Nigerian Lawyer, with Twitter handle: Malachy Odo II Esq. continues his episode on his experience with the Nigerian Police as part of a 5-part series he shared. Are the Nigerian Police really our friend? Maybe, and just maybe not. Keep reading.
Our Client, a 70-year-old man, has a small duplex around Ikeja axis of Lagos State with a boys squatters. He lives alone with a housemaid in the duplex (his wife lives abroad) while he rented the boy’s squatters to a young man who moved into the apartment in February 2017.
One day in March 2017, the housemaid called our Client who was not at home at the time that she was perceiving a strong odour/smell in the compound and that it was coming from the boy’s squatters. Our Client called his son who owns a Shop at Ikeja but lives at 1004 Estate VI to go immediately and check out what the housemaid is talking about. Our Client’s son arrived the compound and confirmed that a strong smell was indeed coming out from the BQ but the door was securely locked from the inside.
Our Client advised his son over the phone to contact the Police so they can force open the door and see what’s causing such strong odour. Meanwhile, the phone number of the tenant was tried severally by the Landlord, our client and it was switched off. The Police arrived and broke down the door only the find the tenant dead and rotting away. From their estimation, he may have died about 2/3 days ago. Our Client’s son called an ambulance and the body was taken away to the morgue as instructed by the Police. Our Client’s son was then told to come and make a statement at the Police station.
Our Client was also informed to immediately report at the Police station which he did. He was at Surulere earlier in the day and that was why he called the son who was in Ikeja to intervene at the time. After making their statements, our Client also gave the Police the information data Form filled by the tenant when he moved into the property just one month ago with the contact of his next of kin.
Remember that the door was locked from inside and deceased was found dead lying on the bed. So whether he died in his sleep or committed suicide, only an autopsy could reveal. However, our Client and his son were detained and described as the primary suspects over the guy’s death. From Ikeja, they were transferred to State CID Panti the next day.
If you must detain the Landlord for the death of a tenant. Why also detain the son who does not live in the property and who only came there on the instructions of his Dad and he was even the one who called the Police? We told the Police that we would pay for an autopsy to know the cause of the tenant’s death but that seeing that his door was locked from the inside, we can’t suspect foul play and that our Client and his son be released on bail pending their investigations.
The Police refused and said our Client should raise N200,000.00 for them to write a “favourable report” which would warrant him and the son to be released on bail. We told them we had no such money to give and that paying such money would even mean our Client’s hands are not clean. They had now been in police detention for over one week and our Client was hypertensive. I brought a medical report from our Client’s doctor showing he was hypertensive amongst other illnesses and that his health will suffer if he kept being in that Cell. The Police refused to release the man and his son, and they refused to do an autopsy or even carry out any investigation like visiting the property.
Meanwhile, the tenant’s next of kin never showed up and no one ever came out to say they know this guy. The agent who brought him into the property said he didn’t know him well enough. After exactly two weeks, our Client and his son were charged and arraigned before the Magistrate Court, Yaba over the “murder of their tenant”, a crime which the Police claimed they committed by “strangling the tenant!” They were remanded in prison custody, Ikoyi pending DPP’s Legal Advice.
The Legal Advice was released about one week later exonerating our Client and his son. The Attorney General’s office lambasted the Police in their Advise and wondered how they conjured the fact that our Client and his son who does not stay in the compound strangled their tenant and locked the door from the inside.
The man and his son were immediately released from Prison custody but the way and manner the Police went about their case and even tried roping them into what they knew nothing will live with them forever.