I Spent 6 Months In Prison For A Crime I Didn’t Commit

May 10, 2021

As told to David Odunlami

I started running to the top of a mountain recently to keep fit. On one of those runs, I met Peter*. We got talking and over the course of a few meetings, he told me his life story.


The way I see it, my father hated me since the day I was born. I’m the last child of the first of his two wives, and I’ve never had a conversation with him. Sometimes, I blame it on his excessive drinking. Other times, I can’t find anything to blame it on. He seemed to prefer his new wife. We all lived in one big compound, but there was a huge difference in the quality of lives that we and his other wife had. The other children got food, christmas presents, and everything they needed, but I was always on the streets begging for food. We lived in the village where the major occupation was farming, so people didn’t have money, but they had food. My mother and I had neither, and my three older siblings had left to seek better lives. 

I started farming heavily before the age of 10 to provide for my mother and myself. Nobody ever believes my age when I tell them because I look much older. I’ve lived a very hard life. 

When I turned 10, my mother put me on a bus with one of her friends and sent me to Abuja. I needed to find work so I could send money home. Her friend took me to a mechanic workshop and said goodbye. I was on my own from then. I later found out that he went back to the Plateau to start his own mechanic shop. 

I was destined to fix vehicles. Not long after I joined the other kids at the mechanic shop, it was obvious that I was by far the best. I became better than everyone I met there, and I got better as time went on. There was nothing I couldn’t do to a vehicle. It got to a point, when I was about 12, that my boss couldn’t go anywhere to fix a car without taking me along. Big mechanic workshops in Abuja began to hear about the wonderkid and started asking my boss for my services. I started fixing really big and expensive cars. It was like everything I touched turned to gold. This continued until I was 16. For those six years, I slept in cars that were at whatever workshop I worked at. Never in a house. Well, maybe apart from the two times I went back home to visit my family. 

At 17, I decided to go solo. I’d become too big to be working for anyone anymore. Even my ogas knew it. At that point, I’d made a lot of personal connections from working for big people so I’d be their direct contact whenever they needed any vehicle repairs. And they referred really well too. I was living a good life. I got an apartment and furnished it well, flatscreen TV and all. I bought two plots of land, two cows and a goat back home, and told my mother to watch over them for me. On another piece of land, I started building my own house. Last I checked, it was at the roofing stage. 

But at 17, I’d also mixed with the wrong crowd and I was doing a lot of drugs and drinking a lot. Money was new to me. I’d spent my childhood begging for food and sleeping in cars and now I was making good money. I had no control. The lifestyle was a result of the friends I was keeping. They were cultists. They’d race and drift and destroy cars every week, and I would be with them. There were a lot of activities I can’t even talk about right now. We were always drunk or high. I was just the mechanic friend that followed them around, but when we got to the club, I’d spend ₦100,000 on drinks and we’d party like crazy. I couldn’t even sleep without doing drugs. I was so lost. I stopped sending money home. 

What is Black & White and Glossed All Over? - Brownie Mary Democrats of  California

I kept up this lifestyle until 2020 when I went to prison. A senator from Jigawa state reached out to me to fix his car’s engine. It was a really expensive Mercedes Benz. One morning, I got back to the shop where I worked from and the engine was gone. Just like that, I was ₦2 million in debt. After selling my plots of land, livestock and gathering all the money I could find, I presented ₦500,000 to him. The plan was to work for the rest of the money and pay in instalments, but he wasn’t having it, so he took me to court and they sentenced me to 10 months in prison. 

I spent only six months in prison. In some cases, when the court gives a sentence, the prison can release you earlier. Prison was tough. People died. You had to obey every order. We weren’t fed enough. I was one of the youngest people there. 

When I got out, I went straight to my apartment and found someone else living there. My landlord told me that one of my friends had rented it out to use the money to bail me out. He ran away with the money. He also sold all my possessions. 

I’ve been out of prison since December 2020 now and all I have are the clothes I wore out and my sim card. I live on a mountain and sleep under the cross of one of the churches that pray here. Whenever it rains, I’m completely soaked. I’m always here in the sun too. Strangers give me money and food. Sometimes, I put my sim in someone’s phone and call one of my former bosses for work. Sometimes, they give me work. 

I haven’t spoken with my family since they had to send me the money from selling all my possessions. That’s almost a year now. They don’t know I’m alive. 

In some way, the things that happened to me made me realise how terrible the life I was living was. I obviously don’t like living on top of a mountain with no shelter, but I prefer it to the drug filled life I was living. I’ve also found God now, so that’s great.

I got some money to visit one of my former workshops and we agreed that I can start working from next week. I’ll use the money I get from him to go back home to my family. When I get there, I’ll decide if I want to stay in Plateau, or come back to keep working in Abuja. 

I’ve been through a lot for someone who’s just 20 years old. 


Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

July 29, 2021

Modern day beauty standards sets a high bar for what society considers attractive. Anything outside the small box is considered unappealing, without consideration for the emotional and mental well-being of people living in those bodies. I met Tayo* through a comment he left on a Zikoko Instagram post about fatphobia, as he had gone through […]

August 25, 2020

If you grew up with only sisters, chances are, you’ll be getting some nice memories and flashbacks as you read this 1. Makeovers and Dress-ups Growing up, if your sisters were ever bored, you already knew it was time for a complete makeover. You would say you didn’t want it, but you low-key did. We […]

July 1, 2021

Buying men’s jeans in Nigeria can be such a drag. Apart from dealing with the stress of going to the market, here are seven struggles men face when trying to buy jeans срочный займ онлайн на карту. 1. The stress of knowing you have to go out to shop This is you in bed in […]

Watch

Now on Zikoko

November 25, 2022

Just three months to the start of the 2023 elections, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdullahi Adamu, started a beef with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). It wasn’t about electoral violence or vote buying but rather a new feature of the 2023 elections. The APC national chairman believes Nigeria […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 22, 2019

It can be very stressful when you’re trying to find the love of your life, but you only keep meeting people that are exactly like your yeye ex. To help you be more aware of that problem, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know the kind of people you are attracting. Take it to […]

November 12, 2019

Are you a single pringle, stuck in a complicated situationship or happily married to the love of your life? This quiz is here to guess your current relationship status, and as you know, Zikoko quizzes are incredibly accurate (don’t quote us). So, give a shot:

November 11, 2019

Today, we are going to be using your taste in music to determine how good you actually are in bed. All you need to do is create the ultimate Nigerian hit — from the lead artist to the producer — and we’ll tell you if all your partners leave satisfied, or if you are just […]

More from Man Dem

November 21, 2022

If you’re on social media every year from the 1st to the 30th of November, there’s a high chance you’ve heard about the #NoNutNovember challenge. The rules for the challenge are simple: step into November and do your best not to cum for 30 days.  While I initially thought the #NoNutNovember challenge was just social […]

November 6, 2022

My Bro is a biweekly Zikoko series that interrogates and celebrates male friendships of different forms. A random tweet and mutual love for photography brought Jerrie and Kunle together five years ago. Even though Jerrie hired Kunle as his photography assistant, the two have become best friends who aren’t scared to make fun of each […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

September 13, 2022
Vs The World is a Zikoko original video series that follows best friends Astor and Hassan as they take on the world.
August 23, 2022
Zikoko Ships is a Zikoko Original series where we invite two people who share a relationship to play the Zikoko card games
December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.
X