The chief Judge of a Lagos high court walked into the court room which was bustling with activities and noises some few minutes ago, but the moment the judged walked in, everywhere fell silent.
“The next case is the murder case between the government and a certain Adeoye Alabi and his associates. 4311KJ00055.” The court clerk read. A group of policemen numbering up to fifteen led a group of guys into the court and up into the criminal box.
“The defence counsel and the prosecuting counsel, shall they introduce themselves?” The judge asked. The court room fell silent once again. An elderly man stood up and faced the judge. The man should roughly be in his mid or late fifties, a popular lawyer, a senior advocate of Nigeria.
“My name is Barrister Olu Olowolayemo SAN. The defence counsel. And with me on my team is, Barrister Kunle Johson also a senior Advocate.” An elderly man stood up and bowed before the judge.
“Also on my team is Barrister Omolola Olubukola Martins.” Barrister Olu continued. A young lady of about thirty three stood up and bowed before the judge.
“I have on my team, Battister Kenneth.” Another young man, this time a very young man, whom from a far off, one could guess right the age bracket he belonged to. He should be in his mid twenties. A fresh university graduate.
“And lastly on my team is Barrister Benson.” The court room went into applause as a dark stout man stood up and bowed before the judge.
“Order!” The court clerk called and the hall fell silent again. Certainly, the Barrister Olu’s team of lawyers will definitely win any case regardless of the evidences that would be produced against. Two senior Advocate of Nigeria alongsie two young lawyers who according to a magazine in Lagos, the last fifteen cases they handled, they had not lost, talking about Barrister Benson and Barrister Ms Martins. And an unknown lawyer whose fresh brain would do a lot of good today.
“The procesuting cousel please.” The Judge called. A young police lawyer reluctantly stood up and faced the judge, thank God for her chocolate complexion, one would have seen the goose pimple all over her body. She had a feeling she would loose the case, considering the class of lawyers she was up against.
“I am Barrister Tina Adams, the prosecuting counsel for the government.” She said, after which she walked over to where her opponents sat and shook hands with all of them. She loved the way they greeted her, not smiling, but one would know they are not far from smiling. But professionalism had to speak here. Only Ms Martins smiled when she was returning to her deck.
“Mr Adeoye Alade, on the seventeenth day of this month, you were arrested by the men of the Nigerian police on charges of man slaughter and murder of four students of the University of Lagos. Are you guilty or not?” Barrister Tina asked.
“Not guilty.” Doeye replied.
“On the tenth day of April, you were caught at Royal ville hotel and suit where you brutally asaulted the hotel attendant by forcefully inserting the tip of your gun into her private part. Are you guilty or not?” Tina asked.
“Not guilty.” Deoye replied with confindence. He was glad that his parent agreed to help him out of this case which was why they paid millions of Naira to Barrister Olu who in turn secured the services of four other lawyers.
A young lady somewhere within the crowd bursted into tears and ran out of the hall. Deoye could remember her face, she was the hotel attendant whom he destroyed.
“Am a bad man.” He thought amusingly and smiled. It was five minutes before the end of recess and the court room was almost empty, the lawyers were re-structuring, re-strategising their approach to the case when the session resumes. Barrister Olu and his team of lawyers were going through some set of pictures and a laptop computer was opened before them, a large book, with a green and white cover and the Nigeria’s coat of arm crested on the cover, ‘THE CONSTITUTION’ was clearly inscribed on the back cover.
With look on the faces of the defence counsels, they seemed to be having issues, a man was explaining somethings to them. Though, Barrister Ms Tina could hear them, but she couldn’t process the things she heard to her understanding. Her mind was far away, she could see herself slumping to defeat in a matter of hours. If the arguements from both sides should be rated with marks, then she definitely would struggle with Barrister Benson who hadn’t said a thing, other than introduce himself. She knew all she had said was off point, she couldn’t put something strong on Deoye and his gang, all she could do was ask questions, introduce witnesses and by legal standard, a tricky case such as this has a proceedure of its own.
Even though a well bred individual will know from the onset that the defence team were only in court because they were paid. But in the law court, nothing is impposible. Evidences and oratorical ability will definitely count, and Barrister Ms Tina, the prosecuting counsel lacked in that aspect. She was psycologically distabilised by the presence of her oponents, the way they spoke alone was enough reasons for her to stutter and stammer. The note of finality in their voice was enough reason for her to forget what she intended saying. Tina was discussing with the hotel attendant who was assaulted by Deoye.
