Sunday, 13 March 2016


The first time I stepped into the magistrate court was during my court attachment. I had specifically requested to serve in magistrate court because I knew that I did intend to do that level of law practice after then.

I was surprised when I heard the magistrate ask that the doors be closed. He was about to read judgement for a case that has spanned over 4 years. I saw four people in the dock.

It was a fairly long judgement as he went through every evidence. It was a case of breaking and entering and receiving stolen property.

Some people had broken into a shop in the dead of the night and stolen cartons of drugs. They sold to two dealers who were in court also for receiving stolen goods. The first receiver bought the goods at gross undervalue while the second receiver of the stolen goods bought at nearly the market value.

At the end of the judgement, the court set free the man who bought the goods at almost market value because it was an indication that he did not know he was buying stolen goods but the other man who bought at gross undervalue bagged 7 years.

The people who stole these goods were sentenced to 4 years. The magistrate explained that if there were no receivers of stolen goods, there would be no thieves in the first place or thieves would only steal what they needed knowing that nobody would buy the excess.

As the relatives of the innocent man jubilated and the others led away straight to the black maria that would convey them to the prison to begin their sentence, so many things struck me.

However the thing that struck me most then was that THESE MEN HAD BEEN WALKING AROUND FREE FOR 4 YEARS FROM THE TIME THEY WERE GIVEN BAIL. Suddenly they come to court and they are being headed into prison.

That is the sad part of Ibinabo’s case and many people’s cases. Once you are arrested for a crime, usually if it is a bailable offence, you are given a bail. After that, you keep coming to court from your home. then one day, you come to court and from there you are headed to prison.

It is no wonder the Bible said in Luke 12 v 58,’ as you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way forward lest he drag you to the judge and the judge hands you over to the officer and the officer puts you in prison.’

It is also a case of justice delayed. 10 years after Ibinabo accidentally killed a man, she might except the Supreme Court rules otherwise be going to serve jail term.

If she had served this jail term immediately after the offence, by now she would have been out. Jail term is 9 months not 1 year like we know it. So for a jail term of 5 years (60 months) the person will serve only 9months  times 5 which (45 months) translated to 3years and 9months.

Therefore I advice everyone, if you have a case in court, know that it is a ticking time bomb. Do everything within your power to make sure that the matter is settled.

If you have to go with your whole village, pray, fast and generally do everything to end the matter do everything within your power. If the family is even rich and connected, it makes it worse for you.

Don’t joke with criminal cases because after many years of being free, building your business and brand you can find yourself in prison. This i assure you, will be one of the most traumatic things that can happen to you.


Ify Brendan-Ndukwu said...

This case is an eye opener indeed.

Uche Ukeoma said...

Wow! Learnt a lot. Especially the buying of undervalue goods sometimes its bad.

chinyere Obi-Obasi said...

indeed itis Ify. A lot of 'lay' people don't know. The wheels of justice might grind slowly but then it is surely,

chinyere Obi-Obasi said...

Uche, you are on the right path. Evidence that something is stolen is from the amount it is sold to you without a compelling reason. always we should tread with caution.