Malaysian authorities this afternoon finally weighed in on the death in custody of a Nigerian PhD student who was detained earlier this month during an immigration raid.
Director-General of Immigration Khairul Dzaimee Daud released a statement in the wake of protests outside the Nigerian High Commission yesterday and mounting online anger over the circumstances surrounding Orhions Ewansiha Thomas’s detention.
Thomas was arrested on July 4 during a raid at an apartment complex in Kuala Lumpur’s Desa Aman Puri neighborhood, ostensibly acting on complaints from residents regarding drug use, prostitution and public intoxication. Twenty foreign nationals were arrested in the operation, though it is unclear on what charges.
In the statement, Khairul confirmed that Thomas possessed valid visa documents, but said authorities chose to detain him for a 14-day period all the same as they were suspicious over his alleged attempt to flee the scene.
Fourteen days is the maximum amount of time that a foreigner under arrest can be held without charge by Immigration authorities.
Detainees were then taken to KL’s Immigration Department offices, where Thomas was given a physical check-up, and treatment was administered for an “old injury” on his thigh. No information was shared on the nature of that injury, or what treatment he received. Authorities say Thomas mentioned no pre-existing medical conditions.
The following day, the detainees were taken to a holding center at Bukit Jalil Depot at noon.
Four days later, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, on-duty officers were alerted by other detainees that Thomas was having a seizure.
“Immediate aid and medical checks were conducted and the hospital was contacted to assist as well,” according to Khairul’s statement.
“An ambulance from HUKM (Universiti Kebangsaan Hospital) as well as an assistant medical officer arrived at 12:30am and they attempted to help the subject. However, he was then pronounced dead,” it reads, adding that a police report was filed thereafter.
A autopsy has yet to produce conclusive results.
The story first began to gain steam yesterday afternoon, after a social media user was able to capture an angry protest outside the Nigerian High Commission.
Nigerian Embassy, Jalan Ampang Hilir, KL. happening now. pic.twitter.com/MfINgBTKja
— alwinhimself 🏴#lawan (@alwinhimself) July 11, 2019