A security guard, Peter John who was falsely jailed over alleged ties with the burning of the Lekki Tollgate during the #EndSARS protest, has been released after spending 15 months at the Kirikiri Medium Prison.
John, in an interview with Punch, said he was arrested in November 2020 on his street at Wale Olateju, Lekki Waterside.
Narrating his experience in prison, the former inmate said prisoners are being maltreated on a large scale in the correctional facilities.
He also alleged that the government had forgotten about them.
According to him, the food is substandard, stating that this is also applicable to drugs administered to sick inmates. He said he saw as several prisoners died as a result of starvation.
He said, “During the #EndSARS protest, I was arrested on my street at Wale Olateju, Lekki Waterside. They took me to the police station and later took me to Lion building a year later where I stayed for eleven days.
“They later took me to Panti where I spent another five days then they charged me to court. They claimed I was part of those that burned down the Lekki Toll Plaza and Ajah Police Station and took us back to Panti, where I stayed for three days before being transferred to Kirikiri Medium Prison.
“I celebrated my birthday twice at the Kirikiri medium prison, I was in prison till 2022. I met a barrister who helped me regain my freedom this month.
“I suffered a lot while in prison, we always had beans for breakfast and they would only serve that around 2pm. The food was not up to standard, and we would purge after eating them. Then we will take a milk tin of cassava flakes (Garri) later on.
“Bedbugs and other insects disturbed our sleep, and we never had a comfortable rest. The faeces that were all over the place made us fall sick. They didn’t treat inmates well. Those who went to the hospital were not treated pleasantly.
“They administer substandard drugs to prisoners, only the rich among us give them some money to get good drugs. They could prescribe the required medication to a patient and ask him to call his family to buy them and send them to him.
“Inmates are maltreated in prison and forced to pack faeces, they will tell us to clean up faeces from 6am till 6pm. The prison officials could punish an innocent person. Inmates always lamented that government had abandoned them at the prison.
“I suffered there from 2020 to 2022 and my family could not help me. Sometimes when I called them, they were on the farm, but they didn’t have money to help me. I starved for a long time and witnessed some inmates die due to starvation.
“I am out now and faced with many challenges, the arrest ruined my marriage plans. I am currently jobless and miserable. I take food and clothes from others, I don’t have any possession left.”
Speaking on efforts made by the family to secure John’s release from prison, his cousin, Hosea Madu said, “When he was arrested, his brother reached out to me, so I visited the stations with his picture and it was confirmed, he was part of the detainees. We got in touch with Barrister Festus early this year, and he assured us that he will gain his freedom within a few days.”
The lawyer, Festus Ogun said the criminal system is unjust and should be radically reformed.
“We are grateful for the release of Peter John and the rest of a lot of our people that were unjustly detained in connection with this protest, but beyond the release, I honestly believe that the arrest, subsequent, unjust detention should not have happened in the first place if indeed we have a criminal system that is efficient.
“What we have now is a legal system. The current system of justice in this country should be put on trial for crimes against humanity. The criminal system we have in this country itself is criminal and so the only way forward, is to ensure that the system is radically reformed.”