I was in court today for a matter and witnessed something in another case that warmed my heart. But still left me hopping mad.

3 young boys were on trial for cultism-related charges. They were being prosecuted in the State High Court by the Ministry of Justice.

The IPO was cross-examined today by counsel to the third Defendant. 

The IPO confirmed that the boy made a statement that he was not at the scene of the alleged crime on the day/time in question.

The IPO confirmed that the boy told him where he was on that day and who he was with. 

But he never went there to talk to them.

The IPO confirmed that he went to the boy's house to search and never found anything related to cultism there.

Finally, he was asked: from the totality of your investigation and the evidence you have given, there is nothing to tie the third Defendant to the offence of cultism.

After 5 minutes of looking up and down, he said, "yes".

The court asked, "any re-examination?"

Prosecuting counsel took another 5 minutes rustling through her file before she said, none.

My thought: then why did was he charged?

It was like the court was reading my mind.

With the witness still in the box, he asked the prosecutor and IPO, "why did you charge him?"

No answer.

"How long has he been in prison awaiting trial?"

Third Defendant counsel, "since 2018".

Court: why do you people behave like this? He told you where he was that night, you did not go to check. You did not see anything incriminating in his house. Yet you charged him and he has been in detention for 4 years? I will write my judgment now and acquit him!

The litigants at the back erupted in applause. I almost joined them. But held myself.

The judge discharged him immediately.

While I celebrated the triumph of justice over technicality (seeing that the judge did not wait for defence counsel to file a no case submission), I felt deep anger for what that boy had been through. For nothing.

Dear colleague in the Ministry of Justice, you are not there just to earn a salary or secure a conviction at all costs.

You are there to ensure justice is done in all matters assigned to you. Justice to the State. Justice to the victim. Justice to the accused.

Your legal advice to the police can save a mother, a wife, a family from needless sleepless nights.

Some cases should not come to court. This one should not have. If the prosecution had reviewed the file properly, she would have seen that there was no case against this boy and recommended his release years ago.

It is at times like this that I weep for a judicial system that can not or will not compel the state to compensate a victim of wrongful prosecution.

That boy sure deserves it.


Culled from the wall of Emeka Ojoko on Facebook.

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