Trapped In Indian Prison For Over 5 Years, Nigerian Proclaims Innocence, Pleads With Tinubu Government To Secure His Release - Reportgist

Trapped In Indian Prison For Over 5 Years, Nigerian Proclaims Innocence, Pleads With Tinubu Government To Secure His Release

Reportgist
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According to Onweluzo, he has spent over five years in an Indian prison for a crime he did not commit. A Nigerian, Obinna Onweluzo who hails from Nnewi in Anambra State, South-East Nigeria but lives in New Delhi, India, has called on President Bola Tinubu’s administration to urgently intervene to secure his freedom.>>>CONTINUE FULL READING HERE

According to Onweluzo, he has spent over five years in an Indian prison for a crime he did not commit.

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Onweluzo told SaharaReporters that his ordeal started on December 26, 2018, when his friend from Liberia – a footballer in Kolkata West, Bengal, India – invited him to Kolkata.

He said, “On my arrival at the Kolkata Airport (Dum Dum Airport) on the same date, as I walked out of the airport, sitting at a coffee shop waiting for my friend to come and pick me up because I don’t know my way there, six to seven men surrounded me and told me that they were police officers.

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“They said I should follow them. I didn’t resist because I know I didn’t do anything. They put me in their car and drove off.

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“On the road, they demanded my phones which I gave them. I was with two Samsung phones and one small Nokia phone. They took them and when we arrived at the police station, they started questioning me about my coming and I told them.

“They took my wallet containing 12,500 Rupees and took a gold chain I was wearing worth 30,000 Rupees. They took my headphones and wristwatch, and then took me to another police station to sleep there because it was night already.

“In the morning, they came and took me to their station again and told me if I cooperated with them, they would leave me and I said okay. They said I should give them 4 Lakh Rupees, I asked for what? They said if I didn’t give it to them, they would give me a NDPS case (drug case).

“I told them to give me my phone, at least to contact someone so people would know where I was but they refused.”

Onweluzo said the police officers took him to court, locked him in a cell and went into the courtroom without him.

He said, “Afterwards, they took me again to the police station and locked me up. I pleaded with them and offered them 50,000 Rupees and they accepted and told me they would leave me alone but on one condition, They said they would video me and they told me to agree that I possessed 18 grams of cocaine.

“I refused and by then I had spent 10 days with them and no one knew where I was because they refused to allow me to contact anyone apart from when I agreed to give them the 50,000 Rupees. They gave me my phone to call someone who gave them the money.

“After much pressure, I agreed to do the video. After the video, it was 14 days I spent with them. They took me to jail, that’s where I am to date.

“On reaching the jail which is presidency correctional home, Alipore Kolkata West Bengal, they told me that I will be appearing in court for hearing.

“By then, I had the opportunity to contact some of my friends in New Delhi and I managed to get a lawyer, Mr Manish who took 1 Lakh, 80,000 Rupees from me and told me that anytime he comes here from New Delhi, I would pay him 30 Rupees, which I did about four times.”

He explained that by the time his lawyer came, they had already filed his charges against him.

According to him, his lawyer told the police officers that all they said about him were lies.

He said, “My lawyer said they should release me, even if it is on bail and they said they would look into it but another time, which was my next court date. The lawyer came but they told him the public prosecutor was not around and nothing was going to take place, so he went back.

“This happened like five times. Anytime my lawyer appeared, they would give one excuse or the other. I inquired about it and understood that they didn’t want any lawyer from another state to come for a case here.

“Then I looked for their indigenous lawyers and I have used up to seven of them. None of them took less than 1 Lakh, 50,0000 Rupees from me and they would appear once or twice and vanish.”

He noted that during the Covid-19 pandemic, he was incarcerated “for 11 months without going to court and other states of India ordered the release of some prisoners to decongest jail but this state said that foreigners were not involved”.

He continued, “In my charge sheet, they mentioned that I am a *** like three times in capital letters. I have written a petition to human rights and Nigerian High Commission but yet to be submitted because the prison authorities said they need my chargesheet where it is written as evidence but up till now, the government lawyer I am using for now is yet to bring it.

“I am using a government lawyer now as I don’t have money anymore to hire a private lawyer. In my chargesheet, I have like eight witnesses who are the police officers that arrested me. Till now, only five witnesses have been examined for the past six years that I have been here.”

Onweluzo told SaharaReporters that the witnesses who had been examined failed, and that the doctor who examined the drug they said belonged to him told the court that it was 2.6g that the police brought to him while the police wrote that they gave the doctor 3g.

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He said, “My lawyer asked another witness who said they had credible information that I came here for drug trafficking. Regarding the name of the informant and why his name was not written in the chargesheet, the witness could not answer him.

“He asked another witness who said that they arrested me in the midst of crowds and two people stepped out of the crowd to bear witness for them to search me. Regarding who the two people were, their names and why they were not written on the chargesheet, he didn’t answer.

“He asked another police witness who said they seized the drug, passport, wallet and so on from me if there were no mobile phones recovered from me, but he could not answer because they didn’t include it on my chargesheet.”

“The lawyer told them that it is not possible for someone to be a drug trafficker without a mobile phone,” he said.

According to him, when they saw that they had nothing against him, they started using delay tactics.

He said, “Whenever I appeared in court, they would say that the witness did not come and they would give me up to three months to appear again.

“And when I appeared again, they would give one excuse or the other and give another long date again.

“Sometimes I would only appear in court four times a year and nothing would be done in my case.

“The last time they treated my case was on February 13 this year. Till now, nothing has happened again. I went to court on June 24 and the lawyer, public prosecutor and the witness were there but when my case was mentioned, the judge said he was not ready to attend to my case.

“I am not talking about other humiliations, racism, torture and many more I am facing here. Not only me but five other Nigerians that are in this jail. They told us that our government does not care for us and that even if they kill us, no one will question them.

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“I was here when my father and my elder brother died in 2021.”

Asked if he had made any effort to reach the Nigerian High Commission in India, Onweluzo said, “In 2019 when they first brought me here, the Nigerian High Commission sent some representatives for everyone here because at that time, we were 15 and after we talked with them, they said they would get back to us, but since then till now, we haven’t seen or heard from them again.

“We have sent several emails and I myself have sent emails and also called their lines but all went unanswered.

“I told my friend in New Delhi to go to the High Commission by himself which he told me he did but he said he was told that no one should disturb them. He said he was told that when we were enjoying, no one remembered them but I don’t know how true it is because there is no evidence to back it up.

“But I have tried my best to contact them through on the phone but no one answered and or replied to the email.”

SaharaReporters also tried to contact the Nigerian High Commission in India but an email sent to the commission had not been replied to as the time of filing this report.>>>CONTINUE FULL READING HERE

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