A 37-year-old disabled Nigerian man, Ajayi Adetola, who spent the last five years in Kirikiri Medium Prison over an offence he was innocent of, has been discharged and acquitted by a Lagos State High Court.
Ajayi was arraigned on counts of robbery, stealing and conspiracy by operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ikeja, after SARS operatives had arrested his former acquaintance, Rashidi Sikiru, for allegedly stealing a vehicle.
When the suspect was said to have been tortured by the policemen who asked him to name other members of his gang, he dragged the disabled Nigerian man in.
Punch reports that after Adetola’s counsel stopped coming to court after collecting N300,000 from his family, the judge was said to have assigned the case to a lawyer from the Lagos State Office of the Public Defender.
The lawyer who interviewed Sikiru, said he confessed to have mentioned Adetola in the heat of police torture. Sikiru, also testified during the trial that the disabled Nigerian man from Abeokuta, Ogun State indigene, was innocent.
Justice Kudirat Jose who delivered judgment on the matter, convicted Sikiru of stealing and sentenced him to four years’ imprisonment, while she discharged and acquitted Adetola on all the three counts.
Recall that in October 2017, a 41-year-old Kansas native, Lamonte McIntyre, who was wrongly convicted of a double murder, was set free after spending 23 years in jail.
McIntyre was originally convicted at the age of 17 on the testimony of witnesses who later recanted. Prosecutors presented no physical evidence or motive to tie him to the 1994 murders.
A judge was reconsidering the case in court hearings that were scheduled to last into next week, when the new prosecutor in the case said in a news release that new information cast doubt on witness identification of McIntyre as the killer, and that a jury might have not convicted him.