Nicholas Mbah, a protester, who was arrested in Lagos and charged to court for arson, stealing and armed robbery, has been allowed to speak with his family after intense pressure from Nigerians.
Mbah, who is being detained at the Kirikiri Medium Correctional Centre, has developed serious health complications after torture by the police after he was arraigned on trumped-up charges.
Speaking after a visit to Mbah, his lawyer, Ayo Ademiluyi, said the officials of the correctional centre allowed Mbah to speak with his family on official phone after citing COVID-19 restrictions as a reason for not allowing them in.
He said, “While Mr Ayo Ademiluyi as counsel was cleared to see Mr Nicholas Mbah, the family were refused access as the Nigerian Correctional Services has a COVID-19 policy not to allow family and friends to see inmates in order not to contact COVID-19.
“Despite the challenge put up by counsel against the logic and science of the policy, the correctional officers clarified to counsel that it was not specific to Nicholas Mbah but applicable to all. However, food materials brought by the family was passed on to Nicholas Mbah.
“Upon the request of counsel, he was allowed to speak on official phone lines with his sisters, Winifred and Tonia as well as his brother, Chukwudi. He became reassured after hearing their voices.”
Ademiluyi said Mbah, whose health condition was deteriorating, will not be allowed “access to advanced medical care or medication upon the application of his counsel”.
Narrating his moments with Mbah, Ademiluyi said the detainee narrated how he was arrested, adding that he was never told his offence until he was arraigned at the Yaba Magistrate Court.
Ademiluyi said, “He narrated how he was physically manhandled by security officials at Ojo Local Government Secretariat where he stopped by to verify an information after he withdrew cash from a FCMB account.
“He was subsequently handed over to police officers of Ojo Police Station, who transferred him to State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, before he was arraigned at the Yaba Magistrate Court.
“It was at Yaba Magistrate Court that he heard the charges against him for the first time, to wit, arson of a police station, stealing and armed robbery, none of which he ever committed.
“He was charged alongside Ugwuamba Chijoke, a tricycle rider, who was also picked up on the street for chatting away in his Keke that some boys in Ojo wanted to burn the police station.”
Mbah was arrested after the protest with the police deliberately misinforming the court that he was arrested with exhibits linking him to the offence committed as well as being in possession of weapons.
The police also said he was identified by victims and witnesses, who linked him to the crimes.