Oba: “When Folake said she had found a man to marry, and brought Bamidele. I did not want her to marry him because, aside the fact that he was an orphan from a lower class family, and with no pedigree, he was also weak, I saw that he lacked courage, and I didn’t want that kind of man for my first daughter” he began to cough, a maid entered as if on cue with a glass of water. I helped prop him up on a stack of pillows so he could be more comfortable. After drinking from the glass of water, he continued.
Oba: “But Folake was always stubborn, she was strong willed and wanted her wish at any cost. She was my favorite child because she looked so much like her late mother. Ha Folake” he said sorrowfully as a teardrop trickled out of the side of his eye.
Oba: “So I let her have her way. To my surprise, they were good together, the toast of the society. Everybody loved them, so imagine my surprise when they called me early in the morning that she had committed suicide. I was angry; she had soiled the Akinifesi name. After the burial, I stayed away. I let my anger blind me, it got worse when I heard that you had attacked your nanny, and had been sent to a mental home. I forbad my family from associating with that mess; I cherished the family name more than the family members. What your father was before he died, was all because of your mother”
Leke: “How do you mean. Mother always said father was from a rich family, his late parents left him a lot wealth”
Oba: “She could have said that, but it wasn’t the truth. She invested in him, he had an idea, she had the money and the contacts. As the daughter of the Oba, she met with and liaised with top notch politicians, monarchs, and investors. She made Balon Oil, but she was the exemplary African wife and didn’t let anyone know, but the family knew”
Leke: “You were wrong to abandon me, no matter how angry you were. You heard she committed suicide and you just accepted it, without asking questions” I said, angry tears rolling down my cheeks.
Oba: “I know, that is why I want to make peace before I join my ancestors. But your family is here, you are not alone anymore. I am sorry for what you went through, I wish I could turn back the hands of time, I would do things differently” he said and broke into a sob.
Leke: “I am a Christian now, and I do not allow anger and unforgiving spirit to control me. I forgive you, and I am sure my mother, your daughter, has forgiven you” I said and kissed him on the cheek.
Olori Abike entered with two other wives and they all took turns to embrace me.
Olori Abike: “Our child has returned” she said with a smile, and they broke into a song.
On my way home, barrister Indimi called me, he was anxious.
Indimi: “The curtain has fallen. The EFCC has seized both the company and other properties. The only asset that escaped it is your mother’s fashion company because she had it before she married your father, and also in deference to her father, the Oba of Lagos. Everything else has been taken. I am on my way to court to contest it, all the properties cannot just be taken over by the government like that.” He said.
Leke: “We expected this, so why do you sound like you didn’t?”
Indimi: “I wish you didn’t hand over the documents to them” he said in a defeated tone.
Leke: “It was the right thing to do. I would rather, that you concentrate on our case against Nora, than contesting the will of the EFCC. Nora cannot walk free” I replied.
Indimi: “You are the client; your wish is my command”
When I got home, I was met with chaos, the servants were outside the gate with their belongings, and the house had been sealed with a tape, some EFCC officials were standing guard, and the pressmen were there to record our shame.
Iya Biliki: “Leke, wetin is going on, I no understand iyo” she wailed
Leke: “It is going to be fine. When the dust settles, I will contact everyone. Any of you who still want to work for the Aboderine family can come to the fashion house, I am sure there will be something you all can do” I said. I watched as one after the other they left, I began to question the wisdom of what I had done. If this was the right thing to do, why did it feel so wrong?
The trial of Nora began on the 24th day of April, which was exactly one month from the day she posted bail. At the courthouse, I was accosted by the press; they asked all sorts of questions. But I refrained from answering them as barrister Indimi had requested.
Indimi: “I often tell the lawyers in my firm, to save the press time for after they win the case, and I abide by that rule too” he had told me in the office before coming to court. Banke held my hands tightly as we walked up the stairs of the court house. The press left us to another quarry, and I turned to see that Nora had arrived with her celebrity lawyer, who was posing and put on airs before the camera.
Nora’s lawyer: “My client is innocent, and I am going to prove that in court today. An ordinary letter written by a man who felt his young wife had wronged him is not to be taken seriously” he said with a broad smile. My eyes met with Nora’s, she looked at me, with no emotions on her face, then she turned away.
Inside the courtroom, the court clerk called the case, and Nora was put in the defendant box. She looked different from the last time I saw her in court. She was relaxed and confident in the aqua colored dress she had on. She was a far cry from the angry woman the last time.
Leke: “What is she up to?”
Indimi: “Probably nothing, she may just be confident in her lawyer.”
