On 27th of April 2009 one mister Seun Olaware was accused of duping one mister Howard Jesse off £70, 000 and was also alleged of illegally transferring of £100,000,000 belonging to the prime minister from Barclay Bank to an unknown foreign account on 30th of May of the same year. Guilty or not guilty?
Not guilty! His voice thundered in the courtroom.
His name was Seun Olaware, a muscular built tall fair Nigerian in Diaspora. I have been following him for many years since he was born till the day the police declared him wanted and he was arrested; I am his guardian spirit.
The court at Buckingham was filled to the brim, everybody was in attendance to watch how the court proceedings would go. Many people turned to BBC to get the full proceedings, television channels were highly sought after that fateful Wednesday. I followed Seun to the courtroom as any other guardian spirit could have done to his human subject. When people were seated and the judge was in attendance, I watched Seun and admired his courage, his mouth never moved, he never blinked his eyes, he was full of himself and confidence was written all over him. I think he liked the attention he was getting – you rarely see an ordinary man appear on the news headlines all the time. In Nigeria Seun was the subject discussed in the House of Assembly throughout the day he was declared wanted in Europe. In Europe, Seun was seen as a demi-god, how could anybody think of transferring such amount of money belonging to the prime minister to an unknown account without being traced? He must be a god, only a god must do such thing. People gossiped in the street. Even a white child was said to have told his classmates to call him ‘Seun de Great’.
‘But he is a criminal.’ A boy of his age retorted.
‘A brilliant criminal – I like to be identified with him.’
And so, the legendary deeds of Seun spread across the world. Even though I hated that my human subject was a criminal. I was happy to see him rise to fame so quickly.
‘How did he do that?’ A Nigerian asked a fellow countrywoman.
‘Juju, he must have done that with the help of a babalawo.’ The countrywoman replied.
‘Babalawo? Witchcraft does not work in technology, he must have learnt computer well back in Nigeria.’
‘Dey there na, na juju that boi carry do dat thing.’ The countrywoman sniffed and said in pidgin.
‘I must say though that guy has painted us black here, I love him – he is smart.’
Seun has always wanted to be a celebrity, he planned joining Nollywood but he was not talented and he was poor to even have thought of bribing his way up. He tried singing with some Lagos street guys but that one also turned him down after some weeks of fame in the streets. Nobody liked listening to his songs again – his father’s family had tied him to a banana plantation that he was not going to make it big in life till his death. That was what Pastor Ayo told him when he visited his prayer house. Pastor Ayo was known all over Lagos especially in Oshodi where his headquarters was; many people did come from different countries to seek the face of God through him, he was famed of how he could use the blood of Jesus to do wonders, heal the blind, the lame and the barren. One gets one’s deliverance or healing after Pastor Ayo was done spreading the blood of Jesus seven times facing north, east, west, north, up, down and so many other directions. He rests his hand on the possessed person and blows air to the person’s forehead and then the person would be under anointing and falls. He was the type of Pastor that Nigerians and the neighbouring countries sought after, they bought his tapes, holy waters, holy oils, holy this and holy that. True, he was popular and powerful.
He was the only man that could save Seun from his nightmares and loose him from all enchantments of the wicked ones. He was the messiah and as he spoke, Seun took his every word serious and shouted amen where it was required, Jesus is lord where it is required and holy ghost fire where he was expected to say that.
While Seun’s eyes were still locked, Pastor Ayo looked at him, shook his head and prayed for some time before he spoke:
‘These demons are very, very stubborn but they must submit today.’ He said in his ecclesiastic’s voice.
‘Amen…Ride on pastor.’ Seun echoed.
‘You need to come for deliverance.’ Pastor Ayo said finally after he was done from the spirit realm, and Seun’s eyes were open staring into his anointed eyes.
‘When should I come?’ The inquisitive Seun inquired, willing to do away with any man from his father’s compound that tied his destiny up and cussed him never to progress.
‘The deliverance can start today but first you need to pay the sum of ₦20,000 and come with four tubers of yam and a white cock – spotless.’ Pastor Ayo declared.
When Seun left Pastor Ayo’s ministry he knew he was not going to go back to that place; not because he would not want to but because he had no such amount. So he decided to live with his demons and his father’s people witchcrafts.
Before now, Seun was a ‘nobody’, a graduate of Mass Communication from the prestigious University of Lagos. He travelled to the United Kingdom hoping to get himself a good work after hovering around in all parts of Lagos and Nigeria looking for where his skills were needed but to no avail.
A friend known as Ajali – a computer guru, former classmate introduced him to a new business – a white collar job. Seun was happy to receive the news and made up his mind that he was going to make good use of his opportunity since opportunities come but once. Ajali helped him to the United Kingdom on agreement that he would pay him back his kindness when he settled, and that was how Seun’s life was changed for good. I know you are saying in your heart that I am a liar and should not have said that his life was changed for good. I should have said ‘for bad’. Wait! Listen carefully as I tell you why I said what I said and you will be the judges.
