False accusation is an ill wind that brings nobody good and no one prays for it. It is unfortunate that most victims of false accusation live and die with the mental trauma that comes with it.
Some victims live to tell their stories while some others are propelled to take decisions that end up improving their lives. The latter is the case of Isah Shifao Oyiza who was falsely accused alongside her mother, Nana Hawa, of stealing a cell phone. It was exactly 10 years on February 14, 2020, but the false accusation has remained fresh in her mind as if it happened yesterday.
Shifao said they were forced to spend a night in detention by their detractor, a police officer, for something they knew nothing about. She added that though the police officer later apologised when the phone was found; the damage to her self-esteem had already been done.
The 28-year-old wife and mother of three from Okene in Kogi State, explained that she never had the intention of studying Law ab-initio, until the nasty experience propelled her to do so. Looking back, for her, the success story is that today, she is now a lawyer determined to ensure she fights and gets justice for others wrongly accused persons.
She recollected: “Nine years ago, my mum and I were falsely accused of stealing a mobile phone. The owner of the missing phone was a police officer. So, she used her powers to put us behind bars. We spent a night in detention and I must confess, it was the worst night of our lives!
“We wept bitterly all through that night. The cell we were locked up was damn stinky. While we were pressed in the middle of the night, we were left with no other option than to urinate in the same place we slept. The following day, a lawyer was invited and we were granted bail. The phone was later found somewhere else and the police came to our house to apologise publicly.
“But, then I imagined how innocent people suffer and languish in detention for no just cause. I then made up my mind to study law. I am proud to say that few days ago, nine years after my excruciating experience; I visited the same police station as a lawyer.
“Letting go was tough. My mum and I wept bitterly for days and our perception of the police force changed. We stopped associating with police officers and vowed never to have anything to do with them. The pain lingered on until I gained admission into the university to study Law.
“I got married while I was in 100 Level and had two kids while in school. I had to manage my home while struggling to do well in my academics. But I remained steadfast regardless.
“My main focus now is to uphold the cause of the oppressed and render my services to the downtrodden pro bono. I am currently working on a project to mark the 10th anniversary of that incident.”
On what she thought must have prompted them to be falsely accused, she said: “We really didn’t know the motive behind it, but maybe borne out of malice.
“The police were really close, they were our neighbours and we were unfortunately not in good terms with them. The phone was found somewhere else, but no one told us where. The phone wasn’t stolen but misplaced. I have not seen her (my accuser) in recent years.”
On what she will tell her accuser today if she sees her: “Sincerely, I don’t really know how I would react, but I think I will just express my gratitude to her because that experience made me who I am today.”