By Emma Nnadozie & Emeka Mamah
The mysterious death of a 20-year-old man, Nzeribe Manu on May 20, 2011 has thrown the entire Police Force in Lagos State into confusion. The circumstances surrounding the demise of the young man, the only son of a female Police Inspector attached to Area F, Ikeja, is as bizarre as it is intriguing.
Though about three police officers attached to Denton Police station are presently cooling their heels at the cells of the State Criminal Investigations Department, SCID, Panti, Yaba over the case, the mother of the dead man has been crying for all those who had a hand in the death of her only son to be brought to book without delay.
On their part, both the detained police officers and their colleagues at Denton are saying that their hands are clean over the death of the man. They are pointing accusing fingers at a Police officer who employed the man as his personal driver.
The Officer, a superintendent of Police attached to the State Command headquarters in Ikeja, however, believes that the police at Denton are trying to cover up the brutality meted on the man after he was arrested which eventually led to his untimely death.
The only man who was with the deceased when they were arrested by the policemen, Jude Okolie (31) narrated his own side of the story to Crime Guard, “It started on May18, 2011, when myself and Nzeribe were arrested in an ash color Toyota Corolla saloon car with registration number EK 894 APP, as we were coming from Apapa road, where Nzeribe who was sick went for medical attention.
The car belongs to a friend of Nzeribe. On our way coming back, one Police armed Sargent just jumped into the road and stopped us. The only response Nzeribe gave him was, Oga, you are not supposed to stop me like this. The policeman started harassing him, stating that he must identify himself, if not he will take him down to their station. Nzeribe then told him, ‘I be Oga boy’.
We all came down from the vehicle while the policeman kept on harassing us. At this stage, he insisted that we must surely follow him to the station and he entered our car, sitting on the back seat behind the driver. We then drove towards the station.
When we came to a sharp corner, he just ordered Nzeribe to turn and park the car but because could not take the path he wanted him to take as it was too sudden and the corner was very sharp, Nzeribe could not take that side. We then went down straight to enter from another side.
At this stage, the policeman was angry and started dragging beating Nzeribe from behind and struggling with him on the steering. He was beating him seriously while he was on steering. In fact, I was shouting because his gun was pointing at me while he kept on hitting Nzeribe all over his body.
When we eventually stopped the car, the policeman dragged him out from the car and continued beating him all over his body. I then jumped out of the car and started pleading with the policeman telling him that we were just coming from a hospital where he went to take treatment but he did not listen to me.
This time, the other of his colleagues came and joined in the beating and cursing him. I was shouting that he was sick and should be spared but they kept on beating and dragging him towards their station. When we entered the station, they stopped the beating and asked for our identities.
Nzeribe told them, “I be Oga boy from state command” On hearing this, they started slapping him asking whether that was why he did not respect them? They later searched and kept us behind the counter. Nzeribe later called both his Oga and his wife, also a Deputy Superintendent of Police, DSP, telling them what happened.
His Oga and his wife later spoke with those policemen and they said okay, we should write statement before we would be freed from their station. Unfortunately, they wrote the statements and forced us to sign which we did out of fear.
They did not even allow us read the statement as they were shouting and threatening us. That was how they allowed us go around 12 midnight or 1am. When we came back to our house at Superior Police Officers, SUPOL, quarters in Ikeja, G.R.A., Nzeribe was shivering, complaining of pains all over his body. He did not sleep soundly that night.
The next morning, I noticed he was also in great pains. There was a laceration on his face with traces of blood which I did not even see that night. I did not see any other mark on his body because he was wearing jacket throughout the night.
It was the following day that I saw other marks on his body. I then suggested we go for treatment which he agreed. The mother later came and we all ended up at Fellowship hospital, Unity Road, Ikeja the following day where doctors started treating him.
While all these were going on, his Oga and madam were not around. He was subsequently admitted after I told them how he was beaten up by policemen. He died later in the evening of May 20, about 12 days after his 20th birthday..
Narrating her own story, the mother of the deceased, Inspector Ngozi Manu (45) told Crime Guard,” I am a widow. My husband died in 1995, leaving Nzeribe, another boy and two girls all for me.
The other boy died in the year 2000 leaving only Nzeribe for me. On May 19, 2011, Nzeribe called to inform me that he was not feeling fine. I then assured him that I will call his Oga to take him to hospital.
I did not know that they later went to see one of his uncles at the Railway compound and it was after that they had an encounter with these policemen from Denton. Later, he called to tell me that the sickness was worsening and when I rushed to where he was staying, I saw a mark on his face.
On seeing this, he insisted I should take him to hospital. I then went to my officer who gave us her hospital card because I had no money and that was how we ended up at Fellowship hospital. Initially, I taught he was having typhoid but I was later told he was beaten up by policemen.
My son did not open up to me but his colleague, Jude was the person that told me what really happened between them and the Police. Just see what has happened to the only son I have. It is only God that will fight this battle for me.
The last thing Nzeribe told me before he died was, “Mummy, I am not feeling fine”. It was the policemen from Denton that tortured my son to death. The other Police Officer they are pointing accusing fingers at is the man that has been taking care of my son.
He promised to help him get into the force and he has been taking care of him for me. He is the only father we all know for now. After hearing details of how the police brutalized him and seeing the result of the cause of is death which they attributed to internal bleeding, I then petitioned the Commissioner of Police calling for his prompt intervention.
Oh, I will greatly miss my boy. He was a very lovely son. Who ever contributed to his untimely death must pay for it. We have since buried him. God will fight my battle for me.
Since his death, he has appeared to me twice and also to one of my neighbors at Ikorodu. After his burial, I saw him coming down from an Okada while I was also coming down from one near my house. I saw him dipping hand into his pocket to pay the Okada man and as soon as I called his name, he disappeared.
I also saw him inside my house the next morning while I was brushing my teeth. He just brushed by and smiled after calling me mummy. My neighbours saw him on Saturday immediately after his death. They did not know that he was dead.
My neighbour said he came in the evening and knocked on their door and when they opened up for him, he said my door was closed and demanded for food claiming to be hungry. They said he was given a plate of rice and after he finished eating , that my neighbour escorted him towards the main road.
The next day when news of his death was broken to me, as I was lamenting, the neighbour came and said he ate in his house Saturday evening. We were all shocked when he narrated how he came and he was also told when he died. We don’t know what is happening but all I know is that he was killed in cold blood. His spirit is restless”.
Also, the woman DSP who is wife to his former master said she was being disturbed by the ghost of Nzeribe to the extent that she avoids staying alone in the house. She told Crime Guard that her pregnant sister who was squating with her family had also left the house because Nzeribe’s ghost had also been disturbing her.
On the part of the police at Denton, it was gathered that after the death of the man, the Police officer he was living with quickly mobilized his men at the X-squad department, Command headquarters, Ikeja and stormed Denton police station.
He reportedly arrested all the policemen involved in the case and detained them for over two weeks insid