Ibrahim Sarafa, who grew up in the streets of Ibadan, Oyo State, didn’t have big dreams like his peers. Sarafa was raised by a single mother with many other siblings after his father died, and he could only attend a local primary school, which he never finished.
His chances of finishing primary school and continuing on to secondary school were further harmed when his mother died, leaving him and his siblings in the care of their stepfather, who later remarried into a polygamous home.
Sarafa left his second family at the age of 14, took to the streets, and began to fend for himself.
A massive refuse dump in Ibadan’s Sabo area soon became his permanent home as he joined other homeless children and scavengers in ransacking the dumpsite for useful scraps to sell. The money he made from selling scraps wasn’t much, but it was enough to keep him from going hungry.
Sarafa had been content with his meager earnings and filthy sleeping quarters next to the dumpsite for three years until one fateful day in 2018 when Abolongo Medium Costodial Centre became his new home.
The journey to prison
According to an excerpt from a police report, a phone accessory shop in Sabo was robbed on the night of June 16, 2018. When the shop owner and employees arrived in the morning and raised the alarm about the incident, a security guard in the area claimed Sarafa was one of the armed robbers who broke into the shop.
Sarafa had no proper means of identification when asked to clear him of suspicion. Sarafa was handed over to the Amotekun Security Corps, where he spent two weeks in a cell with no proof of the allegation or any of the items stolen from the shop found on him. Because no other suspects were apprehended in connection with the Sarafa allegation, the case was transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department.
Sarafa was tortured for weeks at the State SCID before being charged with armed robbery. In 2019, his case was transferred from the Magistrate Court, where it was originally filed on a holden charge, to the Ogun State High Court. Following Sarafa’s formal arraignment before the High Court, the case was adjourned several times due to the prosecution’s failure to produce witnesses.
Safara suffers a stroke while incarcerated.
When Sarafa unexpectedly became ill while imprisoned awaiting trial, his situation quickly became worse. The prison welfare officers’ attempts to provide some sort of treatment did not have any successful outcomes. His health continued to deteriorate until he had a partial stroke.
Sarafa needed the help of other prisoners to eat and urinate because she was immobile, had swollen legs and face, and was unable to move. Inmates close to him could not stand the foul smell emanating from his prison corner. Sarafa accepted fate and prepared for the worst because she had no family members to turn to for assistance.
Judge demonstrates empathy
Co-conspirators helped Sarafa enter the courtroom at the next hearing for his case after the prison bus had taken them there. When his case was called, he was also given assistance entering the dock. The trial judge, Justice M.O. Ishola, was moved by Sarafa’s terrible condition and decided to release him on bail so that his family could provide better medical care after consulting with prison officials in court about his health.
Later, Sarafa took prison guards to his stepfather’s home in Akanran Ibadan under the judge’s orders. The stepfather claimed to know Sarafa as the first child of his deceased wife, but he did not appear in court to obtain custody of the boy. The judge questioned who could take on the defendant’s case at a later hearing because she was concerned for his health.
CJMR takes action
Fortunately for Sarafa, the Centre for Justice, Mercy and Reconciliation, or CJMR, was recommended to the court by a lawyer who is familiar with the organization’s operations. Pastor Hezekiah Olujobi was subsequently contacted by the court registrar, and when he showed up in court the following day, Sarafa was formally released to him for medical care.
Sarafa discusses his adversity
Sarafa is currently being treated at a private hospital in Ibadan thanks to CJMR’s efforts. Sarafa could hardly speak when Encounter attempted to interview him while he was still in the hospital. He was able to utter a few words, though, and said, “I didn’t do what they accused me of doing.
“I became very ill upon entering prison, and I later had a stroke. I was left to perish until the judge showed me mercy. Throughout my entire time in prison, no one paid me a visit. Since my release, this Pastor has been looking after me. I need aid. Please lend a hand to me, people.
CFMR requests assistance
Pastor Hezekiah Olujobi, executive director of CJMR, discussed the difficulties in rehabilitating Sarafa by comparing it to a collapsed structure that needs to be rebuilt. He explained that Sarafa’s health was a concern from the start because it was so bad that his fellow inmates had to carry him to the dock due to his inability to walk.
“As soon as Sarafa was released to our organization, we took him to a hospital that frequently provides free medical care to prisoners who have been released from custody. His health was in critical condition, so he was admitted and given intensive care.
“Right now, he needs a caregiver to be by his side, carry him, give him a bath, and take good care of him until he fully recovers. He requires physiotherapy treatment while he recovers his health.
“In addition to the free bed that has already been provided by a doctor who partners with CJMR, Sarafa needs N12,000 every day to put him on the path of survival. We request assistance from all well-meaning Nigerians for him.