Enjoy another time with Baba Risi. 😀
It’s 5PM and Nigerians on the internet and who have cable TV are tuned in to Aljazeera for the broadcast. The host, Femi Oke, knowing she has a huge Nigerian audience today appears in an Ankara outfit and a Chimamandaesque headtie.
“Good evening, and you are now in the Stream. Today, we will be discussing the Nigerian Justice System. We’ve been getting tweets about the recent injunction restraining the country’s number one corruption agency, the EFCC from prosecuting Ifeanyi Uba, oil magnate who is alleged to be involved in the fuel subsidy underhand dealings, as well as owing Three Hundred Million Dollars to the nation’s Asset Management Corporation. Of course Milika Bilal is here tracking your tweets on the matter. Milika, what are Nigerians saying about their justice system”
Camera zooms in on Malika’s screen as she reads out tweets “The tweets are pouring in. This one here from @kazeem says ‘we have an injustice system, there is no justice for the common man’ and this one from @lagosgbajumo says ‘if I steal a governor’s phone, I get 40years, if I steal 48Billion, I get a pardon and a governorship’”
“Thank you Malika. To discuss this issue today, we’re joined by in the studio by eminent Nigerian judge, Jerry Adebayo. You’re welcome to the program sir.”
“Thanks for having me here, Femi,” the bespectacled, wiry man seated beside Malika responded.
Also joining us is our West Africa correspondent, Yvonne Ndege who is in Lagos, Nigeria today. She has come upon an interesting justice system running parallel to the formal one, which the regular Nigerian masses, the traders, the market women, the regular people the justice system is meant to serve seem to take most of their issues to. She has with her the man who runs one of such courts, Baba Risi. Yvonne, you’re welcome.”
Focus shifts to an Yvonne who has been part of one of the proceedings in Baba Risi’s Court and is still smiling at the thought “thanks Femi. And Baba Risi is here with me in his courtroom. It’s packed full here, with a flatscreen TV commandeered from one of the viewing centers here to watch us live.” The camera swings to show the cheering crowd in the court who go quiet once the clerk shouts “Order! Order!”
Baba Risi’s large frame filled the screen, clad in his usual white kaftan, but wearing a white skull cap this time. “Welcome Baba Risi to the Stream,” Femi said.
“Tainks Femi. We are happy to be here,” Baba Risi said in his usual booming voice. Femi thought he reminded her of Dele Momodu, the celebrity magazine owner.
“So we begin. Judge Adebayo, it would seem from the tweets that Nigerians do not trust the justice system. Why do you think this is so?”
Judge Adebayo cleared his throat noisly before responding “Nigerians generally prefer to be ignorant of the law. Hence, they display this lack of understanding in their ignorance of due process and expect the law to deliver justice outside the law.”
Baba Risi cut in “oga Judge, learned colleague abi no be so una dey talk am, if the law wey una get no make sense to common man, how una expect make dem trust am? Plus all una appeal, delay and magomago, na why dem prefer to come people like us. Na one time, sensible judgment we dey give.” The subtitles struggled to keep up with Baba Risi’s speech.
The judge said haughtily “can you please wait your turn to speak? And I am by no means the colleague of a quack like you…”
Baba Risi laughed as if the judge had said the most silly thing possible “oga Adebayo, why things dey pain you like this, to reach to dey insult me. Quack sha, na the person wey get customer dey sell market o, and people prefer my own judgment to una complicated matter.”
Femi quickly mediated as she saw the scowl on Judge Adebayo’s face “Judge Adebayo, people on the street seem to agree with Baba Risi. Yvonne interviewed a cross section of Nigerians, ranging from the usual type at Baba Risi’s court, to pretty educated Nigerians. Here are some of their responses.”
