What Killed Citizen Nunugwo? | TheNation
•The police must investigate the cause of death in EFCC custody
The circumstances of the death of Citizen Desmond Nunugwo in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) deserves to be thoroughly investigated by the police, and that should include an independent autopsy. While the widow, Susanne, has accused the EFCC of unlawfully causing the death of her husband, the spokesperson of the commission, Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement claimed: “The suspect was detained at about 7.30 pm, in the absence of anybody to take him on bail. Six hours later, he suddenly complained of discomfort and was rushed to hospital where he was pronounced dead”.
From the above statement, the EFCC believes that Mr Nunugwo must have died of natural cause. Yet, according to the family lawyer, Paul Edeh, the commission is frustrating the conduct of autopsy. In a petition to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, the lawyer claimed: “The EFCC has blatantly refused that a post-mortem examination should be carried out on the body … This may have been the reason why more than two months after Desmond’s death, no move has been made to carry out an autopsy”.
We hope these allegations are not true, as the EFCC has no power to stop an autopsy to ascertain the cause of Mr Nunugwo’s death, and the police should know that. So, now that the AGF has a petition from the family, he owes it a duty to ensure that the cause of justice is served, by ensuring that the police conduct a thorough investigation, and also a credible autopsy, before the body of the deceased is released to the family for burial. It is bad enough that the man was taken into custody by the commission and was brought out dead.
The reason for his detention is also hazy, and we hope the commission is conducting an internal enquiry to ascertain whether its officials have acted properly. Even from EFCC’s account, the accused was arrested for an alleged business transaction with a lady that went awry. While the commission has its job cut out by law, we hope the officials of the commission were not acting as a debt recovery agency in the circumstance. If the officials acted wrongly, we urge the management to sanction those involved.
Also unacceptable was the way Susanne was allegedly treated by the commission. According to her account, the commission invited her to come and bail the husband, only to be asked to go get a man, as she was not entitled to take the husband on bail. If that was what transpired, then those involved were running roughshod over our constitution which forbade any discrimination based on gender. It is also very indecorous to ask the lady to get somebody to bail her husband, even when, according to her, the body of her spouse was already in the morgue. If that is true, then the commission acted cruelly.
If the allegation that the commission arrested the man and denied him opportunity to contact his office and family is true, that would also be unfair. While EFCC claims that the deceased was allowed to make contacts to secure a bail, the wife claims that he was kept incommunicado until his unfortunate death. Whatever happened should be unveiled by an independent investigation.
In our view, no agency of government, however powerful, should be allowed to operate as a law unto itself. That is why the cause of death of Mr Nunugwo should be thoroughly investigated and anybody found culpable in negligence, should be held to account. That is how to build a modern society which we all seek.