I was jailed for defiling a four-year-old girl but my lawyer said I should plead, ‘not guilty.’
I know I am guilty.
I dipped my fingers into the child’s vagina when I was cleaning her after she pooed. The girl reported to her mother. I was beaten black and blue and taken to the police station and from there my case was transferred to Ikeja, the unit that deals with sexual offence.
I am guilty.
I am 21 years and I’ve spent one year at Kirikiri medium prison.
Let me tell you my story.
I am a science student; I finished school two years ago at government college and I scored-
But I didn’t have any sponsors for university, so I began to work…it was while I was working that this defilement happened.
I feel so ashamed of myself; I didn’t know the magnitude of my offence until I was bundled to prison to await trial.
The complainants (parents of the child) said they didn’t want to have any case with me; they didn’t want their child exposed to grilling in court, so they never showed up in court for the one year i spent in jail.
I was remanded at the Kirikiri Medium Prison, I know a lot of people are used to hearing about Kirikiri maximum prison, that one is for hard core criminals; murderers, armed robbery cases that involve killings, kidnappers, especially those who killed their victims, all the hard core crimes are at maximum.
There is also ‘new building.’ This is where big men are kept; the rich, politicians who fell out of favour, rich civil servants, rich people generally.
I was in Medium. You see, the state government frowns heavily on sexual crimes like rape cases, defilement, especially of children, they don’t even want to hear it. You are in big trouble for that, in fact, they will immediately send your case straight to Ikeja where they handle sexual crime cases, which was where I found myself.
They made me realise my crime was a serious one, even though I thought because I didn’t penetrate the girl, I would be let off easily, that was my initial consolation but I was wrong, immediately they heard ‘defilement,’ they treated me like a plague, like a snake that must be killed.
My case was in Ikeja but I was remanded at Kirikiri. First off, new intakes like me are called ‘alejo’ meaning guest in Yoruba. We are put in the torture cell for three days. The cell has a thick human decay smell, it is almost like a human being itself, it overpowers even the strongest inmate and that smell is the king.
In this torture cell or ‘welcome cell’ as they call it, we are beaten for the three days, either with hands or with belt…for no reason other than to make us understand that we have come to a place where there are lords and masters of the cells.
Three days of torture by fellow prisoners will break you. It did me. I was beaten morning, noon and night and made to pack the cell’s shit buckets with my bare hands. I don’t want to describe it but the stench, the feel of watery human feaces blackened by…ok, so yes, we have a bucket that overflows with putrid human waste, I was made to pack and empty the bucket every time with my bare hands…as a new comer, that was also my job.
One other thing the torture is meant to achieve is make you call your family to send money to you, this money is called ‘plan well,’ of course this doesn’t belong to you, the money goes to the cell leader. Our families will send the money in form of MTN recharge cards…there is someone on the outside who helps them convert the credits to actual cash.
You need to understand that after being slapped and beaten to an inch of your life, won’t you beg your families to send you the credits? Yes, we will be given the number to send the credits to, and even though you know your family cannot afford N10,500 credit, you will beg them to go borrow. I had to plead with my poor mother to go and get the money if she wanted to see me alive.
After three days, the money had better be ready. Then you are ‘sold off’ for N500 each to cell Marshalls or leaders of the cells who will come to ‘buy’ you from the welcome cell.
When the cell Marshalls came, they wanted those of us who had been able to deliver the N10,500 credits. Many of them were hardened, you look at them and you are filled with fear.
Me, I sought the face of a kind looking Marshall, I begged him to ‘buy’ me and promised to be a good boy. He looked gentle and he pointed out that he would ‘buy’ me because apart from every other thing, they benefit from the N10k we paid, they get a percentage. It is in their interest to get ‘alejos’ that will pay.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)