By Onozure Dania
…We bore our child in jail – Couple
The tales coming from some in-mates of Kirikiri Prisons, just released by the Lagos State Chief judge, Justice Ayotunde Philips, are heart touching.
Of the lot, the story of a couple, Bassey Ude, 35, and Comfort, 32, who had their first child, Emmanuel, now one year and five months old in the prisons, stands out. The theft of jewelries by the wife was the genesis of trouble for the young couple.
According to the husband, it was just like a movie when he was arrested by the police to answer for the offence that was committed by his wife. He revealed that indeed his wife stole the jewelries where she earned a living as a house help, but the stolen items were immediately returned after the discovery by the owner.
It was Comfort , who was first released, that brought to the notice of the Chief Judge the plight of her husband.
The wife said she stole the jewelries from her employer, adding that she could not say how much it cost but her husband was arrested alongside her.
She added that she returned the jewelries but the employer still went to report the matter to the police and they came to arrest her and her husband.
“To God who made me, I returned all the gold (the pieces of jewelries) to my madam. But she went to report the matter to the police to punish me and my husband,” Comfort said. The husband, Bassey, who claimed to be a caterer, said the incident happened on March 5, 2011, when his wife stole the jewelries and showed them to him.
They were both taken to the prisons 15 days after, he said, adding that while they were there for over two years, the wife gave birth to their son whom he only met in court when their case came up for mention.
An overjoyed Ude said he would go back to his employer, a guest house in Adeniji Jones area of Ikeja, for reinstatement, but that if he was turned back, he would ask for the arrears of his salary. He added that as a caterer, he could be on his own.
“If they don’t take me, I will try and be on my own. I have learnt my lessons, crime is not good,” he said.
Another inmate released, an estate surveyor and valuer, Taiwo Alatishe, 46, narrated his jail experience for five years for paying the proceeds from a house he sold into a wrong bank account (N25 million). He said that he was a member of the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers of Nigeria but that his name was de-listed form their register after the incident.
His family members and friends deserted him because of the problem.
Alatishe said that he was arrested in November 26, 2008 and spent two months at the state CID, Panti, Yaba before his arraignment in court.
According to him his case suffered 76 adjournments while he remained in detention. “The last time I was in court was April 13, 2013 at court number 7, at Ikeja Magistrate Court before Magistrate Rasak Davis.”
He said that he didn’t know he would be released adding that there was joy inside of him that he could not explain.
On what he learnt in prison, he said God opened his spiritual eyes to see some hidden potentials in him, adding that he would go to a Bible College and start pastoral work.
Another inmate freed by the Lagos CJ, 49 year old Elizabeth Sampson, narrated her own story of how she got into prison for hearing a strange voice which ordered her to go and burn her own blood brother to death.
Sampson, who was tearful, while narrating her story, said she could not explain how it happened as all she could say was that she heard a voice and obeyed the voice until she was shown pictures of what happened to her late brother, Mr. Isaac, apparently murdered.
According to the woman, who had been in Kirikiri since 2010, she only followed the voice until when she was taken to the prisons.
The former inmate said she learnt so many things in jail which she could use to lead a good life. One of the prison warders kept saying she was going to miss one freed inmate simply identified as Elizabeth because she was a very good teacher.