By Niyi Sodimu
Rushing into the Court room, I promptly took the closest seat that I could find. After all, it was almost 9 am and I was almost late for the Court proceedings. Interestingly, the Judge appeared few minutes after 9, which was a little unusual considering the now ingrained practice of most of our Nigerian judges of sitting earliest 10 am.
“Switch off your phones”, she said, with more or less a whisper. My usual practice is to leave my phone on vibration. However, for some inexplicable reason, I found myself completely switching off my device. Not long after the Judge’s directive, a lawyer’s phone rang. The civilian orderly after seizing the phone was magnanimous enough to return the sim card to the lawyer who owned the phone, now government property, for whatever it was worth. All I was thinking in my head was the lawyer saying “thank you” at the laudable gesture.
Now, I should tell you, there were 2 operational microphones in the courtroom for lawyers’ use. One of the mics proved rather helpful at some point as you shall presently see. It is the 2nd mic.
A while after the “de novo” incident, and while the Court was in a ghostly silence – not the rent-a-ghost type – and as the Judge scribbled on her notepad, it happened! The sound came out loud and audible over the speakers, due largely to its proximity to the “2nd mic” and the hollowness of the desk it was lying on. I use “2nd mic” advisedly as you shall soon see.
“Vooooo” it went the first time, loud and clear over the airwaves, filling the Courtroom with its majesty and presence like a bass guitar; again it went “voooo” the second time. The powerful vibration of the particular phone filled the atmosphere in such a manner that the owner of the phone, which ostensibly laid on the desk colluding with the hollow frame of the desk in holy “matrimony” for the commission of the “offense”, denied the phone at that moment; who wouldn’t! Everywhere was eerily silent except for the loud vibration amplified by the microphone when suddenly, the Judge whispered, once again, annoyingly this time around though, “whose phone is that?”. I could see the expression on the Judge’s face similar to the one Adams Oshiomole had when he royally advised that poor widow in a video that eventually went viral, to “go and die”.
Seeing the civilian orderly’s (JTF) flustered look and unsure pacing around in the courtroom in a bid to locate the offending devise, I found myself announcing “the 2nd mic”, “look for the 2nd mic”. My lord did not wait for the intervention of this amicus curia’s directive to be obeyed in a bid to do a sting operation on the kwarapt device when I heard abruptly “the Court will rise” followed by the usual echo of “coooooooourt”, the same way I used to hear in my childhood days while watching that funny programme on NTA channel 12 “ichioku”.
In a jiffy, my lord disappeared into the inner Chambers like “Zorro” did whenever faced with a certain seemingly overpowering danger.
Gone was my lord for a space of time which seemed like half of a day. Trust we lawyers, some were already propounding theories that made them sound to me more like Thomas Hobbes and Aristotle. Others were advocating for a joint petition to be written to the NJC in respect of the Judge’s unacceptable conduct. In all of these, I kept musing to myself, mischievously, of how to put a phone call across to the presidency to send the DSS boys for an imminent raid of my lord’s chambers for what appeared to be a kwarapt something.
During the interregnum, lawyers kept on propounding one theory after another while helpless and hapless litigants looked on like deaf and dumb. It was therefore a huge relief when, once again, I heard that usual “ogboni” knock; it never went beyond 3 times. 3 fear-inspiring, audacious knocks which usually heralds a Judge’s “ominous” entrance into the Courtroom similar to the entry of a dibia into his shrine. I can never forget those haunting knocks. Sometimes, I use to pity those doors, those poor doors that always receive those wicked bangs. Anyway, the Judge was back into the courtroom, appeased by some unseen spirits, and proceedings, once again, commenced.
Trust me, another phone went off, once more, and was promptly seized by my lord’s civilian JTF orderly. What I cannot confirm was whether he was magnanimous this time around to return the sim card to the unfortunate owner of the offending phone.