Saturday, 11 February 2012


I left the workplace reluctantly with Mr. M. We were going to the Court House. I walked silently a forced smile on my face feigning my enthusiasm to see the law system that was supposed to uphold the broken edges of this scattered city. As we walked out of the safety of the company, I stepped into the car determined to leave my mind blank. Unfortunately, words spilled out as I questioned the equality of our courts. As we drove through the heat and traffic, okadas gliding between cars and the dirty lagoon acting as the only source of visual distraction, I asked Mr. M about the courts. How long did the cases take? Was it possible to bribe judges? Was the system effective? After all, as a Nigerian, I could not help but feel- how am I supposed to believe in the justice system when corruption runs rife in this land? How could I as an eager law student look at the system without a well of doubt and uncertainity when the news spills with leaders stealing money from the country? How could I feel proud and enthusiastic about the laws of the land when I have not seen any evidence of those laws in action?
As we approached the yellow and white building that was the seat of the Lagos High Court, I was determined to remain quiet and listen; listen to the judges aim to dispense justice, the lawyers argue their cases and the witnesses play their role in guiding the hand of the legal system.
I watched the lawyers as quiet words spilled out of their mouths. My ears burned with impatience as their words failed to carry through the walls of the court room. Astonishment froze my mind in wonder as I watched a senior advocate fumble for words to defend his client. And in that moment, I was able to gain a drop of knowledge about the problems facing the Nigerian Court System. It was not soley the fault of the judge as this learned justice proved as she attempted to guide the lawyers in their cases. It was not solely the fault of the government either. It was the combined failures of the whole legal system that had pushed our growth in the law backwards. The failure of the lawyers to be organised for proceedings, the failure of the judges to dispense justice and the failure of the government to ensure that justice was served. As we all walked out of the air conditioned room into the heat of the Lagosian sun I was silent.
I stepped into the car with Mr. M confused at the turn of events. I had sought to blame the judges and had emerged realizing that the whole system was at fault. This really made me question the ropes of justice that bound my city together. As we stepped out of the dusty compound, my eyes fell on the Tafewa Balewa Square. I was stunned as I was told that this was the building that our independence was handed to us. This was the building that marked the dreams of Nigeria. As I stared with renewed appreciation at the dirty, dusty structure, I was filled with hope.
Our fathers’ dreams still lived on just like the dilapidated structure before my eyes. Though our land had been littered with corruption and greed, the hopes of our people were still alive and we still stood strong as the structure before my eyes. We were still filled with the dreams of our fathers’.

Tolu Falode.

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