Human-rights: Innocent Boy Spends 8 months in Jail

The Ogun State Police Knew He Did Not Commit The Crime And Chose To Leave Him In Prison By Charging Him For Stealing.

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Human-rights abuse by Nigerian Police
Wisdom Ofem - Boy maliciously prosecuted

 

With Nigeria still dealing with the after-effects of the EndSARS protests that shook the country not too long ago, people expect that reducing incidents of human-rights abuse by Nigerian Police would be on the front burner of concerned authorities.

This is the story of Wisdom Ofem, a boy who moved from Cross-River State to Ekiti State in search of work, but was kept in for 8 months because he did not know where his friend, who the Police were looking for, was hiding.

With no money to pay for his WAEC exams, much less think about going to a university, Wisdom moved to Ado-Ekiti in search of work after completing his secondary education. He chose Ado-Ekiti because a childhood friend (Victor) who lived there and who promised to get him a job in the same bakery where he (Victor) was working. As promised, when Wisdom got to Ado-Ekiti, his friend took him to his boss (the owner of the bakery), and Wisdom was hired for a weekly salary of ₦5400.

In July 2021, hanging around his neighborhood with a couple of friends, Wisdom saw his boss and went over to say hello. The boss asked him of the whereabouts of Victor, and Wisdom (unaware of any problem at that point) replied that he didn’t know where Victor was. The boss asked him to get in the car as they needed to go to the bakery. At the bakery, the boss ordered the other workers to beat him up, and then took him to the Police station. When he maintained that he didn’t know where Victor was, the Police charged him to court for stealing the ₦750,000 that Victor was suspected to have stolen.

With Wisdom charged to court for a crime the Police knew he did not commit, the Police stopped looking for the actual suspect (Victor), and the bakery owner also abandoned the case. Wisdom, without legal representation, was left to his fate.

In January 2022, during a scheduled prison visitation, Wisdom met lawyers from Headfort Foundation – an NGO committed to fighting human-rights abuse by Nigerian Police, and his case was among those taken up. On April 4th, 2022, Wisdom’s freedom was secured as he was discharged by the court.