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How I Spent Five Days In Kirikiri Prison, Innocent Lagos Man

Chibuzor said he had just closed from work and was heading home around 11 pm when two policemen stopped him along Cele Express asking him where he was coming from.

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The Foundation for Investigative Journalism, Nigeria’s foremost Investigative news outfit on Sunday published the story of an “innocent Lagos man” who spent five days in Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison.

The man identified as Chibuzor by the news outfit said he never committed a crime but somehow found himself in the four walls of the Kirikiri prison after policemen arrested him on his way home from work on May 8, 2024.

Recounting his experience, Chibuzor said on that fateful day he had just closed the bakery where he earned a living as a baker and was heading home around 11 pm when two policemen stopped him along Cele Express asking him where he was coming from. A question to which he answered by saying he was returning from his place of work.

Not convinced with his answer, the policeman asked Chibuzor where he worked and requested his ID card. He explained to the policemen how he had forgotten his ID card at work because he left hurriedly. His explanation yielded no result as the policemen arrested him.

“I followed him and did not struggle because I did not want to be accused wrongly of a crime I did not commit. When we got to their station in Cele, I was asked to submit all my possessions,” said Chibuzor.

“I gave them my wallet, wristwatch, bracelet, and phone. But they refused to tell me my offence and asked me to wait until the next morning. I saw them bringing more people into the station.”

Inmates in Prison. Photo credit: Ayodele Adeniran

“One of the officers who arrested me told me to call my boss at work since I claimed I forgot my ID card there. I did, but he didn’t respond, so I called my supervisor, and he said he would come get me out. I wanted to call my family to inform them of my arrest, but an officer said I was only entitled to a phone call and should allow the others to make phone calls.

“Some minutes later, we were asked to pick up our items and move into a bus. We asked where the bus was headed, but there was no response. The bus halted when we arrived at a place. I looked around and saw that it was the Lagos State Task Force station in Oshodi. We submitted our items again and were moved into a room.”

“When the judge was reading out our charges, I heard him say we were found roaming the streets around 12 midnight and 1 am, which made us suspected criminals. That was a lie. I was arrested before 11 pm. The judge pronounced us guilty and we were then asked to march out of the courtroom,” said Chibuzor.

“We thought we were going outside to bail ourselves, but we were taken back to the cell we had come from. This time, we were handed our properties. I called my supervisor again, and he said he could not come because he was the only one at work. I also called my relatives to inform them of my location. They were worried.”

“The policemen began using canes and other items to beat us and force us into the Black Maria. Some people were injured, but they did not care. We were treated like criminals. They collected our properties from us, but I managed to hold on to my phone.

“The Black Maria did not halt until we arrived at Kirikiri Maximum Prison. When we alighted, I contacted my relatives to tell them I had been transferred to Kirikiri. Everyone was running helter-skelter to see if they could contact their relatives. Some inmates we met there had phones they used for businesses.”

Contacting his relatives was Chibuzor’s saving grace as his relatives got him a lawyer who worked on securing his release after five days in Kirikiri prison.

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