Mother of the late Ecobank worker, Babatunde Oke, has insisted that the police knew how her son died.
Babatunde died under controversial circumstances while in custody of the Falomo Police Division, Lagos State, over allegation of N1.2m fraud.
The man, who was attached to the bank’s branch in Ogba, was detained for three days by the police over his alleged involvement in the fraud.
Alhaja Sidikatu Oke, 60, fighting back tears, told PUNCH Metro on Saturday that 35-year-old Babatunde died within 20 minutes she left him.
Sidikatu explained that she had gone to withdraw money from the Automated Teller Machine in order to perfect her son’s bail.
She said he did not show any sign of weakness and had only complained of mosquito bites for the period he was with the police.
She said, “Three of us went to the police station that Thursday to perfect his bail – his father, his younger brother and I. The police brought him to see us. We chatted and he advised me to get the lawyer who would perfect his bail on time because he was being disturbed by mosquitoes in the police cell.
“I assured him that everything would be okay. I called a lawyer that I had contacted on the telephone, who said he was on his way. My son even spoke with the lawyer on the phone. We had N200, 000 with us that day and we wrote an agreement on how we would complete the payment of the N1.2m.
“The lawyer told us on the phone that we should get additional money that we would give to the police. So, we went outside to get the money from the ATM. On coming back, we decided to stay outside pending when the lawyer would join us.
“While standing there, his brother saw an ambulance and he called my attention, saying he sighted his brother lying down in the bus. I said it was impossible because we had only chatted a few minutes back.”
She said Babatunde’s brother rushed after the ambulance, forcefully entered it, and after he confirmed that the person in the vehicle was indeed his brother, went with them to wherever they were taking him.
The bereaved mother told our correspondent that she entered her car and trailed the ambulance to the hospital.
“I also called him (Babatunde) as I was following them. He was screaming, ‘I’m dead, mummy, I am dead, please come’. When we got to the police hospital, the first question the doctor asked was, ‘What drip did you give him?’
“One Sergeant Adebayo then said it was Coke they gave him. I said how possible was that? He never told me he needed a drink when I was with him. His shirt was soaked with blood and he was foaming in the mouth.
“Then, the doctors at the hospital confirmed him dead on arrival. Everything stood still for me. The healthy boy I spoke with 20 minutes ago was no more. How come everything just changed? I know the police did something bad to my son. I was rolling on the floor. I was shouting,” she said.
She told our correspondent that her son’s corpse had been transferred to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, where a postmortem is expected to be performed on him.
Babatunde’s widow, Bunmi Oke, told PUNCH Metro that her husband rarely took soft drinks while he was alive.
The 29-year-old, who is a contract worker with Ecobank, said her late husband worked tirelessly for the bank and did not deserve death as payment.
“I want the government and good Nigerians to fight for me. My husband hardly takes soft drink. He was always working even Saturdays and Sundays. Our marriage is barely three years. My first child is only two years, and I have a baby that is seven months.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, said, “The man was brought to the station by Ecobank around 9pm on Wednesday, that he stole N2.8m from the ATM. It was after they took their stock that they discovered he made away with the money. He admitted in his statement that he collected the money on different occasions. He begged that he did not want the matter to be taken to court.
“The following day, his parents came and promised to pay. The bank also accepted the arrangement. While they were there in the station, he requested a bottle of Pepsi and they bought it for him. He used his seat to open the drink, and did not allow anybody to open it for him. The next thing that happened was that he slumped. His father, mother and brother were all there. Everything happened in their presence. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was confirmed dead.”
A member of the Brand and Communication unit of Ecobank, Austin Osokpor, said the bank would make an official statement on Monday (today).
He added that the bank did what was right by reporting the matter to the police since it was a case of fraud.
“In every organisation, if there is a case of theft, the first thing is to call the police. It is unfortunate this has happened because he was our colleague. But right now, the bank will wait for the autopsy to know what exactly killed him,” he said.
Source: The Punch