The Lagos State government has set up a coroner’s inquest into the death of Eyitayo Saheed Damilare in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS). The inquest followed a petition sent to the Lagos judiciary by the Damilare family’s lawyer, Mr. Babs Animashaun.
The victim was picked up in his Iyana-Ipaja house last month by DSS operatives, who were trailing a suspected member of a syndicate that cloned Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s telephone number.
Mr. Damilare died in DSS custody after he was allegedly tortured by a team of security operatives comprised of the DSS, soldiers and police.
The victim’s family alleged foul in the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Damilare in DSS custody, wondering why the deceased was arrested for a crime he knew nothing about.
In a letter from the Office of the Chief Coroner dated May 11, 2016 and signed by a judicial assistant, Oyenike Fajana, the Ikeja/Ogudu Coroner District was mandated to conduct an investigation into Mr. Damilare’s death without delay.
After receiving the letter, the Presiding Coroner of Ikeja/Ogudu District, Mrs. A.O. Gbajumo, wrote to the DSS for the release of the body for inquest.
The coroner’s letter to the DSS reads: “In compliance with the Coroners System Law, I have decided to conduct a coroners’ inquest to enable the court to ascertain the circumstances and manner of death of the deceased.
“I hereby implore the DSS to inform the counsel to the family of the deceased, Mr. Babs Animashaun, of the whereabouts of the body of the deceased, Mr. Saheed Damilare Eyitayo, with immediate effect. The DSS is also implored to produce the police case file of the deceased for perusal by the court alongside the necessary coroner forms to the court on or before Friday, May 20, 2016.”
Meanwhile, the victim’s family has accused the DSS of attempting to rope the deceased into the crime to cover up its alleged misdeed. The family said the DSS’ explanation was insulting, saying the agency had been battling hard to rope the late Mr. Damilare into the crime.
The family spokesman, Pastor Michael Lasisi, criticized the DSS for attempting to cover up what he called extra-judicial killing. He said the family has not received a concise explanation from the DSS on the cause of the victim’s death several weeks after it occurred, alleging that the agency wanted to use dishonest means to dump the body to the family house.
Speaking to SaharaReporters yesterday, Mr. Lasisi said, “Since the sudden death of our son in the Lagos DSS custody, the organization has been behaving like a criminal group. It has been four weeks since we received the news of our son’s torture to death, but the DSS has not come up with an official explanation on the circumstances that led to the death.
“Each time we visited the DSS office, they told us different stories about the matter. They made several attempts rope the late Damilare into the crime, but we confronted them with facts and figures. The DSS State Director Adekunle Ajanaku even threatened the family at a point, but we remained resolute in demanding justice for our late son. Let the federal and State governments wade in this matter and fish out the culprits.”