Esegine Rickson, the detained 300-level student of the University of Benin, has explained the circumstances surrounding the death of his church member to the Students’ Union Government of the institution, saying he has no hand in the death.
Rickson, a pastor, a bus driver and two others are being detained at the Edo State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department.
Journalists had reported that the detainees were returning from a retreat at a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God on Sapele Road, Benin, Edo State, on Sunday, July 2, when they encountered a speeding truck.
The driver was said to have zigzagged to escape a collision with the truck. Later, it was discovered that the unidentified church member was bleeding from the head. He eventually died at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital.
The Edo State Police Public Relations Officer, Moses Nkombe, had declined comment on the incident, saying he would never talk to journalists.
The Dean of Students’ Affairs, UNIBEN, Prof. Benson Osadolor, had said efforts to secure Rickson’s release on bail so he could sit for the ongoing exams had proved abortive.
However, the PRO Students’ Union Government of the institution, Ehiabhi Goodnews, told journalists on Monday that Rickson gave a “blow-by-blow account” of the incident when a delegate of the SUG visited him in detention.
He said, “This is what actually happened. Uche (Rickson) was coming from a vigil at a parish of the RCCG in the GRA on Sapele Road.
“They boarded a public bus and he (Rickson) sat beside the church member. When everything was going on, Uche (Rickson) was asleep.
“A trailer was coming from opposite direction and the bus driver swerved to dodge the trailer.
“The phone of the deceased, who was sitting close to the window, fell outside. The driver stopped and someone alighted to pick the phone. The person discovered there were bloodstains on the phone. He enquired for the owner. At that point, it was discovered that the deceased was bleeding from the head. That was when Uche woke up. They rushed the deceased to the Central Hospital. He also attended the vigil, but Uche said he didn’t know his name.
“The hospital referred them to the UBTH. It was when they got there that they called the parents of the deceased. The driver immediately took his bus to a car wash and washed the bloodstains on the vehicle.
“The boy died in the arms of his mother. That was when the police were invited. The police came and arrested everybody on the bus. The driver’s action made it look as if the boy was murdered. So, our student was arrested because he was at the scene, not that he had any direct link.”
Goodnews said students refrained from staging a protest at the SCIID because of others involved in the police investigation. He, however, said the SUG would meet with the school authorities to mount pressure on the police to conclude the investigation on time.
“When the case is charged to court, we will get a lawyer to ensure that he is granted bail. When we saw him, he said he was not being maltreated and that was why we are calm,” he added.
The state Commissioner of Police, Haliru Gwandu, and the Police Public Relations Officer, Moses Nkombe, could not be reached for comments.
Several calls put across to Nkombe’s telephone line went unanswered, while a text message sent to him and the CP had yet to be responded to as of press time.