A logistics company, Errand360 Technology Service Limited has reacted to reports about the death of one of its deliverymen, Uzoma Chidera, who died in police custody.
Chidera, according to reports, died in prison after the start-up ordered his arrest for allegedly stealing a bicycle.
A brother of the deceased, Samuel, had claimed the organisation’s bicycle was stolen from his brother. He said while the family was initially not aware of Chidera’s arrest when they were later informed, funds were raised to buy the organisation a new bicycle but in the process of getting the deceased out of custody, the police informed them that he had died.
Reacting in a statement, the management of Errand 360 confirmed that Chidera was truly one of its staff members, saying he started work on January 17, 2022.
However, the deceased was said to have taken the bicycle to his house which is against company policy. When asked to return the bicycle, he claimed it had been stolen, the statement said.
The young man was asked to return some bicycle when the company found that the claim about the stolen bicycle was not credible, the company further said.
However, after a series of eventualities in the company, Chidera was said to have been arrested over alleged theft after the company invited the police for an investigation.
The statement noted, “On May 13, 2022, we received the sad news of the unfortunate passing of Mr. Chidera Uzomma Ezekiel and we are grieved by this news. Mr. Ezekiel was contracted as a rider for the company on January 17, 2022. He worked with us until the incident of February 19, 2022.
“Due to the misrepresentations that have been shared on social media regarding this case, it has become imperative to present details of the series of events that necessitated the involvement of the police by the company, in a case against Mr. Ezekiel.
“Mr. Ezekiel was an employee of the company, and throughout his employment, he was treated with the same level of respect and fairness that we show to all our contract riders and employees. He was also subject to the same contract terms which include that he must present a surety before engagement. This surety was a certain Mr. Kenneth, who he introduced as his relative.
“On February 14, 2022, against company policy, Mr. Ezekiel took the company’s bicycle home and failed to return it the next day. He claimed the bicycle had been stolen.
“Upon internal investigations and speaking to Mr. Ezekiel, the company did not find the story of the bicycle being stolen credible, and so he was requested to return the missing bicycle.
“Days later, specifically on February 19, 2022, some persons broke into the company’s Maintenance Building. The security personnel at the facility on that day identified Mr. Ezekiel as one of the persons who broke in.
“The company naturally involved the police in the matter for the purpose of investigating this series of events. While investigating, we were informed that the police visited Mr. Ezekiel’s residence, where some of the company’s bicycle parts were found.
“Despite this, no arrest was made. Mr. Ezekiel subsequently returned a replacement for the originally missing bicycle, which upon inspection, was found to be another of the company’s bicycles.
“Thus, it was proven that Mr. Ezekiel was likely one of the individuals who had broken into the Maintenance Building prior, and he had returned another of the company’s bicycles as a replacement for the initial missing bicycle. It was based on this that the police arrested him and took him into custody for further investigation and arraignment.
“Mr. Ezekiel was arraigned before the magistrate court, and from this point, the matter was in the hands of the court, as is the due process. On March 1st, 2022, after the first hearing of the case, his bail terms were set by the court, as this was a bailable offence.
“The company subsequently received information that his bail conditions had not been met. In good faith, the company offered to deposit the bail bond. However, certain additional documents were required to be deposited which the company could not provide.
“At the recent hearing of the case on March 30, 2022, the company expressly indicated to the court that it was set to drop the case if Mr. Ezekiel or his guarantor returned an actual replacement for the originally missing bicycle.
“The court accepted this condition and adjourned the case to June 8, 2022. On April 4 2022, a replacement for the missing bicycle was provided. The company went to the court to attempt an early withdrawal of the case, despite the next date of hearing being June 8.
“However, Mr. Ezekiel’s presence was required in court, but the authorities could not provide him before the court. It should be noted that as a criminal matter, the case was largely in the hands of the prosecution.
“We were left with no option but to wait till the next adjourned date for a report of settlement. Unfortunately, Mr. Ezekiel passed away before the report of the settlement could be presented in court.
“We value the well-being of all our riders and employees and are deeply saddened by Mr. Ezekiel’s passing. The company followed due process by escalating the matter to the police, for appropriate investigation and arraignment before the court.
“We understand the damage that a one-sided story can cause in these circumstances, and this press release is to share the facts and timeline of events. We have ample evidence to corroborate the facts stated.
“We urge the general public to disregard the misrepresentations being circulated on social media, and we continue to sympathize with Mr. Ezekiel’s family. We are available to provide any assistance required in this difficult time.”