How I Spent 24 Years In Prison For Following Friend To Police Station — Lukman Adeyemi

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n a harrowing account of injustice within the Nigerian criminal justice system, Lukman Adeyemi recounts his 24-year ordeal behind bars, a consequence of a misguided act of loyalty towards a friend. His narrative sheds light on the flaws and injustices prevalent within the system, leading to prolonged and unjust incarceration.

Adeyemi describes his initial encounter with the system as a descent into hopelessness, spending nine years in pre-trial detention, followed by an agonizing 15 years on death row. The conditions he faced were nothing short of torture, reminiscent of a dark and endless nightmare. Recalling moments of interrogation by SARS Police officers, he vividly portrays the physical and psychological torment endured as he was coerced into admitting to crimes he had no knowledge of, under duress and threat.

Reflecting on his incredulity at being held accountable for another’s transgressions, he questions the system’s integrity and fairness. Despite being an innocent bystander caught in the web of injustice, he found himself entangled in a legal quagmire that seemed insurmountable. His decision to accompany his friend to the police station, out of a sense of loyalty and duty, inadvertently led to his own wrongful arrest and subsequent incarceration.

Throughout his years of imprisonment, he faced skepticism and disbelief when attempting to share his truth with others. The prevailing sentiment of doubt and suspicion only added to his misery, as he grappled with the weight of false accusations and a lack of justice.

However, a glimmer of hope emerged when he crossed paths with the Centre for Justice Mercy and Reconciliation (CJMR) and his team, who offered support and advocacy on his behalf.

The intervention of the Organization, headed by Pastor Hezekiah Olujobi, brought a renewed sense of optimism and possibility, signaling a potential breakthrough in his quest for freedom.

Lukman Adeyemi walking to freedom.
“I am Lukman Adeyemi, a native of Iwerele, 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 to look for Ismaila and he was asked to report himself in the station.

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

“Ismaila Lasisi once lived with them. He begged to come and live with me after he had a misunderstanding with these people in March. I knew these people from a far distance. Our paths never crossed in life for anything. This was how I was charged to court along with these people over an offence I never had any knowledge of. In 2009 we were sentenced to death. We filed separate appeals but the appeal failed 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?’ ‘If truly you are innocent why can’t court free you?’

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

“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 phone.

“On 17th July 2023, a group Centre for Justice Mercy and Reconciliation, CJMR, led by Pastor Hezekiah Olujobi visited us at the Ibara Correctional Service where they listened to all of us including the culprits who exonerated us. The organization went with all our judgement and shed light on our innocence. June 14, 2024 shall remain 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 offense and still boldly walk into a police station to report myself?

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

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