Clifford Orji, a man accused of cannibalism, died of gastroenteritis on August 17, 2012 at the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison.
Oxford Advanced Dictionary describes gastroenteritis as an illness of the stomach and other food passages that causes diarrhoea and vomitting.
The ‘Medical Certificate of Cause of Death’ revealing this fact, was obtained by our correspondent on Thursday.
Orji had been an awaiting trial inmate for murder at the prison for 12 years.
The certificate signed by the Attending Physician/Surgeon, Dr. E.E. Amah, was issued by the Nigerian Prisons Service Hospital with number 9823 on August 17, the day of Orji’s death.
His lawyers, Dr. Abiodun Odusote and Mrs. Abimbola Odusote had stated in an affidavit dated April 27, 2012 before a Lagos High Court, Ikeja, that Orji had “acute mental and psychological challenge.”
Justice Lateefat Okunnu subsequently on September 18, 2012 ordered the Superintendent of the prison to swear to an affidavit to the court verifying whether Orji had truly died or not.
The order followed an application by Odusote, urging the court to compel the prisons authorities to verify media reports that her client died in August.
Following the confirmation of Orji’s death by the prison authorities and the Attorney-General of the state through affidavits before the court on Thursday, a suit instituted by his counsel, seeking the release of Orji was subsequently withdrawn.
Justice Okunnu struck out the suit and commended the Odusotes for undertaking the suit on Orji’s behalf.
In the suit, the Odusotes urged the court to declare that “the continued detention of the applicant at Kirikiri Maximum Prison for a period of upwards of 12 years without trial and without due process” as unconstitutional.
Urging the court to declare Orji’s continued incarceration to be “unlawful, illegal, null and void”, they sought for an order releasing Orji from “illegal detention”.
The lawyers had sought the court to award the sum of N1m as exemplary and general damages “for violating and breaching the constitutional rights of the applicant.”