I have been in existence long before you were born, I am a spirit and have acted as a guardian spirit to many men who are now dead – Seun’s ancestors. I’ve watched their lives closely metamorphosed into something great and something very dishonourable. Man is the master of his fate, he chooses the way to go and it is my duty as a guard to guard his path from all pitfalls.
Seun was a different man, he was stubborn, he had his own destiny in his palms. Right from his university days, he has always strived to be the best in whatever thing he wanted to do. Now that he found himself in his new environment with a new job, he decided to give all his best to learn his trade. I tried guarding Seun but he turned around to guard me. I know you do not believe in this also but that was what happened.
The day Seun left Nigeria, nobody saw him off to the airport save his girlfriend Amara, she had always been at his side, even during his trying times, she was always there, comforting him, giving him money, and giving him words of consolation that tomorrow would be better.
‘I believe in you, you can make it over there… Just be courageous and hardworking.’ Amara said some minutes before he was to check in.
‘Dearie I promise not to let you down… I will make money and come back to Nigeria and we shall get married.’ He said as he hugged her tightly.
He never wanted to let go off her, she was all he got, she was his mother, sister and friend. Seun’s mother died of breast cancer when he was seven. His alcoholic father had been the one catering for the children (three boys and Seun was the first), and growing up with such father was like walking on a sharp blade. Sometimes Seun wished he was never born – he had tried committing suicide twice, and Amara had been his messiah.
‘Why think of taking your own life when you have siblings to tend to? Your mum in the grave will be disappointed in you.’
That was Amara talking the second time he tried hanging himself to the spoilt once white ceiling fan in his room, her words came out slowly from her mouth, tears were everywhere, he was caught and haunted by those words and he promised Amara never to think of ‘killing himself’ again.
Even as he sat on that plane, he was thinking of Amara and his two kid brothers. He had responsibilities on his shoulders at home and now that he was far from them he wondered what could be their outcome without him doing anything to save them from the mess they were into; he wished their mother never died, he now understood the roles of mothers in the family. He cussed the gods for letting his mum die as tears rolled down his cheeks like the drizzle on a Christmas night.
‘Don’t worry about them, I will always check on them… They will be fine.’ Amara had told him a day before he left.
Now that he was in that plane, he was not sure of those words, he wished he was there as a man to take care of his loved ones, he wished he could have changed everything and never travel again.
‘Darling you need to go for the job; that is the only opportunity you’ve got to save your siblings and the ones you love.’ Amara advised and kissed him. He was not to forget that kiss even as he sat in the courtroom meditating.
He wished he had not lied to Amara, he told her that he was employed by a foreign firm to be their Media Consultant. He wished he never did. No, it was not a lie, he would still get the job but for now he was going there to do another thing – he was going to be a ‘yahoo boi’. He exhaled a lot of air, hit his chest and told himself not to be afraid, to be courageous and to man up enough to face his problems
As he sat in the court, his mind was clouded with thoughts, he was thinking about home, he was thinking of Amara and he wondered if he had disappointed her and his siblings. I looked at him, came closer and sat beside him. I tried talking to him but his thoughts could not allow him to listen to me. He turned and faced me but could not see me though his face looked like someone that felt someone’s presence. There were tears in his eyes that he refused to let flow, for the first time in years as a spirit, I cried, I did not weep, I cried heavily and it rained cat and dog in summer. He walked lazily to the deck with some things I guessed were typed documents in his hands as he was summoned for questionings.
At the centre were the press; cameras rolling from right to left, to front, back and right again trying to picture every moment in the court. I watched everything in awe and admired the orderliness of the law court. I sank myself to my seat and watched what was to come next.
His voice came out loud again and the court was in furore. Side talks continued for some minutes before the yelling of the clerk brought everything to a stop.
Silence was restored as Seun started talking.
Your honour, Everything I have done, I have done them because there were legal. My fathers handed this to me and I am just doing what I inherited. My fathers also did not learn this trade on their own – they were taught by some people greater than them. If it pleases you your honour, here is my evidence.
He handed some copies of documents to his attorney who passed them round to the bench. I was surprised and so were other persons there, you can tell by the look on their faces. How come I never knew of these documents? I told you that Seun is a god, you can never know his next step until he has taken it. I moved my gaze to his lips and watched them move like a lover would want to look at a lover’s lips when talking. He continued talking:
When Britain came to the side of the world I come from, they did the same thing you accuse me of to my people, they taught my people and my people lived with it for years. I am a student of Mass Communication, I graduated since 2000, several years ago without work, and I have also read books on business and I found out that what I am accused of doing today is never illegal since the Great Britain does it also. Mr Howard is my boss, I’ve walked for him for years as the Media Manager, he neither paid me my complete salary nor did he increase even though I was doing almost all the works without aids from any other employee – that is dedication. The only good thing he always told me was I should be grateful that Britain colonised me else I could have been a forgotten ape lost in my primitive world.
