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Justice At Last: Innocent Bricklayer, Lukman, Freed After 24-yr Incarceration

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Lukeman Adeyemi

Lukman Adeyemi, a 50-year-old bricklayer, recounts his harrowing 24-year ordeal behind bars, the result of a misguided act of loyalty towards a friend.

His story, reported by Vanguard, highlights systemic flaws and injustices that led to his prolonged and wrongful incarceration.

Adeyemi describes his initial encounter with the justice system as a descent into hopelessness. He spent nine years in pre-trial detention, followed by an unbearable 15 years on death row.

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The conditions he faced were nothing short of torturous, akin to a dark and endless nightmare.

During interrogations by SARS Police officers, Adeyemi endured severe physical and psychological torment, leading to coerced confessions for crimes he knew nothing about.

Reflecting on his unjust predicament, Adeyemi questions the integrity and fairness of the system.

Despite being an innocent bystander, he was entangled in a legal quagmire that seemed insurmountable. His decision to accompany his friend Ismaila Lasisi to the police station, out of loyalty, led to his wrongful arrest and subsequent incarceration.

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Throughout his imprisonment, Adeyemi faced scepticism and disbelief when attempting to share his truth. This prevailing sentiment of doubt and suspicion only added to his misery, as he grappled with false accusations and a lack of justice.

However, hope emerged when he encountered the Centre for Justice Mercy and Reconciliation, headed by Pastor Hezekiah Olujobi. Their support and advocacy signalled a potential breakthrough in his quest for freedom.

Adeyemi shared his story: “I am Lukman Adeyemi, a native of Iwere-Ile, 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 looking for Ismaila and he was asked to report to the station.

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“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 death over the murder of a woman hired by some of Ismaila’s ex-friends to fetch water for them at a construction site. The woman left home in the morning and never returned.

“Ismaila once lived with them. He begged to live with me after a misunderstanding with these people in March. I knew these people from a distance. Our paths never crossed. This was how I was charged to court along with these people over an offence I knew nothing about. In 2009, we were sentenced to death. We filed separate appeals, but they failed up 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?’ and ‘If truly you are innocent, why can’t the court free you?’

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

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“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 the phone.”

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The Centre for Justice Mercy and Reconciliation steps in “On July 17, 2023, the Centre for Justice Mercy and Reconciliation (CJMR), led by Pastor Hezekiah Olujobi, visited us at the Ibara Correctional Service. They listened to all of us, including the culprits who exonerated us. The organization reviewed our judgment and shed light on our innocence. June 14, 2024, will remain an 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 offence and still boldly walk into a police station to report myself?

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

The Executive Director of CJMR, Pastor Hezekiah Olujobi, elaborated on their efforts: “Our attention was drawn to the complaints of these two individuals by Welfare Officer DCP Awesu, who assured us of their innocence and the efforts made through the legal process without justice.

“We visited the Ibara Custodial Centre in Abeokuta to hear from them. The true perpetrators confessed that they committed the crime and that Adeyemi and Lasisi were innocent. We reviewed their judgments from both the trial court and the Supreme Court and found that the state’s presentation before the appellate court never allowed the court to shift ground.

“Lukman Adeyemi and his friend filed separate appeals to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. None of the lawyers explored the way of arresting each person involved in this case. The course of probing the arrest process unfolded the truth.

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“In the record of proceedings, we stumbled on evidence from PW1, a police officer who detailed the arrest. The contradictions in the judgments, the confessions of the real perpetrators, and the corroboration of their innocence led us to forward our findings to the office of the Attorney-General of Ogun State and the Committee for the Board of Prerogative of Mercy, who considered our appeal.”

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Pastor Olujobi highlighted issues like poor lawyering, misleading police information, and relentless prosecution as key factors in wrongful convictions in Nigeria. He emphasized that while police evidence is typically held in high regard, not all evidence is accurate or reliable.

Recognizing the fallibility of judges, the appellate process exists to rectify lower court errors. When justice remains elusive after exhausting legal avenues, CJMR reviews court evidence and presents cases to the Board of Mercy for consideration.

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CJMR has successfully facilitated the release of over 20 wrongfully convicted individuals and secured the freedom of more than 600 unlawfully detained people in the South West Nigeria Custodial Service. They have reintegrated over 300 individuals back into society. Currently, they are reviewing 12 death row inmates and 10 awaiting trial cases for intervention. For those awaiting trial, CJMR collaborates with pro bono lawyers to represent them in various high courts in Ogun, Oyo, and Osun States, providing transportation support to ensure their court presence.

In cases of extended detention without legal advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions, CJMR advocates for their rights by demanding case file updates from the Ministry of Justice. If no case file is found, they escalate the matter to the Chief Judge’s office for resolution.

Support from the Ogun State Chief Judge, Honorable Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu FICMC, FHNR, the Ogun State Ministry of Justice, and former Oyo State Chief Judge, Honorable Justice Munktar Abimbola (Rtd), has been instrumental in advancing these initiatives.

