'For three of four weeks Obi Okonkwo had been steeling himself against this moment. And when he walked into the dock that morning he thought he was fully prepared. He wore a smart palm-beach suit and appeared unruffled and indifferent. The proceeding seemed to be of little interest to him. Except for one brief moment at the very beginning when one of the counsel had got into trouble with the judge.
"This court begins at nine o' clock. Why are you late?''
Whenever Mr Justice William Galloway, Judge of the High Court
of Lagos and the Southern Cameroons, looked at a victim he fixed him with his gaze as a collector fixes his insect with formalin. He lowered his head like a charging ram and looked over his gold-rimmed spectacles at the lawyer.
"I am sorry, Your Honour,'' the man stammered. 'My car broke down on the way.'
The judge continued to look at him for a long time. Then he said very abruptly:
'All right, Mr Adeyemi. I accept your excuse. But I must say I'm getting sick and tired of these constant excuses about the problem of locomotion.'
There was suppressed laughter at the bar. Obi Okonkwo smiled a wan and ashy smile and lost interest again.
Every available space in the court room was taken up. There were almost as many people standing as sitting. The case had been the talk of Lagos for a number of weeks and on this last day anyone who could possibly leave his job was there to hear the judgement. Some Civil Servants paid as much as ten shillings and sixpence to obtain a doctor's certificate of illness for the day........
- Debolina Raja Gupta