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Nigerian PhD student dies while in immigration custody in Malaysia

Nigerian PhD student dies while in immigration custody in Malaysia

Thomas Orhions Ewansiha was pursuing a PhD in Management at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology. (Photo: Bernama)

PUTRAJAYA: A Nigerian PhD student who died on Tuesday (Jul 9) while under detention at the Bukit Jalil Immigration Depot had a seizure in his sleep, Immigration Department of Malaysia director-general Khairul Dzaimee said on Friday (Jul 12).

The department is still awaiting the post-mortem report of Thomas Orhions Ewansiha, as well as a full medical report to identify the cause of death, he said in a statement. 

Ewansiha was among 20 foreigners picked up in an operation on Jul 4 at Desa Aman Puri in Kuala Lumpur, following tipoffs from the public.

He attempted to flee during the operation but was captured, Dzaimee said. He later produced his passport and was found to be holding a valid student pass upon further checks.

"The action of the subject in trying to escape created doubts on the validity of the student pass held by the subject," he said.

Ewansiha was suspected of committing an offence under the Immigration Act. He was held for 14 days for further investigations, Dzaimee added.

While undergoing the documentation process at the Kuala Lumpur Immigration office, he was provided with basic medical treatment by Civil Defence Force personnel as he had an old wound on his right leg, Dzaimee said.

Ewansiha did not inform Immigration officers of any sickness, he said.

The subjects detained in the operation - including Ewansiha - were sent to the Bukit Jalil Immigration Depot at about noon the next day. They were treated "appropriately" in accordance to the standard operating procedure (SOP) during detention, Dzaimee said.

At about 12.05am on Jul 9, the officer on duty was informed by the other detainees that Ewansiha "suddenly" had a seizure while sleeping. 

"The Special Medical Unit on duty immediately examined and treated the subject and contacted Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Hospital (HUKM) for assistance,” said Dzaimee.

The assistant medical officer - who arrived with the ambulance at 12.30am - examined and assisted Ewansiha, but the student was later pronounced dead. 

Following the incident, the supervisor and officer on duty lodged a report at the Bukit Jalil police station.

Limkokwing University of Creative Technology said in a statement on Friday that it was informed of Ewansiha's death.

The 33-year-old was pursuing a PhD in Management at the university and leaves behind a wife and two young children.


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