The family of Chinyere Awuda, a lady found dead near an abandoned swimming pool at a hotel in Anambra State, on Friday rejected the autopsy report that said she died of drowning.
The family, speaking through their lawyer, Eziafa Enwedo, asked the police to release the CCTV footage, alleging that the footage showed a male adult chasing the deceased towards the pool area.
The family’s reaction was a sequel to the revelation by the state police command on Friday that Chinyere fell into the abandoned swimming pool on the premises of Cosmila Hotel and drowned.
A statement on Friday by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, noted that the autopsy conducted by a pathologist showed that no sign of trauma was found on the body.
Meanwhile, this was contrary to claims that partygoers beat the deceased to death after she was allegedly caught picking naira notes being sprayed on a birthday celebrant on the hotel premises.
The statement read, “On July 17, 2023, the body of a young lady later identified as Miss Chinyere Awuda was found in an abandoned swimming pool within the premises of Cosmila Hotel located at No. 10 Cosmila Close, off old INEC Road by Regina Caeli Junction, Awka.
“It was alleged that the deceased was beaten to death by some persons who had an event at the hotel the previous night. She was accused of pilfering some of the naira notes allegedly sprayed on the celebrant.
“In the course of police investigation, the celebrant was arrested for questioning while the corpse was recovered and deposited at the morgue for autopsy. Contrary to claims that the deceased was beaten to death, the pathologist found no sign of trauma on the body.
“The autopsy report indicated that drowning was the cause of death. This finding was in tandem with claims that the lady ran away when accosted and every effort made to find her that night was futile. It would appear that she fell into the abandoned swimming pool and drowned.”
Ikenga said the state Commissioner of Police, Aderemi Adeoye, had directed that the case file be forwarded to the Attorney-General for vetting and legal advice, adding that any development would be communicated to the public in due course.
However, following the release of the autopsy report, the family of the deceased rejected the report, insisting that Chinyere was killed, noting that the circumstances behind her death must be established and that justice must be served.
Enwedo stated, “We acknowledge the autopsy report of the police regarding the alleged murder of Miss Chinyere Awuda, whose corpse was found inside the abandoned swimming pool of Cosmila Hotels and Suites, Awka.
“We are relieved that the police have finally launched their investigation into Awuda’s death and what caused her untimely death, which we continue to believe was a premeditated murder.”
He said the police were forced into carrying out the inquiry, adding that the autopsy report did not resolve the claims of her alleged murder and that the family was prepared to pursue the case further.
He added, “We want the Nigeria Police Force, Awka Division, to release the real CCTV footage they have that show a male adult suspected of being one of the culprits chasing Miss Chinyere Awuda into the abandoned swimming pool area.
“CCTV footage showed her being beaten, which the suspect admitted to in their statements. The video showed her running and being chased by a number of people; it also indicated that she did not rush into the pool enclosure alone; a male adult followed her inside the enclosure and reappeared minutes later without her.
“While we accept the autopsy result that she drowned, it’s still possible that she was beaten into an unconscious state and was allowed to drown by the male adult who pursued her into the pool enclosure, as revealed by the authentic CCTV footage in the possession of the police.”
He said further that the autopsy report found that the deceased had injuries on her left hand and that the public should be curious as to what caused the injuries.
The family urged the hotel to make public the size of the pool, the volume of the water in it and if it was enough to drown a conscious person, noting that the report in no way exonerated the suspects of possible assault and murder.
He added, “The authentic CCTV footage with the police, which they have refused to make public, contained scenes where the deceased was being pummeled and pursued into the pool enclosure. We will want to know the identities of the adult who pursued her into the abandoned swimming pool area but didn’t raise the alarm that she fell into the pool as being alleged.
“It’s still plausible that she was deliberately thrown inside the abandoned pool by the adult while unconscious having been beaten by multiple people already. The police must not rush to close the case based on the claims that she drowned. The original CCTV footage and autopsy results must be made public and the circumstances surrounding her being pursued into the pool enclosure must be determined.”
“This is a call for justice for the living and preservation of the sanctity of life. Death shouldn’t just be explained away.”