Sunday 8 March 2015

How I Escaped From UK,US Prisons - “I Got It All Wrong From The Very Beginning" – Ex-Female Drug Trafficker

For those in a hurry to make "fast money", this journey into the life of Mrs Iyabo Yomi, who became a drug peddler as a teenager in the 70s would definitely make you want to think twice,
The story of Mrs Iyabo Yomi is that of an everyday Nigerian teenager in the 70s, who wanted at all cost to live her dream of climbing up the social ladder. She however took the wrong path.

Mrs Yomi who is now over 60 narrated her story to Saturday Sun recently. She started from being an ambitious teenage girl, drug goon, prison inmate, jail breaker, and then an ex-convict to a born again Christian.

Her dream of "making it" quick in life sequel to the fact that everyone seemed to be travelling to London to further their education or to do business in the 70s, led her to drug peddling.

In her words, “Shortly after my secondary education in 1975, I told my parents that I wanted to travel down to London to further my edu­cation… Initially, my mother refused, insisting that I was too young to be alone” Iyabo who became an Alhaja at 18 was later able to convince her mother and off she went to London.

On one of her trips back to London after she had gathered 500 pounds to start a business, she was arrested. She was arrested for being in possession of Indian hemp in a parcel packed by her aunt. Iyabo had innocently collected the parcel not knowing the content to deliver to her aunt's friend in London.

While in prison, she got to know that drug peddling was very lucrative. For Iyabo, this was the opportunity to afford the kind of life she had dreamt of. She later got deported to Nigeria, and this marked the beginning of several other drug movimg trips, jail sentences, prison breaks and deportations.

While in Nigeria, she soon began to plot schemes on how to start moving Indian hemp to London. She  got another passport with a different name and business began all over again.

At 26 in 1981, she was pregnant with her second child and got arrested after a few years of successful business with the cash rolling in. For the sake of her pregnancy, she was given suspended sentence and deported to Nigeria again.

Iyabo still did not show any remorse for her actions, not even for the sake of her children. She said, “The more they arrested me, the more I became crazy and determined to continue in drug pushing. I kept strategizing and perfecting my skills. I was young and very rich. I did not know the value of money then, I was ready to spend it on anything. At the age of 20, I bought the latest car, BMW sports for myself.”

When it appeared that she had her fill of the United Kingdom, she moved business to the United States. At the US, she began peddling Heroin. She had had 24 successful trips before the hand of the law caught up with her.

She sid that, “I was remanded at MCC in New York and sentenced to five years imprisonment. I was later moved over to West Virginia prisons in US, where I was to serve my remaining sentence. It was there that I met a friend from Columbia, her case was worse than mine. We also hatched a plan and escaped after spending several months.” She soon found her way back to Nigeria.

Iyabo now the mother of five in 1999 was ever unrepentant as she moved business to Europe and Asia. She assumed that money could easily substitute her love and attention for her children that were left at the mercy of her mother and relatives.

She began to move drugs from Pakistan to Ghana. The last straw that broke the camel’s back was when she got caught in Ghana admist the rumour that the world was about to end.

She explained that, “The news was all over the place that the world was coming to an end and I wanted to spend it with my family. I needed all the money in the world to celebrate with my family before the world comes to an end as predicted…So, I moved drugs from Pakistan to Ghana, to sell some over there before coming back to Nigeria.” In company of her friends that were in the same business, she was caught by Ghana’s illicit drug control officers.

On September 18, 2000, Mrs Iyabo Yomi was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and moved over to Asawam female prisons where she met other inmates that introduced her to God. She gave her life to Christ and became a devout Christian. Mrs Iyabo Yomi decided to serve her term and turn a new leaf.

According to her, the condition of the prison in Ghana was really terrible and a contributory factor to her decision. When comparing the prisons in the US and UK with that in Ghana, she said that, “In US and UK prisons, the only thing you miss is your family. You are even more comfortable than most homes in UK and US. You are even given opportu­nity to work and support your family from the prison…In Ghana prison, it was a living hell. About 25 persons were expected to sleep in the same room with a bucket which was used as a mobile toilet. You can imagine the stench.”

“I was determined to change, that was why I chose the best option.”

Iyabo has since 2010 reconciled with her family, after serving her jail term. She is determined to tell people about the dangers of hard drugs.

Iyabo now shares her story with people. She is actively involved in Livewire International Organisation founded by Arthur Judah Angel. The organisation champions rehabilitation of in-and- out of prison inmates.

On a final note, Iyabo tells those in drug peddling to desist. She said: “It is bad, you will forever live with consciousness that you have destroyed so many lives.

Experience is not necessarily the best teacher!

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