Girl, 20, Regains Freedom After 4 Years in Kirikiri Prison For Phone Theft

Blessing Effiong

20-year-old Blessing Effiong has finally regained her freedom today (July 4, 2012) after almost four years in Kirikiri prisons for being in possession of a stolen phone.

She pled guilty today to section 430 (1) of the criminal code of Lagos state 2003. In layman’s language – being in possession of something suspected of being stolen or fraudulently obtained; an offense that carries 6 months imprisonment.

The court today sentenced her to six months imprisonment but having served almost four years already, she was released and allowed to go.

Blessing’s story

The case of Blessing Effiong perhaps typifies the injustice suffered by the poor in the Nigerian society.

The Akwa-Ibom indigene, who was interviewed by the Attorney-General of the state, Mr. Ade Ipaye, and representatives of the Office of the Public Defender, during a visit to the prisons to evaluate the number of awaiting trial persons there, narrated in detail how she had been incarcerated since the age of 16 because she could not afford the services of a lawyer.

She said, “In 2008, I bought a Starcomms phone for N10,000 in order to start a business centre. A few days later, a man called me and said the phone was stolen from him. I told the man I didn’t know it was stolen. We had an agreement that I should return the phone and he would refund my money.

“I gave the man my address but when he got to my place, he said the phone was stolen from him along with his laptop and some other vital documents. He accused me of being a thief, called the police and had me arrested. I was charged with robbery and have been in Kirikiri since then as my trial has yet to begin.”

Effiong said she was arrested at her guardian’s house in Ebute-Meta but was transferred to the Agboju Police Division from where she was taken to an Ikeja Magistrate’s Court.

She said although she was 16 at the time of her arrest, the Investigating Police Officer claimed she was 21 so that she would be tried as an adult.

“I told the IPO that I was only 16 years old and that I knew nothing about the stolen phone but the IPO wrote 21 on my statement and claimed I was lying about my age. I was arraigned as an adult,” she said.

Effiong added that even after four years, her trial had not begun as the court was said to be awaiting advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

  1. Oyakhilome iribhua Reply

    nigeria law only applies 2 d poor but d rich are above it. ‘where are we going as a country wit this kind of lawless situation’please,if u know tell me.

  2. Khadijah Muhammad Reply

    This is injustice.It is only the masses that are suffering.The politicians will steal millions and it will be turned in to a t.v drama.God will surely judge.

  3. isreal Reply

    God rise for our help

  4. Micah Reply

    Our legal system in Nigeria is nothing to write home about. I’d a case with someone that stole my N1.2m. The case went to Nigeria court. After almost 2 years I got tired of the whole thing and stoped going to court. Our judicial system is just rubbish. If I had continued, I would’ve been spending so much on fuel and wasting my time. I think our judicial system need a total turn around.

  5. kingchidi Reply

    She need to be compensated

  6. pioneer4change Reply

    nigeria system needs a serious revolution, wer are the likes of wole soyinka and gani fawehinmi’s family. they shd hep us make a brave stand and the masses will respond

  7. Uche Reply

    It is a pity poor girl,just becarful now

  8. Tunapersie Reply

    One dnt hav to think too much about d situation of this country, cos if you do u might land urself in Aro or yaba left handside.if dis girl have to suffer 4 yrs 4 dis= lawan,otedola,madueke,Bankole &co should B̶̲̥̅ I̶̲̥̅̊n̶̲̥̅̊ prison 4ever

  9. Apase Reply

    Let us thanks those. People that help the poor grl out. If not for the help of those that discover the Grl from kirikiri the DPP advaice may not come out and the trai will not. Comence many kudos to the state governor and the state anthony General Mr Ade Ipaye and others. I will Also like the state Governor to Pls help the. Poor grl So that she may start a new life Also Good people of the state who can help shuld pls let Us help the Poor Grl. Thanks Apase

  10. princess Reply

    pls i want that gal to send me an email pls.

  11. princess Reply

    MAY GOD HELP AND PROTECT HER AND GIVE HER HEART DESIRE, AMEN

  12. Christabel Reply

    My dear blessing, tnk God almight dat u r out, dis alone tin, as tot u a vry big lesson. In evrytin u r doin in life rit 4rm 2day, u v 2vry careful

  13. Zorro Reply

    @ pioneer4change, please keeep quiet, you are talking about Fawehinmi and Soyinka. Must they always stand for you? Why don’t you rise up and stand for yourself?

  14. kate Reply

    D lord will put a smile on U̶̲̥̅̊я face,sorry n b careful now.

  15. Seyi Crown Reply

    Its a pity d girl wrongfully suffered. A committee of enquary is suppose to st up nd invite d IPO nd d owner of d fone. This is injustice.

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