The Flemer Initiative Project which facilitates the provision of free legal services to indigent awaiting trial detainees in Nigeria has narrated how stolen phone led to the wrongful imprisonment of two innocent people for 8 months.
Earlier today, we successfully got two inmates out of Prison Custody after 8 months of awaiting trial. Find the full details of their journey towards incarceration and freedom below.
Names of inmates: Shaibu Yakubu (Male), Dupe Sunday (Female)
Charges: Armed Robbery, Stealing and receipt of stolen property
Duration awaiting trial: 8 months (Oct 2018 – June 2019).
Dupe was held in kirikiri female prison, while Shaibu was held in Ikoyi prison.
The full story
Dupe is a mobile phone retailer. One fateful day, Shaibu brought a phone and gave to Dupe. After a while, the Police showed up and arrested Dupe on accounts of possession of a stolen phone. The story gets even more interesting.
It happened that a Lady was robbed at gunpoint at a filling station and all her property including her Bag, phone and ATM Cards were stolen.
With the aid of the Police, she was able to track the phone to Dupe. Dupe took the Police officers to Shaibu who in turn agreed to take them to the person he bought the phone from. Unfortunately, the Robber who sold it to Shaibu escaped before he could be apprehended by the NPF.
Dupe and Shaibu were eventually charged to court on account of Armed Robbery, Stealing and receipt of stolen property. When the complainant realized that Dupe and Shaibu were innocent of the robbery, she decided to withdraw the case instituted against them.
She wrote a withdrawal letter and gave to the prosecution Counsel. The Complainant herself never made an appearance in Court.
The Police saw this as an opportunity to extort the accused persons and in collusion with the prosecution counsel refused to submit the complainant’s withdrawal letter to the magistrate. Instead, the Police extorted the sum of a 100,000 naira from the two accused persons.
Despite this initial extortion, the prosecution counsel still refused to submit the withdrawal letter and instead did everything possible to keep the case dragging for long even as he kept demanding for more money from the accused during every court hearing.
We took on the case in March and advised the accused parties to stop paying the prosecution counsel who had made it a habit to extort money from the accused during every court hearing.
Today was the 5th time that we (FLEMER) have been in court over this case.
During the four previous appearances, the prosecution counsel always presented flimsy excuses that led to the adjournment of the hearing and stalled trial. Today, the prosecution counsel still brought up another set of excuses to stop the court from proceeding with trial.
The legal counsel from FLEMER representing the accused persons could not take these unjustifiable adjournments anymore and therefore opposed any further adjournments today, Our Counsel argued that it was apparent the prosecution counsel lacked the will to proceed to trial and that the Magistrate should in the interest of justice strike out the case.
The charges against Shaibu and Dupe were subsequently struck out for want of diligent prosecution after 8 months in jail; awaiting trial.