Tempers flared yesterday leading to an uproar at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) when the body of late Chima Ikwunado was brought out for identification. The torturing of the auto-mechanic, who was arrested for alleged car theft, had stirred up national outcry over unrestrained police brutality against suspects and innocent persons in Nigeria.
Chima’s family, the police, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), members of Ohanaze Ndigbo, some traders at Ikoku spare parts markets, and medical experts were among those who went to UPTH to identity and carry out an autopsy on Chima.
The female police officer, who allegedly tortured Chima at E-crack Squad cell in Mile One Police Station, Port Harcourt and allegedly castrated him, was arrested on Friday. Identified simply as Rose, she was alleged to have manhandled the private parts of the deceased during the time he was going through grueling torture in police detention.
It was therefore agreed that the family would come with the police on Monday (yesterday) for identification and conduct fresh autopsy on the body as the report of the one allegedly conducted by the police claimed that he died of diabetes.
Chairman of Rivers Civil Society Organizations, Enefaa Georgewill, who led his members to the hospital narrated that when Chima’s father, Kelvin Ikwunado, saw the body, he shouted: “This is not my son”.
He said the marks on late Chima’s body were horrible. Georgewill re-emphasized that Chima was tortured to death, regardless of the outcome of the autopsy report.
According to Georgewill, the alarm caused an uproar as the deceased’s colleagues in Ikoku and other family members flared up. Georgewill explained that the body looked older than Chima and was very difficult to identity, but he said the doctors calmed Chima’s father down and urged him to check thoroughly on other features of his son like the shape of the head and ear.
The chairman of the CSOs said after careful checks, the father and some case-mates who were together with Chima at the police detention cell where he died confirmed that the body shown to them was Chima.
According to Georgewill, on sighting the wounds, Chima’s relatives insisted that with the level of injury on the deceased body, there was no need for an autopsy anymore, arguing that Chima was tortured to death.Georgewill said the injuries on Chima’s body were horrible and gory, stating that the decaying injuries indicated that the deceased suffered brutal torture with machete cuts before his death.
He said: “We have confirmed that the body is Chima and we must say that with the level of torture that was meted out on him, it was out of this world. Chima was tortured to death, we saw cracked bones, handcuffs and neck cuffs wounds among others. The whole of his hands were macheted. This is wickedness in the highest place even when torture has been outlawed in our constitution.
“The police that was meant to protect citizens decided to maltreat a citizen to this level. The result of the fresh autopsy is still being awaited as at press time but the medical experts that conducted the autopsy said there was no sign that an earlier autopsy has been carried out the deceased.