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November 20, 2023 at 2:06 PM #60342justseyiKeymaster
Nigerian fish farmer Tobiloba Adelabu has been in detention in the Benin Republic for more than five months on charges of cybercrime, a claim strongly refuted by his family. Adelabu’s sister, Oluwayemisi Ademola, asserts that her brother was arrested and detained because he couldn’t bribe the police with 5,000 CFA, leading to false accusations against him.
The incident occurred on June 13 when Adelabu was travelling from Lagos to Cotonou to assist his wife, who had just given birth, in relocating her belongings from her landlord’s house. At the Seme-Krake checkpoint, the police stopped him.
According to Oluwayemisi, when Adelabu reached the checkpoint around 9 pm, the police checked his car and asked for 5,000 CFA. Adelabu explained that he had no cash as he hadn’t exchanged his Naira yet. Despite intending to change his money, the officer took him to the Commissariat de Sème Kraké station, citing the late hour.
Adelabu was held overnight, and the next morning, an officer was about to release him when another officer became angry upon learning he was Nigerian and attacked him, tearing his shirt. Despite protests from other officers that Adelabu was innocent, a senior officer took his phone and bag, ordering him to be locked up.
Due to Adelabu’s ownership of an iPhone, the senior officer questioned how he could afford it. After an explanation, Adelabu was transferred to eight police stations before reaching the Benin agency responsible for combating cybercrime, where he was allowed to contact his family.
The agency claimed Adelabu was guilty of cybercrime with evidence from his phone. The family was told to hire a lawyer, introduced by an officer, who turned out to be fake. The family paid 500,000 Naira, but the lawyer did little in court. The case was adjourned, and Adelabu was taken to Akpro-Miserette prison in Porto-Novo, where he has been since.
The family discovered the lawyer collaborated with the police to extort money. A new lawyer was engaged, who charged 3 million CFA but accepted 1.5 million Naira. Despite paying 1.2 million Naira, the lawyer has repeatedly sought adjournments, with the next hearing scheduled for December.
Adelabu’s family is in distress, and they fear they won’t have the money for the next sitting. Adelabu’s wife and child are suffering, his fish farm is in ruins, and the family is unstable. The Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not be reached for comment. FIJ’s editor, Damilola Ayeni, was previously arrested in Benin Republic but released after media pressure and Nigerian embassy intervention. However, there are indications that Nasiru, instrumental in Ayeni’s release, has been held in custody since then.
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