Amicus Curiae 3: Press Release

Police-Officer

Folayemi, her male colleague on striped suit and the man in denim pants rode in the man in denim pant’s Mercedes Benz V12 G65 AMG to the Police Station located along Obafemi Awolowo way at Alausa, Ikeja. The Police station was a ten minutes’ drive from the office.

“This should be fun,” Folayemi’s colleague whispered to her as they walked in through the gate of the Police Station.

Folayemi shook her head mildly in disbelief of her colleague’s excitement. She did not bother herself with a response. Instead, she fetched her Law School log book from her bag and tried jotting a few points from her experience so far.

“You brought your log book along?” her colleague asked. “Why don’t you wait until the day is over so you can have a more comprehensive report to make?”

Folayemi shrugged.

“And why write while walking?” her colleague continued.

“Duhh. Why talk while walking?” she retorted.

The man in denim pants was ahead of them. He waved at a few Police officers who saluted as they walked past. It was obvious he was a familiar face. They arrived at the counter at the station. Boldly pinned to the counter was a cardboard cut-out with the inscription: THE POLICE IS YOUR FRIEND. On the mutilated walls of the lounge hung another cardboard cut-out with the inscription: BAIL IS FREE.

The dirty walls of the lounge were defaced with several ragged posters and loose electricity cables. The damp stench of body odour, faeces and cigarette oozed from the adjacent hallway which held the cells. Folayemi used her log book as cover for her nose.

“Oga Bee, welcome,” a haggard-looking officer in faded uniform saluted the man in denim pants.

“Joe, how far?” he saluted back.

“Oga, I dey kakaraka,” the officer responded. “Wetin carry you come here again?”

In a few minutes, the man in denim pants disclosed the reason for his visit and requested that his client be brought to him. His client, a young man in his mid-thirties was ushered into the lounge. An aura of affluence hung around him. He was dressed in a beautifully tailored Ankara outfit and had a gold Rolex wrapped around his wrist. Folayemi was surprised that, the man was allowed to keep his personal belongings. His aqua-scented cologne filled the air in the lounge. He looked wealthy, but he also looked scared.

The client, the man in denim pants, Folayemi and her colleague in striped suit were ushered into a small private room close-by on the request of the man in denim pants. In there, the client relayed the reason for his arrest. He was calm and soft-spoken as he gave detailed, unwavering account of what had transpired. He looked tired. He looked weak. He looked lost.

“Has your statement been taken yet?” the man in denim pants asked.

His client – Bamidele Odusote – shook his head.

A policeman who stood by the wall kept focused eyes on the other four occupants in the room.

“I told them I wouldn’t do so until I saw my lawyer. So I called Nwachukwu, but he directed me to your law firm. He said you are the best in these type of cases,” Bamidele said.

“Oh yes. Nwachukwu and I were colleagues both at the University of Uyo and at the Law School, Abuja Campus. He brings impossible briefs to us….”

“Tell me you can get me out of this mess,” Bamidele cut in. His shirt was getting soiled with sweat. He looked scared. “I did not kill my girlfriend… I have done terrible things in my life,” he said in a whisper. “Yes, I may have meddled in corporate fraud, forgery, manipulate financial standings of my companies… Just about any corporate sin you can think of… But murder? To kill a human?” A ball of tear welled up in his right eye as he spoke. “I had only just delivered a lecture last night… and Bimbo was not even with me… I have not seen her in three weeks… Who could want her dead? Who could want her dead?” he asked rhetorically. “Please tell me you can get me out of this?”

The man in denim pants looked assuredly into Bamidele’s eyes and said, “We’ll give it our best shot. We have never lost a case and this won’t be the first…. This isn’t even a court case yet. It’s just a Police matter…”

“I swear to you, I did not kill her,” Bamidele pleaded his innocence, his voice breaking. “I loved Bimbo to dea…I loved Bimbo to bits. We were soul mates. I wouldn’t …” He squeezed his hands like he was strangling an imaginary neck. “I wouldn’t ….”

“I know,” the man in denim pants said as he held Bamidele’s shaky hands. “I believe you.”

Folayemi and her colleague in striped suit looked surprised. How could the man in denim pants possibly clear Bamidele Odusote of any guilt without proof? What if Bamidele Odusote was putting up a show?

Folayemi did not have the guts to ask the man in denim pants. Neither did her colleague. Both students kept taking as much notes as they could. They could not wait to share the excitement of their first day of chambers attachment with their colleagues. Then, they heard some noise in the hallway. Sounds of footsteps approached the door. A corporal burst into the room and shut the door quickly. He signalled silent pleasantries to the other Policeman in the room and said, “Oga, you have to write your statement now.” His words were directed at Bamidele Odusote.

“Why the hurry?” the man in denim pants asked.

The corporal, panting hard, replied, “the press is here.”

