Police Release American Nurse Detained For Alleged Murder 44 Days After Arrest
Lagos state police command have released a United States citizen and nurse, Kari O’Rourke, who was arrested and detained last month over the death of her host in Nigeria.
Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and O’Rourke’s lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, confirmed the release of the foreigner in a statement on Thursday, ChannelsTV reports.
He noted that his client was released on Wednesday after spending about 44 days in police custody since she was arrested at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos on February 8.
It would be recalled that O’Rourke through her lawyer sued Commissioner of Police in Lagos, Hakeem Odumosu, and the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Yaba, Adegoke Fayoade for ‘unlawful and indefinite’ detention by Nigerian Police Force.
Adegboruwa in the lawsuit said the police arrested and detained O’Rourke at State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Yaba, Lagos.
He added the police kept her in custody even when autopsy report indicated that her host died of heart trauma and cardiac arrest, thus exonerating O’Rourke of any involvement in his death.
However, when all efforts to get O’Rourke released on bail failed, he stated that the foreigner engaged him to challenge her continued detention, following which the lawsuit was filed at Federal High Court in Lagos on March 18.
In the suit, O’Rourke sought declarations against her arrest and detention, an order for her immediate release and N100 million damages against the police.
Her lawyers later discovered, upon further investigation, that the case file had been forwarded to Lagos State Ministry of Justice a long time ago and that a legal advice had been issued by Director of Public Prosecutions, to the extent that there was no prima facie (no strong case) worthy of prosecution.
The legal advice dated March 5, 2021, and signed by the DPP reads;
The medical report attached to the duplicate case file establishes that the cause of the deceased’s death was an acute cardiac failure and hypertensive heart disease.
The presence of Page B1-B4 at the hotel at the time of death and their actions on how to go about the incidence aroused suspicions by the deceased’s family which led to the suspects’ arrest. They were arrested by the police upon mere suspicion which no matter how strong can never ground a conviction.
In the light of the above, this office shall not prosecute the suspects for the offences of conspiracy to murder and murder. They should, therefore, be discharged and released if still in custody, as there is no case to be established against them from the facts presented in the duplicate case file.
Upon obtaining the certified copy of the legal advice, O’Rourke’s lawyers insisted on her immediate release, following which she was released on Thursday.
In his reaction, Adegboruwa appealed to the police to show greater respect for the rights of citizens, saying O’Rourke’s case has shown the level of impunity prevalent within the law enforcement agencies.
He condemned the situation whereby the police did not comply with the valid directive of the Ministry of Justice – the body recognised by law for the prosecution of suspects.
He lamented that O’Rourke was still being detained even after the police got the legal advice since March 5, 2021.