The joy of three prisoners on Thursday, February 02, 2017 grew and their hope rose when Ovie Success Ossai, an aide of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa settled their prison bills and set them free. The three inmates were serving various jail terms at the Medium Security Prison in Ogwashi-Uku, Aniocha south local government area of Delta state.
The inmates, Messrs. Dominic Igwe, 53, Idu Endurance, 23, and John Odalonu, 17, were respectively jailed for tricycle theft, breaking and entry and phone theft in different parts of the state. But they could not upset a fine option of N30,000 each to avoid going to jail.
The journey to prison service
The three freed inmates, who were extremely happy after their release, recounted their separate rough paths to the high walls of the Ogwashi-Uku prisons which is, at the moment, housing hundreds of inmates, many of who are awaiting trial.
53 years old Dominic Igwe, who is a father three, said he was ingloriously hauled into prison by his former boss, whom he identified as Mr. Kelechi Onyedefu following the mysterious disappearance of his tricycle popularly called Keke, from the stadium complex, along the popular Nnebisi road in Asaba, the Delta state capital.
According to Igwe, who spoke amidst tears, the tricycle was handed over to him on the understanding that he would pay a whooping sum of N860,000 through an installment arrangement, but he had barely raked in N115,000 for his estranged boss when the misfortune set in.
“I explained to him all that happened, but he never believed me. I was invited to the A Division police station in Asaba from where I was arrested and charged to court. I could not finance the prosecution of the case and after the legal process, on December 2, 2016, I was sentenced to prison for three years, but to serve two years having remained under detention for one year and six months,” Igwe said.
One of the freed inmates explaining what landed him in prison
On how he felt at the point of receiving the court sentence, Igwe, an indigene of Ebonyi state, but lives in Asaba, said he was totally disheartened and had no hope of regaining his freedom since he had no one to help pay the N30,000 option of fine that was slammed on him as alternative to the jail term.
He expressed gratitude to God that fortune had smiled on him after exactly two months of eating less than a handful of garri, poorly prepared beans and breathing the unnatural air domiciled within the dungeon.
For 23 year old Idu Endurance who was not ashamed to confess to breaking into a supermarket at Ejeme-Aniogor, a rural community in Aniocha south local government area of the state, said a group of local vigilante apprehended him on his return from what could have been a success mission.
Caught on January 4, 2017, he narrated that he was detained at the B Division police station from where he was arraigned before a magistrate court at Okwe, a community that shares boundary with Asaba.
Three freed prisoners
He said from the day he was sentenced to prison on one year jail year jail term with an option of N30,000 fine, not even one person had walked into the prison to visit him, noting that “the experience has shown me a lesson that whatever crime I commit, I am on my own”.
But what could have also brought 17-year-old John Odalonu to the gathering of hardened criminals, notorious kidnappers and drug addicts found in prisons? Well, it was simply the desire to quench an hunger that drove the lad into stealing a Tecno T407 handset, an act that unfortunately landed him into the thicker side of live.
Odalonu, who lives with his octogenarian grandmother, since he is yet to meet his biological mother who dumped his father for sketchy reasons, the worst day of his life will certainly remain the day he went to a barbing saloon to charge the same handset he had stolen, awaiting a potential buyer.
After the actual owner of the said handset walked into him, he said the local vigilante in the area swooped on him with sticks and whips that have erased much of his memories on the event that occurred on January 19, 2017.
Ossai handing some cash to the freed inmates
Odalonu, a Senior Secondary School dropout was immediately whisked to the Ogwashi-uku police station from where he was arraigned before a magistrate who dealt the final blow of a six month sentence on him with a similar N30,000 option of fine.
Unlike others, the young ex-convict was not as unfortunate as some of his colleagues as he claimed that he enjoyed preferential treatment in the eyes of the older inmates who offered him food and some over used clothes to give him more comfort in the cells.
The announcement of freedom
While their despondencies may have persisted beyond measures, little did they know that fortune was hurriedly running down their ways. Mr. Ovie Success Ossai, the Personal Assistant to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa on Special Duties (Media) was set to celebrate his 25th birthday anniversary, a ceremony he chose to share with prisoners. And that was it.
The inmates who had obviously lost hopes in the dream of enjoying the liberty of building a world of their own were surprisingly set free on Thursday, January 2, 2017 after Ossai extended benevolence to the three of them whose bills were wholly cleared and subsequently let go.
Ossai in a group photograph with the freed inmates and a prison official
From the dark dungeon where they have been made to sleep and reminisce on their offences, the alarm of freedom sounded and, in few minutes, Igwe, Endurance and Odalonu were up on their feet walking out of the prisons with their sack bags and uncontrollable wide smiles that ran through their enlivened faces.
The governor’s aide, Ossai, who is the youngest serving political appointee in the Okowa’s government, expressed satisfaction that he was able to put smiles on the faces of the inmates who may have lost hopes of regaining freedom until the end of their jail term.
On why he chose to celebrate with the inmates, Ossai explained that the action was in line with his undying desire to see people liberated from whatever avoidable restriction they may find themselves, noting that it gratifies more for him to engage in the act rather than indulge in luxurious hosting of a birthday party.
The governor’s aide who took to treat the freed inmates to choice delicacies at the Asaba Shopping Mall, enjoined the beneficiaries of his gesture to shun vices and direct their energy and vibrancy towards productive ends, assuring that he would make further efforts to fast track their rehabilitation.
The trio offered words of prayers to God to bless Ossai and support whatever ventures he embarks on, promising that they would never go back to their ungodly conducts that landed them in jail.