“You just have to be strong. Justice will be yours today.” Tina said squeezing her shoulder.
“Aunty, these people must not go unpunished, I have suffered. I spent weeks in the hospital before I could walk, it has been confirmed that my womb has been affected. I must not loose on two grounds.” She cried.
Tina moved close to her and embraced her, giving her a shoulder to cry on. Just then Barrister Olu Olowolayemo(SAN) came to their side.
“Barrister Tina, can I see you behind the camera?” He asked.
“Definitely sir.” She replied.
“Okay, this way.” The elderly man said leading the way towards another empty court room.
“Stay here please, I’ll be back in a jiffy.” Tina said walking in the same direction her senior colleague had went.
“Here I am sir.” Tina said on entering the empty hall.
“Barrister Tina, which law chamber do you work for?” Barrister Olu asked.
“I am not a commercial lawyer. I work for the government.” She replied.
“Meaning, you are at the ministry of justice?”
“Yes sir.” Tina replied.
“That’s good too. I am thinking maybe we could work this case and arrive at a similar conclusion.”
“What are you insinuating sir?” Tina asked.
“Its simple, the government has nothing to gain in this case. If Deoye and his gangs were sentenced to death or a jail term, its a loss on the path of the government. One, these boys are innocent of the charges against them and it will be total injustice if they are punished. Two, four girls were killed as a result of their involvement in cultism and some people wants to pin in on Deoye and his friends, if injustice prevails and this boys get punished, they are the future of this country, they should be allowed to actualise their dreams.” Tina has her mouth agape as she listened to what the elder law practitioner was saying. She was not only surprised, but scared at the same time. On the reason that, if a lawyer of Barrister Olu’s calibre could be compromised up till this level, then the Nigerian Bar association where he is the chairman of the South-west chapter is in trouble.
“Here is a cheque of ten million naira. Turn around the case in our favour and you’ll be given a car of your choice and a duplex to live in. Just make sure these boys are discharged and acquitted.”
“Sir….. I don’t…. No no no. I’ll be able to take this.” She stammered.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to take your offers sir.” She replied. Its a temptation that is worth falling for, but she wasn’t sure if she should take it or not. –
“You can take it my dear. You just consider the good comes with the offer. A chance to move in with lawyers like myself, then you’ll be opportuned to rub shoulders with the kings. As a matter of fact if you take this offer and it worked our way, I can connect you and make sure you become the lawyer of an eminent personality around. I’ll connect you.” Barrister Olu continued.
“Sir, I love your kindness and decision to help me to the top, but I am sorry to disappoint you. I’ll rather work my way to the top than be catapaulted to the top.” She replied.
“No one is catapaulting you to the top. You can be at the ministry and still work for me. We’ll go to court together, we’ll win and we’ll share the praises together.”
“Sir, with all due respect, I don’t believe in sharing praises. Lets make this scenario a case study. You have your law chamber, Barrister Kunle has his, Barrister Benson has his own chamber, Barrister Ms Martince works for Barrister Kunle, these people are established lawyers who are already at the top. I don’t think I stand a chance.”
“Well, you have a point. But what about that boy, Kenneth? He is in my chamber.” Barrister Olu argued.
“That’s true. Researches has been made and we discovered that Kenneth is actually your in-law, your wife’s nephew. He finished law school a few months ago and he has followed you to every hearing since then. What about other lawyers in your chamber,are they being afforded this luxury?” Tina asked. Barrister Olu was touched by her words, but conscience is not present that minute.
“Well, that’t not the reason why we are here. Take your money and let’s win this case.”
“Sir, as you can see, I don’t have a car. I live with a friend in a flat which we both contributed to rent. I am satisfied, I work and I earn justifiably. One day, I’ll earn big.” She poured out. “And if you’ll permit me sir, we have less than a minute to return to the court room for the completion of the case. Let whoever is guilty face the music. I don’t mind loosing this case, but not with intentions. I’ll loose if I loose, but not because I wanted to loose. So many bloods are on me expecting me to do my job and get vengeance on their behalf.” With this, she stormed out of the hall.
Barrister Olu was stunned. If an upcoming lawyer could do this, reject a tantalizing offer such as this, then only God knows what he/she would do if he/she ended up becoming a household name. Another Gani Fawehinmi in the making, but this time, the female version. He shook off his surprise and walked out.
