Authorities Give Contradictory Versions On How University Of Buea Student Died In Custody

On March 15, two university of Buea students were arrested by investigative police officers of the SEMIL branch. A few hours after their arrest, one of the students, Ngule Simon was declared dead, and his remains were deposited at the Buea Regional Hospital Mortuary by officers who had taken him in custody.

The two University of Buea students, Ngule Linus and Mbo Giress were both studying in the Faculty of Laws and Political Science. Ngule was reading International Relations, while Mbo Giress was studying for a Masters degree in Public Administration, all in the faculty of Laws and Political Science in the University of Buea.

Officials at the SEMIL branch in Buea accused the two students of having links with separatist fighters. It was equally claimed that the two have been running missions for separatist fighters in Buea and Fako. However, it would have made more sense for the two to be charged in court to defend themselves as legal procedure requires. This will however not happen for at least one of the arrested, Ngule Linus, who though was taken while in good health at 1PM on March 15, was deposited at the Mortuary at 1AM barely hours after he was taken into custody.

Police Officers Tell Three Different Stories Of How Ngule Died

Speaking to The Post, the elder brother of Ngule Linus, Ngule Raymond said he was called to come and take the remains of his younger brother for burial. He said he immediately travelled to Buea and then called back his younger brother’s phone to know what had led to his death, since the officer who called him had used Ngule Linus’ phone. He said when he asked the officer what happened to his bother, the officer said Ngule Linus was killed during a gun battle between separatists and government forces. “I did not see a gunshot on his body when I examined the corpse at the mortuary”, Raymond told The Post.

He said he pressed on for answers because some officers came to the hospital and paid the bills for his late brother who was kept at the mortuary. He said from the mortuary, he went to the SEMIL office where the other student was held. He said he went to Human Rights Defender, Agbor Nkongho who made a social media post about the case, before they were called in for some answers to be provided. “He (SEMIL Head) said my brother was questioned and shown pictures and overwhelming evidence and he collapsed and died. I said I cannot believe because my brother was a student and not a separatist fighter. I asked about the earlier version from the other officer who said he was killed in a battle” Raymond narrated It was at this juncture, Raymond furthered that the officer again said Linus died after he saw a certain separatist called Ali shot in front of him.

Raymond said they finally settled on the need for an autopsy report to be done, but again the officers said there was no expert at the moment to do an autopsy. He said his brother survived from making and selling pots during his free school periods, and depended on him for everything including handout money, “He calls me all the time for money, sometimes he asks for FCFA 2,500, 3,000 and I always send. So I don’t believe that he was running of those huge sums they say he was receiving from separatists”, Raymond said.

The other student, Mbo Giress is still detained at SEMIL post in Buea. So far, the University of Buea has not reacted to the incident. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in its article states that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person”. This is also supported by article 5, which demands that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” This right was deprived from Ngule Linus.

The Universal Declaration of Human rights in its article 10 states that everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him. It also furthers in its Article 11(1) that “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.” In this case, it appears some force or probably torture, was used on the accused student, leading to his death just few hours after his arrest.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in its Article 6, also frowns at extra-judicial killings stating that, “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.” It further states in its article 9 (3) that “Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorised by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release…”

In a reaction to the case, Rights defender, Agbor Nkongho of CHRDA where Linus volunteered sometime said he is calling for “for an independent medical expert to undertake an autopsy to ascertain the cause of death of Ngule Linus. We call on SEMIL to fully cooperate and provide all the necessary support to ensure a seamless process. The representatives of the family of the deceased student should be involved at all stages of the said autopsy. “As far as Mbo Giress is concerned, we urge SEMIL to immediately hand him over to the competent authorities for any investigations. He must be provided with a Counsel of his choice to assist him in the process”, he said.

By Andrew Nsoseka, JADE

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