Silence.

“What has that got to do with my client?” the man in denim pants asked.

The corporal looked at his colleague. “Oga said he would appear before the press,” he said, pointing at Bamidele.

“Oga? Which Oga?” the man in denim pants asked, looking confused. “My client will be paraded? What?”

Silence.

“Who ordered this?” the man in denim pants broke the silence. “Who is your Oga?”

“Oga DPO,” was the short reply.

At this sudden turn of events, the man in denim pants was hit hard with deep thoughts. He could not wrap his head around the reality that a man who was only just arrested on allegation of committing a crime, would be thrown to the press to be devoured, just a few hours after his arrest and before investigations were concluded. He knew the Police sold sensational stories to the press, but he could not understand how this could happen so soon. From experience, he knew that most suspects who were usually paraded before the press were those who refused to “cooperate” or “drop something for the boys”. Did the Police ask for bribe from his client?

“Did the Police ask for a bribe upon arresting you?” he quickly asked Bamidele.

“No,” was the quicker response. “Why?”

The two Police men in the room scoffed.

“Never mind.” The man in denim pants turned to Folayemi and said, “I need you to go out there and disperse the press men.” The instruction was very direct and unequivocal. “Now.” It needed no questions for clarification.

Folayemi scuttled out of the private room and walked sheepishly into the open visitors’ lounge at the station. The terrifying presence of quite a number of media houses was heavily registered there. The haggard faces of the journalists brightened up when they saw a figure walk into the lounge. But the excitement blotted out from their faces as soon as it had appeared when they noticed it was just a girl. A young looking girl.

One of the journalists – a woman – beckoned to the Folayemi. “Pssssss, do you work here?”

“No,” Folayemi answered.

The journalist heaved a deep sigh. Folayemi could spot the inscription “ChannelsTV” on her microphone.

“We heard Bamidele Odusote of Bamz Holdings was arrested. We had hoped he would be brought forth to confess before camera,” the journalist said with a giggle. “Do you know what cell he is?”

Folayemi looked at the journalist without saying a word, thinking of an answer. She did not know how to address the journalist, let alone the crowd in the room which she would have to face in no distant time. She was just a law student on chambers attachment who had hoped the chambers she was posted to would cut her some slack and allow her study for the bar finals. She never expected to be thrown into the fray of Police matters on her first day of attachment. She never expected to work at all during the chambers attachment period. Prior to the commencement of the attachment programme, she had heard news of how most law firms treated law students who were posted to their firms for the compulsory chambers attachment. These law firms would rather have the students study their books each day of the attachment period in preparation for the bar finals. Folayemi did not expect OakTree Partners to be any different.

“Hello?” the journalist jolted her out of her reverie. “”Do you happen to have an idea which cell Mr. Odusote is?”

What do I say to these journalists to keep them away? Folayemi thought, anticipating her next move for the crowd in the room.

Think! Think!

“I think he is in a cell far away,” Folayemi heard herself say.

“What’s that?” the journalist asked. “What cell? How did you know?”

“I’m a student of Mass Communications at Unilag.. Currently doing my industrial attachment with 123 Media…. I came here because I heard some story…”

“Oh,” the journalist nodded her head. She then pulled Folayemi to one corner in the lounge. “So you have heard about Mr Bamidele’s arrest?”

Folayemi nodded.

“Umm, why was he arrested? Any ideas?” the journalist pressed.

Folayemi shook her head. “I really don’t know… but I heard…” Her eyes roved round the room as her partner listened with rapt attention. “I heard…”

“Come on, you can tell me. I promise I won’t say a word.”

Folayemi swallowed spittle which had formed in her mouth. “I heard he has been transferred to Zone 2 at Ikoyi for questioning.”

“What? We heard he was detained here,” the journalist asked in a whisper, looking surprised.

“Yes. He was arrested last night and brought here, but was taken in the wee hours of this morning to Zone 2 for questioning…”

“Why would they do that?”

Folayemi shrugged. “I guess orders from above.”

The journalist nodded. “That’s true. He is a powerful man after all.”

Folayemi nodded. She remembered how Bamidele shivered like a baby while recounting his story in the private room.

Powerful man indeed.

“So tell me, how did you hear of his arrest?” she asked the journalist.

The journalist smiled. “Ordinarily, I shouldn’t be telling you this but since you’ve been of help to me and you are a young colleague in the profession I’ll give you a tip. Make friends with the Police and wet a few palms. Once an arrest is made and the story is quite interesting, you will be the first to know of it.” The smile broadened on the face of the journalist. “I hope you understand?”

Folayemi nodded even though she would have wanted more explanation on the “wet a few palms” part of the sentence. “Thanks,” she said instead.

The journalist nodded, then, brought out her complimentary card. “Modupe Fagbohun is the name. Give me a ring. Whenever.”

