Jide Odusanya, a former Kirikiri Prison inmate, Jide Odusanya, regrets losing his temper, a reason he encouraged others not to lose theirs.
A fight over a water wastage had ensured that he spent 26 years behind bars before a pardon was given by the Lagos State Command.
Prior to his liberation from prison, Odusanya had set foot in three jail facilities across Nigeria as revealed in a report by Punch News, which captured him at a conference organised by the Prison and Hospital Ministry of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Ogun Province 4 Headquarters, Redemption Camp, Ogun State.
“The mechanic usually came to fetch water in my father’s house and I told him to always lock the tap when he was done.
“This was because my room’s window was close to the tap and when water spilled on the floor, it bred mosquitoes which entered my room.
“But that day, he asked why I would talk to him in such a manner. He pushed me.
“I was angry and slapped him, which started a fight. The younger brother of one of my friends came to visit me that period.
“Instead of separating the fight, the boy took a flaming wood and smashed it on the mechanic’s head.
“The mechanic hit his head on the ground and sustained some injuries. The boy and I were arrested and detained at the Iponri Police Station for causing grievous bodily harm.
“The injured mechanic’s uncle, who was an army officer, said he was interested in the case. It was during the military regime.
“We were transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Yaba,” says Odusanya who appeared a much reformed person.
It could have ended in death for Jide Odusanya
Jide Odusanya’s struggle in the hands of the Nigerian judicial system could have turned out to be a more disastrous ending barring the intervention of former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The APC chieftain played a role in saving him from the grip of death after converting an earlier capital punishment sentencing to life imprisonment.
“After seven years, legal advice said I had a case to answer, while the boy was discharged and acquitted. I was moved from the Ikoyi Prison to the Kirikiri Maximum Prison.
“I was taken to a court at Igbosere where I was sentenced to death based on the knife evidence. I was on death row for three years before former Lagos Governor, Bola Tinubu, converted it to life imprisonment on December 31, 2001.
“I spent 16 years in life imprisonment. At some points, I was taken to the Ibara Prison in Ogun State and would have been released by the then Governor of the state, Gbenga Daniel, who asked to see my file. But the prison authorities did not send the file to him.
“After eight years at Ibara Prison, I was returned to the Kirikiri Prison.
“I was considered for pardon by the Lagos State Government and was released in June 2017,” the ex-inmate mentioned at the conference.
The Nigeria Prison Service is not a place to reform
Odusanya believes the Nigeria Prison Service (NPS), is failing in its core responsibility of being a centre for reforming delinquents.
He observed that his changed personality was as a result of ministering by some Christianorganizations.
This ensured that he found the motivation and a sense of purpose to pursue a degree in Cooperative Management at the National Open University of Nigeria. What appears to be a challenge is gathering tuition fees in the sum of N50,500.
“The prisons are not reforming anybody. Those who make the difference in our prisons are the non-governmental organisations and churches.
“Anybody that comes out of prison and changes, God must have been involved. Most often, criminals become hardened after passing through the prison.
“I became a born-again Christian in prison due to the visitations of some churches like the Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries, led by Dr D.K. Olukoya; Pastor Tunde Bakare’s Latter Rain Assembly and the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Pastor E.A. Adeboye’s visits to prisons every two years and his ministrations give people like us hope.
“I made my O’level credits in prison and gained admission into the National Open University of Nigeria where I started studying Cooperative Management. I am now in 200 level.
“The challenge I have is that after I was released from prison, the school withdrew a scholarship it gave me.
“I have been running around to raise the school fees of N50,500 to no avail,” Odusanya mentioned at the conference.