Chambers of His Lordship Mr. Justice James Julor, Justice of the High Court of Ghana.
An expensive aquarium hums in the background as the goldfish dance in their little world. Mozart plays softly from a CD. An expensive Persian rug occupies pride of place in the air-conditioned chambers, which is dominated by His Lordship’s solid, highly-polished oak desk.
His Lordship is relaxed in his swivel chair, with two men seated across the desk facing him.
His Lordship (HL): Ah, Counsel? You said you wanted to discuss something?
Counsel: Yes my Lord. It is this small armed robbery matter that my client has been accused of and which is before you. This is my client’s brother (he gestures towards the man seated next to him) who has just flown in from the United States, where he deals in oil. He is Mr. Ameyaw.
HL: (licking his lips) I hope it is not Frytol cooking oil we are talking about here…
(All laugh together)
C: No, my Lord. I am talking real oil. The black gold.
HL: Aha. Proceed, Counsel.
C: Much obliged My Lord. Well, for ease of reference, I have summarised the facts of the case, including the reference numbers et al, for your kind attention. You may wish to peruse this (hands over a single sheet of paper to the judge. He takes it leans forward and reads it).
HL: Hmm… Did you say small robbery matter? You really do have a sense of humour, Counsel. This is quite a serious matter. Armed robbery, three counts of kidnap and three of rape. All in one night. Your client has got quite some libido. And the evidence is damning. I remember the case clearly. Judgment day is coming up soon. As a matter of fact I am about to start writing my judgment.
Now what may I do for you? (He leans back in his chair and at them from the top of his rimless eyeglasses)
C: My Lord, my client’s brother is in great distress over this matter and upset that his only brother is likely to head for jail for a very long time indeed. He seeks your help and is most anxious to assist in any way possible.
HL: I am not sure where you are getting with this.
C: My Lord, let us digress for now. My client bought you some amazing waakye from Auntie Munie’s joint. Perhaps we may all enjoy an early lunch together and talk like brothers.
HL (His eyes lighting up): Auntie Munie? Wow? Amazing! She is my favourite!!! (Picks up the phone, barks orders into it and in less than a minute, his secretary appears with plates and forks at his desk. Lunch is soon underway)
C: My Lord, as I was saying…
HL (tearing into a succulent piece of ‘wele’): Yes yes, you want me to acquit your criminal client, right? Sure. What’s the deal? What are you offering? (belches softly and takes a sip of Coke)
C: My Lord, Two Thousand Dollars.
Judge’s eyes narrow and hardens, he stops chewing his wele, and sits back in his chair.
HL: Get out.
C: My Lord…
HL: Don’t My Lord me!! You look at a judge of my stature and experience, look at the enormity of the crimes your client is charged with and you have the temerity to insult me with that measly offer? Do you have any idea what Asomesi took to throw the Woyome case? Do you have any idea what I took last month to throw a land dispute case? I said get out!!
C: My Lord, my client is terribly sorry. We did not mean to insult your integrity or dignity.
HL: Talk some sense to me and make me an offer I cannot refuse or your client will go in for 250 years with hard labour. Try me and see.
C: My Lord, may we confer?
HL: Whatever. I shall resume my waakye. Come back in 5 minutes and make me a happy man, or else…
The two men step out and confer hurriedly. They are ushered back in five minutes later just as His Lordship is licking the remnants of the meal off his fork.
C: My Lord, after a brief conference, my client’s brother has revised his offer. There are difficulties in the oil market at present with the low oil prices. With respect, he wishes to maintain the 2 thousand dollars, but respectfully requests that he tops it up with two goats, five tubers of yam, snails, some mushrooms, a bag of top grade ayigbe gari and a bottle of fine Glenlivet whiskey. We trust that this is acceptable to your Lordship.
HL: Now, let’s see. Did you say goats? C: Yes M’lord.
HL: Dead or living?
C: Erm…living M’Lord
HL: OK. Because as you know I am no dead goat, unlike Ogyam. And I don’t eat yam so drop the yam and replace that with a bunch of plantains.
C: Yes, M’Lord
HL: And I prefer fresh snails, not the dried ones. They give me diarrhoea.
C: Yes M’Lord. My client is most obliged.
HL: And have the items delivered to my home at midnight on Monday. I don’t want nosey neighbours making assumptions that I am corrupt and that I am taking bribes in the form of food.
C: Of course.
HL: So is the money ready?
C: Indeed it is
(Hands an envelope to His Lordship, who takes it and counts the green dollar notes meticulously, and then grins as he shoves them into his breast pocket beneath his judicial gown)
HL: Judgment is in ten days. I expect the commodities before then, else the money you have given to me will only reduce his sentence to one hundred and fifty years. But one thing. I want the prisoner out of this country within 24 hours of his release. I don’t want him committing another set of crimes and social media noisemakers tracing it back to me. I am going to find some technicalities in the books to acquit him. The state will have a fit but I don’t care. There is a reason state prosecutors are poor and I am not.
C: M’Lord, that will be no problem. My client here wants to say something to you.
Client: My Lord, I am very grateful for your help. You look like a very nice man and I just want you to know that I have a very beautiful niece here in Accra who is available at your beck and call should you need any services whatsoever. She can run errands, do photocopies and all for you absolutely free of charge in appreciation of what you have agreed to do for us. In fact even if after a hard day’s sitting and delivering your excellent judgments you need to lie down on your Persian rug she will be on hand to give you an amazing massage you will never forget. This I promise you. You are a truly just man.
HL: Now that is an interesting offer, Mr. Ameyaw. You know what, for this wonderful offer, which I wholly accept, I will throw this into my judgment. In acquitting your brother, I will order the state to pay him costs for wrongful incarceration of a thoroughly innocent man, on condition that your niece reports to my chambers in three days at 9am. How is that?
MA: (Beaming) God bless you, My Lord. She will be here.
C: M’Lord. Thank you for granting us audience. We trust you to deliver justice for my client on Judgment Day.
HL: You paa. What justice? I will deliver a judgment on Judgment Day. That is my job. C: Very Well My Lord. Have a nice day.
HL: And you, Counsel. Nice doing business with you, Mr. Ameyaw.
Both men rise and make for the door.
HL: Hold on, Mr. Ameyaw. I hope you are not that funny, faceless Anas Ameyaw guy who snoops on people. The name just clicked.
MA: Hahaha, my Lord paa! Which Ameyaw? I don’t live here so what you are saying is all Greek to me. I am sure you appreciate Ameyaw is a common Ghanaian name.
HL: Of course. Enjoy your flight back to Obamaland.
They wave at judge and exit chambers.
Outside the judge’s chambers, Counsel and Mr. Ameyaw shake hands and part company.
Safely in his car, Mr. Ameyaw pulls out the innocent looking pen in his breast pocket, smiles at the green light in its midsection indicating that video recording is still in progress, pulls out a bottle of 1931 from a small ice chest in the back sea, kisses the pen, holds it aloft and mutters;
“This is dynamite”