Read Story: SEASON 2 EPISODE 14
As a patriotic citizen and with a clean conscience, I made it to the courtroom very early in the morning.
Our case was the first one.
My lawyer advised me to be punctual and I adhered to his advice.
Prior to that day, I had never been to any courtroom before.
I was the first person to appear in court premises that day.
Tension was high.
One by one, the courtroom began to fill up.
A moment later, my lawyer arrived and ushered me to my seat.
Everything was strange. That was when I knew that one cannot just walk into the courtroom and sit at any where he/she is pleased.
My lawyer took time to explain few things to me.
He showed me the Well of the Courtroom. Counsel tables were located at the back of the well.
That was were lawyers and their clients would sit. The Plaintiff’s table was on the right side closer to the jury box, while the Defendant’s table was on the right hand side.
The jury box was placed along one side of the well with 3 rows of about 12 upholstered chairs.
There was a door near the jury box for the jurors to use in exiting the courtroom into another room for deliberation.
At the front of the courtroom was the judge’s bench. No, it was not an actual bench, but a raised platform with an enclosure that the judge sat behind. Near the bench was a secured door where the judge and courtroom personnel used to access the judge’s chambers and other offices.
Directly in front of the judge’s bench were chairs and computer workstations for 3 people. My lawyer told me that one of the chairs was for the courtroom clerk, whose duty was to handle case files and paperwork. The other chair belonged to the court’s reporter while the last chair belonged to the judge’s law clerk who worked for the judge in assisting the judge conduct the business of the Court.
Between the judge’s bench and the jury box was the witness stand where testifying witnesses could sit while they give their testimonies in a case. There was a bible near the stand.
Between the judge’s bench, the jury box, and the counsel tables, was a large vacant space with a podium where the lawyers used whenever they address the judge, the jury or question the witnesses.
While still listening to my lawyer, I heard footsteps from behind us.
When I turned, I found my wife. She was adorned in white apparel. She did not sleep in our house the previous night.
As I watched her walk in, I remembered the first time I met her. I saw that beauty and the radiant smile once again. I was heartbroken. She walked straight to the Plaintiff’s table closer to the jury box.
She made no mistake about it. I began to wonder how on earth was she able to know where she was to sit.
I concluded that she must have been visiting the courtroom prior to that day.
I looked around for her lawyer, but I did not see.
The courtroom was then filled to capacity.
Just before the judge entered, my wife’s lawyer walked in.
To my astonishment, her lawyer was my childhood friend – Ufot Etim, the same lawyer friend whom I met last in Port Harcourt and who told me he was going to Abuja in seek for a greener pasture.
As to how my wife got her, I did not know.
I drew my lawyer’s attention to the development, but he told me to ignore them as any attempt to get to my lawyer friend could amount to contempt.
I was destabilized.
Suddenly, a loud voice was heard –“all rise” – signaling the presence of the judge.
Everyone stood up.
After the judge took his seat, we were instructed to sit down.
Just before the case was called, my wife’s lawyer saw me.
He whispered to my wife and she nodded.
I could see the uneasiness on his face.
When the case was called for hearing, something amazing happened.
My wife’s lawyer stood up and moved to the large vacant space and mounted the podium, then he commenced.
“Your Honor, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. My name is Cletus Collins of Cletus Collins & Associates. I represent my client, Mrs. Ezekiel Umoren who is filing for a divorce.”
I was lost. That was Cletus Collins. The same Collins we were looking for. The only man who was in possession of the information about the real paternity of the girl in was in court for.
But I knew him as Ufot Etim. How come he introduced himself as Cletus Collins?
I was lost in the deepest confusion.
“Your Honor,” he continued, “we all know that the court frowns at divorce and that the temple of justice will always stand for what is right. Your Honor, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, after consulting with my client just before the commencement of this case, my client accepted in confidence that we settle this matter out of court. My client is fully aware of the consequences of her actions and pleads with the court to help her restore her marriage. Although the marriage is irretrievably broken, my client believes that the union can still be salvaged.”
Those words threw the entire courtroom into a frenzy.
My wife was surprised with her lawyer’s submission, and so was I.
The judge accepted the matter to be settled out of court and asked us to brief him of the outcome.
But he cautioned that should we fail to arrive at a logical conclusion, then the court would always be there to do justice to our union.
The session came to a close after both parties agreed.
I was eager to know how on earth was my wife’s lawyer, whose name was Ufot Etim, suddenly introduced himself as Cletus Collins.
I was just staring at both him and my wife, while my lawyer was deeply confused.
We left the courtroom for a brief meeting outside.
Who was Cletus Collins?
Who was Ufot Etim?
© Ezekiel Umoren