On Trial – Episode 24
© Onyinyechukwu Mbeledogu
Kaira sat on the couch in her living room, her legs crossed beneath her as she sang alongside the artiste of the song playing from her ear piece. Koje had sent her Rita Ora’s ‘Grateful’ the previous day. His God-mother had sent it to him via WhatsApp on his birthday and he had forwarded same to Kaira with a short message: ‘I hope the lyrics of this song help you just as it’s doing for me.’
Listening to the lyrics, Kaira understood why he’d sent it to her. Powerful lyrics that spoke of not allowing what one had been through or one’s past mistakes bring one down but rather being grateful for what one had been through as they made one appreciate other things one would ordinarily take for granted. It was the sound track of a 2014 movie she made a mental note to see ‘Beyond the Lights’.
‘ I’m grateful for the storm, made me appreciate the sun. I’m grateful for the wrong ones, made me appreciate the right ones. I’m grateful for the pain, for everything that made me break. I’m thankful for all my scars, ’cause they only make my heart, grateful, grateful… ’ she sang.
Her phone rang, temporarily stopping the music. It was Tega. She rose to her feet and approached the front door. Her heart beat increased and she tried to bring it back to normal. She quickly unlocked the door and stood aside to let the dark skinned man with skin cut into her home.
‘Please tell me you have great news for me,’ she said, rubbing her palms down her shorts.
‘The best,’ Tega responded, showing off his dimples.
He sprawled on the couch and handed her a thick file.
‘Haba. I can’t read all this na,’ she complained. ‘Give me the story. joor.’
‘I was about to. No shepe for this house ?’
She hurried to get him a bottle of Guiness big stout from the fridge. He looked at the bottle and then at her.
‘ Na de one I get abeg. Take joor, Tega. No dey do me this kain thing. I don dey wait your news so tay my BP don rise finish. ’
He took the drink from her and took a long gulp before saying, ‘I had Laide followed for over a month and she was very careful. Facing work and returning home without making any stops apart from picking things up at the supermarket or going to Church. However, two weeks ago, she had a male visitor, Ayotomiwa Durojaiye, her elder sister Anjolaifeoluwa’s husband. What made me suspicious was the way he kept looking around as though to ensure that no one had seen him come into the premises. Further investigation showed that he had been having an affair with Laide for years and Ifeoluwa knew nothing about it, trusting so much in the sister she took as her closest confidant especially as she went through the pains of not having a child after seven years of marriage.
‘Tomiwa had intended to elope with Laide because of the baby they were expecting and preparations were already in place. They had gone as far as getting Laide an international passport under the name Asolaide Ewaoluwa Durojaiye and applying for a visa to the United States. And then Mr Quadri showed up in Laide’s home and set off a chain of events. I had an interesting conversation with Miss Tari Alaibe. You would be amazed at the things a very angry woman would be ready to reveal under the right circvmstances. She was in love with Koje Quadri who fancied Laide who in turn was in love with Tomiwa. I’d call that a real love rectangle. And so Tari, who had appointed herself Laide’s best friend because of the secrets she knew about the other lady, felt betrayed when she saw Koje rush out of Laide’s apartment looking so agitated he didn’t even see her. She felt Laide had finally given in to Koje’s advances and was now trying to steal her man.’
‘Wow,’ Kaira interrupted for the first time. ‘Quadri can’t stand Tari.’
‘You tell her that. Babe was certain Quadri was hers and had finally betrayed her by having s£x with Laide. In her words, “He hasn’t started paying for his betrayal!”’
‘Something happened in that apartment that night,’ Tega continued, ‘and that culminated in a visit by both women to the police station where a report was made accusing Quadri of rape.’
‘Are you saying he actually had s£x with Laide?’ Kaira blurted out.
‘Do you want me to finish my story or not?’
