Stay calm, follow the law, embassy tells Nigerians after PhD student’s custodial death

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

KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — The Nigerian High Commission in Malaysia today urged its citizens not to get agitated and to abide by the law amid concern over the sudden death of countryman Orhion Evansiha Thomas under immigration detention.

It was the first statement issued following the PhD student’s death, followed by a demonstration outside the high commission on Jalan Ampang Hilir here on July 11 and which is currently being investigated by police.

“The High Commission is engaging with the Malaysian Authorities and awaiting the result of the autopsy report. The High Commission has equally taken note of the concerns of Nigerians in Malaysia,” it said.

The diplomatic mission sought to assure Nigerians that it is taking the necessary steps in addressing Thomas’ death and will review its measures to prevent a similar occurrence.

“The High Commission seizes this opportunity to appeal to Nigerians in Malaysia, to continue to be law-abiding and cooperate with the Authorities and the High Commission while investigations on the circumstances surrounding the death are being conducted,” it added.

The high commission said Thomas was a doctoral management student at the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in Cyberjaya and died under immigration custody last week.

It confirmed Thomas had a valid student pass with him at the time of his arrest by Immigration officers on July 5.

In statements yesterday, the police and Immigration Department confirmed Thomas was among 166 foreigners, including 17 from African countries detained in a joint raid on July 4 at Desa Aman Puri in Kuala Lumpur.

The Immigration Department admitted that Thomas’ passport showed he was a valid student, but added that he was held 14 days for further checks because his attempt to flee during the raid raised doubts on the authenticity of his student pass.

It added that Thomas had confirmed he was not suffering from any illnesses and was given medical attention for an old wound under detention at the Bukit Jalil immigration depot but had suddenly had a seizure while sleeping on July 9.

The Immigration Department said Thomas was pronounced dead by an ambulance unit from Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia at 12.30am that same day.