Innocent Disabled Man Released After Five Years In Prison

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Gathered information reveals that SARS operatives had arrested a friend of Adetola, Rashidi Sikiru , for vehicle theft .
The suspect was detained and tortured by the policemen, who asked him to expose his gang members .
Sikiru was said to have mentioned Adetola.
Our correspondent gathered that the duo were arraigned in court then remanded in the Kirikiri Medium Prison.
After Adetola’ s counsel stopped coming to court after collecting N300 , 000 from his family , the judge was said to have assigned the case to a lawyer from the Lagos State Office of the Public Defender.
The lawyer was said to have interviewed Sikiru , who confessed to have mentioned Adetola in the heat of police torture .
During the trial , he was reported to have testified that the Abeokuta , Ogun State indigene , was innocent .
When the Justice Kudirat Jose court delivered judgment in the matter , she was said to have convicted Sikiru of stealing and sentenced him to four years ’ imprisonment .

Adetola was , however , discharged and acquitted on all the three counts .
While recounting what led to his arrest and imprisonment , the father of three said his life had been damaged by the incident .
He said his first child had stopped going to school due to financial constraints .

He said , “ I am a commercial driver . I hired a bus and delivered returns to the owner every week. Rashidi ( Sikiru) was my friend ; I met him in 2010 . He always begged me to release the vehicle to him to work. I did that to assist him , mostly on Sundays , when I went to church .
“ However , I got a call that the police at Ikorodu had arrested him for an offence . He called to inform me . I went and picked my bus . The bus was registered with the Disable Sports at the National Stadium , Surulere , so that made it easier for me to get the vehicle back .
“ But since that time, I stopped releasing my vehicle to him . Later , I learnt he got another vehicle he used to work and he was arrested over a crime and transferred to SARS.
“ Sometime in June 2012 , some SARS operatives came to my house at midnight and asked if I knew him . I said he had driven my vehicle in the past. The policemen did not hear anything further . They arrested me and my brother- in – law , who was living with me then . They left my wife and children. ”
He explained that when his family members got to SARS office at Ikeja , they were told that Sikiru was caught stealing a vehicle and he ( Adetola) was an accomplice .
He said the police refused entreaties to release him , adding that they insisted he knew about the crime .
“ My family secured the bail of my brother- in – law with N100 , 000 . They begged for my bail as well and the police demanded N 800 , 000 .
“ I was taken to court after spending two months in their custody , from where I was taken to prison. A lawyer we hired demanded N500 , 000 and my father sold his land to raise N 300, 000 . I had spent over one year in prison that time and the matter had been transferred to the high court . But after collecting the N300 , 000 , the lawyer ’ s attendance to court was not regular and at a point , he stopped coming , ” he added .
Adetola said the judge in charge of the case , Jose, became concerned over his lack of legal representation and urged a counsel with the OPD to take up the matter .
The counsel, who took over the case in 2014 , was said to have taken the statements of both men .
She said that during the interviews , the first accused ( Sikiru ) told her he lied against the second defendant .
“ He said he was tortured by the policemen to name members of his gang and he gave a random name . He said when he saw the way the matter was going, he told the police Adetola was innocent , but they did not listen to him . I asked him if he could say that before the judge and he said he was ready to testify , which he actually did . He (Adetola ), however , could not be released because the matter had to be concluded and judgment delivered.
“ The matter dragged for about six years because the prosecution’ s witnesses were not forthcoming and there were some technicalities . After the delays, the court gave judgment on December 19 , 2017 .
“ The second accused was discharged and acquitted on all the three counts , while the first accused was convicted of stealing and sentenced to four years ’ imprisonment , ” she added .
Our correspondent learnt that Sikiru was later released , having spent over five years in prison as well.
The Director of the OPD , Mrs. Olubukola Salami, confirmed the case , saying the agency would continue to fight for indigents in the state .
She said , “ The mandate of the Office of the Public Defender is to provide free legal aid. The office , through its committed and trained officers , has continued to provide quality legal representation to indigents in Lagos State . ”

Davinci

Okonkwo Davidson a.k.a Da Vinci is the C.E.O of Da Vinci Concept LTD and also the founder of www.fellownaija.com.ng. Da Vinci is an enterpreneur, a web designer, a grafix artist and a blogger. You can reach me through the following. E-Mail: davidakon1001@gmail.com Phone: 07062606109 \\ 08073873718

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