ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
The police in Bayelsa State have confirmed a failed attempt by some persons to allegedly steal the corpse of a 27-year-old robbery suspect, Goodluck Oviekeme, from a morgue in the state.
The arrest and death of Oviekeme in police custody triggered a protest on Saturday in Yenagoa, the state capital.
Oviekeme was arrested last Tuesday alongside eight other suspects in connection with an alleged attack on a police officer and stealing of his service rifle.
The suspect was said to have died after a strange ailment at the Police Clinic where he was taken to for treatment.
Spokesman for the State Police Command, Asinim Butswat, confirmed that there was an attempt to steal the corpse of the deceased suspect but was foiled by vigilant security men on duty.
Butswat said: “At about 12am on Sunday, there was an attempt to steal the corpse of the deceased but it was foiled by some vigilant security men.”
It has yet to be ascertained the reasons for attempting to steal the corpse which was deposited at the morgue of the Federal Medical Centre by the police.
However, it was gathered that at about 12am on Sunday, mortuary attendants at the FMC alerted the operatives of the Operation Puff Adder and those of the Anti-Cultism Squad of the Police on the strange request by some youths including a State House of Assembly member for the release of the corpse.
Eyewitnesses at the hospital claimed that the strange men arrived the hospital’s morgue in a Prado Jeep, number-plate PF 8025 C at about 12am and were accosted by men of the Operation Puff Adder, operatives of the Anti-cultism squad and Assistant Commissioner of Police, Operations.
According to a police source, about four unidentified youths were seen in the vehicle led by one police officer and a member of the State House Assembly.
The source said: “We got information that a politician, four boys were trying to retrieve the corpse. When the men of Operation Puff Adder arrived in company with another senior police officer, ACP, Operations, they could not retrieve the corpse.
“When they were asked what they were doing at the morgue at that an unholy hour, they claimed they were at the medical centre to pay the mortuary bill for the deceased. They were then asked if they were the ones that dropped the corpse, and they said ‘no’. Thereafter, they drove out of the FMC premises.
“The ACP, Operations, was however heared commending the staff of FMC for their vigilance and reinforced the order of the State Commissioner of Police, Echeng E. Echeng, to protect the corpse and conduct autopsy to unravel the cause of death of the suspect.”
Recall that CP Echeng had on Saturday ordered a discreet investigation and autopsy to determine the cause of Oviekeme’s death following protest by indigenes of Biogbolo community.
Police spokesman had said on Saturday that the deceased suspect was arrested in connection with an armed robbery incident that occurred on 21 September, 2021, at Biogbolo, Yenagoa, when hoodlums attacked Police patrol team, fatally injured Inspector Ugbotor Sunday and carted away his rifle.
He had indicated in a statement that “preliminary investigation reveals that Goodluck Oviekeme was the mastermind of the attack on the patrol team. He was arrested on 22 September, 2021 at about 0300 hours.
“While in Police custody, the suspect was observed to be running high temperatures and was rushed to the hospital where he eventually died. The CP condoles with the family of the deceased and assures the general public that investigation has commenced and the outcome will be made public”.