By Amarachi Okpunobi
“As found guilty in this court of law of the crime you’ve been accused of robbery according to the Nigerian constitution of 1999, Act 6, Section 4, degree ix. You are here by sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour…”, That was the verdict the court gave over Kenechukwu Iloh.
Kene sat in the black room lost in self pity on the flesh that was already owned by the ants and maggots of the earth. The other prisoners had beaten him black and blue the day the door of light was shut behind him and the gate of hell widely opened for him in the prison yard. They had indeed dealt with him mercilessly. He shouldn’t have shown any self defense maybe that would have earned him being in a more lighter room than the dark room he has been placed. He was reported to have fought the convicts who tried teaching him some lessons about life behind bars but he ignorantly played a cultured man.
He watched agape and watched as an officer took one of prisoners from the ‘black room’. “Abi you know say you no fit see this person again for your life, e don dey go join e Papas for where dem dey” Kene could not understand the strange mangled English till after two days when he didn’t hear or see a shadow that looked like the prisoner who was taken away from the black room. Upon enquiry, he was told that he had gone to rest well in the world beyond. Kene could still not believe till another was taken and never seen or heard of. Fear gripped Kene, he kept wondering how he got to the four walls of the prison yard. Being in the black room seemed to be the hard labor the Judge had pronounced on him. What would be harder than seeing lives wasted before ones very own eyes? He was in the black room and it was just too bad a culture for humans to waste and shed fellow human’s blood in broad daylight.
Kene has not been fed for 5 days, neither had he tasted water but of course that was black room, only ones guardian angel feeds one. He knew he may not make it alive from the black room but one thing is sure, he will die being happy amidst the injustice melted on him. Maybe that was what Christ had suffered for man’s sake and even some of His apostles.
Hot tears began to drop tip top on his feet as he took a reflection back to his life when he still slept soundly on his bed and woke up to see the little light that brightens and gives a new hope for a new day in his rented one room apartment at the outskirts of Amenyi. He knew his life was in shreds and probably will be forgotten soon but he believed strongly in the law of Karma; things that goes around must surely come around.
Kene is a promising young brick layer. He had enrolled in National Open University, Abagana for the essence of working and studying at least to help his poor mother in bringing up his siblings. Kene was 10 when he lost his father, a bus driver in an accident in Upper Iweka Road Onitsha, when a fuel tanker lost it’s brake and took lives up in flames. The ashes of Kene’s Father could not be gathered. What was left of him was his family and his pictures that hung on the wall of their house. Kene managed and struggled his way out of secondary School and swore to be a graduate of a higher institution.
It was in one of the sites where he layed bricks that the black sun shone on him. The night was coming and the engineer left without paying him. He had no fare to go home, so he had to stay back and regretfully enjoy the mosquito bites. He would take moringa drink and probably deactivate the plasmodium. He waited for the engineer but it never seemed like he would come back to the site neither was he picking up his calls.
Kene’s friend had called earlier that night and that was the last call he received before he went to bed. Half way to midnight, the song in dreamland changed, likewise the dance. Kene heard something like a gun shot, before he could shake himself to stand, the armed robbers were already inside the house. They made away with valuables that worth a whole lot of money from the house. When morning came, the police of course, came to investigate the case. And that was the last time Kene had his freedom. He was arrested that same day and still accused as the Mastermind behind the robbery.
Meanwhile, the son of the man who owns the site spent the night alongside Kene.
Kene according to the engineer would have to buy a lawyer who will defend him in the court of law owing to the evidence that the CCTV camera caught him on call few hours before the incident. Kene pleaded not guilty but it all fell on deaf ears. It was a criminal case and must be treated like one. Kene was convicted irrespective of his defense.
He knew that his life would end soon after he was convicted of the crime.
Weeks later, the son of the man was caught in a bank robbery alongside his gang.
Investigation was carried out by the authority and the boy was also found guilty of the said crime and the one Kene was convicted of. The boy was bailed out.
Kene only had the hope to death. Justice has been crucified and nobody seems to be its saviour.
We are all guilty of melting injustice on one another. It has become so normal to all of us that we do not think of good others but ourselves. Cases such as Kene’s are bound to come. But who cares, he may rot in jail and no soul is ready to ask why? Injustice!
Kene lost his life in the black room and his story was also erased in the minds of people because he died a criminal. Injustice.