‘Guilty until proven innocent in Nigeria’

A few years ago, the Nigerian police paraded a gang of male armed robbers headed by a woman in front of journalists, and photos of these seven alleged criminals who had terrorised a part of Lagos were published.

I was shocked to identify the petite, light-skinned woman allegedly leading this deadly gang as a former secondary school classmate, with whom I had maintained sporadic contact over the years.

Handcuffed Man

The Federal Government Girls College, Owerri, has produced a number of outstanding Nigerian females, including World Bank Vice-President Arunma Oteh and outspoken MP Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje. But the leader of a dreaded gang of robbers was a first for us, and the news quickly spread to our alumni across the world.

On a whim, I dialled the alleged gang leader’s phone number a few weeks later. She was pleased to hear from me, but was driving and would call back later, she said.

The din of the surrounding Lagos traffic was proof that she was indeed not locked up in a police cell.

When she did call back, she dismissed the police’s accusations, insisting that she was innocent and had simply been “set up”.

She has not been convicted of the alleged crimes and is still walking free, despite being paraded before the media and having her reputation irredeemably soiled.

The proclivity to parade suspects by the Nigerian security services and declare them guilty before the media, without a lawyer present or trial by a competent court, came to the fore recently in a heartbreaking video that has been widely published.

‘You will not do this to me!’

Nigeria’s spy agency, the DSS, said a woman who they identified as Amina Mohammed posed as the wife of a state governor to gain entry to the presidential villa in the capital, Abuja.

The officers forced her to face the camera and confess her alleged crimes.

But, she refused. Instead, she covered her face with her veil, screaming: “You will not do this to me!”

In the effort to get her to cooperate, security officials yanked her veil away from her. The woman knelt on the floor, weeping.

Sign up for Updates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of new posts by email.