Detained for 12 Months-REJA Initiative Facilitates JM’s Release

We are happy to bring you impact stories from Edo State, Nigeria.

Our volunteer Peter Ogbu represented and secured the release of Jude Mathew (Pseudonym) aged 32 who was working in a palm oil mill in Benin City. Due to the poor conditions of service, Mr Jude notified his employer of his intention to resign in the middle of April 2022 and requested half of his pay for work done, but his employer vehemently refused and threatened to deal with him for resigning.

JM was favored when a colleague’s husband from the oil mill who saw how he was poorly treated, bought him a motorcycle to help him earn a living. Not long afterwards, his former employer made good his threats and forcefully abducted and arrested him. He was then charged at Ehor Magistrates’ Court with breach of public peace, and was remanded in custody.

If his case was immediately tried in court, the maximum punishment for this crime is one month of imprisonment however, JM who was unable to perfect his bail, remained detained in custody for 3 months without access to justice because he was barely making a living from his motorcycle and could not afford legal representation.

JM prayed day and night and his hope was restored when our volunteer Peter Ogbu became aware of his case and offered to represent him. The case was fraught with delays from the transfer of the magistrate and countless adjournments due to the unavailability of the IPO to prosecute the case.

JM was finally discharged on the 4th of May 2023.

As an organization, we condemn the activities of the institutions involved that led to the arrest of JM. Our focus is to ensure that the perpetuation of injustice by instruments of the state be brought to an end and that the Police or any other law enforcement agency be no longer used as tools of oppression against indigent persons. We are grateful to our volunteer for making this happen and remain committed to ensuring that justice is accessible to everyone regardless of their economic status.

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