For eight months, Nicholas Mbah, an up-and-coming artiste, was illegally detained in Kirikiri Prison, Lagos, for participating #EndSARS protests in October 2020.
He was apprehended by the officials of the Lagos State Task Force in the Ojo area of Lagos on October 29, 2020.
According to his lawyer, Orji Ama-Onu, Mr Mbah was arrested while withdrawing money at an ATM stand and he was accused of being part of the #EndSARS protests that fuelled the attacks on police stations in the area.
He was subsequently detained at Ojo Police Station and later transferred to Panti in Yaba.
Mr Mbah was arraigned before the Magistrate’s Court of Lagos State sitting at Yaba on November 2, 2020, on charges of conspiracy to commit felony, “armed robbery, arson and rioting”.
He was also said to be among folks accused of setting fire on “two police patrol vehicles at Ojo Police Station valued N20 million.”
The court then ordered that he should be remanded. PREMIUM TIMES reported that the protester, who was suffering from hemorrhagic complication, also had his condition worsened in detention.
Throughout last year and early this year, his lawyer, Mr Ama-Onu frowned on how the court kept adjourning the case, despite his client’s deteriorating health condition.
On March 16, the court granted bail to Mr Mbah in the sum of N50,000 with two sureties in like sum.
He was unable to meet the bail conditions that day, but by the time he did, the court which was supposed to sign for his release eventually, due to the nationwide strike embarked upon by members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) on April 6.
Courts across the country only resumed on Tuesday following the union’s decision to suspend the 64-day-old strike last week.
Mbah finally regains freedom
Mr Mbah’s lawyer told an online newspaper, FIJ on Wednesday that his client was released on Tuesday.
The lawyer, while explaining how he secured Mr Mbah’s release, said “the prison warder said the new rule was to get the court proceedings alongside the release warrant and before I could obtain the proceedings from the magistrate’s court, I had to surmount a lot of unnecessary obstacles,” Mr Ama Onu said.
“Even when there was a brief interlude between the strike, we could not do much because the magistrate didn’t come and the registrars were not passionate enough to summon her to the court.
“Yet, my conscience couldn’t drop the case and allow the young man to rot in prison. It is just so pathetic that I nearly knelt down to beg these registrars to facilitate the court proceedings but they kept giving flimsy excuses like illegibility of the Magistrate’s handwriting and all sorts, until the strike caught up with them in the process. I finally got the assurance of release on Tuesday.”
PREMIUM TIMES also obtained a two-minute video clip of Mr Mbah appreciating those who showed solidarity when he was in prison.
— #June12Protest (@RevolutionNowNg) June 15, 2021
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