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18yrs-old pregnant girl arrested during EndSARS protest to face theft charges

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

Following reactions that had continued to trail 18-year-old EndSARS protesters, Kemisola Oguniyi, who recently gave birth in prison, the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS) has said that the mother was held back after been charged with theft, conspiracy, arson, riotous assembly, and malicious damage.

The correction service added that Ogunniyi, who was pregnant before the arrest, was remanded in the female custodial facility after a court of competent jurisdiction ruled on the 24th November 2020 after the Nigerian Police arraigned her for various offenses.

Through a statement released by Public Relations Officer (PRO) for NCS, Ondo Command, Babatunde Ogundare, said that during proceedings, the court ruled and subsequently adjourned the allegations brought against the nursing mother to 8th December, 2020 for hearing, and further adjourned to 9th March, 2021.

Ogundare, who did not specify if the case was later called on the last adjourned date in the statement released yesterday, stated that after her status was discovered, she was remanded in a facility that suits Ogunniyi’s condition and that all necessary medical cares, as well as legal attention needed, was accorded to the young mother.

He said: “She fell into child labour on Tuesday 15th June, 2021, and she was immediately moved to the Ondo state basic health centre for delivery and she delivered of her baby on the 16th June, 2021 around noon”.

The correction service spokesman, in the statement titled, ‘Press Statement On Kemisola Ogunniyi: The Fact In Issue’, added that after childbirth, the 18-year-old mother along with her baby was discharged by medical experts after they could ascertained they were hale and hearty, saying on arrival at the correctional center, they were separated and taken back to the facility for further care.

He noted that, for the service, she could have been released but that the law court has mandated that she remain within the prison walls and that the law demands that until the court rule otherwise, she should not be released.

“While assuring the public of the commitment of officers and men of the command to the care and support for inmates, the State Controller Barr. S D Kinane wishes to state that the service is community friendly and will not act contrary to the operational orders and constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria”, he added.

Earlier, The Guild had reported that Ogunniyi, who had been in detention for over seven months after she was arrested during EndSARS protest in Ondo State, delivered a baby while in custody.

Ogunniyi, as gathered by The Guild, was not allowed to go outside the prison walls for proper antenatal care, and that her delivery was also permitted outside the premises of the correctional centre.

It was learnt that the young lady delivered inside Surulere prison in Ondo and her family were yet to be allowed to have access new mother and her baby after delivery.

Through pictures circulating on social media, The Guild learnt that Ogunniyi was arrested in October 2020 on her way to a pharmaceutical store and remained in detention until delivery.

Sources from Ondo state told The Guild that the new mother was already two months pregnant, although she was not aware, at the time of her arrest and that all efforts to secure her release proved abortive after Ondo State Government insisted that all those that hijacked the protest must be prosecuted accordingly.

One of the sources claimed that the Ondo state government refused to back down on her case despite Ogunniyi’s condition and that no amount of pleads from her family and other relatives were able to remove Ogunniyi from detention despite that she was proven innocent of crime the Nigerian Police claimed she had committed.

The source added that the 18-year-old lady was picked by the law enforcement agency in Akura, the state capital, with claims that her appearance indicated that she was one of the EndSARS protesters that set the All Progressives Congress (APC) Ondo Chapter secretariat ablaze during the demonstration that was embarked upon by youths to kick against police brutality and took her to State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID).

It was learnt that the case the nursing mother was accused of had happened three days before her arrest after the protesters had defied the 24-hour curfew imposed by the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, to mount roadblocks across the streets of Akure.

The Guild gathered that Ogunniyi’s detention was not known to many including the parents until some members of Civil Society Groups (CSO) raised an alarm that the teenage girl was languishing in prison.

According to him, the parents of the new mother, Felicia Ogunniyi and Rotimi Ogunniyi, had spent millions of naira to ensure their daughter was set free by the state government.

A Police source disclosed that the young lady could not have been involved in the crime and that she was just a victim of indiscriminate arrest by the law enforcement officers deployed to the community to investigate the arson.

 

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