He stepped calmly into the dock, looked briefly at his attorney, then at the chief prosecutor and at the judge. He seemed to feel very much at ease. Someone suddenly coughed at the back of the packed courtroom. He looked across, and there she was, the rage and fire still blazing in her eyes. He knew Mrs Akatugba wasn’t going to take this lightly; yet, he believed he was going to win the case. Mrs Akatugba, wife to the late Mr Akatugba, had been married to him for a little over eight years. The couple had no children. However, they were happy with each other’s company.
The day before, she had left for her hometown, Nkwanta, a small village in the Western region. A call had come through that her mother was ill, so she rushed to the village, she had told the court. Indeed, her mother was ill, but not as alarming as the caller had put it. She only had to boil some herbs for her. The following day, she left for her home; it was upon her arrival that she met the most horrific scene she had ever encountered. Who could have committed this treacherous act? Why did it have to be her only companion? Was her childlessness not enough? She was broken that day and promised to make sure the culprit was put behind bars. Looking at the culprit right before her two eyes, she couldn’t contain her rage. Gradually, her fiery anger was replaced with silent sobs. The plight of a childless widow, who would console her?
The Prosecutor had already begun asking his set of questions, one at a time. He was middle aged, a man in his late forties. However, his physical appearance passed him off as a sexagenarian. He was short and stout, nearly obese. His bald head was clearly noticable even though he wore his wig perfectly well. He had large protruding eyeballs. A pair of round antique spectacles sat on his abnormally wide nose. Each time he smiled, he revealed a pretty set of yellow teeth. He lowered his glasses slightly, peered at the man who stood in the dock, and his third question came straight.
“Mr Gameli, I learnt you started working with the Mines Company Limited in April 1984. Is that correct?”
“How often did you report late to work?”
—I never did.
“Did you ever, for any reason, leave your work unfinished?”
“Oh, then you were one of those hardworking and punctual workaholics,” he paused briefly and looked at the jury, then resumed “who deserved promotions periodically. Is it true that you had no promotional titles all these years?”
—Yes, that is true.
“So like any normal human being, you felt bad about that right?”
—Yes, but I…
“So why didn’t you speak to your boss regarding that?”
—Because I didn’t have to.
“Or perhaps, you thought you could handle matters in your own way?” A wicked grin surfaced on the left corner of his lips. Then he resumed. “Is it true that your former colleague, Mr Akatugba joined the company three years after you did?”
—Yes, that’s true.
“However, he was assigned the new Human Resource Personnel just a year after he came in. Right?”
—That is correct.
“I understand your plight. A few minutes ago, you said you felt bad that you had no promotion during the years you worked with the company. Suddenly, a young man pops up from nowhere and in just a year, he is made the new Human Resource Personnel. I presume that is enough justification for one to be overly raged to the extent of taking another man’s life. ”
—I did not do it.
“Well, where were you on the night of the murder?”
—I was with my friends at a pub that night.
Mr Gameli left Mr Akatugba’s apartment at exactly thirty minutes after 8 in the evening and then went to meet his squad at their usual pub. According to his version of the story, he had indeed gone to Mr Akatugba’s house, but it was to apologise and make peace with him. He admitted threatening him during their squabble at the office that morning. However, he did not commit the crime.
“At a pub? It was to lighten the burden of your guilty conscience I presume…”
“Objection! Your Honour, this submission is a false imposition and an attempt to intimidate my client.” His attorney interrupted.
The Judge dismissed his interjection and gave the Prosecutor his permission.
“Thanks your Honour. Mr Gameli, it must be noted that, that very night was supposed to be your first year anniversary celebration. What could have been so important to stray you away? Did you or did you not go to the pub to ease the burden of your conscience?”
—No, I didn’t. It was a routine.
At this point, the woman who sat at the back of the packed courtroom screamed: “He’s a liar. You murderer!” It was obvious that she had lost her voice due to so much crying and screaming. She was led outside to regain her composure.
“On this note, I’ll invite one of his own friends—Akoto, for interrogation.”
Hi there, I’m glad you’re here again. How do you feel about this episode of the story? Kindly leave your comments in the comments section and subscribe to the blog. Stay tuned and watch out for part III on Sunday. 😍