Samuel Oni, a National Youth Services Corps (NYSC) member serving in Osun, on Monday said he had, through his community development project (the Rehab Project), secured the release of a 29-year-old commercial motorcyclist, Olagunju Segun, accused of housebreaking and stealing from Ilesha Prison.
Oni made the disclosure while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Osogbo on the progress of his project since it’s inauguration in January.
Oni, who is a lawyer, serving with the Osun Ministry of Justice, said his team was able to secure the release of the accused on Friday at Ilesha Magistrates’ Court 3 after the accused had spent seven months in prison without trial.
He explained that as part of his own way of giving back to the community, he had been going to prisons in the state to help decongest them by offering legal aid to awaiting trial inmates and rehabilitating ex-convicts.
He said that in the cause of one of his visit to the Ilesha prison, he learnt about the case of the accused and took it up as his counsel.
Oni said the accused had been in prison for seven months without trial and that after his initial arraignment on three counts charge for conspiracy to commit a felony, housebreaking and stealing on Sept. 18, 2018, his case had suffered several adjournments at the instance of the prosecution.
“When the Rehab team visited the Ilesha Prison on Feb. 8, Segun narrated how he became a victim of circumstances.
“He explained how, as a commercial motorcyclist, he was flagged down in Ilesha by a young man (who is now at large) to carry him and his items.
“While on the spot, some group of people ran towards them calling them thieves and on sighting the mob, the passenger ran away leaving him behind.
“He said all attempt to convince the mob of his innocence fell on deaf ears as he was handed over to the police who arraigned him,” he quoted Segun as saying.
Oni said that when it appeared that the prosecution was not ready to call in any witness, he submitted on behalf of the defendant that the accused had spent seven months in prison custody, that the prosecution has shown lack of interest by failing to call any witness, not even the complainant in the matter.
He said the law presumes everyone innocent until found guilty by a competent court in Nigeria and consequently made an application for the matter to be struck out for lack of diligent prosecution.
Oni said the Magistrate sitting on the matter, Mr O. B. Awsan, while upholding his submission, struck out the matter for lack of diligent prosecution.
He said the motorcyclist had been reunited with his family in Ilesha, Osun, accompanied by a member of the Rehab Team, Ayinla Rukayat, to enjoy his freedom with his family.
NAN reports that Oni inaugurated the Rehab project with the aim of rehabilitating and integrating 20 ex-convicts back into society.
He said the aim of the project was to reach out to awaiting trial prisoners, help secure their release where necessary, train ex-convicts with life and vocational skills in order to rehabilitate and re-integrate them into the society and to empower the ex-convicts to be financially independent and also groom them into agents of change.