milk coloured Toyota Highlander and arrested Benson Obode on the 21st May 2015.”
“Our client is in serious apprehension as to what happened to their son because they have not heard from him. The family has made frantic efforts to see him in Lagos, but was told that he was not there. We, therefore, pray you to go into this matter so that our client will know the situation of his case. Our client is eager to know the whereabouts of their son,” the letter read.
When contacted on phone Wednesday, the police commissioner, Samuel Adegbuyi, said he was on vacation.
The Guardian, however, gathered that a special panel headed by a senior police officer has been set up to investigate circumstances surrounding Benson’s death.
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