In Lagos DSS operatives 'torture' man to death, pays family N15m compensation

The report said the DSS men caught up with a friend to the suspect they were looking for, and beat him till be became unconscious.

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Department of State Services (DSS) officers. play

Department of State Services (DSS) officers.

(Punch)
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The Department of State Service (DSS) has been accused "torturing" a man to death.

According to Premium Times, the DSS, through the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, paid the deceased's family N15 million compensation.

On April 4, 2016, at about 2.30 a.m, operatives of the DSS allegedly stormed No 37, Aje Street, Pleasure, in the Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos to arrest a suspect believed to have cloned the phone number of the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.

They were said to have harassed the residents as they scaled the fence of the compound, knocking down doors and shattering ceilings.

The report said the DSS men caught up with  a friend to the suspect they were looking for, and beat him till be became unconscious.

The battered man, 34, was identified as Saheed Eyitayo.

An eyewitness said the DSS men dragged a motionless Eyitayo into one of their vans. He was said to still be alive at the time.

The operatives were said to have been led to the residence by Adejoke Ogunbona, the wife of the wanted man, Rilwanu Jamiu.

Jamiu, who was on the run for the alleged crime, was said to have spent few days at Eyitayo’s apartment before moving on to another place in the Oke Aro area of Lagos, where he was eventually arrested.

He is now facing trial alongside another suspect.

It was, however, not clear if Eyitayo knew his friend was a wanted man when he allowed him to stay at his apartment.

Jamiu’s wife, the report said, had visited her husband while he was hiding at Mr. Eyitayo’s apartment. Though she later confessed that even though she knew her husband was no longer at Eyitayo’s apartment, she took the DSS operatives there.

Three days later, the DSS reportedly invited Eyitayo’s landlord, Mathew Sobiye, to its Lagos office in Shangisha and told him that Eyitayo was dead.

The landlord said the DSS did not want him to tell anyone about his tenant's death.

Explaining how he died, the operatives said he was resisting arrest on the night of the raid and tried to jump from the moving van as he was being conveyed to their office. They said he died from injuries sustained in the process.

But Eyitayo’s family claimed that from the account of fellow tenants at his Pleasure residence, he was already unconscious when he was handcuffed and carried into the waiting van.

They wondered how an unconscious man in chains could overpower several SSS operatives and jump to his death. They said if the SSS had nothing to hide, it shouldn’t have waited for 19 days before formally informing them of Eyitayo’s death.

One of Eyitayo’s relatives, Michael Lasisi, told the newspaper that the DSS waited that long because they were trying to perfect a fabricated story to hide the fact that they tortured Eyitayo to death.

He said: "We had gone to the SSS office several times, and they told us ‘come back you cannot see him.’ Until finally on the 23rd (of April), 19 days after he was killed, they now told one of my brothers Oyetunji that he had died. Meanwhile they had told the landlord not to tell anybody that he had died.

"They did that so as the days elapsed they would be able to manufacture lies to cover up the official criminality. They could not tell us what he has done. They said his friend was part of those who cloned the governor’s number. They traced the friend to his house but they did not see him.

"At a meeting between Mr. Eyitayo’s family and the SSS on May 3 at their Shangisha office, angered by an SSS attempt to implicate Mr. Eyitayo in the number cloning scam, Mr. Lasisi and other family members walked out on the officials of the secret service threatening to drag the agency to court."

However, the DSS was said to have approached Oba Akiolu, the paramount traditional monarch in Lagos, in an attempt to kill the story.

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Akiolu was to help appeal to the family of the dead man, after the DSS original attempt to use officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice failed to assuage Eyitayo’s family.

Some members of the family said they first suspected that something was fishy when those who had resisted the antics of the Lagos State officials were exempted from the delegation to meet with Oba Akiolu.

A family member said: "I think the SSS had told the Oba that some members of the family who gave them a hard time during the initial discussion shouldn’t be allowed to be part of the negotiation. The excuse they gave was that the Oba did not want a crowd in his palace."

Several family sources present at the monarch's palace reportedly said the moment the DSS offered to pay N15 million, some of the most outspoken members of the delegation suddenly became quiet.

"The family lawyer put up a spirited effort to make the DSS [as the SSS is also called] pay more compensation, but members of Saheed’s family would have none of that," an attendee at the meeting was quoted as saying.

"In fact, one of them was stepping on his (lawyer’s) feet and telling him not to be too hard of the DSS and to accept whatever the DSS was offering so that the matter can be settled. The lawyer was almost in tears," another family source said.

"At a point, they even threatened to fire the lawyer if he would not agree with the decision of the family."

"One of them said that they should accept the offer of the DSS because the body of Saheed was suffering and they needed to bury him urgently to stop the suffering," the source said.

Another source was reportedly said Akiolu insisted that N10 million be given entirely to the parents of the deceased. He also insisted that the

DSS must pay the lawyer’s professional fees.

According to Premium Times sources, the five million that was remaining from the compensation paid was shared among members of the deceased’s family involved in the negotiation.

Meanwhile, the DSS was said to have deliberately kept the family members away from seeing Eyitayo's body until an agreement was reached and all documents signed.

"The DSS did not allow the family see the corpse of the dead victim before they forced the family to reach a negotiation. That was the plan. When they finished the negotiation, they called Saheed’s uncle to come and look at the body but he was only shown his legs," a source told Premium Times.

Family members who saw Mr. Eyitayo’s corpse after it was released for burial reportedly said it was a terrible sight.

"If you see the corpse, you would know that he was tortured and killed in a brutal manner. He had two deep cuts in the back of his head, apparently inflicted by a machete or other similar sharp objects. There were cuts and bruises all over his body," the source said.

As part of the agreement reached with the deceased family, the DSS agreed to foot the bill for his funeral. Eyitayo’s body was carried to his hometown in Oyo for burial in the most disrespectful manner, the source said.

"If you see the way they carried his body home. They couldn’t even get a proper vehicle to deliver his body to his family.

"They got a rickety vehicle. On their way to Oyo State, the vehicle conveying his body was so old that its tyres bust twice before it got to the town. And they spent several hours on the road fixing the tyres.

"His body was not even put in a casket. He was taken home for burial in a body bag made of jute sack. The type used for keeping rice," the source said.

The lawyer who represented the family, Babs Animashaun, was said to have declined to discuss details of the negotiation when reached for comments.

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