“I lost my wife and mother during my incarceration”
A recent testimony shared by a Nigerian man, who identified himself as Martins Eze John, has stirred concerns about a possible miscarriage of justice.
In his account, he narrated a harrowing experience of being wrongfully arrested in 2013, while returning from watching a football match at a viewing center.
John claimed he was apprehended by the police without clarifying his alleged offense, denying him an audience to explain himself, or allowing him to contact his family.
He further stated that an officer he identified as ASP Diko took him to court without proper investigation or due process.
In court, John alleged he was wrongly associated with another individual’s name and accused of being an accomplice to murder and armed robbery.
Many individuals on social media platforms have commented on John’s claim, highlighting some of the challenges faced in Nigeria where dreams and aspirations can sometimes be stifled by various circumstances. The hashtag ASP Diko has also been trending since Thursday morning.
How True is this claim?
Addressing a gathering of Christians at a Living Faith Church in Ologuneru, Ibadan, John shared his experience at the Agodi correctional centre and expressed how he felt compelled to share the gospel with fellow inmates after encountering a pamphlet with a similar life-changing testimony.
In a fortunate turn of events in 2023, some persons from the Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) Ibadan, reexamined the evidence, and eventually demonstrated his innocence, resulting in his release from prison after 10 years.
Tragically, he recalled: “I lost my wife and mother during my incarceration”.
However, the Living Faith Church, where John shared his testimony, has released a disclaimer saying that the testimony has been found to be inaccurate and untrue.
The disclaimer also mentions that John has purportedly shared different testimonies in various churches.
These allegations of inconsistency in John’s testimony prompted a deeper investigation to assess the credibility of his claims regarding wrongful arrest and imprisonment.
TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) made efforts to contact the church to seek clarification on the matter and inquire if they were contemplating any legal action against John in light of its findings, but as of the time of reporting, the church had not provided a response.
Upon further investigation, this newspaper discovered that in April, JDPC Ibadan successfully secured the release of a male ex-inmate who had been accused of armed robbery and had been detained without trial for 7 years.
When our reporter reached out to the director of JDPC Ibadan Jerome Toname Ajakaiye, he revealed that out of the approximately 1000 inmates in the Agodi correctional centre, 900 were awaiting trial.
As a result, the Commission considered it their duty to provide representation to individuals who lacked access to legal representation, adding that John’s claims were within the scope of their work.
However, Ajakaiye also stated, “The church in question reached out to us about a month ago. I have tried to investigate among my team of lawyers if this person was represented in court in recent times, but from our records and the name that he has provided, we don’t have such records of someone we represented in court.”
When further questioned about whether John’s photograph matched that of any individual they had assisted in securing release for in recent times, Ajakaiye clarified, “We usually don’t take photographs of those we represent, as it’s a way of maintaining confidentiality.”
Missing context. While this newspaper acknowledges the challenges faced by inmates in Nigerian correctional facilities, including extended pretrial detentions lack of access to legal representation, it cannot conclusively determine the veracity of John’s claims as there is a lack of concrete evidence to substantiate his allegations.