It was jubilation galore for the family of Kazeem Ayinde, “the oldest man on death row”, after he was declared totally free from imprisonment, on 22nd of November, 2021.
Kazeem Ayinde, who was wrongly accused of an offence he did not commit, has been in Kirikiri Correctional Centre since his arrest on 18th February, 1998 after the case was transferred from Ibadan. All attempts to get him released despite “his claim of alibi” was refused by the Nigerian Police, even though his alleged offense was not at any point, investigated.
According to the released statement by Hezekiah Deboboye Olujobi, the man who saw to the conclusion of Mr. Ayinde’s release, there were different stages of intervention before the eventual ‘total freedom’ of the innocent victim, Kazeem Ayinde.
Below is the statement released by Hezekiah Deboboye Olujobi. It reads:
How the oldest man on death row gained his freedom after 24 years and 9 months.
By: Hezekiah Deboboye Olujobi
He was arrested for murders of a night guide one Ayuba Kareem who was stabbed to death by unknown man on 16th February, 1998 at Oje market, Ibadan. On 18th February, 1998 he was arrested and accused of killing the night guide in a scene very closed to his house. He raised an alibi that he was not in Ibadan on the day of the incidence, the police refused to investigate his claim of alibi.
He was sentenced to death by the Ibadan High Court of Justice on 20th June, 2002. He appeals against the judgement on 2nd July, 2002. The appeal dragged for 15 years before the judgment was delivered on 2/7/2002 and it was turned down. The case was transmitted to the Supreme Court on 22nd October, 2017. While still waiting for the judgement of the Supreme Court on death row, he had spent 18 years on the same sport waiting for justice to come but none.
By providence, Taiye Adedeji, one of the ex-inmates and a co neighbor of Kazeem Ayinde on death row came to rejoice with Olushina Ajayi for his freedom at CJMR Halfway Home, he raised the issue of Kazeem Ayinde and the story of his innocence, that same July CJMR visited Kazeem Ayinde at Kirikiri Maximum Security to hear his story, the copy of the judgment of the Court of Appeal was obtained for reviewing. It was realized that Kazeem Ayinde was solely sentenced to death on dying declaration of his name. CJMR drew the attention of the State Attorney General and the Executive Governor of Oyo State Engr Seyi Makinde to the plight of Kazeem Ayinde as the oldest man on death row. On this compassionate ground the Board of Mercy recommended Kazeem Ayinde for life imprisonment on 5th November, 2020.
On 24th of March, 2021 we brought up an elaborate appeal to the Governor again with our report of investigation and findings on how it may not be possible for Kazeem Ayinde to have committed the murder, the Board Again recommended Kazeem Ayinde for total freedom on 15h April, 2021. As we follow up the letter we were told that the file has not yet return from the Governor’s office. On 29th October, 2021 we wrote the Executive Governor to help us trace the file, on 22nd of November, the release warrant was forwarded to the office of the Controller of Correctional and we were duly informed that 2 people out of 6 people we recommended for amnesty were among the lucky people. The is a big plus to the Governor of Oyo State. We want to appreciate the office of the Attorney General Prof Oyelowo Oyewo, SAN for his listening ears to the oppressed. We also want to thank all our supporters without you there is no way we could achieve what we are doing. Nothing happens until you make it happen.