From the CourtPilot Law

I wept in court when my first client was sent to prison

 Barrister Abdulrauf Oladimeji Garba is an Ilorin-based lawyer, graduated from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. Born in Gabon many years ago and called to the Nigerian Bar in 2001. In this interview, he shares one of the most dramatic moments with ADETUNJI AYOBROWN.

It was the third day after I was called to the bar. I had to advocate in an alleged rape case.

It was learnt that the defendant went to the lady’s house and was caught by her parents. Mounting all their might in order to punish the defendant.

On my investigations, it was discovered that the defendant and lady were both lovers before that day. And my client agreed to the fact that he made a mistake by going to the lady’s parents’ house.

Without any issue of sex, he was met seated decently with the lady at the sitting room but he was alleged to have rape her.

It was during my first appearance in court, jittery but for the advice from senior colleagues I was prepared to secure the bail first.

Unknowingly, I thought my client would be charged for indecent assault but for the influence of parents of the victim, he was charged for rape. It was after the police FIR was read, and the defendant pleaded not guilty.

Totally confused, rape instead of indecent assault, I was put in dilemma. My countenance changed immediately, while not minding many people who are watching me including the presiding judge.

Rape, a capital offence is not ordinary bailable, no means of livelihood among others were the submission of state counsel, all these started my own crisis. So, my client will go to prison, I immediately concluded in my mind and I was confused.

With all my efforts after being boxed to a corner for a while. I said though rape may truly be capital offence, unbailable but it is not a murder case. I argued all I knew to await the judge’s verdict.

Unfortunately, it was a demoralised and devastated judgement for me, the judge sentenced my client to remand in prison custody.

Because of my ill-preparation, I wept in the court when my client was sent to prison. I blame myself for being unable to secure his bail.

How would I explain this to my client? The judge noticed everything and asked me, when I was called to the bar? And I replied to him, three days ago.

Then, go to the High Court and secured his bail, I was encouraged by the judge who said that the offence charged my client was not triable by the Magistrate but by a High Court. On that basis, I should not have expected the Magistrate Court to grant him bail.

Because I had put a lot of sentiments into the matter, that was why I was overwhelmed initially.

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