MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
Last week, the media was awash with a story of the mysterious death of a 29-year-old, Kenneth Ayogu inside the cell of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA in Kaduna state.
The young man was arrested at Narayi in Chikun Local Government Area of the state for allegedly being in possession of Pentazocine injection by officials of the agency and few days later when family members who were not aware of his whereabouts traced him to NDLEA cell in Kaduna state, they were shocked to be told that his body was in the mortuary.
Spokesman of the family, Michael Ayogu alleged that he was tortured to death and efforts they made to carry out a post- mortem were thwarted by officials of the agency and police.
However, in its response, NDLEA debunked the claims and stated that the suspect was arrested along with his brother and a neighbor over drug offence and they were all in the same cell when he took ill. They further said he was promptly taken to the hospital where he later died and denied frustrating efforts to carry out post mortem.
However, his brother who was arrested together with him and later released, Chinonoso Mathew (26), opened up in this interview with newsmen by stating the circumstances that led to the death of the suspect.
“My name is Chinonso Mathew. I was in the house at Narayi village when my brother, Kenneth Ike Ayogu was arrested by men of NDLEA in his shop in the same Narayi and brought down to the house for a search. As at the time he was brought down to the house, he was looking so rough and manhandled. Both of us and one other person were later taken to their office in kaduna on the 13th of October at about 11:30 am. We were taken straight to the cell and later brought one after the other for interrogation. In my own statement, I told them that I don’t deal in any illegal drugs and I was allowed to go on bail on the 16th of October at about 3 pm.
“We were more than 70 suspects in a very small cell with poor ventilation. So many people were made to stand up for the whole day as there is no space to sit down and some have been there for months and have arrogated some level of authority to themselves. We were fed by only those who bring food for their relations in the cell. From what I observed, there were about four different cells located within the premises, all fully occupied with suspects.
“The size of the cell is about 12 by 12 and more than 50 to 70 suspects were kept like stock fish. When you sit down, you open your legs, another person will enter and open enter and open and in the cell, everybody is taking out individually for interrogation from the cell.
“ I was in Kenneth’s room when officials of the agency came with him from his shop and found Pentazocine injection and they all belong to Kenneth. They arrested both of us and took us to their office on that 13 October, 2022. On the day I was released, Kenneth had been hospitalized. In the cell, Kenneth complained about his chest and at a point, he started having high temperature. That was on the 15th evening. At a point, he was talking to himself and calling the name of someone I don’t know and he kept on muttering that he will deal with the person when he comes out of the cell. At a stage, he started convulsing. We called the attention of NDLEA officials but nobody responded. He was making statements we could not comprehend.
It was when he became unconscious that officials of the agency came and removed him from the cell. No doctor came to the cell to treat him while he writhed in pains and running temperature. No drug was given to him in my presence. I only saw that he was vomiting blood. It was after my release that I heard he died. I am of the firm opinion that his death should be associated with his ordeal during and after his arrest and detention because he never complained of any illness prior to his arrest.
When Kenneth first complained of his health in the cell around 2am to 3 am that Sunday, we called the attention of officials of the agency; they said we should close our mouth. Then, we sprinkled water on his body and his temperature normalized about 6am. It started again and they came and took him away.
” Meanwhile, I am aware that a delegation of NDLEA officials visited Kaduna from their headquarters in Abuja and we were invited by the police at the homicide section. We all met with both the doctor that was to perform the postmortem and also went to the mortuary to see the dead body of our brother. They later handed over the body to the police, after discussions with the doctor who gave them a bill of N780,000.00. They went back to their base in Abuja.
“Meanwhile, the family lawyer, Casmir Ugwoke Esq has expressed disappointment over the bottleneck that has characterized the whole investigation process but has vowed to pursue the matter to a logical conclusion.
.”He further stated that his clients being the parents of the deceased are already agitated and about losing hope in the whole investigation saga but he has prevailed on them to be calm as justice will surely be served at the end of the day no matter how long it takes.”