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Four Inmates Get Freedom In Ogun As Ajadi Intervenes

A Chieftain of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) in Ogun state, Olufemi Ajadi has extended a helping hand to four individuals incarcerated at the Ibara Correctional Centre in Abeokuta.

Ajadi’s act of compassion in a statement on Sunday saw the release of four convicts who were eligible for fine, Damilola Opebi, Oyebolu Shina, Dare Lawal, and Oluwasegun Ayobami.

Ajadi, who is the gubernatorial candidate of the NNPP in Ogun state in the recently concluded 2023 general elections, in unexpected gesture has stirred both appreciation and controversy within the community and the political landscape.

It marks a unique instance where a political figure, particularly a gubernatorial candidate, has directly intervened in the lives of individuals entangled in the criminal justice system.

Damilola Opebi, Oyebolu Shina, Dare Lawal, and Oluwasegun Ayobami had been serving sentences in the Ibara Correctional Centre, awaiting the legal processes that could potentially grant them their freedom.

Ajadi, who had been told by his legal team led by Isaac Dale Izunya about the issues facing the criminal justice system, took it upon himself to ensure that these individuals were not left languishing in incarceration due to their inability to pay fines.

According to him, “I am not an advocate for criminal and illegal activities but I believe that the penalties for the less criminal offenders could be paid for after the wrongdoers have sobered and promised to desist from such crimes.”

The move has sparked a debate among Ogun state residents and political observers in which, some applaud Ajadi for his empathy and willingness to address the challenges within the correctional system, while others question the motivation behind this act, suggesting political grandstanding in the wake of a closely contested election.

In response to the controversy, Ajadi’s legal team, led by Barrister Isaac Izunya, in a statement on Sunday emphasizing their client’s commitment to criminal justice reform and a fairer legal system.

Izunya asserted that this gesture was an embodiment of Ajadi’s vision for a more just and compassionate society, irrespective of political considerations.

According to Izunya, “The bailing of the four convicts by Olufemi Ajadi has undoubtedly added a new dimension to the political landscape in Ogun State”.

While the convicts were being interrogated by journalists one after the other at the point of their release on Friday 18 August 2023, Damilola Opebi, who is a skilled generator repairer, said he found himself behind bars for an unexpected reason, buying a stolen phone.

With determination to leave the past behind, he expressed his newfound ambition: “I want to engage myself now in a monthly paying job so that I will be a sponsor to my musical talent.”

Oyebolu Shina, a talented fashion designer, who temporarily set aside his creative pursuits to work as a receiving clerk in a supermarket in Ota, said his time there led to incarceration due to missing goods.

“I was jailed because some goods under my watch got missing; I wish Olufemi Ajadi a successful outcome in all his endeavors for paying for my fine,” he said.

Dare Lawal, a motorcycle rider, faced a difficult choice when he stole someone else’s house rooftop to sell and raise money to repair his dilapidated motorcycle.

After serving time behind bars, he emerged with a heartfelt promise to the Nigerian community: “I have been to jail, and Ajadi has paid my fine to be released. I promise Nigerians that I won’t engage in nefarious activities anymore. May Almighty God bless Olufemi Ajadi for his kind gesture for humanity.”

Oluwasegun Ayobami, who is a truck driver, found himself ensnared by circumstances when he stood as a guarantor for his friend, Muse, who absconded with a motorcycle meant to be paid for instalmentally.

Ayobami said he was arrested on July 10, 2023, and sentenced to two-year imprisonment, adding that Ajadi’s kind gesture has reversed the jail term.

He said, “Jail is real! Government is real, and I want my people to desist from uncivilized and ungodly activities.”


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