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How 26-Year-Old Man Spent 24yrs In Prison For Escorting Friend To A Police Station

Lukman Adeyemi, a 50-year-old man, has recounted how he spent 24 years in prison after he escorted a friend who was invited by the police to a station.

Vanguard News reports that part of the 24 years spent by the then 26-year-old was on the death row.

The 15 years he spent on the death row, with his friend, Ismaila Lasisi, was at Ibara Correctional Centre in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

His story

“I am Lukman Adeyemi, a native of Iwerele, Iwajowa Local Government, Oyo State. I am a Bricklayer by profession. I was 26 years old when I had this problem. In August 2000, after returning home from work with a friend living with me, Ismaila Lasisi, we were told that the Police came to look for Ismaila and he was asked to report himself in the station.

“I immediately decided to follow him to the station, lo and behold I was arrested and detained along with him. I was tortured to the point of death over a crime I knew nothing about, right from the police station. I had a close shave with the death over a murder of a woman who was hired by some ex-friends of Ismaila Lasisi to fetch water for them at the construction site. The woman left home in the morning and she never returned home.

“Ismaila Lasisi once lived with them. He begged to come and live with me after he had a misunderstanding with these people in March. I knew these people from a far distance. Our paths never crossed in life for anything. This was how I was charged to court along with these people over an offence I never had any knowledge of. In 2009 we were sentenced to death. We filed separate appeals but the appeal failed to the Supreme Court.

“My story of innocence to whoever cared to listen fell on deaf ears, with many questioning, ‘If you’re not one of them, why mention your name?’ ‘If truly you are innocent why can’t court free you?’

“I felt abandoned by truth itself. I spent 24 years behind bars like 24 hours, a sleepless night that lasted for two decades.

“In June 2023 one of the officers of the Correctional Service, Deputy Superintendent of Correctional (DSC) AbdulKareem Awesu introduced my case to a Pastor and I spoke with him on phone.  

“On 17th July 2023, a group Centre for Justice Mercy and Reconciliation, CJMR, led by Pastor Hezekiah Olujobi visited us at the Ibara Correctional Service where they listened to all of us including the culprits who exonerated us. The organization went with all our judgement and shed light on our innocence. June 14, 2024 shall remain evergreen and memorable day in my life. Light shone upon me, rain fell on my head for the first time and I saw the moon for the first time.

“I never knew I could pay for the sin of another man. How could I have committed an offense and still boldly walk into a police station to report myself?

“I am grateful that the organization Centre for Justice Mercy and Reconciliation intervened on my behalf, a beacon of hope in a sea of despair. Her belief in my innocence reignited the flame of justice within me, propelling me toward the possibility of redemption.”

Speaking on the development, Pastor Hezekiah Deboboye Olujobi, the Executive Director of Centre for Justice Mercy and Reconciliation, an NGO based in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, said: “Our attention was drawn to the complaints of these two people on their claim of innocence by the Welfare Officer, DCP Awesu, who invited us to come and help these people, assuring us of their innocence and the effort made through the legal process without justice.

Olujobi said: “We came down to Ibara Custodial Centre, Abeokuta to hear from them. The two perpetrators confided in us that truly, they were the ones who committed the crime and that the two people were totally innocent of the crime. We adjusted our seats to hear them very well.

“It was a long drilling of questions on their parts. But yet they insisted on their innocence. What they said carried no weight in my ears until I read through the judgement that convicted them. We obtained their judgements from both the trial court and the Supreme Court for our review. 

We noticed the presentation of the state before the appellate court could never allow the court to shift ground.

“Lukman Adeyemi and his friend filed a separate appeal to the Court of Appeal, to the Supreme Court. We realised that none of the lawyers explored the way of arresting each person in this case. This is what the lawyer at the trial court should have done, but very unfortunately he couldn’t. Failure of the perpetrators to declare them innocent of the crime could not have helped them at that time. The course of probing the way of arrest of the individuals in the case unfolded the truth on this matter.

“In the record of proceedings, we stumbled on the evidence of the PW1. The police officer in charge of the case gave evidence before the Court that the first defendant was referred to him from Ilaro Police Divisional Office to Abeokuta with one Esther Shitu. Then he jumped to how he arrested them and how the defendant led him to Shaki (in Oyo State) in his father’s house, and how the head of the deceased was recovered under his bed in his room at his father’s house.

“While reading through their separate judgments, it was a contradiction. They said they took the head of the deceased to the house of the herbalist at Sepeteri. Then I asked the first defendant: ‘Who was the lady that was arrested along with you from Ilaro to Abeokuta?’ He told us that was the lady he sent to go and call the deceased from the house of her husband in the morning.

“He said: ‘It was the lady the police first arrested. It was her arrest that led to the arrest of my elder brother, it was my elder brother who orchestrated my arrest.’

“The second question: ‘Where did you take the head of the deceased to?’ He said: ‘We took it to the herbalist at Sepeteri who promised to make ritual money for them.’

“Where is the herbalist and the lady? ‘They have been released at the station.’

“With all the analysis and the evidence in the record, we forwarded our findings to the office of the Attorney-General of Ogun State and the Committee for the Board of Prerogative of Mercy and they considered our appeal. It is not about their story, it is about the fact that the record corroborated their story.”

Adeyemi and Lasisi are reported to be at the CJMR Halfway Home for recovery and reintegration process.

Sources: Vanguard News, The Eagle Online

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