Leke: “Is there a chance she can beat the rap, and go free?”
Indimi: “There is, but there is also a chance that she won’t. Her lawyer is ruthless and there is no telling what to expect” he replied, his face was serious, and he was concentrated on Nora.
Judge: “How do you plead?” the middle aged judge asked.
Nora: “Not guilty” she replied.
Judge: “prosecuting counsel?” Barrister Indimi walked up to the stand and stared at Nora for a while.
Indimi: “You were in the house of the Aboderines on the night that Folake Aboderine died, why were you there?”
Nora: “I had gone to give some files to Bamidele Aboderine, my boss then to peruse” she replied confidently.
Indimi: “You could not have waited till the next day?”
Nora: “No” she replied, without making any efforts to elaborate.
Indimi: “Could you tell this honorable court, what was so important that could not wait till the next day?”
Nora: “We had an investors meeting first thing the next day, he had to peruse those documents before the meeting, and there was no other way”
Indimi: “You see I didn’t expect you to give me so much detail, because it is expected that after more than ten years, the details would be sketchy.” He said, that was the first time since the trial that I saw Nora flustered. She sat up in her seat and looked towards her lawyer. Barrister Indimi walked to the table and picked up copies of the letter father had written to me, and distributed to the court. He even gave Nora a copy.
Indimi: “What you are all looking at is the letter written by a dying man. Where he confessed his sins to his son and asked for forgiveness. This letter says that Nora killed his wife, Folake, I really don’t know why we are having a trial. You killed his wife to pave way for yourself, as you married him just three months afterwards” he said.
Nora Lawyer: “Objection my Lord, badgering the witness” he said bolting out of his seat.
Judge: “Sustained, but next time don’t act like there is a live wire under your ass” he said and the courtroom burst into laughter.
Indimi: “Why would a dying man lie against you?” he asked
Nora: “He wanted to frame me”
Indimi: “No further questions” he went back to his seat as Nora’s lawyer went up to the defendant’s box.
Nora’s Lawyer: “What was your relationship with Mr.Bamidele Aboderine before the death of his wife?” he asked, and I looked at Indimi because I suspected something.
Nora: “I was his executive secretary, but he was always harassing me. I would come to the office and he would spank my butt or he would grab me by the groin. I wanted to leave the job but I had no other option, so I stayed. His wife knew, it was why she committed suicide”
Leke: “Liar! Do not desecrate my mother’s memories with your lies” I screamed out in anger.
Judge: “Counselor, advise your client before I throw him into jail for contempt” he said, and the barrister held my arm. I felt Banke’s hand on my shoulder, it was reassuring.
Nora’s Lawyer: “After the death of Mrs. Aboderine, what happened, did he stop harassing you?”
Nora: “No, it only got worse; he would demand that I come to the house. Then one day he raped me” she began to sob. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had thought that giving the incriminating documents to the EFCC was damaging my father’s reputation, but this was worse.
Nora’s lawyer: “At what point, did you decide to marry him”
Nora: “When I got pregnant for the rape, he asked me to marry him. I did, and I regret it ever since, because he battered me till I lost the baby.”
Nora’s lawyer: “Who did you confide in?” he asked, a smile on his face. He was obviously glad that the theatrics were working. I looked around; people were moved with all the sobbing Nora was doing.
Nora: “I confided in Mr.Jolomi, he was a staff at the company. I am sure the son knew about the affair and Jolomi’s knowledge about it, seeing as his first executive duty was to remove Mr. Jolomi from the company. They are just trying to set me up for what I didn’t do”
Nora’s lawyer: “No further questions” he said and walked back to his seat, with a smug look on his face. Barrister Indimi walked out in a hurry
Indimi: “One last question, how did Mr.Jolomi go from being a low level staff in the human resource department, with just a HND, to being the president of the company shortly after your marriage to Mr.Bamidele? Nora just looked on; she opened her mouth to speak. But no word came out.
Indimi: “I am done listening to this bullcrap that…” he was interrupted by the Judge.
Judge: “Counselor, watch your language!” the judge hit his gavel
Indimi: “Sorry my Lord for my language. In fact I am done talking to Mrs. Nora” he said and went to the table where he grab an object inside a transparent evidence bag. The audience gasped when they saw what was in the bag.
Indimi: “This is the knife that was used in murdering the victim, I have the police report which says it was a knife and the cut of the knife, but the knife was never found. I also have the report from the forensic department which confirms that the fingerprint matches with Nora’s.”
Question: Will Nora’s Lawyer be able to overturn the case and set her free?
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