Immediately a kidnap charge was included in my charge sheet to extend my stay in prison custody, ACB Agbazuere who dressed in his customary all-white caftan left the Magistrate Court 7 room pompously and satisfied. For him, the notionate journalist is caged.
You need to see how condescendingly he and the police prosecutor who looked like Fido Dido – the cartoon character of 7-up advert of the 90s – watched me handcuffed like a criminal and chauffeured to Afara prison in a Black Maria.
The news had already gotten to the prison yard before I arrived. As I alighted from the Black Maria and ushered into the prison yard by the prison officials the worried expression in the faces of the inmates and prison officials almost demoralised me.
Of course, they had every reason to be worried because it’s de rigueur to remand people in prison custody in Abia State with concocted criminal charges such as kidnapping, armed robbery and murder. Several of the inmates have spent years awaiting trials for concocted criminal cases courtesy of the police prosecutor and his likes.
They were scared that such fate could befall me since the leadership of the two leading opposition parties in Abia, APGA and APC, and their chairmen had not visited and did not visit or care about me throughout the five weeks I spent in prison. How would they visit or care about me when some of them were busy negotiating with the PDP?
Their tergiversation almost generated a feeling of ambivalence from the inmates and prison officials towards the opposition parties’ leadership. If they could abandon a man who the government accused of working for them, how then could they rescue Abia from the chasm?
Probably aware of the asseveration not offered by the opposition parties towards my plight, Agbazuere in his presumptuousness made an offer to me through my lawyer and some prison officials to write an apology letter to T. A. Orji and Abia governor Okezie Ikpeazu. According to him, they would reconsider, drop their concocted charges against me, and we would then settle.
“Where’s Alex Otti now? Has he been able to release him from the prison? Tell him to beg Ndi Oke Madu (the lords of Abia),” Agbazuere was quoted to have bragged.
So you can see that the reason for my five weeks’ incarceration was not because I committed a crime but because they wanted me silenced and turned to one of their toadies like several misguided lazy Abia youths.
But trust me, it would be easy for me to commit suicide than apologise, compromise my profession for crumbs and watch our children’s future stolen.
Unknown to him and his cohorts, while they were playing god, the Ugwu Abia (Abia’s pride) the silent achiever, Dr Alex Otti, had stormed the office of the already compromised Commissioner of Police, Mr Etim Okon, and demanded to know who I kidnapped and why my charge sheet had to be amended to include kidnapping. He admonished him for being bias and threatened to take the matter to the highest authority if the kidnap charge remained.
CP Okon denied involvement and promised to intervene the next day. I was interviewing some of the inmates when a prison officer came to tell me that there was a warrant of production from Magistrate Court 7 to produce me.
As I alighted from the Black Maria, I noticed that the faces of my accusers were gloomy, unlike the previous day. I quickly sent my brother to get me a chilled bottle of beer and some piece of roast meat to celebrate my Friday.
I had missed my beer o’clock for days because alcoholic beverages are not allowed in and around prison custody. I barely heard the verdict of the Magistrate because I thought they wanted to include armed robbery to the charges.
So my attention was on the sweating bottle of chilled beer my brother was holding outside the courtroom. It was the prison officer that told me that the kidnap charge had been struck off.
Thanks to Dr Alex Otti, he did not only halt the conspiracy against me but also visited me in prison to ensure that justice was not perverted he also contracted more lawyers. The day he came to the prison to visit me, you can’t believe what happened.
To be continued…