Samuel Ojo’s mother had warned him not to participate in the Ondo leg of last year’s EndSARS protest, and he had heeded the warning. He would stay indoors whenever there was a protest.
But on October 24, he fell into the hands of soldiers raiding arsonists who had burnt down the All Progressive Congress (APC) secretariat in Akure.
On October 21, rampaging youth had attacked the Akure APC secretariat and set the edifice ablaze. The youth claiming to be #EndSARS protesters had defied the 24-hour curfew imposed by the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, to mount roadblocks across the streets of Akure.
Following the incident, security operatives in the state had indiscriminately raided the streets of Akure in their attempt to arrest the culprits. Kemisola Ogunbiyi, 17; Ibunkun Ayodele, 17; and 21-year-old Samuel were arrested and remanded in the process. They were charged with arson, among other offences.
The travails of the juveniles in jail were not known to the public until some youth took to social media to raise the alarm on what the “illegal detention” of the trio.
— #RevolutionNow (@RevolutionNowNg) April 7, 2021
“Samuel couldn’t have joined the EndSARS protest. He is a gentle boy who hardly talks unless it is absolutely necessary,” Janet Ojo, his mother, told FIJ.
“He has never caused trouble; he goes his own way. They said when the soldiers were raiding, others took to their heels. But he didn’t because he felt he had done no wrong.
“He was tortured and detained and since then his father and me have been suffering to secure his release. We’ve spent a lot of money on hiring lawyers. Please help us!”
An Ondo-based activist said an eyewitness had told him that Samuel was just an onlooker in the protest and that he was never a participant. The activist who had visited Samuel in prison said he met him in a very terrible condition.
“He was just crying when we met him; he was shedding tears bitterly. Even the prison warders were advising that we take necessary steps to secure his bail because they don’t think the boy was ever part of the protest,” he said.
When contacted for comments, Tee-Leo Ikoro, the Ondo Police Public Relations Officer, said the matter was no longer in the hands of the police.
“If they have anything as evidence in her favour, there’s a tribunal going on here; let them go there and present their case,” he said.
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