17 September, 2007

Return My Son’s Corpse In Malaysia To Me

WITH tears flowing freely, continually wiped off by a white handkerchief and his sobbing wife, Loyce, beside him, Deacon Dennis Nwankwo, an indigene of Obilagu Ukomi-Lokpanta in Umuneochi Local Government Area of Abia State appealed to the Malaysian authorities on Friday to release his murdered son, Lawrence, to him for proper burial in Nigeria.

On February 28, 2006, the family of Mr. Dennis Ogbonnaya Nwankwo, who hails from Abia State but resides in Port-Harcourt, was thrown into mourning following the news that their 24-year-old son, Mr. Lawrence Dennis Nwankwo was dead in far away Kuala-Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.

The grieving parents of late Lawrence, his father Nwankwo and mother, Loyce, who narrated their ordeal to journalists in Port Harcourt since the news of their son's death was broken to them are crying foul play over the manner of their son's death and the refusal of the Malaysian authorities to release the corpse of late Lawrence for burial in Nigeria, more than one year after his death.

According to late Lawrence's father, his son left the shores of Nigeria on October 11, 2005, after securing the necessary travelling documents from the Malaysian Embassy in Nigeria, upon gaining admission into a Kuala-Lumpur based higher institution, Rima College for a degree in general business. The school is located at No 54 Jalan Ampang, 50450, Kuala-Lumpur and was according to the letter of admission sent to the late Lawrence registered under the Education Act of Malaysia in 1961 with company registration number 282095-W by that country's ministry of education.

The letter of admission from the college was signed by one Mr. Santhiran Ramasamy, the director of marketing. Incidentally, he was the same man who called the Nwankwo family in Nigeria on February 28, 2006, informing them about the death of their sibling on behalf of Rima College.

Nwankwo said he was informed by the said Mr. Ramasamy that Lawrence was killed by unknown persons and that his killers left his son's cell phone in his right palm while his Nigerian passport was equally left in his right palm. No further details were given, the father of late Lawrence said. What's however is bothering the family of Nwankwo is how his killers were able to get hold of his international passport at the time of the murder, why the authorities of Rima College have shown so much indifference to the brutal murder of their son, the lack of information about police investigation into the killing and the identity of the killers as well as the refusal to return the home to Nigeria for burial.

On March 31, 2007, Nwankwo petitioned former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The petition was received by one Mr. Samson Alabi in the Presidency on April 24, 2007. In the letter, the parents of the dead Nigerian intimated the president about what befell their son in Malaysia, the circumstances surrounding his death, contacts made with the Nigeria High Commission in Malaysia and the foreign affairs ministry in Nigeria and how all these efforts have come to naught while the whereabouts of the corpse of their son remains unknown. He appealed to the president to intervene, saying in the letter that he was not interested in seeking for the revenge of his son's death, the payment of any financial compensation or in tracking down his killers.

Before this letter to the president, the Nwankwo's had earlier written to the consular officer in the Nigerian High Commission in Kuala-Lumpur on March 17, 2006. In the letter, the father of Lawrence raised further questions about the death of the Nigerian youngster. He informed the high commission that on the day late Lawrence was killed, he had allegedly been invited out by school mates that evening. Also, the father said Lawrence had just opened an account with MayBank, account number 114263077418 into which he(father) had paid $2,000 apart from the $1,000 earlier paid by Lawrence to the school authorities as tuition fees.

On March 29, 2006, the Nigerian High Commission in Malaysia responded to Mr. Nwankwos enquiries about the death of his son. The high commission in its reply while commiserating with the family of the deceased assured that it was in contact with the Malaysian police over the murder and informed the family that it had forwarded their petition to the ministry of foreign affairs for further directives on what line of action to take.

Similarly, the foreign affairs ministry in its letter of March 29, 2006, confirmed having being informed of the murder of Lawrence by the Nigerian High Commission in Malaysia. The letter written by Miss Francisca U. Musa on behalf of the then foreign affairs minister informed the Nwankwos that the "body of the deceased Nigerian (Lawrence) has been deposited at Hospital UKM mortuary, Kuala-Lumpur by the police because the circumstances surrounding his death are still unclear". The ministry asked the family of the deceased to apprise the ministry of their decision about the remains of Lawrence for their necessary action.

According to the parents of late Lawrence, they decided to take their plight to the court of public opinion through the press because "at this juncture, I am forced to ask if there's anything I would have done than what I've done to attract my government's sympathy at a time like this?"

Weekly Trust investigations in Port Harcourt reveal that there exist a syndicate that specialises in securing admission in Malaysian higher institutions to unsuspecting Nigerians with the active collaboration of agents in Malaysia, and the syndicate charges exorbitant fees from interested applicants.

What is not known is whether the late Lawrence fell prey to the admission scam ran by this syndicate and on getting to Malaysia, discovered that his so called admission by Rima College was fake after all and therefore demanded the refund of the processing and tuition fees that he had paid to the syndicate.

The Malaysian High Commission in Nigeria said it has contacted the authorities in Kuala Lumpur for additional information on the deceased. Acting Malaysian High Commissioner Melvin Castelino said in a reply to an email by our correspondent that the embassy was deeply touched by the incident.

"First and foremost, The High Commission would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family of the late Mr. Lawrence Nwankwo. The High Commission as stated in our response earlier to the family of the late Mr. Nwankwo that the High Commission is deeply concerned on the events surrounding this case and has requested the necessary authorities in Malaysia to extend all the necessary cooperation in this case and to bring this matter to rest.

"The Malaysian High Commission has responded to the family of the late Mr. Nwanko, in all instances where they had been in contact with the Malaysian High Commission.

"The High Commission has conveyed all the necessary request and queries on this matter to the relevant authorities in Malaysia and will revert any further information to your goodself on this matter soonest possible," Castelino said.

Read also

Nigeria: Family Seeks FG's Help Over Murdered Son in Malaysia

Return My Son’s Corpse In Malaysia To Me



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