2 MPs question lack of action on Nigerian’s death

Nigerian post-graduate student Orhions Ewansiha Thomas died at the Bukit Jalil immigration detention centre. (Reuters pic)

PETALING JAYA: Two MPs have questioned why no heads have rolled following the death of a Nigerian doctoral student who was held at an immigration detention centre.

Kasthuri Patto and RSN Rayer, both of the DAP, also questioned whether an internal investigation had been started by the Immigration Department into the events leading to the death of Orhions Ewansiha Thomas at the Bukit Jalil detention centre.

They suggested that an independent committee be set up to investigate the department’s procedures

Kasturi and Rayer questioned the department’s reason for holding Thomas in detention, that Immigration officers had to check the validity of his travel documents.

Kasthuri Patto.

“It would have taken only a few hours to verify if he was a student of Limkokwing University, by keying in the relevant information into a system that exists in all major detention centres.

If he had been suspected of having committed any crime in the country, then he should have been brought to court with a lawyer to represent him and with the knowledge of his embassy, they said.

“He was never brought in front of a magistrate for a chance to defend himself before being placed in remand for 14 days,” the two MPs said.

Kasturi and Rayer said all foreign students in Malaysia had an identity card containing all necessary information, including the validity of their student visa, the course and the university or college in which they were enrolled.

They said it was an “utter joke” if the immigration department had disregarded its very own verification card and arbitrarily detained foreign students.

Kasthuri and Rayer called for scrutiny of the “overzealous enforcement action” which they said had already put a black mark” on the department.

RSN Rayer

A police report has been lodged by Kasthuri asking for an investigation into the cause of Thomas’s death.

Kasthuri said Thomas’s death, the first in custody since the new government took power, reflected badly on the government.

The immigration department has said that Thomas was arrested on July 4 with 19 others during a raid in Kepong, Selangor, after residents complained about the presence of foreigners and their misbehaviour.

“The deceased did not give full cooperation during the operation. He tried to run when approached by the immigration officers,” it said. He died five days later. A preliminary post-mortem report was said to have shown that the deceased did not show any sign of being assaulted.