Ephraim Udo, a 29-year-old tricycle operator, has regained his freedom after being arrested and held at the Uyo Medium Custodial Centre for four years without trial on the orders of a policewoman whose daughter he was in a relationship with, he was freed by Akwa Ibom Chief Judge. The incident caught the attention of the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaete Obot, who ordered the immediate and unconditional release of Udo during her jail delivery exercise and inspection of prison formations across the state.
According to Udo, he and his estranged lover had been in love for years, but her mother did not approve of the relationship and eventually ended their planned marriage with his wrongful incarceration. He revealed that he had two children with his former lover and that her mother had vowed that a “keke man,” referring to tricycle operators, could not marry her daughter.
Udo expressed gratitude to the CJ for her compassionate gesture, describing her as “a compassionate mother in the temple of justice, setting an example of the judiciary as the hope of the oppressed and the common people, especially when the doctrines and principles of the rule of law are not allowed to be trampled upon by the rich and the influential in the society.”
With his release, Udo faces a bleak future but hopes to rebuild his life and shattered dreams. His story is one of the 45 wrongly incarcerated inmates, including two foreigners of Niger Republic origin, who were unconditionally granted freedom as the CJ concluded her weeklong tour of prison facilities in Ikot Abasi, Ikot Ekpene, Eket, and Uyo formations at the weekend.
This incident raises concerns about the need for preventive measures to protect citizens from wrongful arrest and detention, particularly by law enforcement agents. The judiciary, as the last hope of the common man, should continue to play its role in upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights of citizens, regardless of their social status.