Wednesday, 13 May 2020


Anayo Nwosu
Anayo Nwosu

To the an ordinary eye, things happen without a cause but God who permits both the good and the bad to happen to people always drops hints on why unusual things happen. It takes what the penticostals refer to as “the spiritual mind or man” to decode the raison d’être or the purpose of any calamity or suffering that befalls any man or woman.

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I was to find out that the real reason why I was sent to jailed is not because I was that marketer that sold shares during private placement to a very loss-averse investor who is so intolerant and quick to temper, wealthy, connected and powerful a man that he ensured that I was jailed. The real reason was waiting for me inside Kirikiri prison.

Stunningly, the man was hitherto a good family friend who suddenly became so unbending and amenable to professional advise that would have mitigated the potential investment loss brought about by crash in the stock market. His action was akin to the behaviour of Pharoah as he pursued the people of Israel down towards the River Nile.

I was soon to realize that God approved my imprisonment because of a young handsome boy in his early 20s who was jailed for life and is serving his term in Kirikiri Maximum prison. That same boy who became my servant in prison few days after I got there.

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I had hinted in my previous writings that the prison is like the real world where your status, liquid money and your disposition to spend it would determine where you are placed and the extent of facilities you enjoy. So, I could afford a servant that washed my clothes, cooked for me and ran errands like those boys carrying baskets on their heads in Lagos markets, ready to follow shoppers and carry their loads to the shoppers’ cars. I was actually entitled to two servants but I decided to make do with only this handsome, clean and homely boy. He was very efficient, truthful and tirelessly hardworking.

The servants in Kirikiri are picked from amongst indigent or forgotten prisoners who could starve if not assisted. You would pay them weekly and feed them. They eat what you eat or even more than you. Are they not the cooks? You can also fire and hire them at will as done in the real world.

The day I hired the boy was not the first time I had seen him. I had seen him serving Mass on my very first church attendance at St Stephen Catholic Church inside the prison. He walked like a holy man as he carried the Crucifix or Holy Cross the way I would when I was a mass server at St. Peter Claver’s Akwunweke, Otolo Nnewi. It never occurred to me that the boy would come to me for employment. “How much do I pay you per week?” I asked the applicant and he said, “don’t pay me sir. I am okay with you feeding me sir”. That was strange! “Is this boy targeting to steal my money, the money gifted to me by those visiting me in prison?” I asked myself.

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But something in me asked me to query the job applicant further. I asked him what brought him to prison. I had made up my mind that I wouldn’t employ a murderer, armed robber or plain thief. I had rejected an hour before, an applicant who confessed to stealing phones and waylaying people. I was afraid that the spirit that moved him against his victims could one day move him to steal from me.

“Sir, I was framed up. I’m innocent sir”, the boy said as tears dripped from his eyes. I pressed my “be careful” button. Someone had jocularly told me during my first meeting with the inmates in my block that “everybody inside the prison is innocent”, that day I was trying to let them know that I was not supposed to be in prison with them. A sort of being holier than thou.

“Sir,” the new applicant continued, “I was 21 years old when I was jailed. I had met a 19 years old girl and asked her out and her father would not hear of that. I was an office clerk to a company that transferred me from Calabar to Lagos. The father of the girl got me arrested. He wouldn’t accept any plea. I couldn’t afford bail logistics and I was later charged with defilement of a minor and I was sentenced to life imprisonment”, the boy said.

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And I urged him to continue. “I couldn’t afford a lawyer and everything was like a film. The man falsified the age of his daughter to 15 years. It was only in this prison that I was told by some inmates that I had powers to cross examine the man and his daughter in court even though I had no legal representation. I was praying silently for God to vindicate me,” the boy concluded. I was shocked. It could have been me. Mr. Nwabueze could have jailed me too. Not only him, but other fathers that I had said “hello baby” to their daughters. Na waoh!

“Sir, there is one lawyer who volunteered to help me appeal the matter but I have no money to move my documents to the court of appeal and to pay him”, he added. I could relate to his hopelessness since it cost me about N3.5m to move my own documents to appeal court. Don’t ask me how much was my legal fee. “Do you have the lawyer’s phone number?”, I asked and he said “yes sir”. I collected the number and discharged him after telling him to resume work the next day. I could not sleep that night. I was no longer thinking about my unjust imprisonment. The determination to free this boy seized me.

I had to call his lawyer very early in the morning the next day. I demanded to see the judgment of the court that jailed the boy. He brought it. I confirmed for myself that the boy was truthful. I had to quickly arrange and wire the whole money the lawyer requested for the remission of his records to the appeal court and the lawyer’s professional fees. That was how my savings to buy a plot of land varnished into heaven. The lawyer told me that the guy had a good chance to be released on appeal and I believed him.

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It would have been a job well accomplished if my boy’s appeal was heard before I was released. Now that I’m out, I would be in a better position to push his lawyer. I will also attend his appeal hearing. I’m praying for me. Most people that visited me in the prison know him. He was a perfect acolyte. He served me well. He was like a son to me. He was also my prayer partner. We recited Rosary unending.

I could not look at this boy’s face the day I was leaving the prison. I knew that he was happy for me but as I writer, I could quantify his loss. He had dreamt couple of days before and told me that he saw me leaving the prison. He told me that his dreams usually come true. I had heard many of such talks of my sudden release. I too had such dreams.

“My son”, I told him, “as long as the Lord liveth, I will never rest until you are vindicated and you owe me nothing for doing it for you. It’s because of you that I was imprisoned”, I handed him and envelope containing the generous amount over and above what I should’ve paid him for the period he served me. I can’t owe him. He served me with all his heart. “Sir I don’t want this money, you have done enough for me”, he said as I untangled my hand from his clutchy embrace. And I left him and the prison without looking back.

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The boy is from Cross-River state. His parents are farmers who were dependent on their son before he was sent to jail. I learnt the mother is down with breast cancer and I pray that the boy is released soon enough. Jehovah I trust, will grant me this prayer.

On the flip side, many of my visitors didn’t know that the money they gifted me during their visits at Kirikiri prison went into paying fines for some prison inmates that were being held because they couldn’t pay fines imposed on them by the courts. The balance was used in buying drugs for the sick and feeding the hungry in the prison. This cardinal work of mercy belongs to you all. It’s your money doing God’s work through me. This is my testimony. I pray that God’s mercy will follow all those who gifted me money and food items in prison. They had sown freedom and shall obtain grace and forgiveness because they were part of the works of mercy. I was only their agent. We did it together.

Now out of prison, I thank God for the missionary opportunity. I no longer count the reputational dent of the prison sentence which the state pardon has addressed. I pray for the forgiveness in the hearts of those who were used to send me to prison. It was ordained to happen. May God also replenish the purse of all those who lost money or value as a result burst in the stock market.

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And may God protect all salesmen and marketers in Nigeria from occupational hazard I suffered. Some buyers of the products you sell for your principal may viciously come after you few years later if they feel shortchanged. If you’re lucky, they might settle to get you imprisoned that’s is if they fail to get you eliminated. Seeing reminds them of their loss, those products you sold to them that lost value. They are that powerful in this kind of country we call our own. For some people, money is greater than life and is above any other thing. May God’s name be praised in all circumstances and may His peace reign in our hearts!

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