A story written by INEGBENOISE OSEODION OSAGIE. (07068221839, 08093828575, [email protected])
Richard was led into the conference room. His eyes crossed with his lawyer’s. The man had stern eyes, the kind a lawyer should not have. Jide recommended him; he should be good enough. Richard made for the table, sat opposite the man and held his gaze.
“Let’s do proper introductions,” the lawyer said. “I’m Mr Victor Bamidele, and I’ll be handling your case.” He held out his hand for a shake.
Richard received the hand. The lawyer’s palm scratched the edge of his. Richard held the hand firmly and allowed the scratch. “Richard Fayemi.”
“The CEO of Erneto Aives,” the lawyer said.
“Yes.” Everyone knew who he was, which wasn’t very good.
“I presume you’re aware you shouldn’t hide any detail from me, no matter how trivial you think it is.”
“I know that.”
The lawyer’s lips remained merged for some time before words fell out. “How was your initial appearance?”
“It went expected. The magistrate appointed a public defender.”
“Any talk about bail?”
“The magistrate said bail cannot be granted.”
The lawyer rested hands on the table and huffed. “Did you commit the crime you’re accused of?”
“Then why are you here?”
“I was found at the scene.”
“I read the file the police compiled. They accuse you of shooting an unarmed man.”
“I didn’t shoot him.” Richard checked the lawyer’s eyes to see if the man believed. The eyes couldn’t be read.
“I trust you are saying the truth, but the police don’t. I spoke with your friend, Mr Echem. He gave me a little review. You seem to be in a tight nook.”
“Not as tight as it seems. There is evidence?”
“What evidence? The phone call of the woman, Ivie?”
“Her testimony would serve as good evidence. Another thing is the police would not see any reason why I would shoot the man.”
“I’m afraid that won’t be enough, but the woman would be helpful. That orchard belonged to the victim. It is a land, and many violence occur based on land issues. The police might take that as the reason you shot the man, and in the real sense, the judiciary doesn’t need the reasons for a crime committed before it takes actions.” The lawyer unfastened his shirt’s first button. “Tell me all that happened at the scene, and how you ended up handcuffed.”
“When I received the call from the woman that her friend was in danger, I learned the crime scene was closer to my domain than the nearest police station and I would be able to drive there faster than the police. I brought out a registered gun which I know how to use, and drove to the scene. I positioned on a staircase landing, scoped the place and found two men engaging in something I would guess a crime deal. One held a gun, and suspicious bags lay on the ground. Soon after that, a woman appeared at the ground and shot one of the men, the same man who held a gun. Ivie’s man.”
“Would you be able to recognize the woman or the other man, who I believe was the woman’s accomplice if you see them elsewhere?”
“The woman is my wife.”
The lawyer’s eyes stood erect and the holes of his nose expanded. “Your wife?”
“Yes. We got married this year, April 6th.”
“Does she know you’re here?”
“I don’t know. She hasn’t visited, and I’ve not called her.”
“You put her on your visiting list?”
“I did. I would like to have a confrontational chat with her.”
“Do the police know about this?”
“No, that’s why I have you. I hope on you to convey all the information they need to them.”
“What about your Echem, does he know?”
“No, neither does Ivie.”
“They will know in court.”
Richard did a deep inhale. He would sit in court and be tried for what he knew nothing about. He would sit in a court, face a judge, and be addressed like a criminal. After that, what’s next?
“There might not be a trial if the preliminary goes well,” the lawyer said. “The bullet retrieved from the victim was a 9 mm, a handgun bullet. There was no way it would have come from your rifle, so you have an edge. However, the police believe you might have possessed a handgun, which you probably disposed off on the sound of sirens.”
“Didn’t they search the scene?”
“They did and found no handgun, but they still consider the possibility of you getting rid of it. You are their closest suspect, and this is a high profile case. They can’t throw their only suspect away. They would do anything to keep you on their suspect list, even if you are the CEO of Erneto Aives.” He supported his forehead with a palm and remained like that for a while before removing the hand. “Can you think of any reason your wife would do such a thing?”
“I can’t think of any. I wouldn’t believe if told by anyone.”
The lawyer stared at his briefcase on the table. “What about your wife’s accomplice, have you seen him before?”
“Do you think your wife will agree to all you’ve said?”
“I don’t know that. She shot a man. I don’t know the things she can do.”
“I will convey this information to the police and request she be interrogated. I may try a private detective. Truth be told, I doubt if she will agree to the accusation. She must have heard about your case in the news, and since she has not been here, I can say she has no intention of suffering for her actions. If that’s the situation, then we have a very big case before us, but thanks to the FCID, they would help simplify it. The case might not be twisted as it seems.”
