Looking for the judicial equivalent of an executioner? Look no further than the chambers of Oyejide Falola, now the chief registrar, Customary Court of Appeal, Osun State and formerly a chief magistrate in the state’s magistracy.
Magistrate Falola may have been trained a lawyer; and taken the oath as a magistrate to dispense justice without fear or favour.
But in his dealings with the Action Congress (AC) in the ensuing cases from the bitter and disputed elections of April 2007, the man has picked no bones about dispensing injustice with hearts quaking with fear of the Olagunsoye Oyinlola government (which seems to have him on the leash) and disfavour towards the opposition (which he must judicially crush and be seen to have crushed to have his breaks with that malevolent government). His effort appears duly rewarded with his new posting as the registrar of the Osun Customary Court of Appeal.
Falola may have got his reward. But at what cost has that been to the Osun Judiciary and the image of the Magistracy which, at the best of times, is seedy?
All through the witch-hunting and manufacturing of phantom charges to keep the Osun AC at bay so that Oyinlola could hold on to his stolen mandate, Falola stood firm as a staunch soldier of injustice and oppression, in betrayal of his professional training and oath of office.
With manic pleasure, he savoured throwing AC partisans into the slammer, thus abusing the majesty of his court. The more absurd the charge from the Oyinlola camp, the more avid Falola was ready to do the evil bidding.
He was a magistrate of choice when it was time to procure temporary detention and imprisonments of Oyinlola’s political opponents. It became so bad that, at a time, Falola’s court enjoyed a sickly monopoly in cases to cripple political opponents and subvert justice.
During the clampdown that followed the violent protest of the rigged elections of April 2007, Falola was the start performer, proudly holding court in the court of injustice, playing shameless consultant to an evil government and projecting to the world, without any qualms whatsoever, that it was sheer bliss living with a dead conscience.
When the phantom bomb blast at the Abere secretariat and the predictable attempt to wrap it around the neck of innocent citizens and further ground the opposition, Falola took it as an article of faith, a zealot committed to sinking the just and exalting the wicked. To many an AC partisan, the fear of Falola’s court was the beginning of wisdom.
If AC party people are wheeled in and out of jail, and that terrible abuse in a democracy has become quite a norm in Osun State, Magistrate Falola takes the credit as the founding father and pioneer collaborator in foisting that injustice on an already traumatised people.
But like every other person that lends his hallowed office to evil, nemesis is due to catch up with him sooner of later. The Nigerian political-judicial dump is replete with the carcasses of those, though judges, did a tryst with evil and soiled forever their robes.
Take Justice Bassey Ikpeme, the young lady and even younger judge, who was especially procured to scuttle the June 12, 1993 presidential mandate of the late MKO Abiola. That was the first and last case she handled and not long after, she died a lonely, painful and miserable death, with those who procured her services with dirty lucre giving her a wide berth.
Justice Wilson Egbo-Egbo (double sore, if annotated in a particular manner in Yoruba) added more than double sore to his name and that of his family the ignominious manner he was dismissed as a judge. He lives and is probably hale. But it is obvious he is far from hearty for such professional disgrace he suffers now is tantamount to being a living dead.
Of course, many Bassey Ikpemes and Egbo-Egbos will still fall when the day of judgement comes and nemesis finally catches up with them. Falola is heading for such undistinguished company – and just as well.
With such scandalous behaviour and soulless profaning of his sacred office, it is Herculean to consider the magistrate a judge worth any salt.