The arrest of Olukoga Olutayo a.k.a. “Gademi” was a shock to the African community. Quiet, easy going and unassuming. In 1993, he evaded being prose- cuted for dealing in narcotics. He turned back few blocks to where he was to be arrested in a sting op- eration.
Many of his friends presume he has learnt his lesson until the news of another arrest filtered out.
He spoke to our editor, Joseph Omoremi on his ex- perience in prison,reasons for his re-arrest after leaving the half way home and an opportunity to re- coup loss time and income.
“It’s pay back time,” he said adding “there is always an opportunity for the living.” It is an interesting read.
Inquirer: Quite some time. I learnt you were out but it’s been difficult getting in contact with you. What’s going on?
Olutayo: Yes, I’m back. You’ve got problem with that and where did you get my phone number. Why did you single me out of those arrested for drugs? Why and what did I do to you to deserve that? Who gave you my number?
Inquirer: You know better than that. I got it from your court filings in court. I have access to the federal courts including the Supreme Court. I was monitoring your progress all along including your recent lawsuits against three Cook County Sheriffs and the guy that attacked you in jail. I decided to give you a call to find out how you are doing.
Olutayo: I’m fine. My cousin Jide Odugbesan told me about all you have been writing in your paper. Jide got married last week. I was surprised you will do that to me. He showed me copies of the Chicago Inquirer and told me how he confronted you at Midway Airport. How can you write that they will jail me 40- years? And I used to buy you beers at Hope Club. I thought we were friends. Why me?
Inquirer: You know I don’t drink alcohol. I stopped drinking in 1989. I was actually doing you a favor by re- porting the facts instead of allowing the rumors going on in the community. The Feds threatened to ask for the highest penalty of 40-years in the charges against you if you didn’t coop- erate with them. That was exactly what I reported. It’s a public record. Your cousin was just being rude and uncivi- lized.
Olutayo: I never cooperated with them. I never mentioned any name. They sat me down and ask for inter- view, which I declined. They got mad and put me in underground detention for seven days. It was a horrible expe- rience. There was no light, no nothing but I survived it but I never cooperated.
Inquirer: If you never coop- erated, how come you got 48- months and after serving 28-months, they released you to a half way home?
Olutayo: I didn’t mention any names. They brought out pic- tures of those that cooperated with them and requested for interview which I declined. I was shocked and confused when I saw the pictures but I told them if they already got confessions from those guys, they don’t need me.Whatever information they got from those in the pictures, they should use it without im- plicating me. You already got your evidence, you don’t need me.
Inquirer: Were you trying to protect your family or scared because your house was bro- ken into by those who thought you were cooperating with the Feds and that one of your daughters was caught shoplift- ing?
Olutayo: Why won’t you be- lieve me? I never cooperated. Wale Ariyo was the one that named names. I refused all their entreaties. I didn’t coop- erate. I told them I operated on the streets and had no accomplices. I told them what- ever information or evidence they had obtained from those in the pictures; they should use it without implicating me as the source of the informa- tion or dragging me into it. It was obvious I was already in trouble, and there is no need to put another person into it. They threatened to use those in the pictures as witnesses against me but I did not relent.
Inquirer: Who are those in the pictures?
Olutayo: Why are you asking for their identities? You can get them where you got my numbers. You can go to the prosecutors. Do you think if I had done anything crazy I would have been unable to come back to the community? Despite all that, Kola Adeyemo said I was working for the Federal Bureau of In- vestigation (FBI). It was ridiculous. If you are an in- formant for undercover police or the feds, you’ve got to be paid. If I’m getting paid, why I’m I still searching for job after my release. I’m going to get over this chapter in my life. Demola Oyefeso had gone past over the nightmare he went through in prison. I’m going to do the same. Inquirer: What was the game changer in your case?
Olutayo: My attorney Joseph Lopez was the game changer. He is a first class lawyer. His wife Lopez has passed the bar exam. She got me off the probation issue. She and her hus- band really represented me very well.
Inquirer: Why are you not using them in your new case against the County?
Olutayo: They are not intohat. They handle federal cases and attorney Lopez re- ferred me to another lawyer conversant with the assault I went through in jail. Inquirer: But you filed the motion pro se?
Olutayo: A Public Defender has taken over.
Inquirer: Are you serious bearing in mind of your expe- rience in the drug case that you had to dump a Public Defender for Attorney Lopez and things went quickly?
Olutayo: The Public Defender appears to be good. Be- sides my law suit against the County Sheriffs, another ille- gal arrest is coming up. My incarceration was a learning experience. I thought I could represent myself in court. I joined a long distance school of paralegal while in prison. I represented many inmates and some got their freedom. Everyday, I have a schedule on what to do.
I’m happy I went through the process without losing my life. I’m not the only person that went to prison in our community. Some did and lost their minds and others came out rich. I’m happy I came out intact.
Inquirer: What are you doing now or planning to do now that you are out?
Olutayo: I contemplated driving cab but it is a time bomb. Uber is another option because it gives you flexibility not available to cab drivers. The cab industry has de- stroyed many African lives in Chicago. Many out of desperation to meet their weekly lease payment of between $700-$800 work extra hours and become hypertensive which in some situation leads to diabetics.
You have to contend with Peshtigoand their unchallenged judgments. I hope Uber last forever be- cause it gives the cab industry its first real competition and democracy is about alterna- tives. The only problem Uber could face is if cab drivers form a union to challenge Peshtigo and the excessive cab lease. With a union, Peshtigo would have to soften their rules. Those rules do not give cab drivers any right.