A first-class geology graduate and employee of World Mart Supermarket in Area 1, Abuja, has been remanded in prison custody for six days after being wrongly accused of theft by the supermarket management.
Two weeks ago, Chidube Franklin Akuba, a graduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka in Anambra State, was accused of stealing a bottle of wine from the retail store and was handed over to the police. The police investigated the theft and discovered, through surveillance camera footage, that Mr. Akuba was innocent.
He was released on bail, with his employers’ assurance that he would return to work the following week.
Mr. Emmanuel Simeon, the lawyer who secured Mr. Akuba’s bail at the police station, said the victim was detained behind a police station counter for nine hours while investigation into the theft went on. The police, he added, found nothing against the victim and told him to come back the next day.
“They told us his bail was going to be secured and eventually he was released. The police said no charge could be filed against him and he was released. But before then, he had been held behind the police counter for nine hours. He was told to return the following day so the matter could be officially closed,” he said.
The lawyer said on Mr. Akuba’s release on bail, the manager of World Mart, an Indian national identified only as Mr. Boss, expressed regret for the victim’s arrest and acknowledged that Mr. Akuba was innocent. But the manager said could not prevent the arrest because the supermarket owner had directed him to take Mr. Akuba to the police station to serve as an example to others.
The lawyer said he went to the supermarket with Mr. Akuba to secure the camera footage as evidence to file a civil suit against World Mart, but met a profusely apologetic Mr. Boss, who pleaded that the matter be settled amicably.
He stated that Mr. Boss asked the victim to take the weekend off and that he would be called the next week to resume his normal duty.
But after days of waiting, with the manager not calling, Mr. Simeon said he advised his client to call Mr. Boss. Mr. Akuba’s calls to Mr. Boss, however, went unanswered.
Mr. Akuba then decided he no longer wanted the job and resolved to demand compensation for his wrongful arrest and humiliation.
Mr. Akuba, said the lawyer, was invited to the police station, only for him to be detained and charged to court the next day.
The lawyer explained that he was surprised to receive a call from Mr. Akuba that he had been re-arrested and charged to court for harassing the manager and conniving with the alleged culprit to steal from the supermarket. The lawyer said he was on his way to Port Harcourt at the time of the arrest and therefore could not help him at the time.
Mr. Akuba ended up being arraigned before the Chief Magistrate Court, Mpape, Abuja without legal representation. Although the alleged culprit was said to have confessed to the crime and stated that Mr. Akuba knew nothing about the theft, the court ordered that he be remanded in prison custody.
Mr. Akuba is currently in Keffi prison and will possibly be released on bail on Friday upon the hearing of his bail application, exactly one week after being remanded for an offence he did not commit.