Man wrongly sentenced to death regains freedom after 16 years in jail
Mr. Oyenye Obasi, a 33-year-old man who was convicted at the age of 17 in Ibadan, regained freedom through the prerogative of mercy granted by former Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi at the tail end of his administration.
Tribune Online gathered that Oyenye was arrested with three other persons on May 7, 2003, in his father’s hotel at Ekotedo, following a robbery incidence inside one of G.U.O Motors’ luxury buses which took off from Mokola to Onitsha, Anambra State.
According to Oyenye who spoke TribuneOnline in the Center for Justice and Mercy Reconciliation (CJMR)’s office, said he was charged and convicted for selling drugged sachet water to the passengers in the bus for his cohorts to have easy operation, this, which he confessionally swore to in the court.
“I spent three and a half years in Agodi prison while my case was adjourned for investigation, this was when I met Pastor Hezekiah Olujobi, the founder of Centre for Justice and Mercy Reconciliation (CJMR), who beseeched me to tell him the truth when I shared my story and promised to fight my course after confirming my innocence.”
“On the day of the judgment, the judge condemned me to death by hanging,” he added.
“I was then transferred to Ibara prison, Abeokuta because there was no gallows (the place where condemned people are hanged) in Agodi prison,” he said.
Oyenye further explained that after he got to Ibara prison, Abeokuta, where he was housed in the condemn cell that he described as a dark room for seven years where he ate, slept, defecated and urinated. But was called into another cell where he now met people after being told that his judgment had changed from being condemned to death by hanging to life imprisonment.
“It was part freedom for me because I had the opportunity of playing football that I derived joy in, and participated in different competitions that I bagged ‘Most Valuable Player’ awards three times and won the trophy, seven times.”
Meanwhile, his father, Mr. Ambrose Obasi, claimed that he did not know of his son’s arrest the day he was paraded because he had earlier warned him not to go play football before going out, only to find out that he was not in the hotel when he came back, thinking he had disobeyed, unknowing to him that his son had been arrested with some other persons.
“I was in the court when he was convicted with robbery and charged to death by hanging, but I did not let the judgment weigh me down, I sold some of my properties to hire a lawyer to file for appeal so that my son will not suffer unjustly,” he added.
In his own reaction, Pastor Hezekiah Olujobi, the founder of Center for Justice and Mercy Reconciliation (CJMR), a non-governmental organisation responsible for fighting the course of people who are unlawfully detained or convicted, said he was interested in the case after listening to Oyenye’s story and when he discovered that the police report was different from the court’s charge.
“He confessed to selling drugged sachet water to passengers in the evaluation document, while the police report implicated him of robbery with his accomplice. I, therefore, took the matter up by writing to the then governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, for prerogative mercy on Oyenye which he did before he left office,” Pastor Olujobi said.
Elated Oyenye, who was full of joy, thanked Senator Abiola Ajimobi, who granted him amnesty, his family especially his father who ensured that he didn’t taste the prison food throughout his stay in the prison, his uncle, Mr. Justin and particularly, Pastor Hezekiah Olujobi for standing by him in thick and thin.
He also showed interest in building on his footballing career.