Before Folayemi could respond, the journalist scurried out of the lounge in such haste. Other crew members who had the “ChannelsTV” tag on, joined her. Folayemi noticed that the remaining media houses personnel also joined the rush. She wondered how they knew where Modupe Fabgbohun was heading to. Then a press man with a “Punch” badge on his chest turned around and said, “Thank you. Your whisper was loud enough.”

Folayemi smiled. Her loud whisper was deliberate. Now, there was only one place the press was heading to.

Advertisements

Amicus Curiae 2: A Curious Welcome

law firm

Folayemi was welcomed to the firm with a growl by the Front Desk Officer, a fiercely dressed lady in her mid-thirties. After a few minutes of scolding for resuming late, Folayemi was directed to a large conference room where nine other law students were seated. She recognised a few faces from the Lagos Campus, but could not care less about exchanging silent pleasantries. A young man in denim pants, a T-Shirt and a face cap was having a chat with the group. Folayemi could surmise he was delivering a welcome speech, but from the way he was dressed, she could not tell if he was a lawyer or a paralegal.

He acknowledged her arrival with a wave of hand, directing her to a free seat.

Then he said, “diligence is the bedrock of the work we do here.”

The phrase lit a spark on Folayemi’s face. There was no chance that her mother’s spirit dwelt in this young man.

“A lawyer should do what he has to do when he has to do it,” the young man continued.

Folayemi’s face straightened out. No smile. No smirk. No emotions. This was awkward. Her mother’s spirit could not dwell in this young man right before her eyes.

“You,” the young man pointed at Folayemi. “Could you tell us: why are we here?”

Folayemi struggled with her seat as she got up.

“No, no. Sit and answer,” the young man advised.

“Ummm…” Folayemi slurred. “We are…here to …..”

To fulfil the damn Law School requirement of undergoing a compulsory tutelage at a Law Firm.

Folayemi decided against going with that thought. Instead, she answered thus, “we are here to contribute our quota to the development of law practice in our beloved country by fulfilling every tasks we are assigned. I believe in the process of doing this, we will also contribute to the growth of this firm.”

Her response sounded more like a quote from a textbook than a spontaneous reaction, but it appeared to have made an impression on her colleagues and the young man in denim pants, who all nodded in agreement.

“Quite impressive,” the young man said. “But that is the wrong answer.”

There was silence in the conference room.

“You all are here to make money for this firm,” the young man continued. “I believe by now you all know OakTree is not the conventional law firm around. Heck. We are not a law firm. We are mercenaries, soldiers, combatants, super heroes…. We fight to the death for our clients. We never take no for an answer. We fight dirty, we fight bloody.”

He paused to take a sip of water from a glass.

“Do you know our type of clients?” he asked the now more attentive audience. Then he pointed to a young man in striped suit. “You, tell us.”

The law student stood up and before he could speak, he was asked to return to his seat.

“You don’t need to get up to answer a simple question,” the young man in denim pants advised. “That’s the problem with our educational system – you guys are human robots: you were raised to know certain rules and you are expected to respond accordingly. Right here at OakTree, we act differently. In due course, we shall break you guys down and re-assemble you.” He heaved, then continued, “Now, to my question. What type of clients do we handle here?”

The law student stuttered, “Past Presidents…ummm… Senators, Ministers, Commissioners – I mean, Politicians generally,…Ummm, oil companies… multinational corporations, banks…”

“Stop,” the young man in denim jeans interrupted. “Right here at OakTree, we deal with looters, murderers, high calibre thieves, fraudsters, prostitutes, paedophiles, rapists, ritualists, cyber hackers, cultists, drug dealers, militants – basically, the scumbags of the earth.”

A wave a shock swirled around the room at this point. The law students, in all their innocence, looked shell-shocked at the revelation. They could barely believe the sort of practise they would have to put up with in the course of the attachment programme.

The young man in denim jeans sensed the tension and decided to cut through their consciousness with a clap.

“I know what you all must be thinking at this point,” he said and stopped clapping. “But really, that is not the case. We are not damned. To the contrary, we are fulfilling the gospel which is to give hope to the hopeless. Everyone deserves a second chance. Yes, some do get third, fourth, fifth chances…” he shrugged. “Humanity deserves that, for its own sake. No one deserves to be condemned. The good Lord would not permit that.” He paused, strolled over to a close-by bookshelf and pulled out a small book. “This,” he said in a deep assuring voice “is the Bible.” Then he flipped through the pages of the book and read out, “You have heard that it was said, “love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, if you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” He stopped abruptly. “These are the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew five versus forty three to forty six. They are not my words.”

“Sir, I thought you said we are here to make money,” another member of the audience said cheekily.

“Oh yes. This class of people – the murders, fraudsters and looters – always pay through their noses, if you know what I mean.”