He stopped and looked round the court, scanned the audience’s face, turned back to the judge and continued:
After the Berlin conference, when Africa was partitioned – Britain came to my own side of the world and duped us huge amount of resources to make United Kingdom what it is now. Nobody ever sued UK, not even the good people of the world, not even the League of Nations. Today in front of everyone and viewers around the globe, I want to ask a question that even if I am convicted today, I will sleep happily knowing that the truth is told. Can a thief judge a thief? There is a saying in my place that it is only a foolish child that tries to take his father’s place while he is still alive. UK is still at the helm of power how can I be greater than a country that made me? True to what Mr Howard said, I am happy that Britain colonised me, at least that is why I chose not to go to any other country but UK. I love their technology, the marvellous buildings, the jingles of the Big Ben, the deceitful behaviour of bosses. Your honour, I want it to be known also that my tax is paid using the same stolen money…what difference does it make? I duped my boss and stole from the prime minister and sent the money to my country for nation building also.
He stopped talking and the court went on murmuring while the attorneys debated.
The clerk thundered like an angry god.
Objection my lord!
A white young barrister stood from the bench and walked towards Seun.
Permit me to question Mr Seun Olaware.
Proceed! The judge said after scanning the court.
Mr Seun Olaware, did you do what you are accused of because of revenge or because…
Objection my lord!
Seun’s barrister shouted.
The judge looked at him, waited for a while and then spoke.
Objection overruled! Proceed with your questioning.
‘Thank you my lord,’ he bowed to the judge and turned to face Seun.
Mr Seun don’t you have an answer?
The court was quiet waiting for Seun to answer, there was smile all over the attorney questioning him, Seun’s attorney was restless, his focus was on Seun; he fixed his eyes to the deck as if his eyes would tell his client what he would say. The cameras rolled and faced Seun, his face was down, I knew he was thinking on something, he was struggling with his inner man and I wished I could read his mind from the place I sat. Maybe he was thinking of a perfect answer, I believed.
Mr Seun, are you trying to tell the court that your silence means that you concealed evil in your heart intentionally to come to UK for vengeance? Does it mean that…?
Excuse me learned gentleman! Seun finally said after centuries of silence.
I was afraid for him, I wondered what he was about saying and wished I could control what he was going to say, like censoring his words and then to the surprise of everyone, he continued talking:
Tell me a place it is written in the constitution that concealing vengeance is a crime. Can you tell me what Europe was thinking when they shared Africa, or what Britain was thinking when they stole from Nigeria and what they were thinking when they supplied ammunitions to Nigerian soldiers to extinct the Igbo race? Can you tell me learned gentleman, does it mean that you concealed evil thoughts? Now I know why Britain exploited Nigeria and Africa beyond repair…what do you have to say about that? Remember, a thief has no right to judge another.
The young attorney was without words, he took his face down and walked majestically to the bench like a defeated soldier – Yes, it was really a war to stand a man whose heart was already made to avenge the crime done to him.
Though Seun was muscularly built but he was never the strong type, he was a weakling. Everything about the Seun at the deck was not familiar to me.
When Seun was younger, thieves once broke into their house as it was usual in Oshodi; every morning one wakes up to hear tales of robbed houses, while the unfortunate ones cry for stolen property, the fortunate ones thank God for blinding the eyes of the thieves.
‘Oluwa, ose – God, thank you.’ The habitants of Oshodi would shout out loud.
That fateful night, it was the turn for Olaware’s house to be robbed and nobody informed him, he was drunk as usual and left the window open. The thieves came in through the window and robbed them off the little money he brought home and some property.
After that incidence, Seun would later live with the fear of the molestation they got that night – he was always afraid of the night time, he saw thieves breaking in again, he saw them shooting down everyone in the room. And he would continue to have nightmares for several years.
Please don’t shoot us, please sirs, save my daddy!
Seun cried out one night while he was dreaming, when his father woke him up, he never slept for fear of being shot by the thieves till day break.
Many days after the robbery, he visited a neighbour’s room and saw their radio set, though the neighbour was later arrested by the police when he told his father, he never let go off his memories. That was many years ago.
He never trusted anyone, even his friends, save the one person his heart always longed to see – Amara. Amara was the only person in Seun’s life that knew whatever thing he was thinking, where had gone, what he was doing and at what time he was doing it. Amara knew his ins and outs.
He had actually read a lot of books, did a lot of exercises to be who he was standing at that deck. There was no fear in him, he spoke like someone who was possessed by some unknown forces. He’s actually changed, I concluded.
