A story written by INEGBENOISE OSEODION OSAGIE. (07068221839, 08093828575, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Richard received The Vanguard from his lawyer and read the peoples’ report. He clasped the paper’s edges. Majority believed the police, and expected him to confess guilty in the arraignment. Some cursed and called him a murderer. They prayed he rot in jail and begged the EFCC not to spare him the way they did other elites in the country. God shouldn’t answer that prayer.
“We will plead not guilty at the arraignment,” Mr Victor said.
Richard looked to his lawyer. “What if the judge finds me guilty?”
The lawyer stayed quiet.
“That’s possible, right? I might be found guilty.”
“Are you guilty?”
“No.” He laid the newspaper on the desk.
“Then don’t plead guilty. The best thing to say before the judge is the truth. You’re not guilty. Telling her you are would be lying. If you plead guilty, barely anything can render you not guilty. I don’t do plea bargains when my client is innocent.”
“The arraignment will be tried by a female judge?”
“Yes. She will hear the arraignment and the trial.”
The male magistrate at the preliminary didn’t favour. Females might see reasons not to jump to conclusions.
“She tries cases as male judges do. Her feminineness will pose no advantage,” the lawyer said.
“I never expected any advantage,” Richard said. “Only the guilty needs advantage.” He wished that were true.
The lawyer lifted the newspaper. “Don’t mind what the people say. If you think of that, you might lose focus.”
“They believe I’m guilty.”
“That’s what we are trying to disprove.”
Confidence mingled with the man’s words, but doubts also had its place, even if it tried to hide.
“What about the ballistics result?”
The lawyer’s lids dropped and his flat lips rounded. “The tests have been performed and the results are with the FCID.”
Richard braced his hands and pressed them against each other. “What was the result?”
“I’m not supposed to know. The State’s ballistician will announce it on trial.”
Not all lawyers were good liars.
“Lawyer-client relationship is a two way thing,” Richard said. “You tell me everything you know, and I tell you everything I know.”
The lawyer lowered his head, and then raised it to him. “It was a match. The 9 mm bullet was analysed and found to have come from a Glock pistol that had your ID. The United States’ database said you purchased it 2011.”
Richard hit his head with his fist. The lawyer held the fisted hand and prevented him from making a second hit. “This is merely another high profile case. High profile cases get solved.”
“You are a Christian?” Richard asked.
The lawyer released Richard’s hand. “I am.”
“What if this is a punishment from God.”
A curve arched a corner of the lawyer’s lips. “You are no criminal, God does not punish the innocent.”
“God does not punish the innocents, but he penances them for every sin they commit. This could be the penance for my sins.”
The lawyer did a chuckle. “You are not the first Christian in this kind of situation.”
“That changes nothing. I’m a Christian, a Catholic.” He looked away from the lawyer. “I’ve erred in some ways. God might be using this to make me atone for that. He’s using my sins against me.”
The lawyer sighed and ran a hand down his face. “Tomorrow is your arraignment. You don’t want to lose focus. God didn’t put you here, and you are not supposed to be here.”
“Then let him make the judge see the truth. I’m innocent.”
“Look, Mr Richard, you’re innocent, and we’ll do our best to prove that.”
Richard covered his face with both hands and breathed into them. “You help me go the St. Vincent de Paul parish and call a priest. I want to say confessions. I need to do that before the arraignment.”
“You can do that after the arraignment. There will be enough time.”
“No, I want to do it before.”
The lawyer tapped his head. “I’ll find one.”
“Do you think the judge will allow bail?”
“We’ll ask. She might allow, but it’d be expensive. It might run to about twenty million.”
Twenty million. Twenty million as bail for a crime he knew nothing about. Nigeria was not fair. The world was not fair. “How’s Ivie?”
“She’s fine. She’ll witness at the trial.”
“Hope she isn’t burdening herself too much.”
“I told her not to. I pray she adheres.”
God should answer that prayer.
To Be Continued…