Nigerian Medical Student Brutally Murdered in Philippines, Suspects Arraigned in Court
The suspects involved in the brutal murder of a Nigerian medical student, known as Ikem, in the Philippines have been arraigned in court, according to a statement released by the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM). The commission’s chairman and CEO, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, provided an update on the case during a meeting with the Senate Joint Committees on Diaspora and InterGovernmental Affairs and Foreign Affairs.
The incident gained attention when a Nigerian, Michael Ojuola, raised an alarm on social media about the murder of his friend, Ikem. Ojuola revealed that the medical student had suffered torture at the hands of a group of Chinese nationals, which ultimately led to his death. Disturbing videos of the incident were shared online, evoking shock and outrage.
In the statement, Dabiri-Erewa confirmed that the employer of Ikem, who had been on the run, was now wanted by the Philippines authorities. The Nigeria Embassy had reported the case to the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Inspector General of the Philippines National Police. The embassy maintained regular contact with the local police station, emphasizing the need for a thorough investigation.
Significant progress has been made in the case, as the investigating police team gathered evidence and presented the findings to the Mandaue city prosecuting Department. The department has evaluated the case and deemed it appropriate for issuing charges. The employer of the deceased, along with five other suspects, has been charged with murder, human trafficking, and operating an illegal business in the Philippines.
To ensure these individuals do not flee the country, their pictures have been distributed to all exits in the Philippines. Dabiri-Erewa asserted that the trial will proceed as soon as the main suspect, who is still at large, is apprehended.
Switching the focus to Nigerians imprisoned in Ethiopia, Dabiri-Erewa disclosed that there are currently 160 Nigerians serving jail terms in poor conditions, with over 90% of them convicted of drug-related offenses. In an effort to decongest the prisons, amnesty was granted to these individuals, but many returned to criminal activities after their release. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed, awaiting the Ministry of Justice in Nigeria’s approval, to enable prisoner swaps or continued jail terms in their respective countries.
During the Senate committee hearing, other stakeholders, including the sister of the deceased, Blessing Essien, the President of the National Association of Nigeria Students (NANS) Mr. John Ogar, and the Country Representative of the Commonwealth Students Association (CSA) Mr. Nwanba Chidubem, also presented their perspectives.
Meanwhile, the cost of repatriating Ikem’s remains to Nigeria for burial has been estimated between N31 million and N35 million, compared to the more affordable option of cremation in the Philippines, costing between N10 million and N15 million. The funeral home expenses continue to accrue at a rate of N30,000 per day, underscoring the need for swift action on the investigation. The family of the deceased, following Igbo tradition, expressed their desire to bring the body home for burial.
As investigations proceed and justice is sought for Ikem, the Nigerian community demands that this horrific incident not be swept under the carpet, calling for accountability and an end to such inhuman and barbaric acts. The impact of this case extends beyond borders, highlighting the importance of safeguarding the lives and well-being of Nigerian citizens abroad.