A Lagos State High Court sitting in Igbosere has set a man, Kazeem Sani, free after awaiting trial for 10 years in the Kirikiri Medium Prison.
But for the intervention of some officials of the Lagos State Office of the Public Defender, Sani would not have regained his freedom.
The police, in the three counts, said Sani, and others, on July 7, 2006, dispossessed one Chike of his mobile phone valued at N18,000 at Oluti bus stop, along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, Lagos.
34-year-old Sani, who is a motorcyclist, was accused of the mobile phone theft, and was said to have been arraigned before an Ikeja Magistrates’ Court sometime in 2006 when the incident happened before the case was referred to the high court. Sani had only been married for one year then and his wife was pregnant.
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Sani, an Ondo State indigene, was arrested in 2006. His case was filed at the Lagos High Court, Igbosere, on March 27, 2013, implying that he spent seven years in custody before his case got to the high court.
An official of the OPD, speaking to Punch Metro, said no witness showed up for the case during the three years that the matter was in court..
Three suspects were actually arraigned, but the others secured their bail in 2006 when the incident happened. He also didn’t have any legal representative.
The OPD official said they were just checking on the cases in court when they came across Sani’s matter and decided to stand for him.
They asked the court presided over by the Chief Judge, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, that the matter be struck out for lack of diligent prosecution, which was granted.
An overwhelmed Sani could not believe he had been set free until he was reassured by court officials to go home.
The discharged and acquitted Sani speaking after his release said that he did not steal the phone, adding that he never believed he would be released until the DPP’s lawyer showed up and pleaded on his behalf.
Director of the OPD, Mrs. Omotola Rotimi, who spoke through the agency’s spokesman, Adeoba Adeniji-Adele, confirmed the incident, adding that government planned to reintegrate Sani into the society.