Again, a Nigerian widow, Madam Joy Anthony, whose son, Mr. Rufus Anthony is currently languishing in French prison custody has called on the Civil Society Organizations, CSOs, and other Human Rights bodies to intervene and set her son free.
Madam Anthony, while making the appeal also called on the CSOs to interface with all relevant agencies to enable her son, whom he said was unjustifiably imprisoned regain his freedom.
Madam Anthony, speaking on the circumstances which led to the imprisonment of Rufus, said her son was wrongly convicted for offence he never committed.
She therefore, demanded that a judicial review of the case be carried out with a view to setting her son, Rufus free from incarceration.
Recall Madam Anthony, had earlier, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to interface with his French counterpart, Mr. Emmanuel Macron, to release her son, Mr. Rufus Anthony from prison.
Her son, Mr. Rufus is currently serving a jail term in a prison at Saint-Etienne, France over the death of his estranged wife, Rhoda, who reportedly died sometime in February 2015 in France.
Rhoda separated from her husband, Rufus, abandoning her son, Michel with her husband.
She said, “This happened on February 14, 2014, that Rhoda left my son’s house only for police to storm his residence, where he was living with his ex-wife; whom he begged to reunite with on December 15, 2015, one year and half later to arrest him for the murder of Rhoda.
She lamented that “The police arrested her son, charged him and the court in France convicted him for been the one who saw Rhoda last and now Rufus is languishing in prison custody.”
“Even though, no prove of evidence linking him to her murder, my son was sent to prison, because they insisted he was the last person that saw her.”
While further appealing for her son’s freedom, she said, “My son alerted me immediately Rhoda packed out of his house and police came after him one year and half after to arrest him for the murder doesn’t stand.
“If Rhoda has separated and excommunicated my son Rufus for that period of 18 months, who and who was she communicating with within that period under review would be a nut to be cracked by intelligent communities of both Nigeria and France, while deploying technically.”
Madam Anthony, who alleged conspiracy by the family of her late son’s wife, Rhoda to nail him at all cost, submitted that the truth must be known if search is made into call logs of all parties, including Rhoda’s family and my son.
Sobering, she said Rufus has been telling her that Rhoda told him she was no longer interested in the union and that she was going out of the marriage. “This continued for sometimes and on February 14, 2014, she finally left my son’s house, though, without her son, Michel because my son insisted she won’t go with him.”
Madam Anthony recalled further that, when that happened, she made frantic efforts to reach out to Rhoda’s mother, Mrs. Francisca Chucks to inform her about the development to no avail because she stopped me from calling her.
She said all efforts to resolve the issue were not successful, due to alleged influence of the mother-in-law on her daughter, Rhoda, which she described as overbearing. She described Rhoda as a very nice lady, loving, but who was unfortunately hindered by external influence.
“My son too called to inform me that at that moment, he called her mother-in-law to inform her about what was happening; she refused to pick his calls including her daughter Rita.
“Both of them avoided Rufus’ phone calls to them like plague even as he couldn’t reach his wife Rhoda either on phone again,” she added. She alleged that she was informed that it was her mother-in-law that petitioned the France authorities that her son, Rufus killed her daughter.
She recalled the petition got to France authorities in August 2016 after her son was arrested on December 15, 2015.
“They kept the news of Rufus’ arrest from me until January 2016. When I heard the bad news of his arrest, I became worried and I still made some efforts to reach my mother-in-law but she shunned me. And she went to police to make report against my son about April or May of 2016. My in-law who was supposed to reach out to me to ask of her daughter but reverse was the case.”
Madam Joy Anthony revealed further, in July 2014, after Rhoda walked out of the marriage, my son, Rufus visited Nigeria. He told me he saw Rhoda’s sister, Rita, closed to First Bank along Ijegun road in Lagos, but she avoided my son. So, wouldn’t she have raised alarm after sighting my son Rufus if she didn’t know the where about of her sister?
She recalled how her in-law, Rhoda’s mother, Francesca allegedly kept the death of her daughter from her immediate family including her husband’s people.
She said this is strange for a mother to keep relations in the dark about Rhoda’s death. What stopped the mother from making the death of her daughter known to immediate family?
“My son cannot suffer for just no cause. It was in same vein that she kept Rhoda’s where about secret when she walked out of marriage.
“Rhoda’s matrimonial status was a top secret by her mother”, adding, long after Rhoda left my son, we were told she was allegedly communicating with them here in Nigeria.
She alleged source close to her mother in-law that, told them that until sometimes in March 2015, she noticed all was within the family, but before then I know Francesca and Rita, Rhoda’s sister were communicating.
There is another Funmilayo, Rhoda’s course mate at Lagos State University, LASU, who had constant contact with her friend, Rhoda since February 2014 until sometimes in March 2015.
When Funmilayo couldn’t reach Rhoda on phone again, she tried to inquire of her from her sister Rita, who respondent that Rhoda was okay and doing fine. But from the record, Rhoda has died at the time.
She further asked her mother in-law to explain to the world her relationship with one John Osa she was allegedly collecting Euros from at Ikotun market during the period her daughter divorced my son.
“I think the Interpol carrying out the comprehensive investigations, were able to establish that through the call log within that period that my mother in-law was communicating with a number from France.
“I know the all security apparatus, including Interpol in respect of this case are trying their best in order to unveil the circumstance surrounding Rhoda’s death. But I wanted them to expedite action, including the CSOs so that my son is freed soon.“
But when contacted, Rhoda’s mother, Mrs. Francesca Chucks said she was not happy old wounds were being reopened, adding that Rufus’ family never bothered to tell her the true situation.
She said, “What happened was not in Nigeria. I heard it the same way they heard it. What they should have done when this incident occurred is what they are doing now. I do not gain anything from anybody being in prison. It will not bring my daughter back to life.
“All that I know is what their son told me and that is what Nigerian and French governments are working with. The case is between Rufus and the government. All that I know is what I was told.
“Immediately it happened, they should have told me but they kept covering up. Their son told them lies and they believed it. They never bothered to get in touch with me. They want to tell me they are smart, wise and that I am nobody and cannot do anything.”
Mrs. Chucks also confirmed the INTERPOL in Abuja were already involved in the matter, adding, “They will give you full details of what happened.”