“What is the FCID up to?”
“They got the bullet from the victim’s body and are running ballistics on it. There is no efficient crime lab in the country, so they furthered it overseas to find a gun match. They will eventually see the gun doesn’t match your identity. You’re like a figure, so the police are taking your case more serious than normal.”
Richard’s heart exploded and shredded into fragments. “A gun match?”
“Yes, there’s a way they do it.”
Richard shut his eyelids and held them tightly. He covered face with his hands and sucked in the scorching air.
“That’s supposed to be good news,” the lawyer said.
“I saw the gun my wife used. I think it belonged to me.”
The lawyer’s face narrowed, his cheeks lessened like a needled balloon.
“It’s a pistol, a Glock,” Richard said. “It’s registered. I bought it in Los Angeles.”
The lawyer’s face grew thinner, fixed on the table. “The ballistics result will be out in a week.”
His words rewound in Richard’s head. In a week, he would become a criminal, charged with attempted murder. “So what can be done?”
The lawyer remained mute. His lips, although not moving, had words written on them, sharp and clear words of prayer and hope. Those were the only things that could save him.
“What about the phone-call evidence, how far can you go with that?” Richard asked.
“We need more than Ivie’s phone call evidence to prove your innocence, and it won’t take time before the police find something to counter that. If your wife could admit guilty, you’d be a free man, but if she doesn’t, then we’d have work to do. If the victim survives, there might be a chance he would point out who shot him, but that chance is very thin. If he does that, he would risk being exposed of the crime deal he supposedly engaged in, and that could lead to a term in jail. No one likes jail.”
Richard passed his palms over his head and rested them behind the head. “I never saw this.”
“You took a very big risk going to the crime scene. You should have stayed at home and let the police to handle it.”
That’s true, so true. He should have stayed at home. Going to the scene wasn’t the wisest decision.
“Who is Ivie to you?”
“She’s a friend, lived in my house for a short time.”
“Right now she’s our only witness. I wish we could have more. Your preliminary hearing is next week Thursday. That will determine if the case is strong enough to go to trial. In the preliminary, we talk less and listen to what the State has against us.”
“What’s the essence? When the bullet matches my gun, I will be found guilty, won’t I? Beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“You are not so sure the gun belongs to you. You peered through a scope.”
“I can recognize any of my firearms with closed eyes.”
The lawyer patted Richard’s hand. “You’re not guilty, and I will prove it to the judge.”
What if you can’t? Richard wanted to ask. He bored into the lawyer. “Please do.”
After some seconds of silence, the lawyer said, “Prepare yourself for the preliminary hearing. It’s only for few minutes. Magistrates don’t waste time on it.”
“I thought the judge would be the one on bench.”
“The judge will only hear the trial, if there will be one.”
Yes, there would be one. “Can you speed up the whole trial process?”
“I’m doing my best. Some inmates wait for more than years before they are tried. You’re lucky because of your status. Your trial might tread a fast lane.”
Nothing was lucky about that. If his status was so important to the state, they should see the believability in his words.
“Do you think the magistrate would grant bail?”
“Bail is seldom granted in attempted murder cases. I’ve not heard of any. I’ll request though. The magistrate might see reasons to grant.”
The lawyer opened his briefcase and brought out a sheet and a pen. He gave them to Richard. Richard read the sheet. It was his fees. Nine hundred thousand. He was the CEO of Erneto Aives; any lawyer would want to take advantage.
“Nine hundred is too expensive.”
“Your case is expensive, and I don’t believe you would want to stay in here for years. Some people have been awaiting trial for over a decade. Your status alone won’t be enough to speed up your trial process to less than a year. I would have to give some money to the right people. Call it anything, but it’s something that has to be done.”
Richard held the pen and signed, signed to money going into thin air.
“You could bargain for a better cell. They have good cells for able prisoners, especially those in remand. It’s expensive. I think about four thousand naira per day.”
“I have bargained. I will be taken to the new cell tomorrow. But still, it’s a cell, no matter how refined it is.”
The lawyer arranged his sheet in his briefcase and closed it. “I’ll come see you again early next week.” He stood up and strode out.
Richard stalked out of the room and met the warder who directed him to his cell. He thought of the lawyer’s words. There was no hope of cutting short the days in this hellhole. Either he or his wife would have a place in it. He was not willing, and his wife certainly was not. No one liked jail. It smelt like decayed debris.
To Be Continued….