Friday Olokor, Abuja
Blessing, wife of a Nigerian PhD student in Malaysia, Thomas Orhionsefe Ewansiha, who was reported to have died at a Malaysian detention centre, has said her husband was “murdered while in custody.”
Blessing alleged that the Edo State-born father-of-two was murdered while in the detention of the Malaysian immigration authorities.
The Malaysian authorities, however, claimed that the Nigerian suffered a seizure while he was in immigration detention, and that he died in the course of being attended to.
The autopsy that was reportedly carried out on Ewansiha did not sit well with his wife.
“After my husband’s death, he was taken to a hospital where they carried out an autopsy. Both sides of his neck were cut down to his chest and lower abdomen. They tore the upper and lower parts of his body without our consent.
“No Nigerian, no family member was there. They don’t have any right to do that. It is suspicious and that is why we want to perform a fresh autopsy on him,” she said in a statement obtained by The PUNCH in Abuja on Monday.
She faulted the narrative allegedly put up by the Malaysian Immigration Services, which, she said, was “a concerted effort to conceal what really transpired and a grand effort to hide their role in the proximate cause of his death.”
The 34-year-old PhD student of Management at the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology was said to have been arrested on July 4, 2019, at Desa Aman Puri area of Damansara and he died five days later.
His wife also claimed that Ewansiha, who held a valid student visa at the time of his arrest, had obtained his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Malaysia.
The Nigerian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur had, on July 12, 2019, said it was engaging with Malaysian Immigration Authorities and awaiting the result of the autopsy report.
“The High Commission has also taken note of the concerns of Nigerians in Malaysia. The High Commission assures that necessary steps are being taken towards addressing the unfortunate incidence, with a view to redress and prevent such occurrences in the future,” the High Commission said.
But Blessing Ewansiha said her husband was tortured to death by Malaysian immigration officials.
She said, “The immigration officers on raid came in private vehicles and there was nothing to identify them as immigration officers because they were not in uniform.
“They rushed out of their various vehicles, holding sticks and they were chasing Nigerians.
“My husband’s car was parked close by, so he was about rushing into his car and that was when they held him and handcuffed him alongside other victims.
“Even with a valid visa on him, they took him away and locked him up and the immigration office didn’t inform the school until he died in their custody.
“Mr. Thomas Orhionsefe Ewansiha, who just visited Edo State, Nigeria, apparently wanted to share the experiences of his visit to Nigeria and deliver some messages from loved ones to his fellow countrymen also living in Malaysia.
“On arrival at the destination, he called his friend who stayed in one of the apartments to meet him at a particular restaurant as he wanted to have his dinner since he came from afar.
“While waiting for his meal, immigration officers in a commando-style operation swooped in on him in what was later discovered to be a raid on the neighbourhood of black immigrants.
“He was shocked, but he remained calm, knowing fully well that he had all his necessary documents and permits intact. Within the commotion that took place, Ori Baba (Thomas Orhionsefe Ewansiha) was beaten, manhandled and handcuffed. He was forced to sit on the floor while the immigration officers raided other apartments, finally arresting over 20 black immigrants.
“My husband tried in vain to explain to the mean-looking immigration officers that he had his valid papers on him and was, indeed, a responsible and insurance paying immigrant with no blemish on his record.
“He told them how he came to Malaysia to study, got his B.Sc from Twintech International University College of Technology, Malaysia, M.Sc from Limkokwing University, Malaysia and was doing his PhD at Limkokwing University, Malaysia.”
Blessing said that all entreaties were ignored and he was taken into custody.
She faulted the narrative put up by the Malaysian Immigration Services, which, she said, showed a concerted effort to “conceal what really transpired and a grand effort to hide their role in the proximate cause of his death.”
Quoting the Director-General of Malaysian Immigration, Datuk Khairul Daud, Blessing added: “An officer on duty at the Bukit Jalil immigration depot was alerted at around 12.05am on July 9, 2019 by other detainees, telling him that Thomas experienced a seizure during his sleep, which was then followed by immediate medical treatment by a special treatment unit on duty, as well as further assistance from an ambulance that arrived at 12.30am before he was verified as dead.
“Daud claimed that an autopsy was being awaited to determine the cause of Thomas Orhionsefe Ewansiha’s death.”