Oluwaseyi Samuel, a Nigerian pastor has told the heartbreaking story of howl he landed in prison.
In 2018, the 41-year-old pastor had a thriving confectionery business in the Ijora-Badia area of Lagos State until he was persuaded by a neighbour to employ his teenage daughter.
Unaware that the young girl was a ‘missing person’ and unrelated to his neighbour, Samuel offered her employment as a salesgirl.
Two months later, Samuel found himself in prison after Police invaded his home and arrested him for alleged abduction, human trafficking, and defilement.
In this edition, Samuel who eventually became a Pastor while in prison, narrates how his kind gesture and refusal to heed Police’s demand for a bribe made him spend five years in prison until the court discharged him.
My name is Oluwaseyi Samuel. I was ordained a pastor in prison. Before my prison ordeal, I was a snacks maker.
I make different kinds of snacks like meat-pie, fish roll, egg roll etc in my house in the Ijora-Badia area of Lagos. I had boys who worked for me and I paid them at the end of the month.
Request for help
On June 15, 2018, one of my neighbours, Michael Isaac came to my house and pleaded with me to help his daughter whose name is Favour.
I told him that she would only assist in selling the snacks and get paid and could stay in my apartment with my other workers if she wishes. When the girl came, I interviewed her and she told me that she was 16 years old.
She started working for me immediately but after two weeks, something shocking happened.
Real identity revealed
One Saturday morning, I overheard Favour and her supposed father, Michael arguing outside my house. When I rebuked her for shouting at her father, she opened up to me that Michael is not her father.
I was shocked. Michael reluctantly confirmed the same to me. When I further interrogated Favour, she told me that sometime ago, she came to Lagos from Abakaliki in Ebonyi State alone to meet a relative but lost the paper containing the address of the relative.
She narrated to me how she was sleeping under the bridge and begging people for assistance until one Alhaji engaged her to sell fish for him. According to her, it was in the course of selling the fish that she met Michael who became her regular customer. She told me that Michael only treated her like his daughter while she was working for the Alhaji.
Alleged victim ‘disappears’
After that incident, I told Favour that she would have to return to her parents in Ebonyi State but that she would also have to give me till August to raise some money for her.
A few days after that discussion, Favour suddenly disappeared with my goods and money. I made frantic efforts to find her to no avail. I asked my neighbour, Michael her whereabouts but he said he didn’t know. I was really worried about her safety and asked my other neighbours to inform me anytime they see her.
Whenever people sight her in the neighborhood and inform me, before would I get there, she would have left. It was later that I also discovered that she had also taken some other persons’ money and goods and ran away.
In the morning of September 9, 2018, I heard a knock on my door and when I opened the door, I saw Favour with some policemen and a man, Isaac Nweze, whom I later discovered was Favour’s real father.
When I was asked if I knew Favour, I said yes. I told them that she had run away with my money and goods. The Police ordered me to follow them to their station and I complied. At the Police station, I met my neighbour, Michael, and about seven other persons whom I was told had employed Favour before.
When they asked Favour if I had sex with her while she was working for me, she said no. Immediately she said no, her father slapped her.
The Investigating Police Officer, IPO, decided to lock Nweze up in a cell and accused him of using his daughter to set people up. To my surprise, when the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, came, he ordered that Nweze should be released and that we should settle the matter amicably.
Demand for N70,000
The IPO later asked us to pay N70, 000 for bail, but I told him that I didn’t have that kind of money and that even if I did, I wouldn’t part with such money for what I didn’t do.
The IPO later explained that part of the money will be given to Favour’s father to cover the expenses he incurred while searching for her. I told him that I will not pay for such expenses.
The DPO later intervened and suggested that we should settle the matter amicably among ourselves but Favour’s father refused. Before I could process my bail at the Police station that day, it was already getting late, so I agreed to stay at the station till the next day.
Case tranferred to SARS
To my surprise, by 8:00am the next day, I was told that the matter has been transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Ikeja.
It was later that I discovered that Mr Nweze had gone to SARS to report a case of abduction and kidnapping against me. All the other persons arrested in connection with the case except Michael, were released after giving bribe to the Police.
At SARS office, one of the operatives observed that there was no way my neigbour, Michael and I, would have kidnapped Favour and be sleeping with her and she will not say so.
Mr. Nweze insisted that we kidnapped his daughter and that I particularly will suffer if I don’t pay him the money he spent to come to Lagos to search for his daughter.
I told the Police that another neighbour who was aware that I innocently offered to assist Favour out of my good heart, would come and testify on my behalf.
Unfortunately, that neighbour refused to show up because someone told him that he would be arrested by the Police and implicated in the case.
Instead of coming to the station, I learned he went around my neighborhood raising funds from friends to settle the N70,000 that Favour’s father had requested as a condition to drop the case against me. He was only able to raise N39,000.
When the information got to me while in detention, I reported the matter to my IPO that someone was using my name to collect money from people in my area. Unfortunately, they refused to listen to my case. Despite my protest, I was arraigned before the court along with Michael for abduction and defilement.
I was initially arraigned at the Ogba Magistrate Court for abduction and defilement but the matter was transferred to the High Court after two years.
For the two years that the matter was before the Magistrate Court, Favour and his father appeared in court just once. The prosecutor who became friends with Mr. Nweze threatened that I will rot in prison for refusing to pay the money they requested from me.
The matter was at the Magistrate Court for about 18 months before the DPP advice came and it was transferred to the High Court. When the matter got to the Ikeja High Court, the charge was modified to abduction, human trafficking and defilement.
Salvation in Prison
I gave my life to God in prison in 2019 after all hope of my being released was lost. I immediately began to serve God. I am grateful to the Christ Embassy Church’s Mind Changers’ programme which helped to change my life.
My passion to serve God was energized and fellow inmates came to me to share their problems and get advice. By the grace of God, I was able to lead some of them to Christ. At some point in my stay in the prison, I became grateful to God for the opportunity to become a minister in prison.
Had I not come to prison, perhaps I would not have given my life to Christ.
I lost many things while in prison. After my arrest and arraignment, my family scattered. My business naturally was also grounded because all the boys working for me left.
I also lost all my properties. I engaged about three separate lawyers to help handle my case but they all took my money and did nothing. It was after their disappointment that a non-governmental organisation, Anchor Heritage, took over my case free of charge and eventually got a good lawyer to handle my case until I was released. The court freed me because Favour and other police witnesses refused to appear in the matter.
On the day that I was freed by the court, there was no one to receive me, except the Anchor Heritage team led by Mr. Bidemi Oladipupo.
They gave me money to travel to Osun State to reunite with my 105-year-old father. My father had wished to see me alive before he dies and I am grateful that God answered his prayer. Since my release, I have been looking for one of my sons.
I was told he left the family after I was arrested and has been roaming the streets endlessly in Ile-Ife, Osun State.
My prayer is to find him and look for money to train him and my other children. I am also appealing to Nigerians to come to my aid to enable me pick up my life again.