Joshua Itua, vice-president of the Nigerian Union in South Africa who confirmed Okoye’s death said he was “tortured to death” at Ladysmith, Kwa-zulu-Natal province, in the early hours of Friday.
According to Itua, the police forced their way into the apartment of the deceased. He said members of the union had cause to believe the deceased was tortured to death as there were “bruise marks and blood all over his body”.
The News Agency of Nigeria quoted Itua as saying: “While they were with him, he called to alert other Nigerians but before they could get to his apartment the police had made away with his body. Maxwell’s lifeless body was later seen at the mortuary,” Itua said.
The vice president said NUSA leaders then went to the police for fact-finding, noting that his death has added to the number of Nigerians that were killed either by the police or through Xenophobia.
“The station commander of Ladysmith claimed that he was met foaming as at the time they gained entrance to his apartment,” he said.
“Police murder inquest has been opened and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) in Kwa-zulu-Natal province have been informed for a full investigation.
“Our condolence to his family and the Nigerian community in Ladysmith. We call on our government to seriously engage its counterparts in South Africa for investigation and prosecution if not a natural death.
“This is because, according to our leaders who went to the mortuary, there are bruises and blood all over his body, hence, we have every reason to believe that he was tortured to death.
“Our stand as foremost Nigerian organisation in South Africa is that all cases involving the killings of Nigerians should be investigated and prosecuted irrespective the nationality and status of the perpetrators.”