Nigeria: A panel beater was released from prison eight years after being arrested for failing to apprehend fleeing criminals.

Eight years after being arrested for failing to stop suspected criminals on the run, a panel beater simply known as Ola has regained his freedom.

After nearly a decade in jail without trial, human rights organization Headfort Foundation secured his release.

In an Instagram post, Headfort described how Ola was arrested in 2014 after failing to apprehend some unknown individuals being pursued by soldiers.

Read the write-up; “Ola was a Panel beater working at Alaba, in Lagos State, Nigeria.

Sometime in May 2014, Ola was on his way back from work when he saw some people run by him. A few seconds later, soldiers ran after those persons. To his dismay, the soldiers returned angrily and questioned why he didn’t stop the persons that ran by him. He explained to the soldiers that he didn’t know them or why they were running and couldn’t just have stopped them from running.

His response infuriated the soldiers more and they took him to base. The senior officer at the Barracks refused to let the soldiers keep him at the Barracks so they took him to the police station and reported that he didn’t prevent the escape of the people they were chasing.

The Officers at Orile Police Station moved him alongside other suspects taken to SARS Office Ikeja where he was later charged to Court for the offence of Armed robbery when he couldn’t meet up with bail demands. The family members did their best and got him legal representation. After a while, they could no longer afford to pay so the lawyer withdrew his appearance.

Since 2014, he remained in custody with no lawyer representing him until July 2022 when he got Headfort Foundation’s contact from an inmate and he called to explain his ordeal. Our lawyer @itunuoluwaawolu took his brief and traced his case to Lagos State High Court TBS. She began representing him for free.

On Tuesday, just like every other day in which his case had come up for a trial, there was no witness. The prosecution informed the Court that they intend to call official witnesses who happened to be Police Officers but they are not familiar with the witnesses and do not have their contact details or means of reaching them.

Ola, who had been languishing in prison since 2014 awaiting trial was immediately released by the Court, and the charges against him were struck out.”

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