Seun’s attorney was filled to the brim with happiness, it was written all over his face. I moved my gaze from him and looked at the people at my back talking about what just happened in the court; I saw smiles on people faces and I saw anger in some other’s. The case would end today; everybody was waiting for the judgement.
This was not the first sitting; after the first sitting and the second court sitting, the international community picked interest in the case, amongst everybody caught as fraudsters, Seun was the only person the world was interested in.
If the case ends in a funny way, then we shall go to Hague…
Seun’s attorney had assured him after the second sitting.
International Court of Justice, Why?
Because this case is no longer an ordinary case – it is now a case involving the crimes committed by a nation against another and…
The crime committed by an individual against a nation.
Seun interrupted him and giggled: ‘This is really getting interesting!’
That was the only time I ever saw Seun laugh so loud since his arrest.
The judge finally adjourned the court proceedings to sit in the next three hours. People left the court to get refreshment while they waited for the next sitting when the judge decides. The press ran towards Seun and his attorney:
Mr Seun Olaware, can you tell us why you were too confident in the court? The woman reporting for BBC asked.
Yes, I can tell you – Moses made no mistakes when he said an eye for an eye, and in this case, we all involved are criminals. As for me, I only took what belongs to me.
Please sir can you explain? A man reporting for CNN queried.
When your neighbour comes into your house and steals your radio, and you go back in his presence or absence to carry his radio or whatever you feel like, is it stealing?
Excuse me sir, what if this case turns out against you? Another female journalist queried representing Channels TV.
Well, this case has always being against me, thank you.
With that he dismissed them and went his way. I felt reluctant to follow him; he looked like someone that needed no guardian spirit – what a man?
Mr Howard ran into him at the exit door, the two stopped and looked at each other for minutes without talking before Seun finally spoke. That might be his last speech to Mr Howard.
Boss, will you still hire me when this case turns to my favour?
That would be in my grave.
What if I demand a compensation for not paying me my salaries?
You’ve already done that blackie…but I promise you that you’ll never get away with that, I will make sure that I strip your trousers off your arse until every penny is paid.
I’ll make sure I return you that favour.
Seun said and left him there. Mr Howard looked at the mad Seun and heaved a sigh. What a stupid man. Mr Howard thought, removed his tie and left.
I watched Seun walk around the lawn in the court premises, he stared at the fountain, he looked troubled for I could read his mind through those waters. He knew he was going to be convicted soon, but at the back of his mind, he knew he had left a legacy, the one that his siblings would never forget in a short while. The stolen money was transferred into a Swiss account and then slowly to split Nigerian accounts that the source of the money could not easily be detected. He thought of his mother and smiled, he was grateful to Ajali for giving him the opportunity and wished he could do more to bless him for helping a friend in need. He never betrayed Ajali and Ajali was happy for that. He was there at the first and second court sittings but he was not here today, he never wanted to see how a friend would be sentenced to death or life imprisonment, he was ashamed of himself – he ruined the great life of Seun. He thought. But Seun was happy for his every moment and he was not going to regret anything even if he was going to pay handsomely with his life.
When it was time for the court to reconvene to pass the long awaited verdict, Seun did the sign of the cross and went inside the courtroom to face his fate any way it presented itself. His heart thumped heavily like someone fallen off from the Iroko tree. He knew he was alone, he knew he was not going to see Amara again, she would soon be the wife of another man. Tears dripped down his cheeks without stopping. He wiped that off with a white handkerchief that had embroidery, given to him by Amara. I touched him finally at his shoulder at the deck, I encouraged him and was graceful he heard me this time and manned up.
His offenses were read out again and it was time for the judge to decide. Many persons I knew definitely when they got out of the courtroom would log into their twitter accounts to tweet: #JudgeDecidesFate. We waited patiently until the judgment began:
Mr Seun Olaware, having gone through this case all through, here are my findings: You are found guilty of duping Mr Howard, Jesse off £70,000 which is punishable by law and you are also found guilty on 54 count criminal charges against the prime minister and the nation.
Mr Howard’s face brightened and beamed with smiles.
And here is my judgment… the judge continued as the court went dead, I imagined what would be the current TVs headlines:
With careful examinations to the above charges, to which you pleaded ‘not guilty’, I and the council have decided that you, Seun Olaware is found guilty of all the charges and I hereby sentence you to 25 years imprisonment under hard labour…
Mr Howard and some other persons in the court were smiling, happy for their victory while we the supporters of Seun covered our faces in shame. I looked up to the deck and Seun seemed not to be touched nor moved with was happening around him – he was lost in his own thoughts. I reverted my eyes to face the judge, he was still talking:
…on a bail of £100,000 which will take effect from the day UK settles with your country for the exploitation your evidence showed, for now you are a free man…
The hammer struck the desk slowly and the clerk shouted:
I looked at my human subject in admiration and wished I would continue to be his guardian spirit in his next world.