Cheta Nwanze: Now that the devils are beginning to show up in court

by Cheta Nwanze

A lawyer friend of mine, shortly after those arrests some weeks back, painted the following scenarios…

Scenario 1:

You are a lawyer or a litigant. You have a matter in Court slated for judgment tomorrow.

You get to Court the next day, only to be told by the Judge that he had an experience at 3 am in the morning. Ten armed policemen came to his house and invited him to the station to see the DPO. When he refused to follow them on the grounds that it was too early in the morning, they threatened to rough-handle him, so for fear of his life, he went with them, and was detained till morning. At about 10am, the DPO confronted him with a petition written against him by the litigant on the other side in your case. The litigant claimed that the Judge collected a bribe of ₦100,000 from you. The DPO then asked the Judge to write a statement under caution in response to your opponent’s petition, then to submit the draft of his judgment so that they, the police, can determine whether he was acting in line with the ‘bribe’. The Judge then writes a statement and gives the police his draft judgment after which he is released on administrative bail.

1.What would your reaction be when the Judge tells you the judgment is with the DPO?

2.What would you advice the Judge to do in terms of whether or not to recuse himself from the case?

3.What would you do as a lawyer if this happens every time you are handling a good case and it appears the Judge may decide in your favour?

4.What do you think would happen to the administration of justice by Courts when it becomes a normal thing for a litigant to use their friend or contact in the Police who is a DIG to invite a Judge to write statements on allegations arising from cases before him just after he has reserved judgment the same way a landlord would use the DPO to harass his tenant or the Master will use a DPO to harass his house boy or creditor would use the EFCC to harass a debtor.

Scenario 2:

You are a Judge. You have been posted to the Criminal Division, where the EFCC prosecutes cases before you on a daily basis. One day at midnight, your house is surrounded by masked men who call you all sorts of unprintable names and ask you to come out. Not being sure of their motives, you hide. After about 2 hours, they forcefully gain access to your house, and batter your son who is the first person they see. They present you with a search warrant and introduce themselves as officials of EFCC only for you to notice that the search warrant was for some other person. By the next morning the story is all over social media.

1.What would you do?

2. How would you act when next the EFCC appears before you to conduct a case?

Scenario 3:

You are a lawyer. You have been handling a case for five years. Your opponent has done everything to frustrate the case because you both know that he has a bad case. Half way into the trial, you get a call from the EFCC saying that you are being investigated for bribing the Judge. You are asked to submit all the exhibits you propose to tender in the case to EFCC for ‘investigation’. You very well know that there is no time frame for the completion of the investigation.

1.What would you do especially if you know that this can happen in every other case you handle?

Think deeply about these, then consider what devils we unleashed a few weeks ago, and how these devils are beginning to show up at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division…


Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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