The justice system in Nigeria has been broken for a very long time, a fact that has been known and unfortunately accepted in our society.
All we pray for is that we’re never caught in the cross-hairs, we get to just live our lives without knowing just how bad the system is. Unfortunately for Mr Maxwell Dele, he got a first hand experience of the sad state of that part of the Nigerian system.
In 2011, Dele was arrested by members of the Nigerian police force in Ikorodu over an alleged case of armed robbery. Listen to this, He owned a shop in the Ikorodu market and was a neighbor to one Mr James Idem. When the police came, they were searching for Mr Idem who they claimed was an armed robbery suspect and asked Dele for his neighbor’s whereabouts. He had no answers for their questions as he didn’t know where his neighbor was and because of that was arrested in his place.
According to the Avocats Sans Frontières France (Lawyers without Borders France), who facilitated his release, Mr Maxwell Dele was innocent and spent 11 years in prison for a crime he knew nothing about.
READ MORE: Embattled Police Commissioner, Abba Kyari Begs Court Against Extradition to the US
The Country Director of ASF France, Angela Uzoma-Iwuchukwu, in a statement on Monday said the practice of charging suspects with serious offences by the police in order to have them remanded in prison indefinitely with little or no effort to prosecute the case needed to stop.
She added that the Nigeria Correctional Service data on the summary of inmate population by convict and persons awaiting trial as of October 4, 2021, revealed that the facilities hold 37 per cent more inmates than they were designed to and that over 70 per cent of the prison population consisted of pre-trial detainees.
The report also revealed that the average period of pre-trial detention in Nigeria was nearly four years.
“During the search for Mr James, Dele was asked by the police officers to provide information on the whereabouts of Mr James and when Dele couldn’t provide those answers, he was arrested for armed robbery.”
“Dele was handed over to the Sagamu Road Police Station, from where he was transferred to SARS Ikeja, Lagos, where he was hanged and tortured.”
“He was also forced to sign an already written statement on October 16, 2011, the same day he was charged with armed robbery at the Magistrate Court 17, Ikeja, Lagos. Dele remained in the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kirikiri, Lagos, and never appeared in court again for the next 11 years.”