Clement Stephen, a lance corporal serving in Maiduguri was among 70 soldiers sentenced to death in 2014 by a military court martial for mutiny against their commanding officers, but later got the sentence commuted to 10 years by the Chief of Army Staff.
But after serving years, Stephen was released from the Kirikiri Maximum Prison in Lagos on Tuesday April 28, along with 18 others by the Lagos State Government.
He was the only soldier among those released from the prison and he could not believe his luck.
“I was surprised when they were calling Lagos State release. Somebody came to me and I said they have called my name but I didn’t believe,” he narrated in a voice cracking with emotion.
“Then another person ran to me again and said they were calling my name. So I decided to go and see and truly I heard my name; I couldn’t believe it, it was a surprise because I don’t have anybody.”
He said his soldier colleagues in the prison were happy for him and he hoped they too would be released soon.
Stephen said he had gone back to the Ikeja Cantonment, where his wife and two children had lived without him for the past six years.
“I am very happy to reunite with my family and I give glory to God because it is a miracle,” he said.
He said life in the prison was “terrible” because it was impossible to feed well unless the prisoners make their own arrangements.
“But I had nothing; no money and no one to help me,” he said, adding that he lost his father while in prison and his mother had been sick. His mother lives in Jigwada, a community near Keffi in Nasarawa State.
In an interview with his mother last year,s pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to release her son to take care of her.
“I will go and see my mother as soon as I get money for transport.”