‘Laide went through the hassles of making her report and subjecting herself to medical tests and extractions under Tari’s watchful eyes in order to prove that she had been raped. Now, here’s the interesting part. The test results showed that Laide was pregnant and that although she had bruises in her genital region, it was as a result of the use of an object other than a male organ. And the pubic hairs plucked for the tests had traces of alcoholic wine on them and these matched the fluids that had also been found on her genitals. However, by the time the official medical report was out, what was discovered was different. Especially after Koje agreed to all the tests and samples to be taken from him. It’s like something from a novel or foreign movie abi? Obviously money changed hands and the lab assistant who conducted the tests wasn’t given his cut.’
‘See g bege.’
‘No be small gbege, my sister. The professor who conducted the DNA test did not have access to the original samples and results.
People dey sha. Well, lab assistant was happy to talk to me and even brought out the original result. He said he makes copies of every test result in case the copies sent out get missing. I don’t know if that is ethically right but it helped with the investigation. The man was so upset that they had thrown away his original result without respect and he was ready to tell anyone who was ready to listen what had happened but not in court though. He’s no longer working at the hospital. He said he was recently framed for something he didn’t do and was sacked and he wouldn’t be surprised if it had something to do with the case you’re handling. He’s going to be doing a lot of talking and so you should be expecting journalists coming up with lots of revelations in their papers and articles. I was able to secure his commitment to show up in the court tomorrow.’
‘How did you…?’ Kaira started to ask, then lifted her right hand to stop any answer that would come from Tega. ‘On second thoughts, I don’t think I want to know.’
‘Copies of everything you need are in that file. I believe Laide and Tomiwa are still going on with their plan to elope. The loss of the baby is unfortunate but I have no doubt that they are currently trying to make another one. They are probably still expecting Koje to pay Laide off to end the case before judgment is given. But that Ijaw witch, Tari, go die before she allows that case come to an end. She wants Koje to pay for his betrayal and Laide couldn’t care less what happens.’
A grin split Kaira’s face and her eyes lit up like fireworks. She threw herself at Tega and gave him a kiss, her arms going around him.
‘Thanks so much for this, Tega.’
‘ Oya, it haff do! Just say you go credit my account, na that one I wan hear .’
‘Of course.’ Kaira danced about the room, flinging her right hand with the file in the air.
‘Don’t forget to lock the door behind me.’ Tega laughed as he left the apartment. He stopped to add over his shoulder, ‘If your friend Mr Quadri hasn’t moved on, he should. He was only a plan B to Laide’s affections for a married man and I hope he has learned his lessons.’
Kaira locked the outside protector and the front door and then she continued dancing around the room in rhythm to a tune only she could hear. Thank you Lord, she muttered.
Kaira went through the entire file as she sat up on her bed, her back pressed against the head rest. Laide had the opportunity to be truthful to police about what had really happened but she hadn’t because the perpetrator who was there with her held something over her head: a secret she didn’t want revealed before time even if an innocent man had to go to jail for it!
Kaira called Pepple Esq first thing in the morning and agreed to meet with him at the Ministry of Justice.
‘I am entrusting you with this information because I trust your sense of justice,’ she told him as she gave him the copies she had made of the original lab result as well as Tega’s concise report.
In court, Kaira noticed Tari sitting beside Laide. What were they doing there? It wasn’t as though today was for judgment. Where was Botoye Amachree, the lab assistant? There were only a few men in the filled-up courtroom and none of them fit her idea of a lab assistant.
The judge came out at exactly 9:00am. He had a ruling which he quickly delivered and then ran through his cause list, disposing of the matters listed for ‘mention’. Once he was done, he told counsel to mention their matters out of turn. Pepple Esq was nowhere to be found but the younger lawyers who had been appearing with him informed Kaira that he would be there.
Kaira looked behind and her eyes caught Koje’s and held. He winked at her and she quickly turned away, hoping no one had seen that, a tiny smile playing around her lips.
Pepple Esq stepped into the courtroom, his expression unreadable. He nodded slightly in her direction before taking a seat on the other side of the courtroom. He consulted the cause list and then waited for the case at hand to be concluded. It was a civil suit and a witness was being cross-examined.
‘With My Lord’s kind permission, the state is interested in No 2 on my Lord’s criminal cause list,’ the prosecutor soon informed the court.
The case was mentioned and Quadri walked into the dock. Appearances were quickly taken.