Tina just finished addressing the aggrieved family members of the students who were killed and the hotel attendant. They cried for justice and she assured them to do all she could to put smiles on their faces. Her recent encounter with Barrister Olu gave her some kind of confidence, because if the defence counsels could come with a bribe, then it seems they are loosing it. She was ready to exploit that weak side of theirs to win the case.
Barrister Olu joined his colleagues in the court room.
“How was it?” Barrister Kunle(SAN) asked.
“She refused.” Barrister Olu replied. Everyone in his team sighed.
“Is she that stubborn?” Barrister Kunle asked.
“She proved it.” Barrister Olu replied.
“Are you sure she won’t use that against us?” Kenneth asked.
“She won’t.” Benson replied.
“The chances?” Kenneth asked.
“It could happen to anyone. So she dare not use that in her defence of whatever.” Benson replied.
Just then, the Judge walked into the court room and everyone rose up at once, including the lawyers. After the judge had sat down, everyone sat down. Barrister Tina looked at her opponents and she locked eyes with Barrister Olu for a few seconds. She smiled.The second session was about to begin officially when the court clerk made a pronouncement of the presence of another lawyer in the court room.
“Can we have Barrister John Odigwu is the hall please?” The clerk said. A light complexioned skinny who is probably in his mid forties, but as a result of his stature, one would mistake him for a student in his twenties.
“I am Barrister John Odigwu, prosecuting counsel for the Royal ville hotel and suite. On the case file of a certain Mr Adeoye Alade and his friends who violently assaulted a certain Miss Olubukola Mathew, an employee of the above hotel on the tenth day of April.” The Barrister introduced himself.
“Why did you come in late?” The judge asked.
“I was held up in the traffice and moreso, I had to travel down from Abuja this morning.” He replied.
“You’ll be sanctioned for that, and you know what to do.” The judge said smiling for the first time.
“Definitely sir.” Johnson Odigwu replied laughing. Barrister Tina shared in the fun too, as well as her counterparts from the defence. After being told what to do, Barrister Johnson walked over to the defence counsels and greeted them professionally, even though he greeted Barrister Olu with a lot of respect, outside professionalism. The kind of relationship that exist or existed between them, is of nobody’s concern. He walked over to the procesuting counsel’s seat and and exchanged pleasantries with Tina after which they both shared ideas under a minute, and the next minute, Odigwu was up.
“My lord, permit me to say Mr Deoye Alade is guilty of the following offences, one physical assault on my client, Miss Olubukola. Attempted murder on my client Miss Olubukola. Illegal possession of firearm.” He explained. He beckoned on Barrister Tina who stood up and stated her charges against Deoye.
“On the tenth day of April, Mr Adeoye on hearing that the police are waiting for him outside Royal ville hotel, he forcefully inserted at least half the length of his gun which my client identified as a 9mm revolver into her private part, thereby destroying her womb and causing other vaginal injuries to her.” He said and looked at Tina who urged him to continue.
“I believe as it was stated in the constitution, every case should be treated without bias. Without even taking into consideration the status of the person involved in the case.” Odigwu said and sat down.
The brilliant Barrister Benson rose up and to counter Odigwu, his greatest nightmare whom he first met while they were still working under a senior lawyer as youths. After going their seperate ways, Odigwu was the only lawyer who had defeated him consecutively six times in different cases, the only times he had tasted defeat as a lawyer, and he only managed a meagre two victories against Odigwu before he left for Abuja.
It was the believe of every criminal that, once Benson is on the prosecuting side, get the services of Odigwu in defence and you are good to go.
“I want to counter the claims of Barrister Odigwu. On the tenth day of April, with pictorial and video evidences, my client, Adeoye Alade was at the premier hotel in Ibadan, oyo state. So how possible is it for him to be in two places at a time?” Benson began in his usual questioning manner. Its a trick he learnt from a seasoned Nigerian lawyer, Afe Babalola(SAN), throw a question at the judge. Give him a reason to think throughout the hearing, his mind will be split between listening to the lawyers and finding answers to the questions.
“The evidences please.” The clerk said. Benson presented the pictorial evidences in a large format printed photograph showing Deoye booking a room inside the premier hotel. The video evidence was played on a large projected screen.”
“Permission to counter my opponent’s claims?” Odigwu said.
“Go on.” The judge said.
