The family of a lady, Miss Chinyere Awuda, who was allegedly beaten to death and her corpse dumped by a swimming pool at the Cosmila Hotel, Awka, Anambra State, on July 16, has cried foul play over an alleged conspiracy by the police and the hotel management to cover up the incident.
The deceased was accused of picking up money being sprayed at a birthday party being held at the hotel and was attacked by the partygoers.
The family members of the deceased, led by her father, Mr. Patrick Awuda, who was represented by Rigota Chambers, alleged that there was a plan to cover up the death of his daughter by the celebrant, the hotel and some police officers.
They have, therefore, petitioned the state Commissioner of Police, Aderemi Adeoye, to thoroughly investigate the death.
Part of the petition sent to the CP stated that the investigating police officer of ‘B’ Division, where the matter was being investigated, had been trying to coerce the family into accepting an amicable settlement without accepting that their daughter was gruesomely murdered and dumped in the abandoned pool.
The hotel had alleged that Awuda stole from the celebrants, ran out of the club, mistakenly fell into the abandoned pool and then drowned.
But the family insisted that she had bruises all over her body when her body was removed from the pool and that the police stopped the family from taking pictures of bruises on the victim’s remains.
The lawyers acting on behalf of the family in the petition said, “The inability of the hotel management to provide comprehensive CCTV footage of what happened, both inside the club where the beating started and outside the club where the actual murder occurred, left more questions to be answered and uncovered.
“The investigating officer at the B Division, the suspects and the hotel management were coaxing the deceased family members to accept settlement prior to conclusion of investigation.
“We therefore humbly pray that you use your good offices to direct a thorough investigation of the crime and the suspects.”
The statement further read, “To seal the said crime scene pending the outcome of the thorough investigation for the sake of public conscience.
“To further arrest, detain and prosecute all other suspects, as shown by the CCTV clip already in the police custody, to forestall future occurrence of violence of this nature.”
As a result of the development, the state government, through the state Ministry of Culture and Tourism, ordered a closure of the hotel pending the conclusion of investigation into the matter.
But when our correspondent visited the hotel on Tuesday, he observed that the hotel was open and activities were going on.
One of the hotel officials who craved anonymity, simply said, “The state government had discovered that the hotel was not culpable in the death of the lady and had ordered that we resume activities. Please, consult the police authorities for any other information you might need.”
However, a statement signed by the Awka Branch Manager of the hotel, Mr Stanley Akuneziri, said the deceased was not beaten to death and dumped in the swimming pool as claimed by the family and a section of the media.
He said, “Contrary to what has been said, late Chinyere was never beaten to death or dragged to the pool. We cannot, for any reason, hurt anybody or do things that are inimical to our goals and objectives.
“We do not condone any action that may affect our customers or jeopardise the integrity we have suffered to build over the years.
“An autopsy is being conducted and the result will be made public. Anybody fingered in her death must surely face the full weight of the law.”
When contacted on the latest development on the matter, the state Police Spokesman, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, said four suspects are still in their custody, adding that an autopsy will be conducted.
“We have the suspects in custody and the Command is still expecting the family of the victim to come forward as the case has been transferred to State CID, Awka.
“We shall do an autopsy to ascertain the cause of death before the body will be released to the family. This shall help us in our investigation to unravel misconceptions of information surrounding the unfortunate incident,” he added.