As a child who was growing up in the streets of Ibadan, Oyo State, Ibrahim Sarafa did not really have big dreams like his mates would have.
Raised by a single mother with many other siblings after his father died, Sarafa could only manage to attend a local primary school which he never completed.
His chances of completing primary education and proceeding to secondary school were further dashed when his mother who later remarried into a polygamous home, died, leaving him and his siblings under the care of their stepfather.
At 14, Sarafa broke ranks with his second family, took to the streets and began to fend for himself.
A huge refuse dump in the Sabo area of Ibadan soon became his permanent residence as he joined other homeless children and scavengers to ransack the dumpsite for useful scraps to sell. The proceeds from selling scraps weren’t much but it was enough to keep him from hunger.
For three years, Sarafa was contented with his little income and dirty sleeping corner beside the dumpsite until one fateful day in 2018 when suddenly, Abolongo Medium Costodial Centre became his new residence.
Journey to prison
According to extract from a Police report, a phone accessory shop in Sabo was burgled on the night of June 16, 2018. When the shop owner and workers arrived in the morning and raised the alarm over the incident, a security guard in the area claimed he suspected Sarafa to be one of the armed robbers that broke into the shop.
When asked for a proper means of identification to clear him of the suspicion, Sarafa had none. With no proof of the allegation or any of the items stolen from the shop found on him, Sarafa was handed over to the Amotekun Security Corps where he spent two weeks in a cell. No further suspect was arrested in connection with the allegation against Sarafa prompting the transfer of the matter to the State Criminal Investigation Department.
At the State SCID, Sarafa was tortured for weeks and later charged to court for armed robbery. From the Magistrate Court where his case was initially lodged on holden charge, the matter was moved to Ogun State High Court in 2019. After Sarafa’s formal arraignment before the High Court, the matter suffered several adjournments due to failure of prosecution to produce witnesses in the matter.
Safara suffers stroke in prison
Sarafa’s ordeal took a turn for the worst when he suddenly fell sick while awaiting trial in prison. Attempts by the prison welfare officers to administer some form of treatment did not yield any positive result. His condition kept deteriorating by the day until he suffered a partial stroke.
With swollen legs and face and unable to move, Sarafa depended on the goodwill of fellow inmates for feeding and defecating. The stench from his prison corner was too horrible for inmates close to him to bear. With no relatives to reach out to, for help, Sarafa resigned to fate, hoping for the worst.
Judge shows compassion
At the next hearing of his case, Sarafa was assisted by fellow inmates into the courtroom after the prison bus had conveyed them to court. He was also assisted into the dock when his case was announced. Moved by Sarafa’s horrible condition, the trial judge, Justice M.O Ishola consulted with prison officials in court about his health and resolved to release him on bail for better medical attention by his family.
On the orders of the judge, Sarafa later led prison warders to his stepfather’s house in Akanran Ibadan. While the stepfather claimed he knew Sarafa as the first born of his late wife, the man however refused to show up in court to take custody of him. At a subsequent hearing date, the judge, worried about the defendant’s health, asked who could take up his case.
Luckily for Sarafa, a lawyer who is familiar with the activities of the Centre for Justice, Mercy and Reconciliation, CJMR, suggested the NGO to the court. The court registrar later contacted Pastor Hezekiah Olujobi who appeared before the court the next day and Sarafa was officially released to him for medical attention.
Sarafa speaks of his ordeal
Following the effort of CJMR, Sarafa is currently receiving treatment at a private hospital in Ibadan. When Encounter sought to interview Sarafa on his hospital bed, he could barely talk. He, however, managed to say a few words: “I didn’t do what they accused me of doing.
“When I got to prison, I became very sick and later suffered a stroke. I was abandoned to die until the judge had mercy on me. Nobody came to visit me throughout my stay in prison. It is this Pastor that has been taking care of me since my release. I need help. People should please help me.”
CFMR appeals for support
Speaking on the challenges in rehabilitating Sarafa, Executive Director of CJMR, Pastor Hezekiah Olujobi described Sarafa as a collapsed building that needed to be rebuilt again. He explained that from the beginning, Sarafa’s state of health was a source of worry because his condition was deplorable as he could not walk and his fellow inmates had to carry him to the dock.
“Immediately Sarafa was released to our organisation, we took him to a hospital which usually offers free medical attention to released inmates. Because of the critical nature of his health, he was admitted and placed in intensive care.
“Currently, he needs somebody, a caregiver to stand by him, carry him, bathe him and take good care of him till his full recovery. He needs the care of a physiotherapist till he regains his health.
“Daily, Sarafa needs N12,000 to put him on the path of survival in addition to the free bed space already given by a doctor that partners CJMR. We appeal to all well-meaning Nigerians to help him.”
To render help, financial assistance can be sent to: Save Ibrahim Sarafa with First Bank account: 2013454021.