“Your Honour, I am Wakili Alfred, the accused in this matter. In order not to waste the court’s precious time, I will not mind if you call me Fred which name requires only a slight twist of the tongue compared to the mouthful Alfred.
Your Honour, I come before you with humility. I appreciate your celebrated wisdom, undoubtedly distinguished intellect and the special inquisitive mind that twenty years’ experience at the bench has enabled you acquire.
I have interacted with your reasoning on criminal matters not once, not twice and not many times and I acknowledge and fully identify with the architectural design with which you have been developing the jurisprudence of our land, particularly on the question of stealing.
Your Honour, the matter before you today is more than a charge, it is bigger than an allegation, and, if you permit, I may say more emotive than the land question in this country. I am not in any way saying or suggesting that this case cannot be handled by this honourable court. I am only inviting you to exercise caution when you direct your mind to evidentiary scrutiny of exhibits produced before pronouncing a judgment. I say this particularly because the world – my clients, my church members, my family, my colleagues and even the destitute natives I provide for – is going to be significantly affected by your decision.
Your Honour, I know this is a holy room. So sacred and revered is this chamber any person who earns an opportunity to be heard must speak the truth in such a ritualistic manner a man of religion does when he is confessing to his maker. Truth is to this court what Jesus is to a Christian. Without the former, the latter is confused and hopeless.
No fairytale. No doubts. No suspicion. No hearsay. In this distinct house, our mouths are prohibited from misrepresenting our conscience. We cannot stand to face the shiny and divine Court of Arms erected behind you, Your Honour, and yet allow our tongues lie about what we perceived. We owe you a duty to accurate testimony and I am righteously motivated to discharge that responsibility.
You Honour, it is because of the significance this court attaches to truthful speaking that I rise not only to show you where the truth lies but to also save my job and rescue my skin from the inhuman bedbugs in our prison facilities.
Your Honour, I believe I am here for a wrong reason. I know I am innocent. I am blameless. I shall be demonstrating this. I have ironclad evidence which will disprove this outright gown of lie forcefully cast to cover my rectitude.
First, Your Honour, I read malice in the prosecution’s case. Why? The prosecutor has been looking for an opportunity to punish me for representing his former wife in a successful divorce petition against him. He believes that I am the one who incited her to file the petition and even coached her on what to say and what not to. I now produce an exhibit to prove the same which is a text message he sent me on the day the court condemned him to bachelorhood, which reads:
“I pray that one day I will also represent someone against you. Trust me, you’ll not like me till you go to your ancestors.”
Your Honour, when the prosecutor got wind of an alleged theft through the complainant’s brother, he advised them to report the matter to the police station where he is attached and not Mavoko where my office is located (or rather, where the alleged incident took place). He vowed to chain my freedom just the same way I handed his heart life imprisonment through the divorce. I now produce a WhatsApp message he sent to the complainant’s brother which reads, I quote:
“This is the chance. We have to lock him up. We must freeze his ego. Thinks he’s God to severe woman from man. Punished my feelings. Left me poor, with no donor of companionship…We must grab this chance. It’s time for the idiot to pay taxes out of the profit he made from my misfortune.”
I submit, Your Honour, that I was framed in this matter. The allegation that I stole from my client Moses is a fictitious piece of art penned by the complainant, published by the prosecutor and now presented to you to read and enjoy as an intellectually inspired narrative. The whole claim is nothing but malicious accusations targeting my prospering carrier and when you look at the documentary evidence that I’ve just adduced, you will not be able to resist the temptation of concluding that the charge is an abuse of criminal justice system. The law is too divine, it cannot aid an evil agenda.
Secondly, Your Honour, the prosecution’s case is not strong enough to put me on defence. The prosecutor has not established that I had a guilty mind, or rather, that I retained Moses’ entitlement with intent to deny him the compensation he was awarded by the civil court. Your Honour, the reason I did not immediately deposit the said kshs. 1,000,000.00 to my client’s bank account was because, in my own wisdom or excess of it, I deemed it necessary to allow enough time for my client’s family to look for prospective entrepreneurial ventures that the complainant would put the money into. My reasoning was informed by the fact that we now have hookers in this small town of ours and unless the complainant’s mind was properly trained on financial management, all these monies we are talking about would have been by now exchanged for a quickie.
What am I saying here, Your Honour? My point is that I never intended to steal from my client. I have never thought, in the ten years of my practice as an advocate, of stealing from a client, particularly one who is recovering from the pain of his employment contract being unfairly terminated. I can’t imagine someone doing that to me. In fact, Your Honour, I am not craving for earthly riches. My late grandmother – may her soul rest in peace – advised me that a man need not built a bank account to the height of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa because he will not use that millions of money to bribe God so He can allow him see His kingdom.
And so, I urge you to dismiss as fallacious, the argument the prosecutor is forcing down your legal throat that I am guilty because I did not show the complainant ‘willingness to release the money’.
I passionately pursued the civil claim and it was all because I sympathized with Moses and desired to bail him out of his bad economic situation. In fact, as he confirmed during cross examination, I took the matter to court without even getting instruction fee from him leave alone ten shillings for photocopying his national identification card. How can such a Good Samaritan become a criminal? Just how much should a man give to deserve praise?
The Prosecutor expected me to represent the client, pay all the filing fees, do all manner of talking in court, attend all court sessions including on the day men of religion prophesized apocalypse, and still take care of the complainant’s young and impatient money mind. This is too much. It is unfair. It is imbalanced. There is an end to a man’s benevolence. In Nigeria they say, ‘however caring a man may be, he cannot help his wife carry their pregnancy’.
Your, Honour, my last words are your own words of wisdom found in the case of Republic v Jon & Mercy Advocates where you addressed the issue of retaining a client’s money by an Advocate for ‘too long’ in the following words:
“An Advocate has a professional duty towards his client to diligently and passionately pursue his client’s case. I think he has an even more serious moral obligation to advise his client on what business opportunities his client may put money awarded into. I do not think an Advocate who has ‘kept’ a client’s money and who has not withdrawn it or transferred it to another account or used it in any way, and who is retaining the money while waiting for the client to identify what economic activity to undertake, can be said to have formed an intention to steal from his client.”
Your Honour, I urge you not to tamper with your own reasoning.”