96 hours in hell’ – ‘From helper to suspect in a homicide case

The Rivers state Chief Judge’s son Wariebi Abiri, a Law student, unfortunately drowned in a swimming pool at a hotel in Abuja on Friday August 19th as students gathered to celebrated the end of lectures for the year. Apparently some students who were around when the incident happened were locked up for days, one of them however blogged about it. He shared his story which he titled ‘From helper to suspect in a homicide case. 96 hours in hell’ which he shared medium.com/@Ruud_bishop

Read his article after the cut…

Friday 19th of August 2016 changed my life totally. I had an experience that I never imagined possible.

Students of the Nigerian Law School in Bar Part I, have just finished lectures for the year and different people felt the need to gather and celebrate this.

The events that followed are better imagined than being the reality of anyone. I arrived the venue, a hotel across the Law School, at about 8pm and met a few students having drinks and food around the premises. I went into a friend’s room to rest and charge my phone.

A while later, I came down to speak to a few people and exchange pleasantries. People were dancing and discussing in small groups. The whole thing started winding down at about 11:30pm, as most people had to return to the law school premises before the 12am curfew.

Most people who remained in the premises were chatting close to the gate and watching some people play games of table tennis close to the gate. At about 2am or so, there was a loud scream that someone was in the pool. Everyone turned and was wondering why anyone was in the pool at that time. The scream came again and indicated the person was drowning. There was commotion and everyone ran towards the pool. Two students went into the pool and brought out the person. A few people tried to administer CPR including mouth to mouth. I was shouting to get him to a hospital. A friend brought out her car to take him to the hospital, but the hotel management said to take him in their vehicle. In the midst of all the confusion that followed, some of us realised we didn’t know who was in the bus with the victim and we should drive behind them to the hospital.

We got to the hospital, General Hospital, Bwari, where we met the doctors administering CPR, removing water from his system and trying to resuscitate him. We gathered outside to pray. At some point, the doctor asked for the closest person to him and his roommate stepped forward, the doctor then pronounced him dead and said he was (BID) brought in dead. Some of the students present, requested to transfer him to a private hospital. At this point, the doctor called some of us aside and explained the standard medical steps and procedures that had been taken to resuscitate the victim and why he concluded he was dead. He advised that the police be informed and his body transferred to a morgue. It was at this point I pulled his roommate aside and asked for the name of the victim. He said his name is Wariebi. I mentioned I had never met the victim or interacted with him, but it was sad that this had happened. I tried to console him, but I broke down myself. We agreed to inform the Nigerian Law School in the morning and they would inform his parents.

We made payment for the card and other things in the hospital. I was consoling the female students present and had to get them back to their accommodation. I asked some of the students to inform the police and the doctor to arrange for him to be deposited in a morgue. I followed the ladies back to the hotel, where they stay. We had to inform other students present.

Hours went by and we were told that the Police needed us to come and write down what happened as witnesses. We all willingly got dressed, got in a bus provided by the hotel and went to Bwari Police Station for what was to be a routine statement by witnesses of such a tragic event. Myself and two other colleagues made statements of what we witnessed and also met his roommate and other people who had assisted to get him to the hospital making statements as well. We all made statements and thought to leave, only for the Investigating Police Officer to inform us that we were all being detained as suspects in a case of ‘Suspected Culpable Homicide’. Everyone was shocked and thought he must be joking. We are all law students, with knowledge of the law and we had only helped a colleague in distress. To then hear the words Suspect, Culpable and Homicide sounded very outrageous to us all. We were all worried and tried to contact authorities of the Nigerian Law School.

We were ‘processed’ and transferred to a cell. Word had gotten out and the authorities of the Law School came and paid us a visit. After listening to our side of events, they apologised that we were being held for helping a colleague and promised they will help to get us all out. They repeated the visit later in the day and said investigators were working to get to the bottom of this and to get us out. The Director General of the Law School, Dr. Onadeko (SAN) visited us later in the evening and said he would be in touch and would ensure we weren’t treated as other ‘suspects’. At this point I objected to him referring to us as suspects and also asked him if that was the official position of the Nigerian Law School? Were we being seen as suspects rather than a group of law students who helped a colleague in distress? It was in the middle of our interaction with the DG that I heard the victim’s full name for the first time. The DG said his name is Wariebi Abiri and that his mother is the Chief Judge of Bayelsa State and a friend of his.

We were returned to the cell and we later discovered that the police had granted bail to the General Manager of the hotel and a member of his staff. We demanded to know why we were being kept and the hotel management was being let off the hook. Same hotel that had no safety measures to prevent such an incident? Same hotel that had no lifeguard around an open pool? No answers were provided.

This dragged for 48 hours before we were eventually granted bail on the orders of the Commissioner of Police, FCT Command. We were asked to report to the station daily until investigation was completed.

We reported to the station on Monday and were transferred to the State CID. A case of helping a colleague was really snowballing into a real homicide case and we found ourselves as the suspects.

I must state that the professionalism of the officers of the Homicide dept at the FCT CID saved the day. They berated the investigating officer from the local station for even bringing us there. We made fresh statements and have now become witnesses in a case of negligence. Truth be said, a few high level calls were made to ruin/save the day. The IGP and CP FCT remained very professional and helpful.

One has been granted some respite, albeit temporarily and can’t even thank God enough. Can’t thank all the friends and family members who came through and who made sure one didn’t suffer for being a Good Samaritan. Your prayers and all saw us through this harrowing ordeal.

It is important to understand how facts are not sacrosanct around here. I saw some of the most horrible twists and turns in my life in just 48 hours. I saw lives being toyed with, for political gains. We thank God that a few things were done right by a few professional officers and innocent people were saved such a nasty experience. I saw a different side of the Nigerian Police Force. Competent and incompetent ones, but I genuinely believe the competent ones are at the top. I live in a country that can be stranger than fiction sometimes. I now understand why people are genuinely afraid to help others in need. No one wants to become a suspect for rendering help.

Really grateful to be here telling this as a story and an experience. It could have gone a totally different way. Let me now get to processing the fact that I lost a colleague and was one of those that saw him dead. No one remembered that in all of this madness.

P.S: Ignore all the grammatical errors. My head is still all over the place, but I thought to share this. Thanks for reading my epistle.

-Chairman/Presido Cell 2. 😎

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