‘The case, my lord was adjourned to today for final address and both parties have filed their addresses and we are ready to proceed with the adoption.’
‘Is that the situation Ms Madukaife?’ Justice Oyolu asked.
‘Yes, my Lord. All papers have gone in.’
‘Please adopt your processes, Ms Madukaife.’
‘I’m sorry to interrupt my Lord,’ the prosecutor interjected.
‘Although we came prepared to adopt our processes, new facts came to our knowledge this morning. And so in the interest of justice and with the consent of the Honourable Attorney General, the State would like to discontinue the proceedings.’
‘Ah! Blood of Zechariah!’ a female voice shouted from behind and all eyes turned backwards. It was Laide and she had jumped on her feet. Tari’s fair face was almost white, her eyes bulging out and one hand on her chest.
‘Order!’ one of the registrar’s called out.
At that moment, a man in his early thirties, dressed in a multi-coloured shirt and navy blue trouser walked into the courtroom with a noticeable gait.
‘You!’ Laide gasped, swooning, her Brazilian wig falling off her head as she reached the cold ground. Tari jumped over her friend’s unconscious body and raced out of the courtroom.
The prosecutor looked at Kaira and she shrugged, displaying both palms. The man in the multi-coloured shirt walked out of the courtroom. Laide was carried out and it took a few minutes before there was order in the court once more with whispers filling the room.
‘Can either of you please explain to me what just happened?’ Justice Oyolu asked Kaira and the prosecutor.
‘I think that was Botoye Amachree, the lab assistant, my Lord,’ Kaira said, her toes curling in her shoes, her brown eyes twinkling.
The judge arched his left eyebrow even as the prosecutor’s eyes widened with understanding.
‘I believe, my Lord, that what the defence counsel was trying to say is that what just happened has to do with the new fact that came to our knowledge this morning. We would like to maintain our earlier application to discontinue the suit in the interest of justice.’
‘And the defence has no objection, my Lord,’ Kaira informed the court, trying hard not to give in to the temptation of looking back at Koje. ‘However, considering the stage at which the suit is being discontinued, we would be praying my lord to discharge and acquit the defendant.’
* * * * *
‘If I wasn’t already in love with someone else, I would have done love portion for you so that you will marry me,’ Kaira told Tega the moment she stepped out of the courtroom. ‘Omo see drama . You didn’t even tell me you got Laide and Tari to come to court.’
‘The drama wouldn’t have been complete without them.’
‘No be lie you talk. The moment that lab assistant entered the courtroom, Laide fainted and Tari did jump and pass and raced out of court. I’m sure someone has even taken Laide’s wig that fell from her head when she fell.’
‘And your client?’
‘He’s been discharged and acquitted.’
‘I don’t understand all these una legal talk talk. Break am for me joor make I understand .’
‘Bush man. My client don waka be dat. No more case like this and dem no go go court of appeal and Supreme Court because na the ministry of justice people say dem no wan do case again .’
‘ See your mouth. See as you just dey nack the pidgin. Congratulations o. I’ll be waiting for my wedding invitation.’
Kaira ended the call and walked up to Koje was pacing the length of the hallway. As she stood in front of him, he stretched out both hands towards her, dropped them back, lifted them once more and dropped them again. She reached for his hands and allowed hers to be swallowed up by his. His hands shook and he was visibly trembling.
‘Thank you so much.’
She drew back from the embrace and reached for the wig that had fallen from her head but Isoboye beat her to it and with a smile headed for the next court where Rashidat had a matter, saying, ‘I’ll return to the office with the H.O.C.’
Kaira shrugged out of her gown and slung it over her arm and walked with Koje down the staircase.
‘I don’t understand what happened in there,’ Koje said.
‘You remember the additional money I requested for?’
‘The one I had to transfer to you?’
‘Yes. Well, that was for the drama you saw in court. I’ll give you the juicy details later. What’s important is that you don’t have to lose sleep over the court’s judgment. You’re a free man.’
‘I feel like someone will wake me up any time from now to tell me it was all a dream.’
‘No dream at all.’
To be continued