Look at me.
I am younger than you and yet I look like your older sister. It is the suffering of this world that has turned me into an old woman? I am just 44 years old, but a widow with five children.
Look at my first daughter, my Ada, she has been in prison for almost one year now. They told me I could bail her then the next thing her matter was taken to court but my sister, when I approached them for the bail, they said court is asking for one thing, one thing o, in short, the thing they told me put serious fear in me, that is why I have not been able to get my daughter from police net.
The court put her bail at N1million! But I thought that they always say bail is free, they asked me to bring N1millon plus sureties that have landed property, ngwa nu, where will they come from? The N1m and the sureties? Who will stand up for a widow and her poor child, in this country Nigeria?
What did Ada do?
They said Ada stole trinkets worth N8m from her madam! They said she and the people she was working with, that they stole her Oga’s property and those people have run away only Ada remained.
I know it will sound somehow but Ada is not a thief. How can a small girl of 16 years that has not even worked up to three months steal N8m gold?
Which house will she bring that money? My house? she knows I will not allow robbery or stolen things in my house.
I know I am poor but I brought up my children not to steal even if they are hungry, afterall, they are not the only ones hungry.
Ada told me she was hypnotized and I believe her, she did not steal her madam’s things. If she stole them by herself, she should have run away like the others, is that not true? But she is innocent, she was hypnotized!
I am a mother who knows her children, so I can bet my life on it. Ada is innocent but who will hear my voice? Who will hear my daughter’s voice? Who will help us, biko, tell me?
Ada was just 16 years old when this trouble started. She finished secondary school and since I have no money for university, I told Ada, instead of wasting time, go and learn one trade so that you can be useful to yourself and help me with your brothers.
She said she wanted to learn hair dressing, I said, oya come, let us go and meet the madam that has that big salon where plenty people go, you will learn hair dressing, in short, there are many girls training there.
We went there and the madam told me that the amount to pay for apprenticeship is N50,000! Biko nu, where will I get N50,000?
In this Nigeria of today? So I told Ada, you have to work for some time to get this kind of money. She said I will go join them at the agency that helps people get work as house girl or nanny, or cleaner or one thing, one thing….
She registered with the agency. In that place they will collect your name, address, phone number of your family and their address before they give you job.
Not quite long after that, she said the agency said she should go and meet one madam in Lagos and work for her. We live in Sango.
That was how she went to Surulere in Lagos to start the work in July last year and she never even worked for three months when this her wahala started.
Ada’s madam carry Ada to the police station say she stole her trinket, her gold and necklace and bangles and earrings and clothes and shoes. She told police that Ada was an agent that was working for the thieves and she packed all her load and gave the thieves. That’s how Ada was arrested and taken to police station.
When I asked Ada, say what happened? She tell me that someone touched her for bus stop when her madam sent her on errand. Ada say as they touched her, her mind flew away. That she didn’t know what she was doing again. She just went to her madam’s house and packed all her madam’s things and gave it to the men.
Oh Lord in heaven! I believe my daughter because what will she do with all those things they are accusing her of stealing? I said it cannot be true because Ada cannot even know gold if she see am, I myself I have only seen real gold only once in my life, that was a long time ago when I was a girl. So how will Ada, who has never seen me or anybody around her wear gold, how will she know gold and steal it? How will she carry chains and earrings and bangles of big money when she knows how she left home?
She is a small girl. They say she is 20 but my daughter is just 17years. She is just a small girl that was hypnotized and those evil men have gone, leaving her to suffer.
How will I even get N50,000 talk less of N1m? Where will I get that kind money, in this Nigeria of today?
But who will hear my story? Ada is still in prison because bail is no longer free!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)