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- Category: Personality
- Published on Saturday, 18 February 2012 10:09
- Written by Chiemelie Ezeobi/ThisDay
- Hits: 1042
The mystery surrounding the disappearance of the corpse of Mr. Ademola Lawrence Adedeji from Area F, Ikeja Police Division, Lagos State is now the subject of great concern among family members.
The story comes as bizarre as it is foggy. Mrs. Cecilia Adedeji, the wife of the late man, is insisting some foul play must have taken place.
Ademola was a distributor with Rites Food Ltd. He was accused of owing the company some N12 million which caused the company to order his arrest. After the arrest, the father of three was alleged to have been asked to pay N1 million for bail by the police. While family and friends went home to source for the money, they were later greeted with the news of his sudden death, the next day. But the police denied making such a demand.
According to the police, the suspect suddenly took ill, shortly after the wife had left the police station for home, that night, whereupon he was allegedly rushed to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, where the suspect eventually died. But the death of Ademola in police custody has thrown up many questions begging for answers.
But the wife maintained that she left her husband hale and hearty without any sign of ill health. The police also alleged that they deposited Ademola’s corpse at the mortuary in company with the deceased’s relative known as Christopher. But the widow maintained that they have no relative bearing such name. Not even the hospital could confirm Ademola was admitted in the hospital.
Aside the angst of losing a loved one, the seeming lackadaisical attitude of the company towards the death and disappearance of her husband’s corpse has festered the sore and heartbreak.
She said: “My husband’s company was named after him and it was one of the biggest distributors of Rite Food products in Nigeria. Based on the terms of his contract with the company, he distributed their goods to Lagos, Ogun, Ghana and Benin Republic. To reward his drive, the company awarded him the best distributor in 2010 because he was able to make sales for the company to the tune of over N250 million.
“Even when they raised his quota in 2011, he was able to meet and surpass the target. So it was surprising when the same company came up in September of the same year to accuse him of owing them N12 million.
“After months had passed and they did not harass him again, I truly thought the matter was settled until he was arrested by the police on Thursday, February 9, 2012. It happened that he had gone to the company at Opebi, Ikeja, Lagos to buy goods worth N400, 000 on that day. He had already loaded his truck to leave when the general manager called him back.”
She continued: “He was called back only to be arrested by policemen. They accused him of issuing dud cheques to the company. He was taken to Ikeja Police Division from where he called me and two of his friends to come to his rescue. When we got there, we pleaded with the Investigating Police Officer (IPO), identified as Inspector Dave, to release him but he refused.
“The condition he gave us was that he had to consult the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the company before his release could be secured. We were all relieved when the CSO came and directed the police to release my husband. But he soon rescinded the decision.
“After much pleading, the officer in charge of Human Rights arrived but only to compound our matter. She said my husband could only be released with the sum of N1 million as bail fee.
“I along with two of my husband's friend pleaded with the OC Human Rights that it was late and his friends even said they would stand surety but the OC refused. Also, one of the friends was willing to leave a brand new car in police custody as security but they still refused.”
According to her, “The following day, I went to the police station and they told me to go and look for the bail money. It was some hours later that I received an anonymous call that there was a rumour within the company that my husband was dead.
“I quickly called my lawyer, Mr. Clement Eko, who went to see the Divisional Police Officer who then confirmed Ademola’s death. My pain is that they have refused to at least let us see the corpse. Neither has the company sent any representative to talk to the family. Even the police are mum.”
Speaking to THISDAY, Eko flayed the lackadaisical attitude of the DPO towards the death of a man in their custody. He said: “When we asked to see the statement written by the deceased, we were not allowed to see it.
“However, the DPO could only say that Ademola developed a sudden illness on Thursday night and was rushed to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital where he was confirmed dead. When asked if the immediate family of the deceased had been contacted, he said he had made attempts to contact the wife to no avail.
He also refused to give us the name of the doctor that certified him dead.”
Eko added that all attempts to speak with the management of Rites Foods had proven abortive. According to him, the company has continued to rebuff overtures to talk. He said: “I have been to the company severally and even dropped my call cards but they have not called us up till date. Even the police have not been helpful at all.
“Since no corpse has been produced, it is difficult to ascertain if indeed Ademola is dead. Even when we went to LASUTH mortuary, we were told that a corpse was brought in by the name of Ademola Adedeji on Friday night.
“We are suspecting foul play because we were not allowed to see the corpse and the mortuary attendants claimed the corpse was brought in by one Inspector Solomon and a member of the family of the deceased known as Christopher, a relative who does not exist.”
Eko berated the police for demanding money before bail.
He said: “In Nigeria, bail is free and the police have no right to detain someone on grounds of non-payment. Also, the police have no right to seek the permission of a complainant before release.”
Holding back tears, the widow lamented that the company had been callous. "I wonder how I am going to cope with three children between the ages of one and seven. In fact, our last baby will clock one today.
“I am a housewife and my husband was the sole breadwinner. We have three little children in primary school who are now fatherless. Even if the police cannot produce Ademola alive, then they should at least give me his corpse to bury," she said.
When we visited Rite Foods Limited located at 40 Opebi Street, to get their own side of the story, the company simply refused to talk.
When contacted, the spokesperson for the state police command, Mr. Joseph Jaiyeoba, a superintendent of police, confirmed the death of Ademola. He, however, said the deceased probably died of food poisoning.
But the wife has since filed a petition to the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mr. Muhammed Abubakar.
“We demand a thorough and prompt investigation of the facts and an open prosecution of all those connected directly and otherwise with the cruel and brutal demise of our client’s husband, Mr. Demola Lawrence Adedeji. We also demand henceforth, the absolute protection of our client, her family and her husband’s friends as well as her residence by the police and other relevant authorities pending the logical prosecution of this case,” the petition stated.