Cliton Kanu was in April 1992 sentenced to death over a murder case. He spent 27 years in prison.
He was however innocent.
The 56-year-old man was 29 at that time.
Kalu who is a native of Ndinwafor in Okigwe Local Government Area of Imo State was sent to the Port Harcourt Maximum Prison 27 years ago following his conviction at a Federal High Court for a crime he did not commit.
According to him, he was frame up by those who felt threatened by his rise in life.
Explaining how he felt when the Supreme Court discharged and acquitted him on April 5 2019, he said; “I was overwhelmed with joy on the day I was released from prison having spent 27 years there without committing a crime. Up till this moment, I feel like a newly born baby. God gave me another chance to experience His greatness again.”
“Twenty-seven years ago, some people were accused of stealing generating plant and fluorescent tubes.
“They are my in-laws. After the court decided the case, we heard that somebody was murdered in the compound where my sister married. But I was arrested because the thought by those behind my ordeal was that I was trying to resolve a land dispute in favour of one person.
“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,” he said.
“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,” he said (as seen on Punch).
Mr. Kanu while in prison obtained a Diploma in Theology, a Bachelor’s Degree in Guidance and Counselling, a Master’s in Education Management, Master’s in Guidance and Counselling and also a PhD in Guidance and Counselling.
Speaking about whether he would avenge the great injustice against him, he noted that vengeance is for God alone, adding that he learnt the ways of Christ Jesus while in prison.
“God has dealt with those behind my ordeal the way he wants to deal with them; I don’t have any business with them.
“God has already dealt with the man, who stood as a complainant in my case.
“On whether I will seek compensation from the police for falsely accusing me, I don’t know about that for now.
“I have imbibed Christ and I have nothing against those behind my ordeal. While I was in the prison, I read more. I had Diploma in Theology, I had Bachelor’s Degree in Guidance and Counselling, Master’s in Education Management, Master’s in Guidance and Counselling and I also got PhD in Guidance and Counselling.
“I am a child of God and have nothing against them. The police and others behind my ordeal knew that I did not commit the crime.
“One Sergeant Eze and one other person were aware that I did not commit the crime; it was a gang-up and conspiracy at the highest level.
“First of all, when I was taken to prison, I was not happy; I felt insulted and humiliated. I began to write petitions, but petitions cannot get you anywhere if you don’t have any person to follow it up,” he said.
Speaking about his future now that he is out of prison, Kanu said; “I would have built more houses; I would have bought more land and currently, I don’t know the position of my properties.”
He further condemned Nigerian prisons, saying that life is really hard in prisons. He added that Nigerian prisons cannot reform most inmates because of the hardship.
“In the prison, a lot of the youths are restive and they want to make it by any other way, even when they lack academic exposure.
“I went into an academic venture that will benefit the inmates and even the wardens; something like seminars.
“Government should provide enough facilities in prisons to help reform the inmates. Anybody can be in the prison, unless your enemies do not remember you. The moment they remember you, there is nothing you can do. The entire place is tough.
“Most people who are inside there come out without being reformed. You can imagine 200 people sleeping in a room. There, each man is planning to outwit the other. Once an inmate dies, the next man around will carry the dead person’s food and eat.
“I was diabetic and fed myself for those 27 years. Many people are not privileged to do that.
“I had to sell some of my land, cars and other properties to be able to do that (feed myself in prison). At a point, when I had no money, the church took over my feeding,” he revealed.
Kanu who studied Law before he was jailed is now demanding a N20billion compensation for spending about 3 decades of his life in prison over crime he was innocent of.
He noted that he would seek the compensation from the Federal Government and from the Government of Imo State for the damage done to his business and his health while in prison.
“It seems as if everything collapsed on my head; I don’t know where to start from. My head is jam-packed with thoughts and I need to ask God to direct me. I really need help.
“I am considering asking for compensation from the Federal Government and my state. I want this legal parochialism and injustice to stop.
“When you talk about the damage done to my business and to my health, due to the prison’s dirty environment, and a lot of other things that have gone wrong, if I put my losses in billions, I don’t think it is out of place.
“The money is just to make me solve my problems and get back to normal life. I will ask for N20bn compensation,” Kanu said.