DIARY OF AN INNOCENT PRISONER

I didn't know when I blurted, "Jennifer, what are you doing here?" At first, I wasn't sure she was the one. I mean, what would she be doing in the female cell of the prison? I would have sworn that she also came for the prison outreach that morning if it wasn't for the distinctive prison outfit she wore. Thankfully, she saved me the stress of further accommodating those wandering thoughts when she responded, "Omoh, I know you don't believe it but it is Jennifer. I am paying the price for a crime I have no idea of the cost." "Wait, Jennifer. I am lost. The last time I saw you was in the higher institution three years ago when we were writing our final exams. Please, what happened?" "It is a long story and I am not sure where to start from but people are wicked. The heart of men is desperately evil." "Please, tell me something. Anything. I just want to know. My team will soon be leaving but I promise I will come again. For now, just tell me this isn't true." "Hmmm! I wish I could say it is not true but it is and I have been here for the past two years", she said and sighed with tears streaming from her eyes. I wish I could tell her to stop but I thought to myself that coming to the prison that day may have been for this purpose. So, I allowed her to cry and pleaded with her to give me the details. "Omoh, even if I tell you, what difference will it make?" By now, I was aching to know what happened, "Sis, you may just be the reason I came here today and I am not leaving until you speak to me." She hesitated but continued, "Back in school, there was this lady in our lodge who used to patronize my business. She ordered snacks often and sometimes paid in advance. One day, she asked for a favor I couldn't decline. She needed to receive funds with my account, but unknown to me, she was involved in internet fraud. When I received the money, she asked that we go to the bank to withdraw it. I agreed, thinking she'd come with me to defend me if needed. But at the bank, things took a dark turn. The branch manager said they traced a fraudulent transaction to my account. I tried explaining the money wasn't mine, but I couldn't reach the lady; she had disappeared." "Geez!", I couldn't believe it. "The person whose money was taken pressed charges, and my family did everything they could to no avail. I got a five-year sentence." To think that an innocent act of helping someone landed Jennifer in prison. "I am so sorry, Jenny. I will reach out to every human rights activist and I won't rest until we get you the justice you deserve." "Don't bother yourself. Maybe I was destined for prison. Where do I start?" From her response, I could tell she had given up but I wasn't going to take NO for an answer so I said to her, "Jennifer, when you get out, all you need to do is to rise from your ashes and start anew." "What will people say?" "Girl, I need you to worry less about that. Let's get you justice first. The money was returned and your account is frozen, right?" "Yes" "Okay. You will hear from me soon". After much effort, Jennifer's case was revisited, and proper investigations were made. She finally got her justice, and when I saw her that day in court, she said to me, "Thank you. You're a godsend. Now I know why you contested to be an advocate in school then. You've not stopped being one." As I hugged her, I said, "The greatest appreciation you can offer me right now is to rise from your ashes and birth that new version of yourself I can feel within me. Your innocence vindicated you and now you are free. Don't live like a prisoner anymore. Rewrite the new version of you that you want this world to read. I know you have learnt your lessons and I hope that we all can be more sensitive to avoid being victims of negative circumstances."

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