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Amputee Hawker: From street hawking to Lagos Govt investigation net over lies

According to THE NATION, claims by Mary Daniel, the Oshodi amputee hawker that she lost a leg in an accident that killed all passengers, including her parents when she was a teenager, were false.

Mary-Daniel (Amputee Hawker)
Mary-Daniel (Amputee Hawker)

COMMENTARY – On the evening of Wednesday, April 28, 2021, the news of how Mary Daniel, 27, the Lagos amputee hawker that went viral on social media a few weeks ago was handed over to Social Welfare by the governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu for investigation in the presence of the Commissioner of Police over the lies detected in her stories shocked many Lagosians and Nigerians in general. This commentary focuses on what transpired and how the Lagos State Government detected her lies, handed her to Social Welfare for investigation, and blocked her access to the twenty-five-million-naira donations in her bank account.

According to THE NATION, claims by Mary Daniel, the Oshodi amputee hawker that she lost a leg in an accident that killed all passengers, including her parents when she was a teenager, were false.

She went viral some weeks ago after her pictures where she was selling sachet water at Oshodi surfaced across different social media platforms which attracted serious sympathy from Nigerians in different parts of the world.

Mary Daniel claimed in an interview that she was an orphan who was taking care of a baby and an aged grandmother.

She narrated how life dealt her several blows and she had to drop out of school and hit the streets to make ends meet for herself, the baby and her grandmother.

Following her narratives, several Nigerians and organisations donated monies through her bank account made public with about N25m raised.

This development prompted the Lagos state government to provide her with accommodation to save her from criminals.

Things were going fine with the Mary few days after her birthday until when the state government discovered her father was alive which she lied had died in an accident.

It was discovered that she was amputated from birth not as a result of accident.

It was gathered that the governor immediately handed her over to the officials of social welfare for investigation upon revelations that her case was staged.

According to reports, Daniel was receiving strange calls from those who staged her story with threats to reveal the truth unless she gave them their share of the money.

She was handed over by Governor Sanwo-Olu to officials of welfare in the presence of the police and some Kogi leaders, who attested her father was alive.

Commissioner of Police in Lagos, Hakeem Odumosu said the young woman was in the custody of officials of the Social Welfare and not the police.

“The police were there but she was not handed over to us. She was handed over to Social Welfare. There were irregularities and lies in the account of her life she gave.

“It was discovered that contrary to her claim that her parents died during an accident that left her amputated, it was discovered that her father is very much alive and that she was amputated from birth.

“It was also discovered that her presence in Oshodi was staged. Those working with her played on the intelligence of Nigerians to get donations for her.

” It came to light when the people started threatening her. She promised some N500,000 in other different amounts and was planning to return to her home state when the information leaked.

“I had to attach some policemen to her to prevent any attack on her when she went to the bank. We suspected those people might follow her but everything went well as they were not seen.

“Presently, the state government is preventing her from accessing the money.

“The government does not want a situation where it will become a trend for people to cook up stories, manipulate the people to get donations,” Odumosu said.

Will Govt Protect Mary Daniel or Punish Her?

It is not clear as to whether she has or not committed perjury under the criminal code.

The offence of perjury is created by section 117 of the Criminal Code which reads:

Any person who, in any judicial proceeding, or to institute any judicial proceeding, knowingly gives false testimony touching any matter which is material to any question then depending in that proceeding, or intended to be raised in that proceeding, is guilty of an offence, which is called perjury.

It is immaterial whether the testimony is given on oath or under any other sanction authorised by law.

The forms and ceremonies used in administering the oath or in otherwise binding the person giving the testimony to speak the truth are immaterial, if he assent to the forms and ceremonies actually used.

It is immaterial whether the false testimony is given orally or in writing. It is immaterial whether the court or tribunal is properly constituted, or is held in the proper place, or not if it actually acts as a court or tribunal in the proceeding in which the testimony is given.

It is immaterial whether the person who gives the testimony is a competent witness or not, or whether the testimony is admissible in the proceeding or not.

The offender cannot be arrested without a warrant.

Section 118 of the Criminal Code reads: “Any person who commits perjury is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years. If the offender commits the offence in order to procure the conviction of another person for an offence punishable with death or with imprisonment for life, he is liable to imprisonment for life”.

However, it was not stated whether Mary Daniel was on oath when she made the claims about life stories. Perjury can only be committed under oath.

False oaths in non-judicial proceedings

In the classification of perjury, the Criminal Code punishes every falsehood whether in judicial proceedings or sworn or not, in the same way.

This tends to suggest that the Criminal Code punishes telling lies simpliciter and, lies told outside the confines of a Court of Law, even though, not sworn, are brought within the classification of perjury or false evidence.

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