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How We Rescued Man Who Spent 24 Years in Prison for Following Friend to Police Station – CJMR

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In a harrowing account of injustice within the Nigerian criminal justice system, Lukman Adeyemi recounts his 24-year ordeal behind bars, a consequence of a misguided act of loyalty towards a friend.

His narrative sheds light on the flaws and injustices prevalent within the system, leading to a prolonged and unjust incarceration. Adeyemi describes his initial encounter with the system as a descent into hopelessness, spending nine years in pre-trial detention, followed by an agonizing 15 years on death row.

The conditions he faced were nothing short of torture, reminiscent of a dark and endless nightmare. Recalling moments of interrogation by SARS Police officers, he vividly portrays the physical and psychological torment endured as he was coerced into admitting to crimes, he had no knowledge of, under duress and threat.

Reflecting on his incredulity at being held accountable for another’s transgressions, he questions the system’s integrity and fairness. Despite being an innocent bystander caught in the web of injustice, he found himself entangled in a legal quagmire that seemed insurmountable.

His decision to accompany his friend to the police station, out of a sense of loyalty and duty, inadvertently led to his own wrongful arrest and subsequent incarceration.

Throughout his years of imprisonment, he faced skepticism and disbelief when attempting to share his truth with others. The prevailing sentiment of doubt and suspicion only added to his misery, as he grappled with the weight of false accusations and a lack of justice. However, a glimmer of hope emerged when he crossed paths with the Centre for Justice Mercy and Reconciliation (CJMR) and his team, who offered support and advocacy on his behalf.

The intervention of the Organization, headed by Pastor Hezekiah Deboboye Olujobi, brought a renewed sense of optimism and possibility, signaling a potential breakthrough in his quest for freedom.

In his own word:

I am Lukman Adeyemi, a native of Iwerele, Iwajowa Local Government, Oyo State. I am a Bricklayer by profession. My fathet has many wives but my mother was the first wife, we were three born by my mother, I am number 2, the third is a female.

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 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 return 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 path never crossed in life for anything. This was how I was charged to court along with these people, over the offence I never had any knowledge of. In 2009, we were sentenced to death. We filed separate appeal but the Appeal failed to the Supreme Court. My story of innocence to whoever care to listen fell on deaf ears, with many questionings, ‘If you’re not one of them, why mention your name?’ If truly you were innocence 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 AbdulKareem Awesu introduced my case to a Pastor and I spoke with him on phone. On 17th July, 2023, a group of 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 to our innocence. June 14, 2024 shall remain evergreen and memorable day in my life. Light shine 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 towards the possibility of redemption.

While I was in the prison, I learnt Computer and I graduated in Quranic School.

According to Pastor Hezekiah Deboboye Olujobi, the Executive Director for Centre for Justice Mercy and Reconciliation CJMR an NGO based in Ibadan who shed light to the innocence of Lukman Adeyemi and Ismaila Lasisi, “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 on their innocence and the effort made through the legal process without justice, we came down to Ibara Custodial Centre Abeokuta to hear from them.

“The two perpetrators confided on us that truly, they were the one who committed the crime 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 carry no weight in my ears until I read through the judgement that convicted them.

“We obtained their judgements both the trial court to 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. Each of them filed separate appeal to the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court.

“We realized that none of the lawyers explore the way of arrest of each person in this case, this is what the lawyer at the trial court should have done but very unfortunate he couldn’t, failure of the perpetrators to clear them of the innocent of the crime could not have help them at that time. In the cause of probing the way of arrest of individual 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 defender led him to Shaki 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 judgement 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 defender 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, 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’s not about their story, it’s about the fact in the record which corroborated their story”

With the efforts of the Nigeria Correctional Service, the Attorney General of Ogun State, and Governor Prince Dapo Abiodun, Lukman Adeyemi’s innocence was finally recognized. The real perpetrators confessed, leading to his release. He expresses gratitude to all who played a role in his eventual freedom, acknowledging the challenges faced and lives lost during his wrongful imprisonment.

Your support can unlock more stories like Lukman and provide hope and purpose to others.
Donate: Naira Account: 1012189729 Zenith Bank / 2013454021 First Bank.

Dollar Account: 20134969882 Name: Centre for Justice Mercy and Reconciliation www.cjmr.com.ng08025782527

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ECOWAS Court Finds FG Guilty of Violating Rights of #EndSARS Protesters

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The Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS, has ruled that the Federal Republic of Nigeria violated the human rights of Obianuju Udeh and two others.