The young man in denim pants went on about how serving this class of people was also a fulfilment of the law and the expectations of the firm from the law students on attachment. He also took them on a tour of the office complex, which is an eleven storey building, introducing the students to the different departments within the firm, the lawyers, paralegals and the office appurtenances. The law students were thrilled and fascinated at the massiveness of the structure and its organisation. They walked in twos and kept engaging in chitchats amongst themselves as they paraded the corridors and hallways.

Folayemi walked behind the group, alone. She was never the social type. Back at the law school campus, she was never known to have any particular “best friend”. She never had any friends. Everyone was an acquaintance. This lifestyle earned her the title “snub” but she was not a snub. At least, she did not think herself so.

At this point, a male colleague walking in front of her started backtracking so he could be on the same walking pace as her.

“Isn’t this awesome?” he whispered.

“Ummm, I guess,” Folayemi retorted, not wanting to be distracted from the tour.

“I don’t mean the building,” her counterpart chipped in. “I mean the practice.”

Folayemi shrugged and shook her head. She was not in the mood for a chitchat.

“I mean, we get to represent drug dealers, murderers, prostitutes…Prostitutes?” Folayemi’s partner continued. She stole a quick glance at him for the first time. He was the law student in striped suit who had answered the question of the man in denim pants. There was so much glee spread across his face.

“And how is that fun?” she asked.

“Fun? It’s fascinating!” he almost yelled. “I mean, criminal law has always been my thing right from university – I graduated from the Great Ife by the way – I won the LAWSA award for best student in criminal law…. My project was centred around the practise of sorcery in traditional Nigerian society and its legal implications…. I could make a copy of my project for you if you care…”

“Oh, never mind.”

“My dad is a lawyer. He practices in Abuja…”

“Uh, yeah,” Folayemi said curtly, wanting to put an end to her colleague’s unsolicited chat.

“I decided not to do my attachment with my dad because…”

Just before Folayemi’s partner could complete his statement, the man in denim pants announced, “Welcome to your office.”

Folayemi looked around. They were in an oval-shaped office which housed a set of neatly arranged cubicles. The cubicles were numbered from one to ten. The office wall was white and spotless with a number of bookshelves standing against it. Split unit air conditioners clung, attached to the glittering emerald roofs, pouring their chilly breeze into yawning space. About six large-screen muted plasma televisions were strategically mounted across the room.

“These cubicles shall be your offices for the duration of your attachment programme,” the man in denim pants said. “But trust me, you will hardly sit in them as you will either be in the library or on the field, saving sinners,” he said with a wry smile. “You can use your intercoms to reach whichever lawyer or personnel,” he said, pointing to an intercom close by. “Each desk has one of thes…”

Just before he could complete his words, the intercom he was pointing at, buzzed. He picked it.

“Hello?” he said.

The law students examined the cubicles as he attended to the call. Then, one after the other, they scurried to pick choice seats. Folayemi waited until the kamikaze rush was over. Then she strolled to the only cubicle left unoccupied. It was cubicle Number Ten and it was stationed close to a wall of transparent glass which revealed the outside environment. She could see the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, as well as the little CMD road from where she sat. She also spotted a few peasants plying petty trades by the road side.

“Murder? When?” the man in denim pants asked. “Which station?…. Okay. I’m on it.”

With those words, he replaced the intercom handle.

“Okay, listen up guys. Here is how we roll,” he said. “One of you shall be voted to be your Group Head. He or she will be responsible for interfacing with the Practice Manager on behalf of the whole group.” He paused. “For now, I need you and you to come with me now,” he said, pointing at Folayemi and the male law student in striped suit.

The three figures walked out of the oval-shaped office, heading out to solve yet another mystery case.

 

Amicus Curiae 1: Ambulance Chaser

Yayy! It’s finally Friday and here is the first episode of my new series, Amicus Curiae. If you did not read yesterday’s teaser, you can do that here before proceeding to read this episode one. The teaser sets the tone for Episode one. More like a prologue…. Episode two will be posted next week Friday. Let me know what you think of this episode in the comment column below. Happy Weekend, people!

***

AMBULANCE CHASER

 

girls-night-out-drinks-475

 

Folayemi alighted from the rickshaw in haste when it got to Magodo Brooks gate. Today was the first day of the Chambers Attachment – a compulsory programme on the Nigeria Law School calendar – and she was already late. The words of her mother whizzed into her head:

“A good bride must be diligent in all she does.”

These words of her mother – now, more of a proverb – have been used in a plethora of situations – instructional, correctional, motivational and directional. Whenever Folayemi fell short of an expectation, her mother would use the words to caution her – as she would a bride – and whenever she exceeded an expectation, her mother would also use the same cliché as an affirmation of what would be expected of her in marriage. There was no limit to whatever situation the cliché could be applied Continue reading