Conversation with a judge

“Na wao.”


“This horrible news about judges and bribes. Just like folktales. Very embarrassing.”

“You remember the story of the man who was about being eaten by the crocodile he helped escape death?”

“Faintly. Please remind me.”

“The story is of the crocodile who insisted it was not being ungrateful to its helper by seeking to kill him.”

“Hmmmm…yes. The one who confessed: ‘I am not being ungrateful. I am just following the law that enjoins all creatures to eat anything that will sustain them.”

“So,what are you talking about? Is this about sustenance and survival? Who is eating the wrong meat here? Judges or the security agencies?”


“ You are not talking. You’ve not been sleeping well lately.”

“My brother, it is not easy. I read, write and do all sorts and I am now to combine all those with worries about armed robbers.”

“Armed robbers or security agencies?”

“Armed robbers o. The government has said our homes are now bank vaults. All eyes are now on judges as if we are money ritualists.”

“Your colleague’s residence was searched by security men and a huge amount of money was found there.”

“My colleague’s residence, but not mine.”

“Yes. I didn’t say yours. Why are you so hostile this morning?”

“I am not hostile. I am just clarifying the issue for your understanding.”

“But how did he get that huge sum?”

“Are you asking me?”

“Yes. You. You are his friend and…”

“And show me your friend…”

“ Nooo. I wasn’t saying that exactly…”

“I hear you. You know I am a true African. I hear the unspoken.”

“I know judges are trained to be spirits, seeing the unseen, hearing the unspoken. You people are something else. And you know what, this latest development has added to your ability in the eyes of the public.”

“What ability?”

“The ability to see business in matters of law…”

“Law is primarily business but it depends on what you mean by business. We, for instance, are not cement merchants like Dangote’s distributors. Our business is to distribute justice.”

“I see…and do you distribute it evenly and fairly to the rich and the poor? You don’t and that is exactly why Nigerians don’t like you…”


“Yes. Didn’t you see the way the whole country celebrated the shocking discoveries in your colleague’s bedroom? It was shocking that even those who should ordinarily be his friends gloated over his ordeal at the hands of the law.”

“At the hands of the law? What do you know about law? In any case, we are not in this business seeking to be loved. No. Criminals will always hate justice and fairness.”

“But…what would a normal human being be doing with N35million in his bedroom? What?”

“Have you seen the money or pictures of the discovery anywhere? Why don’t you ask those who claimed to have discovered the money to show you proof that their claims are true?”

“They are secret agents, not ordinary policemen; so, Nigerians trust them.”

“I hear you.”

“Back to my question.”


“The money. Where did he get it?”

“You this boy, why are you bothering yourself about someone else’s affairs? Let us assume he had that money, which I doubt, couldn’t he have earned it legitimately? Judges are not supposed to be poor and wretched…”

“Good gracious! Legitimately earn N35million? How much is his salary?”

“How much is his salary? You answer the question yourself. We are well paid and judges are not spendthrifts like politicians…”

“I see. So, that man saved N35million from his salary?”

“But you are supposed to be more knowledgeable than this. Salary and income are not synonyms.”

“So, they are antonyms?”

“A man’s  total earnings are his income. Judges can have extra earnings from legitimate businesses.”

“I thought you said you don’t do business like Dangote. So, where else are your extra coins coming from?”

“I’m a farmer. And I…”

“Great. Farming has become so lucrative. Are you also a snake farmer like some rich dude somewhere or you deal in elephants and lions?”

“Is it only snake farmers that make it big in farming? Obasanjo is a farmer too and he is a chicken and turkey farmer. Moshood Abiola was…You know how large my family is. So, I have to farm and make extra money and the law allows it. Or how do I feed my three wives, sixteen children and five grandchildren.”

“And concubines…”

“I don’t know about that…Do we have the time for such distractions? Girlfriends can be bad market, you know.”

“Because they are expensive to maintain?”

“Even if we have babes, do we have to settle them with money?”

“Hmmm…you settle with what?”

“Ask them.”

“Or is it trade by batter?”

“Are judges all male? What about female judges? Are they settling their male friends too with cases? You accuse us of all sorts of bad behaviour. Is it an offence to be human and have emotions again? Can’t we live our lives simply because we elected to serve humanity?”

“I’m sorry. You know you look like lions when you put on your wig. Lions are not our friends. They are carnivorous, animals..”

“So, judges are not your friends but the police is your friend, abi?”

“But, I know that judges…I’m sorry to say this…I know that judges have always been corrupt…”

“Like in any human institution. There will always be bad eggs…Go on!”

“You remember the old judge famous for always writing three judgements on every case…one for the plaintiff, one for the defendant and the third neutral. You remember that what he eventually delivered in every case depended on who cooperated more between the parties.”


“And there is the fabled judge too who was caught in the act and later declared that true, he collected bribe but was methodical and democratic about it.”

“How? I can’t remember.”

“You’ve forgotten that the man said for the sake of fairness, he collected money from both parties so that he could stand in the middle in his judgement.”

“He balanced the scale.”

“Yes. Isn’t that what justice is all about – blind and evenhanded?”