After 20 years in maximum security prison, He was found not guilty of the crime…

Former inmate, now deceased Olatunji Olaide, spent 24 years in prison, for a crime he also claimed he did not commit.

 It’s not a story, it’s our reality

In an article published by Premium times, Former inmate, now deceased Olatunji Olaide, spent 24 years in prison, for a crime he also claimed he did not commit. He was arrested in 1988 at the Gwari bush market in Kaduna where he went to purchase animal feed and was accused of stealing a vehicle and killing its owner.

He was forced to sign a confessional statement written for him. While in prison, he lost his eyes. He was in 2012 finally discharged and acquitted by the Court of Appeal and died a few years after his release.

Silence is a two edged sword that cares not for the wielder.

"Silence is Golden, yet its extent and the consequences it may impose on others warrant examination. Growing up, we learn that not everything we hear or see should be vocalized—an unspoken norm within Nigerian society that emphasizes the benefits of remaining silent, avoiding trouble and public scrutiny.

This cultivated habit of silence has indeed proven advantageous, saving lives and averting tragedies. However, it has also been responsible for wrongful convictions and harm to innocent individuals. While we may lament these occurrences, we often fail to look beyond the surface.

Silence, at times, has led to the unjust punishment of innocent individuals, whether through legal processes, public condemnation, or online defamation. In the social media age, numerous instances have emerged where a person's reputation is at stake due to accusations from someone considered marginalized and in need of representation. In such cases, society tends to quickly turn against the accused, relying on misconstrued evidence and verbal allegations.

Humans often seek someone to blame and readily criticize and shame individuals without proper evidence or understanding of the situation. For instance, when a person claims to be a victim of physical abuse on social media, the online community often reacts with outrage, even in the absence of concrete proof or a thorough understanding of the circumstances. Over time, we've witnessed cases where the accuser was, in fact, the aggressor, as exemplified in the Amber Heard and Johnny Depp case.

Silence in the face of others' suffering diminishes our humanity and must be addressed. This also applies to those closely acquainted with the accused who choose not to speak out and provide evidence supporting the accused's innocence. In cases of rape allegations, for instance, the victim's account is often unquestioningly accepted, leading to severe consequences for the accused, including loss of employment, reputation, respect, friendships, and freedom.

Consider the impact it would have if a close friend of a wrongly accused person were to come forward to challenge the accusations or if the voice of that one person tweeting, "I know Joshua, and he could never do that," were heeded without the fear of being canceled or labeled as advocates for the accused. Perhaps wrongful accusations and public ostracism would not be as prevalent.

It is crucial to note that the writer, who is female, acknowledges the gravity of rape cases and does not categorize all rape accusations as false or fabricated. Nevertheless, it is disheartening to witness public reactions without sufficient information, leading to setbacks for wrongly accused individuals. While rape cases should be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators held accountable, it is not an excuse to imprison innocent people based solely on appearances.

Twenty years of wrongful imprisonment cannot be reclaimed, and the enduring effects of public shame cannot be easily overcome, regardless of the time spent in therapy.

If you ever come to be in a situation where a friend was wrongly accused of a crime will you step out to defend his innocence or shy away because you fear what the internet will do to you? This is an important question, one that challenges the authenticity of “friendship and love” shared today.

 Therefore, the question persists: to what extent is silence really golden, and at whose expense does it come?"

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