It is over two months and not a single person had come to visit me at the police station in Agbor. My mother must be worried sick. I had informed her that I would be back in July but this is October.
The first Visitor I had was a Lawyer that came to me a day before I was taken to court for the first trial, after hearing my story he began to discuss his fees, he further said he hired the commercial motor cyclist that brought him to the station, the Rider is on standby and he will need me to settle the bills, he further said I would pay three thousand naira for every court appearance excluding sundries fees. He was furious when I told him I had no kobo on me, he left cursing me. No Lawyer came to represent me the next day at court and the case was postponed to January 15th 1992. I spent Christmas and New Year festivals inside the Police cell. Some church people visited the detention centre on Christmas day and gave us good food and drinks, I was getting used to my new way of life, so I ate and drank to my fill, who knows when I would eat something good again.
Sergeant Godwin was keen on closing my case speedily so that he could move on to other issues in his life. He invited several lawyers to take up my case but they were all hungry “charge and bail” lawyers that hang around court premises looking for documents to endorse for stipends, these Lawyers made me to wonder if they really went to school and graduated as Lawyers! I used to revere Lawyers until I came across these bunch. One of the Lawyers told me that his monthly salary was less than one thousand five hundred naira in 1991, he regularly needs extra income to augment the numerous expenses he incurs as a result of trying to meet up with his social status, “a Barrister at Law”.
I remember a certain lawyer that came to discuss with me and I saw two bed bugs crawling up the collar of his Coat, whenever I remember that scene I laugh because the Coat was not on the man, rather the man was inside the Coat, I guessed he borrowed it from someone twice his size, the man was scraggy, he was begging me for money for pure water when he realized that what I needed was a philanthropic lawyer.
The truth is that I had some money in my account but I was far away from home, my cheque book was in Enugu and I did not even know if my house had been re allocated, I had no idea of anything happening in the outside world, whenever I tell all the lawyers about my money in the bank, their eyes become green, but when I tell them about the inaccessibility of the money, their eyes turn red and they leave me in anger.
Sergeant Godwin had to close my case either by ensuring I go to Prison or I am released; the later seemed impossible though and I was not surprised when he came around after our court session on the 15th January dancing and humming to himself along the corridor of our Cells. Because of insufficient evidence on my side to vindicate me, and because of insufficient evidence on the side of the police to convict me for armed robbery, I was put on awaiting trial list and transferred to Abakaliki Prisons while the Police continued with investigation.
My O.C told me it was better for me to be on A.T.L Awaiting trial list than to be sentenced to death for armed robbery, one thing he did not tell me was that many people are on awaiting trial and have been there for ages while many had died while waiting for their freedom.
I was not able to send message home to my Mother or Baba Miko, my only friend Saka did not show up at all, I did not blame him though after all I almost implicated him. No further information about Mr. Chike so everything about the case revolved around me alone. The Konwea family were happy when they were told by Sergeant Godwin that I had been sentenced to life jail at Abakaliki Prison. The madam came to my cell that evening and rained curses on me and my generations. I was just laughing because ‘he that is down fears no fall’, my family had been cursed right from the origin of my being so she did not need to waste her energy on cursing me, so she kept cursing as I kept laughing; she said it would have been better for me to be shot or sent to the hangman than the life sentence I got. The Police did not tell her that I was on A.T.L, they too wanted to be free from the Konwea family pressure to get justice for their dead father. When the Madam left my Cell that night, it then dawned on me that I was in trouble.
I recounted the pain I suffered at the depot, I recounted the honour I got from the Village when I returned from depot, and I recalled the honour I got from Soldiers and Officers during the G.O.C Cup competition, then I realized that the world had not been fair to me and my Mother, whatever Curse my grandfather had placed on my Parents should not be upon me because I did not choose to be the offspring of their union. If I had remained in the Village as a Brick layer I would not be here today, if I had not planned to help remove my mother from suffering perhaps I would not be here today. The bitter truth is that if my mother had not fallen foolishly in love with a drunkard to incur her Fathers wrath I would not be here today! I hated every being that was part of my existence that night. I cried, I screamed, I fought with everyone in the cell that night and consequently I got the beating of my life which left me bruised and fagged out and I fell asleep.
To Be Continued