The Rot in the Mobile Courts By:Douglas Ogbankwa Esq.

I have been hearing of Mobile Courts ,but I have never been to to one until on Tuesday the 28th of April,when.I went there for an Official Assignment.

Entering into the Court Venue at Urokpota Hall,Benin City ,where there was a Mobile Court that was Sitting on Cinvid 19 Regulations,I saw rotren vegetables ,stale meat ,yams impounded from Poor Citizens who have abandoned them for fear of Government and its Power.I was shocked as Citizens and Free Borns of this Country, were brought in as if they were illegal immigrants held in their waste and pushed around by the Government Enforcers ,haunted down by the same Government they elected to protect them.The Police Head at Urokpota Hall Benin City ,a Menancing Looking DSP notorious for his aversion for the Rule of Law supervises the whole brigandange with glee.

The Citizens are helpless and hapless some times crying while their traducers tell them to keep quiet and threaten to drill them.Potious Pilate must be groaning in his grave .The scene is horrific and touching.The Enforcers are heartless. I did a rough price prognosis of a trail of pepper impounded from a poor trader,it was not be more than N1800.I felt the pain ,while the enforcers had no shame ,moving about their business as if every thing was ok.

At the Court itself.The Police and Government line up their Citizens as a herd of goats going to the slaughter. There is no case file on each of the Suspects, no Statements whatsoever taken from the Defendants ,No investigation reports from the Police .It is what the IPO Says that convicts you,despite your strong evidence against the State. The Mobile Court Magistrate is on auto conviction mode.At the Mobile Court it is the opinion of the Prosecution Witness and the Address of the Prosecution that Counts.There is an unholy alliance between the Prosecution and the Court.You do your case not just the Prosecution, but the Court.In some other Courts ,there is an allegation that you are not allowed to talk.They ask you to shut up .Where then is the Principal of Fair Hearing as enshrined in Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended )?

In the Court the Magistrate says “We are a mobile Court ,we don’t do all those ones here,there is no need for Statements ,Case Files and Police Report”.

I tell him that He is not a NATIVE COURT that he is a COURT OF RECORD .He dischrages two Defendants on no case submission ,after a long and strenuous argument and ask the other three Defendants to enter their Defence .They give a very good account of themselves ,that they were never arrested before the 7pm Curfew Period as prescribed by the Governor’s Order and that they were never arrested together but separately. They even stated that the PW1 was not the arresting Officer,that she was not there when they were arrested that they know who arrested them as her evidence amounts to Hear Say.

The PW1 says she arrested them on the public highway. The Charge Sheet says they were arrested outside their house and not close to where the PW1 says she arrested them.There was not time indicated on the Charge Sheet ,indicating when they were arrested. Section 16 (3) of the Edo State Covid-19 Regulations states the that the Governor will indicate the time Citizens are to be restricted by the Order of Government.

Will all these the Magistrate convicted them saying he believed the contradictory evidence of the PW1 (one witness ) over the cogent and uncontroverted corroborating evidence of 3 Defendants,which was unshaken on Cross Examination .There was palpable Silence at the Urokpota Hall,Benin City ,venue of the Court

.A Plea of Alllocutus (plea for mercy ) , was made .The Magistrate says because of the Plea ,the Defendants should pay N3000:00k each or do Community Service for one day.We were shocked to our bones and left in annoyance ,about 4 Young Boys were ready to face the same music.

Earlier while they called a Charge did not give us the Charge Sheet.The illiterate and poor trader with his wares not up to N10,000:00k was the Defendant .They rushed him to plead liable and he was convicted in a twinkle of an eye even at our protestations. We look at each other in awe ,what a Court ?What a Country ?

If this can happen when we are there ,only God knows what hapoens when we are not there !

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