Human rights activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), has raised the alarm over the continued detention of an American, Kari Ann O’Rouke, by the Lagos State Police Command over the death of a Nigerian friend she met online and came visiting in Nigeria, Adebayo Michael Ayomide.
According to available information, the Nigerian friend of the American died on the day she left for Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos for her return journey home on February 8, 2021.
However, she was unable to board her flight owing to an expired COVID-19 result, which gave room for the police to trail her to the airport and arrest her.
An autopsy report into the death was said to have shown that Ayomide died of cardiac trauma and heart related conditions, her lawyer said.
O’Rouke, according to the report, was not in any way linked to the death nor was any foul play suspected.
According to Adegboruwa in a statement on Saturday, O’Rouke had met all conditions for her release on bail from the detention facility of the State Criminal Investigation Department in Yaba, Lagos State and had been told to pack her things on Friday before a counter-directive.
He said in the statement: “Kari Ann has been in police custody since March 9, 2021, at SCID, Panti, Yaba, where she has lost about 23 pounds and suffered bouts of malaria and dysentery.
“She has a delicate health condition of severe anaemia, for which she is due for comprehensive medical treatment in America.
“On March 19, 2021, responsible sureties visited the SCID in Yaba, to sign all documents for the expected release of Kari Ann, with her lawyers, who all spent hours at the police department till late in the night, when they were later informed to go.
“Upon the execution and perfection of the bail papers, Kari Ann was told to pack her belongings which she did, only to be told later on to go back into custody.”
Adegboruwa therefore appealed to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, to use his good offices to direct the immediate release of O’Rouke so that she can attend to her health urgently.
He said her international passport has already been seized by the police and a reputable church has volunteered to accommodate her in Nigeria until such a time that the police would be willing to allow her travel back to her home state in America.
He said he is concerned that the police are keeping O’Rouke in perpetual custody and that in this period of the Coronavirus Disease pandemic, it is not safe for any one of her age with her underlying condition to be kept in police custody for an indefinite period of time.
He, therefore, urged the police to respect the rule of law and the liberty and freedom of O’Rouke as she is presumed innocent under the law.
O’Rouke was reported to have arrived in Nigeria with a 24-month multiple visa issued in Atlanta, USA on January 7, 2020 and intended to travel out of the country aboard a KLM flight on February 8, 2021.
She had lodged with Ayomide at a hotel in Victoria Island.
When her COVID-19 result was rejected, she had to stay in the Departure hall, where she had been traced to by policemen and then arrested by Officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service and Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria Aviation Security at the Qatar Airline counter.
She was then taken to the NIS duty room about 12:30am on February 9, upon which she was whisked away by the police.