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Murder in police cell ...Man killed few weeks to 40th birthday

Posted by By MURPHY GANGANA, Abuja on 2005/08/05 | Views: 351 |

Murder in police cell ...Man killed few weeks to 40th birthday

After three days of an almost fruitless search for his whereabouts, the eventual discovery of the lifeless body of a 39-year-old man in police custody has set tongues wagging in Abuja, the federal capital.

After three days of an almost fruitless search for his whereabouts, the eventual discovery of the lifeless body of a 39-year-old man in police custody has set tongues wagging in Abuja, the federal capital.

The raging controversy over the alleged gruesome murder of late Mr. Shemi Yongo is further compounded by initial denials and conflicting claims by men of the Wuse Division of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), police command, where he met his untimely death in detention a few weeks to his 40th birthday.
With the heavy burden of pain, anguish and a stream of tears that keep flowing since his demise three months ago, the Yongo family of Dong Town in Demsa local government area of Adamawa State has, however, vowed to unmask his killers at all cost.

Their resolve is further strengthened by the horrendous details of eyewitness accounts which points to the fact that the deceased was severely beaten by a police patrol team on routine raid at about 9.30 p.m on Friday 18 March, 2005, when he was arrested at the ever-bustling Wuse Zone 4 district of Abuja.
Late Shemi Yongo had left his residence at Kuchingoro, an Abuja suburb on the fateful day, to visit Mr. Tongh Yongo, his younger brother at Wuse Zone 4, after bidding Hajara, his beloved wife, a farewell, which sadly turned out to be for eternity.

Unable to find his brother at home, Shemi decided to hang around the vicinity for a while in company of one Mr. Pitom Wowosikou and Gbaloron Yongo, one of his younger brothers, when a lady friend simply identified as Miss Ann, accosted him over a N1,500 debt he allegedly owed her sometime ago.
However, when the situation was gradually degenerating into hot arguments, his companions reportedly dashed to their nearby home to source for the money, but returned moments later to a shock find: the lady had invited a police patrol team which whisked both of them away, but not without beating late Shemi to a pulp.

Thus began his journey to the great beyond, as frantic efforts by his relations to locate his whereabouts through repeated telephone calls to his mobile line drew blank.
When he failed to return home the following day, the family raised a search party which visited the Wuse Police Station where the men on duty allegedly claimed that Shemi was not in their custody. But his relations, all the same, lodged a formal complaint that the deceased had been missing since March 18, 2005.

Suspicion of a foul play however, crept into the whole saga when news filtered out from traders at the Wuse Zone 4 Corner shops that some policemen had beaten a young man to a state of coma at about 9.30 p.m. on Friday, March 18. Consequently, his relations returned to the Wuse Police Station where the police confirmed that they had the late Shemi Yongo in their custody, but could not comment on his whereabouts until the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), CSP Umar, who was said to have travelled out of town as at then, returns to base.

While members of the Yongo family were looking forward to a happy re-union with their ‘missing’ brother in no distant time, it however, turned out to be a misplaced optimism as the DPO gave them a shocker when they eventually met with him: "Shemi Yongo is stone dead," he reportedly announced to his bewildered guests.

The DPO’s explanation for cause of death, according to the deceased’s relations, is that "the late Shemi Yongo had a dispute with a lady and was brought to the station where both were detained in cell before Shemi started complaining of stomach pain at about 5 am on Saturday 19 March, 2005, for which he was rushed to the Wuse General Hospital, but he was confirmed dead on arrival at the hospital."
But at the Wuse General Hospital morgue where his relations had gone to ascertain the state of his body, they were confronted with the gory sight of a corpse with dried poodles of blood, which had gushed out from his nose and eyes.

Mr. Tough Yongo, a younger brother of the deceased, says two medical reports on the cause of Shemi’s death have so far pointed to the fact that he was brutally tortured to death in detention, contrary to the claim that he died of stomach pain.
Clinical notes by Dr. Akuchie, who was the doctor on call duty at the Wuse General Hospital when the deceased was brought in by the police on the fateful day, confirmed that Shemi was "Brought In Dead (BID)."

The report dated 19 March, 2005, a copy of which is in possession of Daily Sun, further indicates that there was no evidence of life in him as "Rigor Mortis had even taken place at the time of examination."
An autopsy report by Dr Said Mohammed Amin of the National Hospital Abuja, also confirmed the cause of death as “coma from intracramal hemorrhage as a result of trauma to the head." Dr. Amin posited in his report dated 31 March, 2005, that "Homicide may not be ruled out."

Convinced that late Shemi was gruesomely murdered in police custody, the Yongo family has petitioned the acting Inspector- General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, contending that the circumstances surrounding the death of their brother is "manifestly unlawful," as it does not fall within the purview of the exceptions under Section 33 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In the petition dated 6 May, 2005 and signed by their counsel, Barrister F.C. Maduekwe, they urged the IGP to ensure that the perpetrators of the heinous crime are brought to justice, and that the family be paid adequate compensation for the extra-judicial killing of their breadwinner.

Apparently determined to ensure that justice prevails, Ehindero has promptly directed the Criminal Investigation Department of the FCT Police Command to thoroughly investigate the incident. Interestingly, there are, however, strong indications that the police at Wuse Division may be working at cross purpose with the IGP, going by emerging fresh claims on the cause of Shemi’s death.
Besides the initial claim that he died of stomach pains, the police are singing two new songs. First, is that the deceased was already engaged in a fisticuffs with his lady friend over the alleged N1,500 debt, during which she may have caused him severe internal injuries, before the police arrived the scene and arrested them.

Another version of police claims on Shemi’s death is that he was severely beaten by his co-inmates in the cell which led to his sustaining internal injuries that eventually claimed his life.
Both claims have however, failed to impress crime and security experts in Abuja who spoke with Daily Sun on the issue. They opined in separate interviews, that if the deceased was actually beaten severely in the cell by co-inmates, he would have raised alarm which would have attracted policemen on duty to come to his rescue.

One poser which the police have not been able to answer for now, is why they’ve not been able to fish out Shemi’s alleged attackers among his co-inmates while in cell, and possibly charge them for murder if the claim to that effect had elements of fact.
Curiously, Daily Sun investigations reveal that contrary to standard police procedures for interrogation and detention of suspects, the late Shemi’s arrest was not incidented at the Wuse Police Station Crime Diary, neither was his statement taken before he was clamped into the cell.

FCT Police Commissioner, Mr. Emmanuel Adebayo declined comments on the incident, even as he confirmed receipt of the IGP’s directive for a full scale investigation into the cause of Shemi’s death. "We are still investigating the matter and therefore cannot be discussing it presently. And we shall be forwarding our findings on completion of investigations to the IGP as directed. But I assure you that we shall leave no stone unturned in the course of investigations," he told Daily Sun last Monday in an interview.

In the midst of their present agony, the Yongo family are angry that the police are still peddling nauseating claims on the circumstances leading to Shemi’s death.
Mr. Tough Yongo, the deceased’s younger brother says the police are alleging that Miss Ann, the lady with whom Shemi had a misunderstanding over N1,500 debt, is indeed a prostitute he had sex with a few days back, but failed to pay for her services until the fateful day when she caught up with him at Wuse Zone 4, and invited the police.

"But even if it is true that my brother slept with a prostitute, is that enough reason for them to kill him?" Yongo retorts. "Officers and men of the Nigeria Police also sleep around with prostitutes. They are even more guilty of it. They want to blackmail our family into dropping the issue with that claim. It is insulting on our sensibilities. Whatever they say, we shall not rest until Shemi’s killers have been found and made to face the law," he vowed.

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