The Malaysian immigration department has provided details on how Nigerian student Thomas Orhionsefe Ewansiha died in its Bukit Jalil detention centre on Tuesday, denying that standard operating procedures had been breached.
In a statement, it said Thomas died after he was arrested alongside 19 others during a raid at the Desa Aman Puri Apartment in Kepong, Selangor.
“Residents of the apartment had lodged complaints to the immigration about the presence of foreigners and their misbehaviour,” it said.
Residents had also alleged that the use of drugs, prostitution and public intoxication in the area had caused unrest among locals, according to The Star Online.
Here is the account of the Malaysian Immigration Department as reported by The Star Online:
“At the time, a group of foreigners had tried to run away while also refusing to cooperate with officers during inspection.
“The person in question (Ewansiha) had also fled but was successfully detained by officers,” said Immigration Department director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud in a statement Friday (July 12).
He said that Ewansiha then produced documents that officers found to be valid.
However, his previous actions had cause doubt on the authenticity of documents, and he was then detained for 14 days for further investigations.
“All the OKTs (arrested detainees) were then transported to the Kuala Lumpur Immigration Department office,” he said.
Checks were conducted on Ewansiha and treatment was administrated for an old injury on his thigh. He did not specify any pre-existing medical illnesses, according to Immigration.
All the detainees were then sent to the Bukit Jalil Depot at around noon on July 5.
“At around 12.05am on July 9, the officers on duty were told by the other detainees that the subject had had a seizure in his sleep.
“Immediate aid and medical checks were conducted and the hospital was contacted to assist as well.
“An ambulance from HUKM (Universiti Kebangsaan Hospital) as well as an assistant medical officer arrived at 12.30am and they had attempted to help the subject.
“However, he was then pronounced dead,” Khairul Dzaimee said, adding that a police report was made on the matter.
He added that the department was still waiting for a full medical report on the subject, as well as the exact cause of death, via a post-mortem.
Ewansiha’s death led to a protest outside the Nigerian High Commission on Thursday, July 11.
According to The protesters voiced their frustrations at what they called the embassy’s lack of assistance to the over 30,000 Nigerians in the country.
Ahmed Adebanjo, a spokesman for NGO Nigerians In Diaspora Organisation Malaysia, said many Nigerians were being held in immigration depots as they did not have valid travel documents.
“Many Nigerians want to go home but after spending a lot of money, they don’t have the means to go back,” he said.
He said his organisation was doing all it could to help them but that the embassy had to do more.