The court found Nigeria in breach of Articles 1, 4, 6, 9, 10, and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, specifically on the right to life, security of person, freedom of expression, assembly and association, prohibition of torture, the duty of the state to investigate, and the right to effective remedy.

The applicants, Obianuju Udeh, Perpetual Kamsi and Dabiraoluwa Adeyinka, alleged that these violations occurred during the peaceful protests at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State on October 20 and 21, 2020.

The presiding judge, Justice Koroma Sengu, who delivered the judgment, dismissed the allegation that the right to life as guaranteed under article 4 of the ACPHR is violated.

He, however, said that the Federal Government must pay each applicant N2 million as compensation for violations of their security of person, prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, duty to investigate human rights violations, and right to effective remedy.

Additionally, he said the Federal Government must adhere to its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, investigate and prosecute its agents responsible for these violations, and report to the court within six months on the measures taken to implement this judgment.

The applicants alleged that during the peaceful protests against the SARS unit of the Nigerian Police Force at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20 and 21, 2020, the respondent committed several human rights violations.

Triggered by the alleged killing of Daniel Chibuike, the protests aimed to address police harassment and brutality.

The first applicant’s claims include that the soldiers shot protesters, resulting in deaths and injuries, which she live-streamed, subsequently receiving threatening phone calls that forced her into hiding and eventual asylum.

The second applicant, responsible for protesters’ welfare, described how soldiers began shooting after a power cut, leading to her hospitalisation due to police tear gas.

The third applicant recounted narrowly escaping being shot, observing the refusal of ambulance entry by soldiers, and later witnessing inadequate hospital care for victims.

She argued that she and her colleagues took over the victims’ care and she faced ongoing threats and surveillance, believed to be by respondent’s agents.

The applicants sought declaratory relief and compensation from the court for these violations.

The respondent denied all claims made by the applicants, asserting that the protesters unlawfully assembled at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020, under the guise of protesting against SARS.

The respondent also maintained that its agents followed strict rules of engagement and did not shoot or kill protesters.

It argued that the first applicant incited the crowd by playing music and using her Instagram page to stir disaffection against law enforcement, who were targeting escapee members of Boko Haram and bandits.

The respondent contended that the second applicant’s logistics and welfare support provision indicated her support for the violent protest.

It claimed that soldiers were present to restore peace until the police arrived, denying any harm inflicted on protesters and the refusal of ambulance access.

The respondent also denied that the third applicant’s presence was peaceful, asserting it was meant to escalate violence.

It argued that the Lagos State Government managed the treatment and care of the injured and submits that the applicants have not provided credible evidence to support their claims, or the reliefs sought.

In its judgment, the court found there was no violation of the right to life.

However, the court held that the respondent breached several articles of the ACPHR which occasioned fundamental breaches of human rights violation therein.

Furthermore, the court declared that the applicants were denied the right to an effective remedy.

The court ordered that the respondent make reparations to the applicants for the violation of their fundamental human rights.

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We’re Already Preparing 2025 Budget, Pro-Wike Lawmakers Are Gone – Fubara

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The Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, on Wednesday, said his administration has started the process of preparing the 2025 budget.

The governor also dismissed the threat by the Martin Amaewhule-led faction of the state House of Assembly that he should present the 2024 budget again, saying that having defected to the All Progressives Congress from the Peoples Democratic Party platform on which they got election, their seats remained vacant.

Fubara said this when he received on a solidarity visit, the leadership structure, critical stakeholders, opinion leaders, women and youths of Etche and Omuma Local Government Areas, led by Ogbakor Etche, the apex socio-cultural organisation of Etche Ethnic Nationality Worldwide, at the Government House, Port Harcourt.

In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Nelson Chukwudi, and sent to newsmen, the governor described the recent ranting of the Amaewhule faction as noise-making from delusional folks.

He urged the “25 former lawmakers” to wake up from their slumber, adding that the ship of governance in the state was sailing smoothly.

The lawmakers loyal to the former governor and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, had been having issues with Fubara over the political control of the state.

After an unsuccessful attempt to oust the governor, resulting in the demolition of the Assembly quarters, the lawmakers announced their defection to the APC, a move the state PDP latched on to declare their seats vacant.

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the state capital, granted an interim injunction restraining the pro-Wike lawmakers from parading themselves as legislators in the state.

