“AH, I SAW HELL. I MET BOTH GOOD AND BAD WARDERS----WUNMI (TAIWO AKINWANDE)
Still thoroughly ashamed of herself. Those words aptly describe Hafsanat Taiwo Akinwande (pouplarly known as Wunmi) when she spoke with Spectacles last Sunday.
News broke late last year that the star actress was arrested at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos on her way to London, and was made to excrete 92 wraps weighning 1.214 kilogrammes of cocaine. When the scandal broke, the general thinking was that Wunmi was going to the slammer for good.
When Spectacles asked her on Sunday to recall what went on in her mind while she was held in detention,
She took a deep breath and sighed, Speaking to our correspondents in Yoruba, she said, “I could not think clearly at first, but later I started to think of what would become of my children because I had been responsible for their upkeep all along. Then I thought of my family, majority of whom were depending on me. And when I heard that I had been expelled by my colleagues, I felt so sad, unable to believe what was happening to me.
“I began to imagine what my fans and Nigerians generally would be saying about me. I felt so ashamed of myself, I knew I had brought shame on my entire family. In fact, I cannot tell you exactly what went on in my mind.”
The occasional flashes of a smile on her face totally ceased when it was time for her to tell the story of how she became a drug runner. She started by debunking the rumour that she had gone dumb.
“It was not true that I was dumb. Maybe they said that because I was not talking to anybody. Who would I have talked to? I was ostracised, no friend, nobody.” Every prodding to make Wunmi divulge how she got herself to engage in the act, why she agreed to swallow the deadly wraps and who lured her into it failed.
If she would not answer why or who lured her into committing the crime, could she tell Spectacles what she went through after she was nabbed?
She answered (still in Yoruba), “Where do I start? Is it what happened at NAHCO, or at Kirikiri? All those who ordinarily could not talk to one began to say all sorts of things to insult me. In fact, there is a saying in Yoruba that, Ti iya nla ba gbeni sanle, kekeke a maa gori eni (a major defeat is always a harbinger of minor ones). But it was not their fault. If I did not do what I did, how would they say that to me?”
Would Wunmi tell Spectacles whether she experienced any nasty treatment in prison at the hands of co-inmates or warders?
“Ah, I saw hell. I met both good and bad warders. But if I did not do what I did, they would not even get to see me to do anything to me, I don't blame them.”
Asked what actually made her to embark on such a delicate mission, she said:
“I know that you press people would have loads of questions for me, but I plead with you to please spare me that for now because very soon, everything will be in a movie called Oogun Oloro (Hard Drug) which will come up later in the year. I intend to state everything that happened from beginning to the end without hiding anything, because I want people, especially the young ones, to learn from my experience.” She told Spectacles that all she wanted was for Nigerians to accept her profound apology. But the effort to convey her plea knocked her off, as she battled hot tears. She told Spectacles in a quivering voice that Nigerians should find a place in their heart to accept her back as one of their own and overlook her error.
“I appeal to all my fans, and all Nigerians that I know I have erred, they should forgive me for what I did. Throughout the rest of my life, it will continue to remain in my heart that I disgraced myself, my colleagues and my family.
“I have resolved to set up an NGO which is aimed a educating people on the risks of drug trafficking. My target is the youth, but adults too will not be left out in the campaign against drugs peddling.
“Again, I thank Nigerians, especially those who didn't know me but who pitied my condition by sending money and affection to me. I was overwhelmed by what they did and will ever remain indebted to them.
“I thank my colleagues, especially Uncle Jide Kosoko; and Moji Olaiya, who a lot of people, think is my own daughter. Then I thank my daughter who struggled to see that I was not left to waste away just like that. I thank my friends too who, despite everything, came to me to say hello.”