“According to the pictures presented, it was quite evident that Mr Adeoye was truly at premier hotel, but on what day? Moreso, I believe the picture and the videos was of the same day. In the video, Mr Adeoye was just entering the hotel with his bag, at the counter according to the pictures, he still had the bag with him. But no one seemed to notice he had different shirts on on both occassions, by standard, the bags are actually different too.” Odigwu explained confidently. Benson felt like dieing that minute, because he couldn’t imagine himself making a mistake such as this. He failed to check the evidences with scrutiny. A smile escaped Odigwu’s lips. –
“I believe in the current world that we live in, we have heard about computers and how they work. While the videos might be real, the pictures are not, they are purely computer work. Maybe my opponents are too silly not to notice such a loophole.” Odigwu continued.
“You are adviced against the use of foul languages. If you’ll please adhere strictly to the rule.” The court clerk cautioned. Odigwu sat down and whispered somethings into Tina’s ears. She smiled and gave him the thump up. He rose up again, this time with the bag he came in with.
“Sir, if at the end of presenting this evidences, justice is not served, then I believe the judicial council has been compromised and politicised.” He began.
“Overulled.” The judge roared. Odigwu took his seat and awaited the next line of action from his opponents. Benson stood up once again as took a large attendance book to the court clerk, then he returned to lay his claims.
“I believe my client Mr Adeoye in the video and pictures, he is the one. The mistake actually came on the part of the hotel who gave us pictures of a different day. That aside, the book before the honourable clerk of this court room is the attendance of the customers who used the hotel on the tenth of April among which Adeoye Alade was among. One of the hotel receptionist who claimed he saw Mr Adeoye but was not on duty is here in this court.” Benson continued.
“Let the witness come out.” The young man came out, did every neccessary things and did exactly what was expected of him, his explanation was convincing enough and Odigwu felt he was loosing it.
“Thank you Mr Andrew.” Benson said as the man walked out of the witness box. Odigwu by now had stood up went to meet the clerk and collected the said attendance book. He opened it before Tina and they both went through it from the first page while Benson continued ranting. A wide grin displayed on Odigwu’s ugly face and he requested for the permission to counter Benson’t claims which was granted.
“My lord, are we fools? Certainly we are not. But why do some people take us for fools? Even you can’t explain. We are in the computer age, I don’t believe they still make use of written attendance.” He said.
“And will every emplyee sit down before a computer to sign in?” Benson asked. Now he got Odigwu for the first time.
“Well, I am not driving at the use of attendance book. But this book is way too old to still be in use.”
“And the date on the first page says 1999.” Benson cut in.
“You are right, but I am surprised to see that it dated from 1999 to 2009. And then we have April 10 2012. How does that transition work? 2009 to 2012? Cut it out.” Odigwu once again faulted the outdated attendance book. Benson gave up, he had used three different approaches which was faulted by Odigwu.
“And my lord, I don’t think it is too much for this court to sanction Barrister Benson, for three times now, he had jumped in between my talking which is against the law.” Odigwu said. The crowds in the court room hailed him while Benson’s jaw twitched.
“I believe this case has been concluded even without me presenting my evidences. But I know there might be some liniency on the suspect, I will present my evidences to this court.” Odigwu said opening his bag. The crowd in the court room hailed him.
“Here is a copy of a sanction letter signed by the state commissioner of police on the tenth of April.” He said passing a copy to the clerk, one to Benson and his colleagues while he took one. He read the content of the letter which was addressed to the vehicle identification commission asking the commission to provide the details of the owner of a black Hyundai which turned out to belong to Deoye.
Another letter was written to Inspector Clement calling for the arrest of Deoye, pictures included and in the reply which was written by the public relation officer of the police which was signed by Clement, he ordered that the hyundai which at the time when the receptionist was assaulted was parked inside the hotel premises. The letter ordered the car to be towed from the hotel to the police station. More pictorial evidences were presented and also, the bed spread which still had blood stains on it was presented before the court and so also was the towel which was used by Deoye during his stay at the hotel was also presented with his body print showing after the lab test. No doubt, Odugwu had taken the case beyond Benson and his group of SANs.
Tina did wonderfully well in presenting her case against Deoye on murder charges, while her opponets agreed to everything she said much to everybody’s surprise. In the end, Deoye was sentenced to Death by hanging, while his accomplice got at least fifteen years in prison each.
Don was sentenced to death by hanging too on previous charges that has been placed against him. –
to be continued–
The chief Judge of a Lagos high court walked into the court room which was bustling with activities and noises some few minutes ago, but the moment the judged walked in, everywhere fell silent.