Previously on The Guilty:
“Hey Tos,” Tayo called. “We are not the bad guys here. The accused is. He killed an innocent girl. He should face the wrath of the law for that. We should aid the course of justice.”
Tosin dropped the call. He had heard enough. He would go for the case and he knew just what to do. Or so he thought.
The Guilty Episode 3
Tosin walked in just when the matter was called by the Registrar. He heard the State Prosecutor, Bamidele Ayodeji, announce his appearance. Tosin Adeyanju quickly hurried to an empty seat in the front row.
“May it please this Honourable Court,” he said as he stood by the empty seat. “My name is Tosin Adeyanju. I announce my appearance for the accused.”
Bamidele Ayodeji took a quick glance at Tosin. The face and name were unfamiliar. This was not Tayo. This was not the Legal Aid counsel he had met over the weekend. Tosin caught him taking a glance at him.
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“Yes, State counsel,” Justice Okokon called on Bamidele. “What is the matter slated for?”
Bamidele stood up again. “My Lord, the matter is slated for arraignment.” He took another look at Tosin. “The accused is in court.” Bamidele looked to the back of the court room. The accused, Eze Chinagorom was brought into the court by men of the Police Force. “If it pleases My Lord, we are ready to proceed.”
As Bamidele took his seat, he took another look at Tosin. He gave Tosin the eye as if to say, “are we good?” Tosin refused looking at him. Instead, he rose and made an application to the court.
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“My Lord,” he said. “I have just been briefed to defend the accused, but I have not had a meeting with him. If it pleases My Lord, may I humbly ask for a fairly short adjournment, to enable me be properly briefed by my client…”
Bamidele was surprised at Tosin’s application. Who was this guy? he thought.
Bamidele knew he would not be conceding to any adjournment. He could not concede to any adjournment. He had to commence trial today.
“My Lord,” Bamidele said as he stood. “I will be objecting to counsel’s application for an adjournment…”
“Yes, objection sustained,” Justice Okokon said even before Bamidele could complete his statement. “Mr. Adeyanju, this is a trial court. I take my cases seriously. I will not condone any unserious counsel in my court. You said you were briefed to handle this matter. Why didn’t you come prepared if you were briefed? Who briefed you if not the accused? What useful purpose will an adjournment serve?”
“My Lord, the case file was only assigned to me this morning at the Legal Aid Council…” Tosin stuttered.
“You said you were briefed in your earlier statement,” Justice Okokon said. “You didn’t mention anything about the Legal Aid Council. Why are you approbating and reprobating, counsel?”
At this juncture, Tosin knew he was not going to get any favours from this Judge. The Judge had made himself clear. He would hear the matter today.
“My Lord, I apologise if I didn’t use the right words earlier…In the circumstance, may I ask for a short stand down so that I may confer with my client?”
Justice Okokon fumed at Tosin’s request. But he decided to grant it. It was the least he could do.
“Case stood down,” he said. “For ten minutes. Registrar call the next case.”
Immediately the Judge stood the matter down, Tosin rushed out of the courtroom to meet with Eze Chinagorom who was in the custody of a Policeman. On meeting Eze, he asked for some privacy from the Policeman. He was obliged.
Tosin stared at Eze, performing a ritual he had always done whenever faced with cases such as this. He looked into Eze’s eyes and said, “We haven’t met before but I need you to tell me the truth. Did you kill her?”
Eze flinched. He looked at the ground.
“Look me in the eyes, Eze. Did you kill her?”
“You need to help me here. I cannot do this if you don’t cooperate with me…”
“It doesn’t matter what I did or did not do,” Eze said, almost curtly. “I already made a deal with the Police….”
“What are you talking about? What deal?”
“They said if I wrote a confessional statement, they would offer me a plea bargain and I would be out of the cell in three months…”
“What?!” Tosin almost yelled. “Who gave you such deal?”
“The Police lawyer.”
“The one in court?”
Oh my God, Tosin muttered to himself in disbelief. “You don’t know what you’ve got yourself into,” he said. Tosin knew Eze could never get such a plea bargain. It was not only difficult; it was impossible. This was a murder case and the statutory punishment was death. No more, no less. Eze was billed for the hangman’s noose. “But did you kill her?”
“No. I only offered her my drink. Next thing she collapsed and there was pandemonium in the place. I did not know what to do. She died before the paramedics could arrive.” Eze paused. “The Police were invited. The autopsy report from the paramedics said she died from poisoning. I don’t believe them. I drank out of the drink before giving it to her.”
“You did what?”
“I drank out of it.”
“So you did not poison it?”
“No.” Eze looked at Tosin with surprised eyes. “Where would I get the poison from? I went for a wedding. I was waiting for my friend when I saw her walk into the event centre. I took my drink over to her table. I drank from it before offering her…”
At this point, the Police man who had earlier been with Eze informed them that, the matter was being recalled in court. Just before they walked back into court, Tosin told Eze, “Whatever you do, don’t plead guilty.” Eze gave him a confused look as if to say he was going to plead guilty. It was part of the plea bargain. He had to plead guilty to get the deal. But Tosin repeated, “Do not plead guilty. Please.”
Episode 4 coming soon!