Apprentice dies in police custody after his master reported him for stealing N14m goods in Lagos

An apprentice, Chinemremu Ogbu, has died in police custody of the Trade Fair Division of the Lagos State Police Command.

The unfortunate incident of the 23-year-old’s death happened on Saturday.

Controversy has continued to surround the circumstances of Ogbu’s death, while While family members and other traders alleged that Ogbu was tortured to death for stealing goods worth millions of naira from his boss’ shop at the Trade Fair Market, the police insisted that he committed suicide in the cell.

It was gathered that Ogbu’s master, Fidelis Eduka, lodged a complaint against Ogbu at the Trade Fair Police Division after he conducted an audit of the goods in his shop and discovered that goods worth N14m had been stolen.

The unexpected happened when Ogbu’s lifeless body was recovered in a cell, where he was being detained by the police.

According to a PUNCH report, a businessman, Chucks Goodluck said when the news of Ogbu’s death became public knowledge, traders in the market mobilised to Eduka’s shop and out of annoyance burnt his goods.

Goodluck added that Ogbu was about to complete his apprenticeship when his master accused him of stealing his goods, stating that a lot of people had been using similar scenarios not to settle their apprentices after serving them.

“The boy (Ogbu) had a few months to complete his apprenticeship after which his boss would settle him, but the suspicion was that the man started coming up with different stories to prevent him from fulfilling that obligation of settling him after his service by accusing him of stealing goods worth millions of naira from his shop.

“So, he involved the police, who took Ogbu into custody and when the boy died, traders, who were aware of the case, angrily stormed Eduka’s shop and burnt all his goods. The stealing of the goods was just an allegation against the victim by his boss that should not have warranted the involvement of the police as that is one of the tactics people like that use to prevent them from fulfilling their obligations to their apprentices,” he said.

However, the police has another narrative to how Ogbu died, stating that he committed suicide in the cell.

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, said “We had a report of the case and had the suspect in our custody for a case of stealing of goods worth millions of naira before the suspect, who was the only one in the cell, committed suicide in the cell on Saturday, March 20, 2021, around 10.30pm. The police did not torture him, because there was no basis for that.

“He didn’t deny the allegation. He hung himself with his clothe in the cell. The state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, has ordered the Homicide Section of the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department to take over the case for investigation. The allegation of beating or torture by the police is not true and is a mere speculation.”

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