‘I want justice over my son’s murder’
• Questionable death of hotel attendant causes stir in Edo
FAMILY members and friends of Chibuike Edeh, 27, on Monday staged a protest to the Edo State Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the premises of a three-star hotel, Protrea Hotel, where Edeh worked over his death under very questionable circumstances.
The young man was said to have resumed work last Friday but did not come back home and the message they got was that their son was arrested in connection with a missing N42, 000 belonging to a guest and had been handed over to the police by the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the hotel for interrogation.
On getting the information Saturday morning, the family members mobilized the alleged missing money, having been told that the only way their son would be released was to raise the fund.
According to them, they got to the Area Command of the Police where Edeh was being held, a stone’s throw from his work place with the said N42, 000 but they were told that they have to increase the money to N48, 000 which they obliged to do.
But they were shocked when they returned with the balance and were told that their son had been granted bail and released.
They became suspicious when the police could not tell them who their son was released to, coupled with the fact that Chibuike’s mother said her son told her when they were going back to get the said balance that if they left him behind, they may not meet him alive and the mother never got know the reason for her son’s fears.
The protesters said they were later informed that the mutilated body of their son with deep cuts in parts of his face, burnt parts of his backside and a deep cut showing parts of his spinal cord had been taken to the hospital.
According to the deceased’s younger brother, Godspower Edeh, the family was duly informed about his arrest on Friday, March 13.
“When we got to the area command, we saw his name on the board containing the list of detained suspects and we were told what led to his arrest by the IPO and how we can secure his release by paying the alleged stolen amount (N42, 000).”
“We went along with our mother, with the said amount and food on Saturday morning, around 9:00 am but were told to come back around 3:00 pm as the person in charge of the case was on duty at the stadium where the President’s wife, Patience Jonathan was having a function.”
“We still went but could not secure his release still. We were, however, surprised when somebody called me around 10:00 pm the same Saturday that my brother was lying dead and I should go to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) to see the corpse.”
“The police and management of Protea Hotel murdered my brother, if not, who did they release my brother to and how come he had all sorts of injury on him after he died?”
“The same person we saw that day without any injury was left with deep cuts on the cheek, burnt and deep cut at his back, even to the extent of showing his spinal cord, broken leg and neck.”
“When we got back to the station to demand what happened to my brother, we met that his name which was number 18 on the board of crime suspects had been erased,” he stated.
Corroborating her son’s story, the mother of the deceased, Mrs Christiana Edeh demanded justice over the murder of her son.
She insisted that the circumstances surrounding her son’s death shows that it was premeditated.
According to her: “Even after we went with the money they accused him of stealing, they still did not release him to us and my son (Chibuike) had told me on Saturday not to leave him then that I may not come back to see him alive.”
“Someone who saw it said they killed him and dragged his body from the Area Command and dumped him in front of the library.”
“I am poor and have no power to fight them back but God will do the fighting for me. I want justice over the cruel murder of my son.”
When contacted, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Joseph Edoigiawerie, exonerated the police from the incident.
He claimed that the late Edeh was knocked down by a vehicle while trying to escape from the police.
He said he had made a confessionary statement where he admitted to stealing the money and had told the police that the money was still intact.
“In his statement, he said the money was hidden in a fence between the hotel and NNPC mega station along Sapele Road in Benin.
“It was while he was taken there by the police to retrieve the said fund that he tried to escape and in the process was knocked down by a Toyota Camry car,” he said.
He, however, could not provide answers to the issue of the deceased burnt body, the deep cuts that looked like machete cuts.
Edoigiawerie, however, told journalists that the said vehicle that hit the boy was in police custody but could not provide the identity of the vehicle driver and number plate on grounds of security.
The family members also protested to Government House where they cried for help from the state government.
When journalists visited the Protea Hotel premises, a senior staff who did not want to disclose his name told newsmen that the late Ede “had been a staff of the hotel for the past two years and last week I cannot tell you exactly what transpired. A guest complained about a missing item because he attended to the room and the matter was referred to the police. That is all I can tell you right now.”
However, investigations by The Guardian indicated that the boy had previously worked in another high profile hotel in the state capital and was recommended to his current employers because of his good standing in character and duty to work.