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General News of Friday, 9 October 2020

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Meet Abdallah Mohammed who served 11 years in prison for allegedly stealing ¢10.00

Arrested at age 15, remanded for 21 days and sentenced to serve a jail term of 25 years at the Kumasi Central Prison, Abdallah Mohammed was accused of stealing GH¢10.00 but denied this accusation.

According to him, he was beaten mercilessly by a mob he met at the Aboabo station in Kumasi when he was returning with his girlfriend from the station to his house. His ¢16.00 he had on him at the time of his arrest was taken and he was later handed over to the Kumasi Zongo Police over an accusation of stealing ¢10.00.

“I was returning home from Aboabo station in Kumasi with my area girl, along the railway line we met some mob. When we saw them, they said this is one of them. I was trying to convince them that I am not one of them but they wouldn’t listen. I was beaten mercilessly [...] and handed me over to the officers at Zongo Police Station,” Abdallah Mohammed recounted.

He continued: “I spent five days in cells, then later the CID came to call me and asked what happened. Whilst talking, he was using a ruler to hit my hands and head saying I should speak the truth and name those I went with to steal the money with. He then told me he’ll take me to court. On my ninth day, I was sent to Circuit Court 1 and I was remanded.”

After serving 11 years two months out of his 25 years in prison, Mohammed was released on September 22, 2020, after successfully appealing against the sentence. He is now a 27-year-old adult.

When his story was first told by the CDD’s Corruption Watch programme in 2019, a law firm, JustKing and Associates, decided to offer a pro-bono service to get him justice.

He narrated that he became aware of the publication of his story while in prison when some inmates who had access to stories in the media informed him that he was trending online.

He said many human rights institutions and some individuals he did not know began visiting in jail, something that angered the prison wardens. As a result, he claims he was assaulted verbally for making his case public through the media, and his mother was accused of being behind the publications.

Abdallah Mohammed indicated that he was asked to pack his belongings and prepare for a transfer to the Cape Coast Maximum Security Prison in the Central Region on October 10, 2019.

Throughout his stay in prison, until the news of his release was announced on September 21, 2020, Mohammed trained himself to become a professional barber.

“I was there when a prison officer came and asked me how I will feel if I should be freed within now and Friday and I told him I will be happy. Then he told me to pack my things and prepare for my release. Although I was happy to hear that, I didn’t prepare like instructed because I didn’t believe it,” he recounted.

“On September 22, 2020, I was on my normal routine, cutting the hair of an inmate when I was summoned to the office. I was asked if I had finished packing as instructed and I said no. The officer was shocked. He then asked me to rush in and get my things because my mother was waiting outside to take me home. Even at that point, I still wasn’t sure if it was real. It was when I got to the entrance of the prison that I realized it was indeed real and I was truly free,” he added.

Having come out from the confining pillars of prison, Mohammed was very hopeful of reuniting with his grandmother, a woman he grew up calling ‘mom’ because he thought she was rather his biological mother, but unfortunately, he received the sad news of her passing away.

“One thing I was really happy about was that I was going to see my grandmother again. Unfortunately for me, I was informed when I got home that the family was preparing to hold her 40-day observation in Islam. We lost the opportunity to see each other again before she passed,” he sadly said.

Mohammed’s grandmother, he explained, was not informed of his arrest nor given the opportunity to be at his trial.

Mohammed desires to start over his life again in Accra, something he thinks will help him begin to forget about the past. As it stands, he does not know how to start his life again.

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