Camera rolls and Yvonne is heard asking a woman why she goes to Baba Risi’s court instead of reporting to the police and going to court
“see you,” the woman said as if Yvonne had asked the most ridiculous question possible “even police dey bring their matter to Baba Risi, so why me go go police wey go collect my money and court where dem go dey adjourn till I tire? Abegi, na Baba Risi biko.” She said the last part as if it was incredulous to think of going somewhere else but Baba Risi’s court. Baba Risi chuckled “learned colleague, hehehehehe”.
The camera moved to the upscale Victoria Island area where the suited respondent was saying “people prefer courts like Baba Risi because of the injustice they see our official legal system perpetrate. Injunctions, counter-injunctions, appeal, sections, all manner of things, we get confused, and get nowhere. The commonsensical judgment of the likes of Baba Risi, backed by the community’s approval as well as the power to enforce is closer to the sense of justice that people understand”
Femi addressed Judge Adebayo “would you respond to that sir?”
“What guides the likes of Baba Risi beyond their own haphazard convictions of justice? We in the legal system are guided by carefully thought out and debated laws and systems. And where there’s an injustice in a lower court, there is the possibility of appealing to a higher court,” Judge Adebayo responded.
Femi turned to Baba Risi. “Baba Risi?”
“Oshay my dear,” Baba Risi said. “This ogbeni is just talking book. In Naija, we know as e dey go. Abi, no be dem give Alams pardon recently? And no be them say make Ifeanyi Uba wey thief and all of us know, make EFCC no carry am go court, make dem fit give am governor for Anambra State. And for their court, dem go call person, he no go gree come court. Who born monkey for my court? If dem report you, you must show. And when we give you judgment, my boys go make sure say you perform. Baba Suwe wey dem disgrace for national TV, dem don judge say make dem pay am 25million, till tomorrow dem never give am. If na me say make dem pay person 1million, na instanter o. So Femi, help us talk to the matter, if na you, which one you go take?”
Femi could not help laughing, this Baba Risi had turned the table and was asking the questions. She skillfully ignored it and asked a question “But Baba Risi, how do you know a crime has been committed? Who are the witnesses, and what if your judgment is wrong?”
“In my area? If man dey beat him wife, we know. If boy na thief, we know. If woman dey pursue another person husband, we know. No be like police wey no dey know anything. And you no fit lie for my court o, ayelala go catch you.” He laughed again, and Femi found herself chuckling again.
“Malika, what are Nigerians saying on twitter?”
“Interesting stuff here, Femi.
@sisishewa says ‘Baba Risi for Chief Justice!”
Another @milikiman says ‘Judge due process. Please give me Baba Risi’s Court address jor!”
And the third that got me in stitches is from @rollingblender. He says ‘I was in Baba Risi’s court when he dealt with boys that brought a gun in. That ayelala works o. Gangsta Blasta!”
“Ahhh, Rolling Blender, omo buruku,” Baba Risi interjected when they read the last tweet.
Judge Adebayo shook his head. “This is just sad. Justice in the land has been reduced to the likes of these charlatans.”
“Oga, if una dey give them justice, dem go come meet us? Abeg park well jor” Baba Risi retorted.
“Mr. man, will you keep quiet when your betters are talking? If things were normal, why would I be joining issues with a tout like you” Judge Adebayo shouted angrily
“Emi keep quiet?” Baba Risi laughed. “You get luck say you no dey hear, my boys for show you how we dey do people wey dishonor this court.”
“You see what I am saying? The man is uncivilized. He’s threatening me already!” Judge Adebayo raised his voice even more.
“Ogbeni judge, you wey dey civilized, na him dey shout o. Who be tout?”
Femi tried to mediate “gentlemen calm down…”
Judge Adebayo would none of it. He jumped up and waved a bony finger at Femi “if I had known you were bringing me to join words with this scallywag, I would not have come here. This is beneath my person!”
Baba Risi teased the Judge who was breathing hard now “Scallywag ko, scallykenge ni. Ogbeni sit down and stop threatening the fine omoge in the studio.”
The judge stormed out of the studio.