Clinton Kalu, a native of Ndinwafor in Okigwe Local Government Area of Imo State, recently walked out from the Port Harcourt Maximum Prison where he had spent 27 years of his life for a crime he didn’t commit.
He was roped into a murder case in April 1992 by some undisclosed persons while trying to resolve a dispute involving his in-laws. That marked the beginning of his journey in ‘hell’.
His trial at the tribunal and later at a High Court and his eventual detention happened so fast that when he found himself in prison over an offense he did not commit, he was livid with anger but later accepted his fate.
See his story below:
If you describe me as an ex-convict, I won’t be happy with you. After 27 years, they found out that I committed no crime. Do you know that they would have killed me and after many years, they would have found out that I did not commit the crime? Something like that happened somewhere in Europe.
In my own case, the Supreme Court found out that I was innocent and freed me. Any person that refers to me as an ex-convict, I will look at the person as a fool. I will just ask God to forgive him.
Twenty-seven years ago, some people were accused of stealing a generating plant and fluorescent tubes. The accusers were my in-laws.
After the court decided the case on the theft, we heard that somebody was murdered in the compound where my sister married. But I was arrested because they thought I was behind the ordeal as I was trying to resolve a land dispute in favour of one person at that time.
I was taken to Okigwe Police Station; from there I was taken to Owerri in Imo State and from there we were charged to court in April 1992. I was detained in Owerri Prison. I was at the tribunal for seven years because those behind my ordeal added armed robbery to the case. They believed I was a strong man and wanted to destroy me.
They brought false witnesses to testify against me at the tribunal. I was later taken to a regular court where I was condemned to death. So, from Owerri, I was transferred to Port Harcourt prison. At the Port Harcourt prisons, I waited for many years for the hangman’s noose.
Nevertheless, I went to the Appeal Court to appeal the case but my lawyer messed up the case. Then I decided to proceed to the Supreme Court, where after 27 years in prison, I got victory. I was imprisoned for 27 years for committing no offence. On April 5 this year, I was discharged and acquitted.
While in incarceration, Kalu lost his mother; and coupled with the fact that he was not married and had no immediate family (children), he struggled to fight loneliness even though his relatives, who also believed he was incapable of hurting anybody, let alone killing a person, visited him in prison from time to time.
Asked if he would avenge the injustice done to him, Kalu explained that he had been a changed man after gaining knowledge about the ways of Christ, adding that vengeance was not in his thoughts. He pointed out that though he felt insulted and humiliated by the court verdict, which sentenced him to death, he later realized while in prison that his tribulation was to serve a purpose.