A Nigerian PhD Student Died In Bukit Jalil Detention Centre. Here's All You Need To Know
He has been identified as Thomas Orhions Ewansiha.
Thomas Orhions Ewansiha, a 34-year-old Nigerian PhD student, died in the Bukit Jalil detention centre earlier this week
News of Thomas' death began emerging on multiple Nigerian news sites on Wednesday, 10 July.
Free Malaysia Today reported that Thomas passed away on Tuesday, 9 July.
The 34-year-old, who is also a father of two, was then confirmed dead by Limkokwing University – where he was pursuing his PhD in Management.
Thomas was detained two weeks ago in the Desa Aman Puri Apartment in Kepong by immigration officers
According to Free Malaysia Today, the Immigration Department confirmed that Thomas was arrested with 19 others during a raid on 4 July.
"Residents of the apartment had lodged complaints to the immigration about the presence of foreigners and their misbehaviour... The deceased did not give full cooperation (and) tried to run when approached by immigration officers," the statement read, reported Free Malaysia Today.
The Star reported that although Thomas produced valid documents, he was arrested for 14 days because his attempt "to run" had caused doubt on the authenticity of his documents.
However, the department has ruled out foul play in Thomas' death, claiming that no standard operation procedures were breached throughout his detention.
The 34-year-old was reportedly detained for two weeks to facilitate verification of his documents and college records.
The department is currently waiting for a post-mortem report from Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Thomas reportedly died because of a seizure
According to Malay Mail, the Immigration Department said Thomas was declared dead after a seizure in the detention centre despite medical attention.
An ambulance was also reportedly called to provide medical aid to the 34-year-old before his passing.
The department claimed that Thomas previously confirmed he did not suffer from any illnesses, and was given medical attention for an old wound. It also claimed that the PhD student, along with other detainees, were treated well.
A protest outside the Nigeria High Commission in Malaysia broke out yesterday, 11 July following Thomas' death
A group of Nigerians had demanded answers from the Nigeria High Commission located on Jalan Ampang Hilir over the death of Thomas.
"Our brother... who is valid in Malaysia, died a couple days ago in Malaysian lockup and the Nigerian embassy refused to listen to the (complaints) of our representatives," a tweet about the protest claimed.
Handwritten posters were also put up outside the building yesterday.
A former cashier at a bakery in Aman Puri told SAYS about her interaction with Thomas prior to his death
"He told me he was staying in Damansara, but always came to Aman Puri to spend time with his friends," the woman revealed to SAYS.
"He was nice to me... He said he was taking PhD in Management and he told me he always had headache and was stressed out with his studies," she added.
According to the former cashier, Thomas used to visit her bakery to buy 2KG of red velvet cake as he loved treating his friends.
The woman also spoke of an incident where she was harassed by another African man before Thomas stepped in.
"There was an African who tried to disturb me, but he (Thomas) asked that African to stop doing so to me... He wasn't a problematic person," she said.
The former cashier also expressed disbelief in claims that Thomas was arrested because he did not have his passport with him.
"I don't believe the story! I saw the passport with him, I know he was legal here. He kept his passport in a clutch and it was always with him... I saw it because he tried to take out money from the clutch and the passport fell out too," the woman told SAYS.
Thomas reportedly completed his Bachelor's and Masters degrees in Malaysia
The 34-year-old graduated from Twintech International University College in 2016.
Photos showed that Thomas' wife and daughters were in Malaysia for his graduation ceremony.
Twintech has confirmed with SAYS that Thomas is a former student at the institution.
SAYS has attempted to contact the Nigeria High Commission for an official statement on Thomas' death but has yet to receive a response at the time of writing. This story will be updated when a statement is made available.