A panel beater who spent eight years behind bars after he was wrongfully arrested for failing to stop suspected criminals being chased by soldiers has finally been released from prison.
It is learnt that the man, identified simply as Ola, was returning home from work in 2014 when some men who were being pursued by soldiers ran past him. When the soldiers failed to catch their target, they turned their anger on Ola and took him into custody.
He was wrongly charged to court for armed robbery and had been in prison since then, until a non-governmental organization, Headfort foundation, took charge of his case and helped to secure his release.
Taking to their official Facebook to share the sad story, Headfort Foundation wrote,
“Ola was a Panel beater working at Alaba, in Lagos State, Nigeria.
Sometime in May 2014, Ola was on his way back from work when he saw some people run by him. A few seconds later, soldiers ran after those persons. To his dismay, the soldiers returned angrily and questioned why he didn’t stop the persons that ran by him. He explained to the soldiers that he didn’t know them or why they were running and couldn’t just have stopped them from running.
His response infuriated the soldiers more and they took him to base. The senior officer at the Barracks refused to let the soldiers keep him at the Barracks so they took him to the police station and reported that he didn’t prevent the escape of the people they were chasing.
The Officers at Orile Police Station moved him alongside other suspects taken to SARS Office Ikeja where he was later charged to Court for the offence of Armed robbery when he couldn’t meet up with bail demands.
The family members did their best and got him legal representation. After a while, they could no longer afford to pay so the lawyer withdrew his appearance.
Since 2014, he remained in custody with no lawyer representing him until July 2022 when he got Headfort Foundation’s contact from an inmate and he called to explain his ordeal.
Our Lawyer, Awolu Itunuoluwa Ruth took his brief and traced his case to Lagos State High Court TBS. She began representing him for free.
On Tuesday, just like every other day in which his case had come up for a trial, there was no witness. The prosecution informed the Court that they intend to call official witnesses who happened to be Police Officers but they are not familiar with the witnesses and do not have their contact details or means of reaching them.
Ola, who had been languishing in prison since 2014 awaiting trial was immediately released by the Court, and the charges against him were struck out.”