Diary of a Lagos Rookie Lawyer (10): Falsely Accused (1)


Being accused falsely is about the next worst thing that can happen to any employee in the office, next to sack.

Thursdays are for CDS we all know. I spend that one day judiciously ever since I started work here. I do practically everything that make me happy and relaxed on Thursdays. So this Thursday, I needed to chill with friends and just generally catch up. We had agreed the venue and stuff. I was trying to shut down for the day on Wednesday when my direct line Manager insisted that I must join for a meeting on Thursday. Despite all my pleas, they insisted, so I stopped pushing. I cancelled my outing just like that. It is here, you expect anything. It was not a big deal. I was permitted to come in at 12 noon from my CDS. The meeting was somewhere close by and it was scheduled for 2pm.

The Meeting: Our client is an international company engaged in site development services for telecommunication operators. They got into a business deal with a certain Arab company and it went sour. They went to court after arbitration failed and we found ourselves defending a $500m suit. Parties have been in court for over two years without meaningful progress. Then top management began to talk and after about five meetings held in different parts of the world, parties reached a settlement. Drafting the terms of settlement took the Apex Team two weeks. Executing the terms would be done by all the parties in the presence of their lawyers at the Claimant Counsel’s office.

At 11:30 am I was already in the office from CDS. At 12:30 pm, two representatives of our client who came in from the UK arrived our office and we all headed to the venue of the meeting after the pre-meeting in our office. In the scheme of all these events, yours truly was just an insignificant tiny follow on, watching all the official effizy.

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The meeting was very short and straight to the point. The older SAN on the other side only asked about our own SAN and why he was not in attendance and the excuse given with apologies. That was all that happened apart from the normal greetings. We went into the business of executing the terms of settlement. It was agreed that our office file the terms for adoption and we took all the copies along with us. 20 mins later, we were done and headed back to the office.

I was very careful carrying the file containing the terms of settlement. At the office, I took the file straight to my line manager’s desk. While I was giving him the file, he was having some chitchat with the Accountant and they were really noisy.

Friday Morning, I was in court for one of those matters that that I attend alone. When I got out of the court, I saw some 20 calls, all from my line manager. I panicked!

“Cece, please get to the office ASAP I need those executed terms of settlement. We have to file it today”, I heard from the other end.

“But sir, I gave the file to you immediately we returned to the office”, I responded, trying immediately to recall all that happened from when we got back to the office to when I left the office on Thursday.

“You did what? Look Cece, please we have less than two hours to file those documents. We are adopting the terms on Monday. You need to come give them to the Litigation officer to file please!” He said that and cut the call.

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Inside the pool car I could hear my heart racing with some misguided rhythm. I got a call, it was the “Beautiful one”,

“Cece, where are you?”

“Am on my way to the office.” I responded.

“The whole office is upside down, can you recall where you kept the stuff?” she asked.

“But I gave them to him, I did.” I protested.

“Things are crazy over here. Just stay calm and get back here soon.” She said and ended the call.

 As I was dropping the call, another came through, the same question from another colleague. Then another and I just couldn’t bear it anymore. I felt dizzy. My bladder was filled. I was starring aimlessly at nothing in particular. I replayed how I got back to the office and how I did not even sit down before taking the file to my line manager. I recalled his statement; “Thanks Cece, keep it there.” I did and I went down from there to have my lunch and then back to my desk. I read through some of my stuff before continuing with my work. I was sure that file did not touch my desk. I only realized I was talking to myself when the driver asked if all was well.

The car pulled to the car pack and I noticed that my legs were weak and feeble! Hmmm!

To be continued…


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