When I read the sad story of what happened to Mrs. Matepo, the Chief Magistrate Court 1 Mushin, Lagos State, on the 30th of May, 2022 at a police station in Mushin, all I could mutter was, I wish I had the power to pull powers! I wish I was the Chief Law officer in Lagos State.
Sincerely speaking, there are lots of things that our ears should not hear. A lot that our brains should not be made to process. One of such is, a magistrate going to a police station on an official assignment not for her private activities, identifying her self as a magistrate not disguising and a Police Area Commander harassing her on the claim that she ought to have taken special permission from him personally before carrying out that official duty. But we are lawyers and we exist in Nigeria and in Nigeria, everybody is not normal and our brains process everything!
So, this Area Commander that commands an area around Mushin in Lagos State, rather than usher a magistrate into his office, offer her tea and coffee and file the inmates into his air conditioned office in order not to ruffle her honour’s black suit, turned around to scolds and threaten to throw her inside the cell for coming to carry out the duty that was assigned to her by the Chief Judge of Lagos State and by extension the Lagos State judiciary. Knowing how the police of Nigeria works, we can all hazard some guesses about what would have transpired. Her Honour would be trying to put it to the Commander of the area while maintaining her lawyerly decorum, being that she is not only an officer of the judiciary but one in the bench cadre. Mr. Area Commander on the other would be raising his voice into high heavens, like the typical Nigerian Police officer who believes that all lawyers are out to undermine their power, threatening, intimidating and generally acting like he left Buhari to run Nigeria for a while. His corporals and sergeants would all be standing nearby observing and learning the rope on how things are done. Visitors to the police station would form spectators watching and asking questions in confused state. Thank God phones are not allowed in, we would all have pictures and videos littered all over social media with captions that would look like “Police officer harassing a judge in Lagos State”, police and judge fight dirty inside police station”. Just like we saw the disturbing caption alleging that police threw a magistrate inside jail.
This incident reminds me immediately of one time like that during that one week one brutality against lawyers by police when I started praying that police should try to harrass a SAN or judge so that we the insignificant ones would all be rescued. I was thinking that when this happens, all hell will be let loose and then we will settle this legacy “beef” from the Nigerian Police once and for all. To my greatest shock and disappointment, it would appear that nothing would still happen. All hell is not letting loose and everybody is still doing nothing.
Since 30th of May 2022, a magistrate returned with this tale of mega embarrassment to the entire bench of Lagos State and the news is not yet news enough even among members of the legal profession. I am wondering, is it the case that this incident was not properly reported? If it is not an important national issue, is it also not an important issue to the members of the legal profession? All we have been hearing, as usual has been speeches. “We will look into it,” “we will get to the root of the issue”. If Wike talks now, we will come for his head.
A whole judiciary slighted and all we read is your Honour talking about plans for the Commander of the Area to apologize with a general body language that says something like; “well I think the High Court will do something sha” Toh!
What affront? What disregard, what insolence? Didn’t you all say wherever these people are, the court is duly constituted? So, an Area Commander embarrasses a duly constituted court and we are all acting fine. The Chief Judge of Lagos State has not said anything. May be he is still waiting for full briefing. The Attorney General of Lagos State has not said anything. May be he is not aware. The NBA has not said anything, they are getting to the root of it first. Body of Senior Advocates have not said anything. Ancestors must be consulted. Association of Magistrates have not said anything. They should not be blamed, they are not aluta people. Onlookers and Keyboard Warriors Association have not said anything. This is the strangest, abi you were all not informed too?
If I was the Attorney General of Lagos State, I swear on my wig, gown and collar, two will play this impunity game. First and the least, the very least in the line up of possible actions that I would have taken within 24 hours of this incident would be to use everything within my power and disposal to ensure that all stake holders in this embarrassment address a world press conference. Commander of the Area would be there to explain to the whole world what happened to him for that moment. If it is ignorance, he will use his whole mouth to say so and we would all know that what he needs is help. And if it is not ignorance, the whole world will hear his reason and be the judge since he doesn’t even recognize judges anyway. After his explanation, which by the way I will not accept, he would genuinely and remorsefully apologize publicly at that press conference to her Honour Mrs Matepo where she will by herself confirm whether or not she is satisfied with the apology. At least, photographs and videos of this apology would make front pages of every print and breaking news on every electronic media. When we are done with the public apology, I will ensure that I decide with all stake holders whether this state will continue to accommodate all of us or whether he should simply go and continue his area commanding in another state.
But then, I am not the AG and I don’t even know who I am. The only thing I know is that this judiciary we have in Nigeria may not be the original one.
Good day lawyer of Nigeria, how is your family? (With credit to Sabinus biko, I don’t have strength)