With the collective efforts of the Nigeria Correctional Service, the Committee for the Board of Mercy, Ogun State, and Governor Dapo Abiodun, Lukman Adeyemi and Ismaila Lasisi’s innocence was finally recognized. The real perpetrators confessed, leading to their release.

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Adeyemi and Lasisi express their gratitude to all who played a role in their eventual freedom, acknowledging the challenges faced and lives lost during their wrongful imprisonment.

Currently, Lukman Adeyemi and Ismaila Lasisi are at the CJMR Halfway Home for recovery and reintegration.
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Police Arrest Five Robbers, Cultists In Delta

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The Delta State Police Command says it has arrested suspected armed robbers, and cultists in Oghara, Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State, and recovered AK-47 magazine.

The Command’s Spokesperson, SP Bright Edafe, stated this in a statement on Monday in Asaba

He said, “Sequel to series of cult-related activities, kidnapping and armed robbery in Sapele, Oghara, and environs, the Commissioner of Police Delta State, Olufemi Abaniwonda, directed the team on special assignment to work collaboratively with the DPOS Oghara and Sapele Division in order to nip it at the bud.

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“On June 18, 2024, in a covert intelligence-led operation by ASP Julius Robinson raided three different syndicates of cultists/suspected armed robbers at various locations in Oghara Town, Ethiope East LGA of Delta State, and arrested five suspects namely Ochuko Joel Ofoye 35, of Jeddo Community in Okpe LGA Delta State, a member of Juris Confraternity and Michael Anwul 29, of Alisimie Community Agbor, in Ika South LGA Delta State of Juris confraternity.

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“Other suspects include Great Ojareri 35, of Oghareki Community in Ethiope West LGA Oghara Delta State, a member of Eiye Confraternity also a custodian of arms, and Innocent Esefeta aged 31, of Efisere Community in Ughelli North LGA Delta State and Ogaga Ebuke 27, member of Juris Confraternity.”

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Edefe said that items including two AK 47 magazines, 29 rounds of live ammunition, a locally made pistol with one live cartridge concealed in a shoe were recovered

He said the suspects were in custody and an investigation was ongoing.

 

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Police Arrest Prison Escapee Behind General’s Murder In Kano

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The Operatives of the Federal Capital Territory Police Command have arrested one Hashiru Baku – the mastermind behind the murder of late Brigadier General Harold Udokwere.

Udokwere, who was the National Chairman, Retired Members of the Nigerian Armed Forces, was murdered by armed robbers who invaded his residence on June 22, 2024, and took away his gun.

The police arrested and paraded Ibrahim Rabiu, Nafiu Jamil, Aliyu Abdullahi and Mohammed Nuhu in connection with the crime on June 24, 2024.

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READ ALSO: BREAKING: Police Arrest Killers Of Army General In Abuja

Addressing journalists on Monday while parading arrested suspects, the FCT Commissioner of Police, Bennett Igweh said Baku was arrested in Kano State while trying to run away from the country.

Igweh said the suspect was an escapee from the Kuje Correctional Centre.

He said, “I did show you the four killers, kidnappers, and robbers that went and killed Brigadier-General Uwe Harrod, retired. Today, I will show you the organiser of the killing and the robbery.

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“As well as we have recovered the general’s gun that was with him. We have recovered the wristwatch of the general and the wife’s jewellery which they stole from the general’s house.

“The organiser is here and we have arrested him. He is the organiser. He was in prison and during the Kuje Correctional Centre attack, he escaped.”

The police boss added that “instead of him to repent, he continued with more audacity. We arrested him in Kano where he was trying to exit the country.

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“We recovered these drugs in his residence. So, that’s what they take and they will continue to be high.”

Details later…

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Unidentified Gunmen Kill 300-level AAUA Student

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A 300-level Linguistics student of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, AAUA, simply identified as Emmanuel, has been shot dead by unidentified gunmen in one of the private students’ hostels in the town.

The Vice Chairman, National Association of Universities Students, Comrade Oladele Emmanuel, on Monday, called on security agents and the management of the university to investigate the matter and bring the culprits to book.

Emmanuel stated that the motive behind the killing is yet to be identified.

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He said “The university community must be reassured that such a tragic event will be met with the full force of the law and diligent investigative efforts.

“The death of Emmanuel is not just a loss to his family and friends, but to the entire AAUA community.

“His potential and contributions to our shared academic environment are irreplaceable.

“We mourn his untimely departure and extend our deepest condolences to his loved ones during this difficult time.”

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Emmanuel urged the school management to enhance security measures around the campus and surrounding areas by increasing security patrols, providing better lighting, and more accessible emergency services.

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He called on students and members of the AAUA community to report any information that may assist in the investigation to the relevant authorities.

“We trust that the authorities will act with urgency and transparency in addressing this incident. Emmanuel’s memory deserves nothing less than our commitment to uncovering the truth and ensuring justice is served.

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“Let us unite in our grief and our resolve to create a safer, more secure environment for all members of the AAUA community. We owe it to Emmanuel, his family, and to ourselves,” the student union leader added.

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