A cleric, Pastor Gabriel Atansuyi, has accused the Nigerian Police of killing his gospel singer son and attempting to pass it off as suicide.
According to the pastor, his son, Ifedolapo Atansuyi, was accused of selling an iPhone given to him by one ‘Tessy’, and was subsequently arrested by the police.
Narrating the circumstances surrounding his son arrest and death in a letter published on Pulse, Pastor Atansuyi said, “It was on Friday 24, February, at 2/4, Lake Street in a Cherubim and Seraphim Church that belongs to my father.
“My senior brother is presiding over the church; his name is Baba Aladura Isaiah Olu Atansuyi, who married a woman that was called Iya Adura Esther Atansuyi; at times, she’s called Modinat Shokunbi, the Iya Ijo General, and Band coordinator.
“This woman has a client they call Tessy. The lady called the second born of the Iya Adura Esther Atansuyi, Bode Shokunbi to help her wake Ifedolapo, my son, from his sleep.
“Tessy sent my son to deposit N80,000 for her at the bank which he did; she later sent him another three times to an eatery and gave her iPhone to my son so they could be communicating. The phone got lost while he was coming with all what he bought.
“On getting home, he explained what happened and how the phone got lost and the lady started shouting that he should provide her phone. As I was trying to plead with Tessy, the wife of my brother was also shouting at the top of her voice that they should handle him properly, that what she knew is that he sold the phone.
“My son was saying how could he have sold the phone within the short time from eatery to the church, but yet they insisted that he sold it.”
The cleric alleged that the Tessy reported the alleged theft to her fiancé, one Wale, who involved some boys.
He said Wale and the boys took Ifedolapo to an undisclosed location, tortured him, and recorded a statement in which the gospel singer allegedly confessed to the crime.
He said, “Tessy called her fiancé known as Wale who brought some boys, about eight in number. They told my senior brother, Baba Aladura, that they wanted to go and interrogate him (my son). I begged my brother to speak to them and he said nothing will happen, that they will not do anything to my son.
“I followed them out but I was asked to go back, that they will not harm him, that after the phone matter, they will help him to become somebody, that there is nowhere here in Nigeria that he cannot enter and come out. After the promise that nothing would happen to my son by Wale, I went back home believing what he told me.
“They later brought him back after some minutes that he had confessed. Wale played the purported his confession for me through his phone and I asked that they should allow me to talk to him but they did not give me a chance but when I asked him, he couldn’t talk.
“They said they will take him to the police so that the police could help retrieve the phone where it was sold.
“On Saturday, 25th February 2017, my son called me through a police officer’s phone that I should come with another person’. He told me he had been taken to Jankara Police post, Oko Awo, instead of our jurisdiction which is Ebute Ero Police post.
“We rushed down there to the Jankara Police post and on my arrival, the policemen started shouting at us, but after they were persuaded, he led us to my son.
“He was the only person in the cell; the cell is a red brick building wall, tall with an open roof, with burglary proof.
“My son pleaded that I should tell the policeman to leave us alone so we could talk but the policeman refused, saying that if my son would not say anything before him, then we should leave. The person that went with me asked Ifedolapo to talk in the presence of the policeman.
“He narrated that while they took him away for interrogation, they first took him to Ebute (Marina seaside) and that he was stripped naked with his two hands and legs tied together and was flogged with cables.
“When he insisted that he did not sell the phone, they then brought out a gun and pointed at him, telling him they would kill him and throw his body into the sea and nobody would question them.
“He said that due to the torture and the fear they had instilled in them, he told them that he had sold the phone to somebody called Scott Palmer which is his nickname on Facebook messenger.
“As he was talking, the policeman started shouting at him, asking my son if he saw them with guns. He was mad that my son could say that in his presence, asking my son if he was not the one who wrote his statement by himself? He added that he should have allowed them to take him to SARS.
“I then told my son not to say anything again, that things would be settled.
“After that, the policeman led us outside and I was begging him to intervene so that I could pay in instalments.
“The police officer said that I should quickly go and organize some money like N80,000 or N50,000 so that he could use that to plead with them.
“The owner of the phone met us at the station but she did not even give us a breathing space; she was just creating a scene and cursing me and my son. She insisted on not taking any instalment payment.
“We left the police station at about 11:23 am to the church. They did not wait for me but as I was getting home, just a few minutes from the station to the church, my brother, his wife and Wale who were not at the present at the police station, were accusing me that I was going about telling people that he and his boys used a gun to threaten my son.
“Wale said that he wanted to treat the matter lightly before but that he was going to make sure I regretted the whole thing.
“I was so surprised at the accusations and wondered how I could have been going from one place to another within that short period of time telling people what transpired inside the cell in front of just the policeman and myself.
“Just after 1:00 pm when I was thinking of getting my son some food because, since Friday night, he had not eaten anything, I received a call from the I.P.O, one Gbenga, that I should come to Adeniji Adele Police station to see the D.P.O for a settlement.
“When I heard that, I was so relieved but on getting there, the D.P.O. asked me to wait for the complainant, after the arrival of the representative of the complainant.
“The D.P.O said he received a call from the Area Commander that we should go together to Lion Building Police Division and on getting to Lion Building, there were almost six officers with the complainant’s representative.
“It was there that the D.P.O said in an offhand manner: ‘the boy we are talking about is dead. He committed suicide with his shirt’.
“On hearing the news, I fell down immediately and the police rushed me to the General Hospital for treatment. Since then, I have been sick as I suffered a partial stroke.
“When I came out of the coma, I asked for my son but I was not allowed to see him and they left me in the hospital before people took me back to the church.
“On the morning of Monday, 27 February 2017, the man that accompanied me to the police station was called, that we should come and meet them at the mortuary.
“On getting there, we did not meet any police officer; after waiting for some time, we called them and they directed us to me the receptionist who told us that all the necessary debt had been paid by the police officers.
“I told them that before I could countersign, I must see my son and after insisting, they allowed me to see his corpse. I wanted to snap the body but the refused and it was only after I said I would not sign the papers that they allowed me to snap the body.
“On Monday, 6th March 2017, a Human Rights Activist led me to the Panti police station where a petition was filed.
“We were told that a signal would be sent on Tuesday, 7th March 2017. I was told that the signal had sent, that they wanted the case file for my boy which they were supposed to have been reported at the Homicide Department of Panti.
“I was told that they will begin the investigation as soon as they receive the reports.”
Atansuyi rejected claims his son committed suicide, insisting that his corpse did not support the claim.
He also said his life was under threat and appealed for help in getting justice.
“Please help me. I am sick right now and I have been advised to stay out of Lagos Island,” he said.