The police in Lagos have released an American nurse Kari-Ann O’Rourke from custody, after spending over one month in detention.
In a statement on Thursday by Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, the lawyer to the American nurse, he said she was released on Wednesday, after spending 44 days in illegal detention.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how Mrs O’Rourke was arrested on February 9 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos over the death of a friend.
According to her lawyer, Mrs O’Rourke came to Nigeria in January to discuss setting up a humanitarian organisation with a friend she met online.
Mr Adegboruwa said his client left her host (friend) with his family in good health but was found dead in the hotel room, leading to her arrest.
“The police arrested and detained Kari Ann at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Yaba, Lagos and kept her in custody, even when the autopsy report indicated that her host died of heart trauma and cardiac arrest, thus exonerating Kari Ann of any involvement in his death,” he said.
Mr Adegboruwa earlier filed a lawsuit against the Commissioner of Police in Lagos, Hakeem Odumosu, and the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department, over the unlawful detention of his client.
He said all efforts to get Mrs O’Rourke released on bail failed which made his client seek a court order for her immediate release and N100m damages against the police.
“In the course of time, Kari Ann’s lawyer discovered, upon further investigation, that the case file had been forwarded to the Lagos State Ministry of Justice a long ago and that a legal opinion had been issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions, to the extent that there was no prima facie case worthy of prosecution.
“In the Legal Advice dated March 5, 2021, and signed by the DPP, it was stated as follows:
“The medical report attached to the duplicate case file establishes that the cause of the deceased’s death were acute cardiac failure and hypertensive heart disease,” Mr Adegboruwa said.
He added that the presence of his client at the hotel aroused suspicions by the deceased’s family which led to her arrest.
Mr Adegboruwa, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said the DPP in their advice said the office shall not prosecute the suspects for the offences of conspiracy to murder and murder.
“They should therefore be discharged and released if still in custody, as there is no case to be established against them from the facts presented in the duplicate case file,” the Ministry of Justice wrote.
Mr Adegboruwa said upon obtaining the certified copy of the Legal Advice in his client’s case, he insisted on her immediate release from unlawful custody and was released on Wednesday.
The lawyer appealed to the police to show greater respect for the rights of citizens because his case has shown the intolerable level of impunity prevalent within the law enforcement agencies.
He also condemned the non-compliance of the police with the valid directive of the Ministry of Justice which is the body recognised by law for the prosecution of suspects.
Muyiwa Adejobi, the Lagos police spokesperson, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.