Christian Konor Ehima, the son of a policewoman in Edo State, Mercy Ehima who died on December 10 following brutality and molestation by soldiers attached to the railway checkpoint in Igbanke, Edo State, was not under the influence of alcohol prior to his death.
According to the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, the Ehimas’ family doctor, Muoka Nkem, confirmed the development.
The medical report was in conflict to a recent statement issued by the Nigerian Army denying the alleged brutalisation and killing of Ehima by soldiers.
SaharaReporters had reported last Friday that Konor, who was escaping from kidnappers, ran to soldiers for help, but rather than coming to his aid, they murdered him, according to Konor’s last statements, as revealed by Ehima Mercy, his mother.
But responding, the army, in a statement by its Director of Public Relations, Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, had said the soldiers did not assault Konor.
According to Nwachukwu, the army had both audio and video recordings to prove that Konor was rather under the influence of alcohol.
“Incontrovertible evidence indicates that Christian Ehima wandered into a military checkpoint at Wire-Ake in Edo State on the 10 December 2021, without his clothes on, and was halted by soldiers on duty,” the statement reads in part.
“He was interrogated but could not say anything meaningful on where he was coming from or heading. His behaviour was rather weird and indicative of one who was obviously under some sort of influence.
“The guard commander, who observed his abnormal behaviour, immediately requested for his phone in an effort to contact any of his relations, friends or associates. Shortly afterwards, a call came through to his phone and the caller identified herself as his mother. The soldier invited her to pick up her son, who was still very agitated and unstable.
“It is also important to state that the incident was recorded both on video and audio, showing the behaviour of Christian Ehima and his mother commending the soldiers for their kind intervention. The evidence, including audio recordings of the police officer and her son, are attached.”
After obtaining the video and audio the army mentioned in its statement, FIJ contacted Nkem, but he uncovered that the victim was not under the influence of alcohol, but restless from respiratory distress following brutalisation.
“He was in the mud and he was brutalised. I don’t know who did that, but he was in respiratory distress. When I saw the boy, he was in a bad state – restless and rumpled. We rushed him and tried to resuscitate him, but within four hours, he died,” he said.
“How he got to that place, I don’t know. But what I know is that he was not drunk, but highly brutalised before dying. He had been a sane child with no record of lunacy.”
Latifah Idris, a friend of the deceased, also told FIJ that Konor was neither an alcoholic nor mentally unstable as the army suggested. “Why did they delay his mother for an hour? Why were his clothes in their possession?” Idris asked. “There is a clear fact that they moved him from the checkpoint to the pit in fake evidence that he was mentally unstable.”
“If he stood when they initially saw him, why couldn’t he stand when I saw him?” Mercy, Konor’s mother, also asked.
“Could he have rolled on the ground for three minutes? When I saw him, he could neither sit nor stand because he was writhing in pain. He had a broken spinal cord.”
She explained that the “thank you” she said in the now-viral audio released by the army was to pacify the soldier who spoke to her, adding that seeing her son unhurt was her main interest at the time.
“I thought to myself how possible it was that my son would drag a soldier’s gun with him. So, I said, because he was in the village, they may have given him something. I said this to get to where my son was. Even the doctor who saw him said he did not perceive a stench of alcohol from my son,” Ehima said.
“I spoke to him before his death, but there was no aura of alcohol from my son. He was not drunk. I am also sure the soldiers delayed me before they took me to where they left my son because they did not know what to do on hearing I was a police officer,” she said.
FIJ also showed the army’s video to a doctor at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and he said the actions portrayed in the video may be symptoms of moderate psychosis.
“Psychosis is a condition that affects the way the brain processes information. It may cause one to lose touch with reality,” he said.
“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, drugs or trauma could have triggered his actions or brain damage could be the main problem. Only an autopsy can prove there is brain damage. If there were physical injuries on his head or around his head, it may mean that there was a structural damage.”