However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja, on July 4, affirmed Amaewhule and 24 other lawmakers as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

Holding a session at the state Legislative Quarters on Monday, the court-reinstated lawmakers asked Fubara to re-present the 2024 budget to the Assembly and gave him a one-week ultimatum.

The government, in a swift move, approached the court to restrain the state Chief Judge and others from recognising the Amaewhule-led Assembly, while it also appealed the judgment of the Appeal Court at the Supreme Court.

Foreclosing the idea of presenting the 2024 budget again, Fubara said his administration had commenced preparing details of the 2025 Appropriation Bill, with priority placed on education, healthcare and agriculture.

“Let me assure you that agriculture is an area that we have promised the very special and peace-loving people of Rivers State that our 2025 budget, which we have already started preparing, will address.

“Don’t bother about those people that are delusional. They think we are still sleeping. Let me tell you people so that they can hear anywhere they are.

“I wanted to help them, sincerely because I know them. And I have said it before, these are people that I have helped. I paid their children’s school fees. I paid their house rent. So, I wanted to help them.

“We all knew what happened when they crossed (defected), and how did they cross? Because of our God, for them to make that mistake, they crossed. They are gone, and they are gone. Now, let me tell you: when I wanted to help them, I accepted to help them because we are all one. We disagree to agree as it is said,” he said.

He added, “They thought they were smart. What is holding them is the declaration of their seats vacant as done on December 13, 2023. We are not doing any budget to nullify that decision. It is what will send them to their villages.

“As I am talking to you, I have started preparing my budget for 2025, which I am going to present very soon. And, in that budget, my key areas will be education, healthcare and agriculture.”

Fubara said the three priority areas would ensure that even if more roads were constructed, emphasis would be placed on quality healthcare services for the people of the state.

“Our children need to go to quality schools. Even if they can’t go to private schools, let them go to the public ones that have standards. We need to go to good health facilities owned by the government and get standard healthcare services.

“Even if we cannot afford those private hospitals, when you go to the public ones, you can get the same services with qualified professionals. That is our thinking.

“And when we get to the issue of agriculture, it will address the issue of unemployment. When we start engaging our youths, they won’t have time to be involved in crime. So, our thinking is to secure and protect our state,” he added.

He reiterated that he was fighting nobody as insinuated, adding that being loyal did not mean losing one’s liberty, sense of discretion and doing what was right.

“I want to assure you of one thing: we are not fighting anybody. We appreciate what God has used people to also do in our lives. But, we are not going to rule (govern) this state on our bent knees. We will rule standing this way I am standing.

“If it is only being on our knees to rule that is the way that they will see us as being loyal, then, I will pack my few things that I have here, and go and relax in my house comfortably, because it will be a disaster, not just to me but to everyone in the state and even my generation.

“So, I will continue to stand tall and stand on the side of the truth. Let me thank the President General (of Ogbakor Etche) for bringing your people, the great people of Etche and Omuma together to come and pay us a solidarity visit,” he said.

Fubara urged the people of Etche Nation to sustain their support for his administration because its vision was clear and encompassing to advance the well-being of all Rivers people.

He promised to work with the Nigeria Police to resolve the issue of herdsmen attacks on farmlands and farmers in the area, including the issue of illegal dredging activities.

The Punch

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Yoruba Elders Council Rejects Agitation for Yoruba Nation

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The Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) has voiced its opposition to idea of carving out Yoruba Nation from Nigeria.

The group, through a statement on Sunday, said it would rather commit to true federalism in Nigeria.

The statement read: “We have perused the document on the position of YSDM on the state of the Nation and their views for the Yoruba race to be separated from Nigeria. The Yoruba Council of Elders remains firm in its position that the entity called and known as Nigeria should remain as one Nigeria.

“Accordingly, the YCE has pooled-in all shades of thoughts, which show that majority of the Yoruba race feel cheated by the present lop-sided arrangement of the federating powers but they are solidly against going away from the Nigerian arrangement. They would rather go back to the agreement of our founding fathers when the Region administration was autonomous.

“YCE, therefore, stands firmly on the position of the founding fathers, who maintained togetherness but operated independently and contributed their quota to foster administration at the centre. To this extent, we would rather have a restructured Nigeria which will allow states to function independently as part of a whole.

“YCE wants Nigeria to remain one but, like the American arrangement, stay and function administratively devoid of interference by the centre. Let it be known that the strength of the unity lies in the socio-cultural inheritance of each section of the country and these can be deployed through education and efficiency of management. Our great country must rise again and we all will be in it together,” it added.

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