Immigration Dept confirms Limkokwing’s Nigerian student died in its custody, awaiting autopsy

The in memoriam message tweeted by Limkokwing University of Creative Technology earlier today. — Picture via Twitter/LimKokWing_MY
The in memoriam message tweeted by Limkokwing University of Creative Technology earlier today. — Picture via Twitter/LimKokWing_MY

KUALA LUMPUR, July 12 — The Immigration Department confirmed today that a Nigerian PhD student at Limkokwing University was detained in a raid last week after his attempt to flee, also confirming that he died while in custody and that an autopsy report is pending.

Immigration director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud said that the Nigerian, Thomas Orhions Ewansiha, was detained during a raid on July 4 at 10.45pm at the Desa Aman Puri area in Kuala Lumpur.

Khairul Dzaimee said that several Africans in a few eateries and at the lower level of several apartment blocks had attempted to flee and refused to provide cooperation to officers who were conducting checks during the raid.

“The subject also fled but was successfully arrested by operation officers, the subject then presented his passport and checks showed that subject had a student pass that was still valid,” he said in a statement today.

“The subject’s action in fleeing had raised doubts about the authenticity of the student pass that was owned by the subject,” he added.

As Thomas was suspected of having committed an offence under the Immigration Act’s Section 56(1)(l), he was detained under the same law’s Section 51(5)(b) for 14 days for further investigation, Khairul Dzaimee said.

Section 56(1)(l) relates to the offence of use or illegal possession of any forged or unlawfully altered documents including entry permits or passes, while Section 51(5)(b) requires the immigration authorities to produce a foreigner within 14 days of his detention before a magistrate for orders on the detention.

Khairul Dzaimee explained that the raid where Thomas was nabbed was due to public complaints received this year — March 19, April 15, April 19 — regarding the alleged influx of Africans in that area.

He said the complaints revolved around suspicions that they did not have valid passes or documents to stay in the country, or that their presence had allegedly affected local residents with alleged drug abuse, prostitution, being drunk in an open space and purported disturbance that cause anxiety and feelings of insecurity among locals.

General view of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in Cyberjaya July 12, 2019. — Picture by Choo Choy May
General view of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in Cyberjaya July 12, 2019. — Picture by Choo Choy May

Khairul Dzaimee said 20 foreigners — including Thomas — were detained in the July 4 raid that was carried out under the Immigration Act 1959/63.

He said all of them including Thomas were brought to the Kuala Lumpur immigration office, before being sent to the Bukit Jalil immigration depot on July 5 at noon.

Khairul Dzaimee said all detainees were treated well and according to standard operating procedures for detainees throughout their detention at the Bukit Jalil immigration depot, and that Thomas was even given medical treatment for old wounds.

“During the documentation process, the subject was given basic treatment by the Civil Defence Department Malaysia as there were old wounds on the right calf of the subject and the subject had informed that he was not suffering any illness,” he said.

Khairul Dzaimee then related Thomas’ death.

“At the time of incident around 12.05 midnight July 9, 2019, the officer on duty was informed by other detainees that the subject suddenly had a seizure while sleeping,” he said.

He said the special treatment unit that was on duty had immediately carried out checks and treatment on Thomas, and that the Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM) was contacted for immediate assistance.

The HUKM ambulance arrived together with an assistant medical officer at 12.30am and had continued to carry out checks and provided medical aid, but Thomas was verified as having died.

He said that the supervising officer and the officer on duty had then went to the Bukit Jalil police station to lodge a police report.

“The Immigration is currently still waiting for the full medical report on the subject and the full autopsy report to identify the cause of death,” he said.

Earlier, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology had tweeted a message “in loving memory” of Thomas, identifying him as having been born in 1985.

“It is with the deepest regret that we report the demise of Orhions Ewansiha Thomas. Pursuing his PhD in Management, Mr Thomas was an inspired young man.

“All of us at Limkokwing University wish to express our heartfelt wishes of love and support to all affected,” the private university had said.

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