Dare Williams, a student at the Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka, Lagos State, is currently imprisoned at the Kirikiri Medium Security Prison over his role in the 2020 #EndSARS protest, FIJ can report.
A source privy to information on the matter told FIJ that Williams and Bethel Chukwuocha, one of his friends, were arrested on December 22, 2020, two months after the protest ended, and were accused of car snatching.
The source said Williams owned a WhatsApp account with over 30,000 contacts and was known for sharing videos and pictures of activities surrounding the protest on his WhatsApp status.
These visual materials were usually branded with his phone number, said the source, and anywhere they were shared, viewers would see his phone number and likely reach out to him directly.
Williams’ ordeal with the police began when he shared a video of some hoodlums battering a police officer with broken bottles and pushing him in a wheelbarrow.
He and Chukwuocha were arrested in front of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, and branded car snatchers, the source said.
HOW IT BEGAN
“On the 20th of October 2020, when the shooting at the Lekki Tollgate took place, Dare left there some minutes before the shooting started. The following morning, some people sent some videos and he posted them,” said the source.
“There was this particular video sent, which showed how a police officer was killed. The hoodlums broke bottles on his head and he was pushed in a wheelbarrow.
“As someone who operates a WhatsApp TV, he posted the video on his Twitter account and watermarked it with his WhatsApp number. After this, he started receiving strange calls from unknown numbers threatening him to take down the video and asking what his business with #EndSARS protest was, but he didn’t pay attention to them.
“And this was how Dare scheduled his time if he was not in school. He would either be in the studio or with his dogs. Mind you, there’s a police station close to the school. Most of the officers were on the WhatsApp TV and he had their numbers.
“In December, the officers were randomly picking guys on the streets. Meanwhile, a night before then, he had gone to the studio to record a new song with a course mate. While returning to the hostel the following morning, he said he stopped at UNILAG gate to get Shawarma, and that was how the officers stopped Dare and asked him to unlock his phone.
“The officers didn’t even give Dare and his friend a chance to talk, neither did they even inform their parents of where they were taking them to. The grandmother had gone to three different police stations before she got to know that the young men were taken to Sabo Police Station. The friend was allowed to call his dad and the next thing, the duo were labelled criminals and car snatchers.
“The next morning, they took Dare and his friend to the Ikeja police headquarters, the parade ground. Journalists were there, and upon seeing others paraded with guns and everything, Dare knew they were going to be implicated.
“From there, Dare and his colleague were transferred to Panti, and when the torture was too much, they played by the rules and ended up spending two months before they were taken to court. After that, there was a series of adjournments. First sitting was on December 29, and then February 2 and March 3, yet they were not taken to court. On April 12, a strike started, and after that, the court sat mid of July. In August, they opened the case file, and September, due to the legal week, the court didn’t sit and the young men were taken to prison.
“It was when the two friends got to prison that they realised that the false confession Dare made went viral. They had no access to a phone, so they had no idea initially.”
POOR HEALTH, POOR LEGAL REPRESENTATION WORSEN SITUATION
FIJ learnt that Chukwuocha contracted tuberculosis while in prison and was transferred to a different cell from Williams’. Both men have not seen each other since the illness was discovered.
FIJ also learnt from a reliable source that when both men first appeared in court, they had no legal representation, and when the judge asked if any lawyer was willing to represent them, one Emmanuel Omajali took up the case.
The source said Williams complained that they had paid Omajali over N150,000 but he had never visited them in prison. They only get to see him in court.
Efforts to reach Omajali for comments proved abortive as of press time, as he did not respond to calls and a message to him.
“Dare had two phones with him, about N40,000 in cash, a hard drive, Rolex wristwatch, a ring and Airpods on him when he was arrested,” the source told FIJ. “They only documented a single phone.
“When they went to court, the prosecutor brought one Clement as a witness. He claimed they were the ones who were terrorising the hood and robbed him of his car, but in February this year, he withdrew from the case.”
Both men are now seeking better representation and fair prosecution in court.
FIJ contacted Olayinka Adeyemi, Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions, and Grace Alo, public affairs commissioner, but they both declined to comment.
FIJ also sent an email to the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, but it was yet to be replied to as of press time.
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