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    Innocent man detained for 11 years over neighbour’s offence in Lagos is freed

    A Lagos resident identified as Mr Maxwell Dele, who has been incarcerated for over 11 years without trial has been released by the Lagos State High Court.

    Nigerian Director of Lawyers without Borders France, Angela Uzoma-Iwuchukwu disclosed that Dele was arrested while police officers were trailing one Mr James Idem, accused of being involved in an armed robbery operation.

    Dele who was a shop owner and neighbour to James in Ikorodu market, Lagos was arrested after being unable to provide information on the whereabouts of Mr James.

    Iwuchukwu added that Dele was handed over to the Sagamu Road Police Station, from where he was transferred to SARS Ikeja, Lagos, where he was allegedly hanged and tortured. He was also allegedly forced to sign an already written statement.

    A statement released by the organization read; 

    “During the search for Mr James, Dele was asked by the police officers to provide information on the whereabouts of Mr James and when Dele couldn’t provide those answers, he was arrested for armed robbery.

    “Dele was handed over to the Sagamu Road Police Station, from where he was transferred to SARS Ikeja, Lagos, where he was hanged and tortured.

    “Dele was also forced to sign an already written statement on October 16, 2011, the same day he was charged with armed robbery at the Magistrate Court 17, Ikeja, Lagos. Dele remained in the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kirikiri, Lagos, and never appeared in court again for the next 11 years.

    “ASF France tendered an application to the Lagos State High Court on behalf of the detainee, particularly seeking his unconditional or conditional release, citing instances of torture, violation of his fundamental human rights, rights to personal liberty and freedom of movement, provided under sections 35 and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended. The application was successful at the High Court of Lagos State.”

    The country’s Director of Lawyers without Borders France concluded by stating that loss of 11 years of one’s life to a “systemic irregularity was an unimaginable suffering”.

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