Ecobank In Controversy Over Death of Staff Allegedly Poisoned While In Police Detention For Fraud

tunde oke ecobank staffAn employee of Ecobank, Babatunde Oke, on Thursday, died in the custody of the Falomo Police Divisional Headquarters in Lagos, after he was detained for three days over his alleged involvement in a N1.2m fraud.

Oke, who is survived by a wife and two children, was said to have worked at the Ogba, Lagos branch of the bank.

Though the real cause of his death is yet to be ascertained, witnesses said he slumped at the police station after taking a soft drink.

Friends of the deceased, who wrote about his death on social media, disclosed that the deceased had paid part of the missing money before he was arrested by the police.

The lawyer to the deceased, Femi Olatunde, also alleged that the Ikoyi police station had demanded the he paid the sum of N1m before he would be released on bail.

Olatunde said, “I was at the police station before they brought him there at about 7:30pm on Tuesday, the police refused to grant him bail. They said we must bring N1m. This was a case of fraud involving about N1.2m. The following day, his father came from Abeokuta and they told him the same thing.

“I negotiated with them and they brought their demand down to N600,000. The father told me that he was going to bring N100,000 and I was to make arrangements to get N100,000.

“I spoke with him on the phone around 12:45pm on Thursday and 30 minutes later, was told he was dead.

“They said he drank a bottle of soft drink before he started convulsing and then slumped. When I saw his body, red substance was coming out of his mouth. The autopsy will come out on Tuesday, so we cannot conclude for now.”

The deceased’s immediate younger brother, Seun Oke, corroborated the lawyer’s account and added that he was at the police station when his brother died.

He faulted the bank for freezing the deceased’s children’s account, making it difficult for his wife to withdraw money for their upkeep.

Oluwaseyi Olugbodi shed more light on how Tunde was allegedly tortured to death by the police.

He wrote social media: “Tunde  Oke, a staff of Ecobank was arrested on Tuesday 18th of February, 2014 by the police for an allegedly missing N1.2 million Naira in the bank. Tunde, whose arrest was instigated by Ecobank was taken to the station and tortured to death.

“He is survived by two kids, (a 2 years old boy and a 5 months old girl), a young widow, an aged mother and siblings.

“Tunde was accused of a missing N1.2 million from Ecobank, Ladipo, where he worked sometime late last year. He was asked to refund the money amount.

“According to Tunde, someone posted the money with his system. However Tunde made efforts to repay the money, his account was put on hold and that of his wife who works with the bank was also put on hold (they could no longer make withdrawals from their Accounts). Tunde was able to repay N600,000 before the events that led to his arrest.

“On Sunday the 16th of February, Tunde had a fire accident in his residence. His generator exploded, leaving burns in his hands and legs. Tunde went with the burns to the office on Monday to show his branch manager and explained the fact that he won’t be able to stay at work for the day.

“On Tuesday 18th February, Tunde was on his way to the clinic and some concerned staff of Ecobank called his wife to inform her that they were coming to arrest her at her branch since the husband had allegedly absconded. She quickly placed a call to her husband to inform him and her husband reported immediately to work, abandoning his treatment due to the threat.

“Tunde was arrested at work on Tuesday and was taken to the Divisional Headquarters at Ikoyi where he was locked up for three days. All efforts to get his bail went futile as the police insisted that based on the instruction from the bank, they must get the outstanding.

“His lawyer was asked to bring N1 million and he told them bail was free and he could not raise such. In the course of the argument, the police escalated the debt to N2.4 million and the lawyer reminded them he only had an outstanding of N600,000.

“Tunde was tortured as usual by the police in the cell and on Thursday morning his mother in-law and brother visited the station, but was again urged by the police to quickly go and get money. They went to use the ATM and on their way back, they saw an ambulance and when they peeped into it, they saw Tunde’s cloths drenched in blood, his mouth foaming and it was also discovered later that a coke bottle cover was placed in his pocket. The police started alleging poison that he took a poisonous coke.

However, a member of the Brand and Communication Unit Ecobank, Austin Osokpor, said that the deceased had admitted to committing the fraud and the bank reported to the police as was required by law.

He said, “There was an ATM fraud, it was traced and it was found out that it was him. He admitted it. The police was informed as is normally done and he was taken to the police station. The family said they didn’t want him to be prosecuted. Instead of going to court, they wanted to refund the money.

“The parents brought money that Thursday, but they said they would wait for the lawyer to come before handing it to the police. They were still waiting when he said he wanted a drink. After he drank it, he slumped and when the policemen could not resuscitate him, he was taken to Falomo Police Hospital where he died.”

Osokpor said the bank immediately ordered for an autopsy and an official statement will be issued on Monday (Today).

When contacted on Saturday, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, said, “The man was brought to the station by Ecobank around 9pm on Wednesday, that he stole N2.8m from the ATM. It was after they took their stock that they discovered he made away with the money. He admitted in his statement that he collected the money on different occasions. He begged that he did not want the matter to be taken to court.

“The following day, his parents came and promised to pay. The bank also accepted the arrangement. While they were there in the station, he requested a bottle of Pepsi and they bought it for him. He used his seat to open the drink, and did not allow anybody to open it for him. The next thing that happened was that he slumped. His father, mother and brother were all there. Everything happened in their presence. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was confirmed dead.”

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