- Malaysia's Immigration Department confirmed a Nigerian PhD student, Orhions Ewansiha Thomas, died in its custody
- Immigration director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud said Thomas was detained during a raid on Thursday, July 4
- Daud said Thomas died in custody on July 9, after suddenly developing a seizure while sleeping, adding that autopsy is being awaited
Malaysia's Immigration Department has confirmed that a Nigerian PhD student at Limkokwing University was detained in a raid last week after his attempt to flee.
According to local media Malaymail, the immigration department also confirmed that the Nigerian, Orhions Ewansiha Thomas, died while in custody, adding that an autopsy report is pending.
The Malaysian newspaper reports that immigration director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud said Thomas was detained during a raid on Thursday, July 4 at 10.45pm at the Desa Aman Puri area in Kuala Lumpur.
Daud said that several Africans in a few eateries and other several apartment blocks had attempted to flee and refused to provide cooperation to officers who were conducting checks during the raid.
“The subject also fled but was successfully arrested by operation officers, the subject then presented his passport and checks showed that subject had a student pass that was still valid,” he said.
“The subject’s action in fleeing had raised doubts about the authenticity of the student pass that was owned by the subject,” he added.
Suspected of having committed an offence under Malaysia's Immigration Act’s Section 56(1)(l), Thomas was detained under the same law’s Section 51(5)(b) for 14 days for further investigation, the immigration director said.
Section 56(1)(l), according to Malaymail, relates to the offence of use or illegal possession of any forged or unlawfully altered documents including entry permits or passes, while Section 51(5)(b) requires the immigration authorities to produce a foreigner within 14 days of his detention before a magistrate for orders on the detention.
The immigration boss further explained that the raid where Thomas was arrested was due to public complaints received regarding the alleged influx of Africans in that area.
He said the complaints revolved around suspicions that they did not have valid passes or documents to stay in the country, or that their presence had allegedly affected local residents with alleged drug abuse, prostitution, and so on.
Daud added that 20 foreigners, including Thomas, were detained in the July 4 raid, adding that all of them were brought to the Kuala Lumpur immigration office, before being sent to the Bukit Jalil immigration depot on July 5.
The immigration boss said all detainees were treated well and according to standard operating procedures for detainees throughout their detention at the Bukit Jalil immigration depot.
He added that Thomas was even given medical treatment for old wounds.
“During the documentation process, the subject was given basic treatment by the Civil Defence Department Malaysia as there were old wounds on the right calf of the subject and the subject had informed that he was not suffering any illness,” he said.
How Thomas Orhions Ewansiha died
“At the time of incident around 12.05 midnight July 9, 2019, the officer on duty was informed by other detainees that the subject suddenly had a seizure while sleeping,” Daud said.
He said the special treatment unit that was on duty had immediately carried out checks and treatment on Thomas and that the Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM) was contacted for immediate assistance.
The HUKM ambulance arrived together with an assistant medical officer at 12.30am and had continued to carry out checks and provided medical aid, but Thomas was verified as having died.
He said that the supervising officer and the officer on duty had then went to the Bukit Jalil police station to lodge a police report.
He said: “The Immigration is currently still waiting for the full medical report on the subject and the full autopsy report to identify the cause of death.”
Limkokwing University of Creative Technology reacts to Thomas's death
Earlier, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology had tweeted a message “in loving memory” of Thomas, identifying him as having been born in 1985.
“It is with the deepest regret that we report the demise of Orhions Ewansiha Thomas. Pursuing his PhD in Management, Mr Thomas was an inspired young man.
“All of us at Limkokwing University wish to express our heartfelt wishes of love and support to all affected,” the university had said.
Nigerian government reacts
Meanwhile, the Nigerian government has reacted to ugly incident that led to Thomas' death.
In a statement released by Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the commission's chairman/CEO condemned the killing.
She urged "the Nigerian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, to open an investigation into the death of Ewansiha (Thomas)."
"We must ensure that the welfare of our countrymen in Malaysia is not compromised," the statement added.
In another personal message, Dabiri-Erewa said: "A sad incident: The Nigerian embassy is waiting for the result of the autopsy. If not satisfied, Ngr will demand an independent autopsy. Though arrested on July Ist, his arrest was not brought to the Embassy’s attention till his death. Will continue to update and demand justice."
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