The family members of a 39-year-old man, Damilare Eyitayo, have accused the Lagos State Command of the Department of State Services of torturing their son to death. This is just as the DSS claimed that the suspect died after jumping out of the van when he was arrested and was being taken away, during which he injured himself. The DSS added that the deceased was given the best of medical treatment, but he later died.
PUNCH Metro gathered that Eyitayo, who hailed from Oyo State and lived in the Iyana Ipaja area, was arrested on April 4, 2016, by the DSS operatives during an investigation into a syndicate that specialised in cloning the phone numbers of government functionaries. It was learnt that at about 2am, the DSS operatives, said to have been accompanied by policemen and soldiers, stormed Aje Street, Pleasure, in the Iyana Ipaja area, in search of one Rilwanu, a suspect.
It was learnt that Rilwanu had gone into hiding, but his wife, whose name had yet to be known, led the operatives to the house of his best friend (Eyitayo), after which the deceased was arrested. The family claimed that Eyitayo was taken to the DSS office, where he was allegedly tortured until he collapsed, leading to his death. It was learnt that on April 6, the landlord of Eyitayo’s house, identified simply as Pa Shobiyi, was invited to the DSS Lagos office in Shangisha and was informed that Eyitayo had died.
It was gathered that the family members were later invited on Saturday, April 23, and the news of Eyitayo’s death was broken to them.
Speaking with PUNCH Metro, Eyitayo’s elder brother, Oyetunji, said although Eyitayo was Rilwanu’s friend, his brother did not deserve to be tortured to death because he was not the one the DSS wanted. Oyetunji added that the deceased was preparing to get married in December 2016. He said, “We suspect foul play. The DSS did not inform the family until April 23. Why did they hide his death from us? Every time I went there, they said the official handling the matter was not around and I could not see Damilare (Eyitayo). His death is painful. He was set to marry in December 2016.
“He was not a member of any syndicate. He was a friend to Rilwanu, and the suspect had fled knowing what he did. Damilare’s offence was that he was a friend to a suspect. Now, the DSS is begging us to leave everything to God.”
The family lawyer, Babs Animashaun, told PUNCH Metro that the family had submitted a request for a coroner inquest to the Attorney General, Lagos State Ministry of Justice, to know the manner and the cause of Eyitayo’s death. He said, “We were informed that the deceased was arrested because he was a friend to a suspect that the DSS was interested in arresting. We were also informed that it was the wife of the suspect, after she had been beaten by the gun-wielding officials, that told them her husband was not around and led them to the house of the deceased.
“When the DSS operatives got to the deceased’s house, he was thoroughly beaten before he was taken away. We were informed that the deceased died same day in the DSS custody. “We hereby request that an inquest be conducted into the circumstances of the death of the deceased to ascertain the cause and manner of death.”
The landlord, Shobiyi, said, “When the DSS officials called me to their office in Shangisha, they said Eyitayo died during interrogation. One of the officials asked me to find the deceased’s family members. “About three weeks later, his family members were traced and we all went to the DSS office where they heard the news.”
The Lagos State DSS Director, Kunle Ajanaku, told PUNCH Metro that Eyitayo became violent and jumped out of the van. He added that the DSS officials rushed him to the hospital for care before he died. He said, “It is regrettable that the man died. We do not engage in extrajudicial killing. When you talk of the best practices in terms of human rights and how we detain suspects, the DSS comes near first. “This is a syndicate that has been able to clone the phone number of a governor. The state government submitted a petition that all the suspects involved should be arrested and prosecuted.
“Some of the suspects were traced to the deceased’s house. It took surveillance and technicality for weeks to trace his place. Instead of him to cooperate with officials, he resisted and turned violent. When they managed to take him into the vehicle, he struggled and escaped from the van. “He was pursued and in the process, he fell down twice. As a result of his violence, we handcuffed and chained him. When he was brought to our office here, we saw his condition and rushed him to the hospital. He died while in the hospital.
“We have sent the case file to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions for advice. We are ready to listen to the family. An autopsy will be conducted; we do not have anything to hide.”