Nigerian student held despite having valid documents, inquest told

The immigration detention centre at Bukit Jalil where Nigerian student Thomas Orhions Ewansiha was found dead. (Reuters pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: A witness told the inquest into the death of a Nigerian PhD student that immigration officers found he had valid documents when they raided his apartment and arrested him in July last year.

Mohd Hafiz Mohammad Ruszali, an officer with the Federal Territories immigration office, said that checks on their computer system found that Thomas Orhions Ewansiha’s passport and student pass were in order.

Hafiz said Thomas’ student pass would only expire on Sept 23, 2019, and his Nigerian passport on July 27, 2023.

Although the documents were proper, he said, the officer leading the raid asked for Thomas to be detained to ascertain if he was really a student.

Thomas Orhions Ewansiha.

“During the operations, he tried to run away,” he said.

Questioned by lawyer Rajesh Nagarajan, who is holding a watching brief for Thomas’ family, he said he did not personally see him trying to flee.

“At that time, all the Nigerians were running away,” he said.

Hafiz said the department confirmed that Thomas had valid documentation on the morning of July 5, 2019, a day after the raid, to which Rajesh sarcastically said “that was quite efficient”.

He said Limkokwing University also confirmed that Thomas was a student there.

Hafiz said he noticed a wound on Thomas’ leg and referred the matter to Mohamad Nazri Mohd Sa’ari Koh, a Civil Defence Department officer.

Rajesh: Do you know of any medication given to the deceased?

Hafiz: I only knew that medicine was given for the wound.

Thomas was arrested with 19 others during the raid. The inquest previously heard that police were notified of his death at the immigration detention centre at Bukit Jalil on July 9, five days after he was detained.

Thomas’ family filed an application for an inquest into his death, as they suspected that he could have been assaulted and refused medication during detention.

The hearing before coroner Mahyon Talib continues on Feb 13.