So you’re a (former) public official that’s just been charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for some reason.
Your only crime is that you (most probably) have been spending money that doesn’t belong to you.
You didn’t even steal it like that, just moved around a few millions to fund your expensive lifestyle that your salary can’t afford you.
The money does not even really belong to anyone in particular: maybe a little child that could have stayed alive with a better funded health facility, an IDP that could have eaten more than once in three days, or a pensioner that could have probably not died waiting for their hard-earned allowance; your needs were simply greater.
So, anyway, because your haters have finally succeeded, the EFCC is at your door and they are dragging you to court to explain your reason for self-preservation over human decency.
You can’t even be dubiously rich in peace again.
So you’re in court, and maybe you’re guilty, so what?
Your only offence is being a helpless goat that was asked to guard a barn full of delicious tubers of yam.
Will a goat not be a goat?
playYou get? (Premium Times)
Goats don’t go to prison, so you have to do your best to convince the court that you’re a vegetarian and couldn’t have possibly eaten the yam whose remnants were found in your bear bear; so, you strategise.
How do you stay out of prison for as long as possible when you’ve been accused of stealing in Nigeria?
You could try any one of these:
1. You can simply tell the court not to waste your time
It does not matter whether you stole N50 million or an amount that’s the entire GDP of a small European nation, getting dragged to court is not the end of the road for you.
play”Image for meme purpose only. Any similarities to an actual person, living or dead, real or ficticious, is merely coincidental and the product of a feverish imagination.” (SweetCrude Reports)
When your enemies charge you to court for whatever, you can simply tell the court that it’s all nonsense and ask to be set free back into the nest.
While the court will most likely see through your dubiousness here and reject your request, here’s where it gets interesting.
You can march to the Court of Appeal and cry blue murder.
“My rights as a law-abiding Nigerian citizen have been vigorously molested!” you can tell the court.
While you have an appeal filed, you have ample grounds to file for adjournments to the original case and this could give you extra days or even months to enjoy more of your ill-gotten wealth.
But, again, the appeal court might see through your act and throw you back out to the lower court, but your end of the road is not even close, yet.
It gets even more interesting: Supreme Court!
Because you cannot take no for an answer, you can keep marching all the way to the highest court in the land to scrutinise the victory the barbarians in the lower courts have denied you.
You see, the constitution affords you the opportunity to do these things legally and be treated like a human being whose rights should be respected, you get?
Injunctions and interlocutory applications are just as annoying as they sound to the prosecution, but they’re music to your ears as it gives you more time to, you know, do your thing.
Even if the Supreme Court throws out you back out, you have successfully frustrated the case for longer than it would have naturally transpired.
And the great news is when you’re back to the lower court to resume the original trial, you could just start all over again with a different application.
2. Tell the judge he can’t judge you
No, really, you can simply just tell the judge that has been assigned to your case that you don’t believe they’ll give you a fair trial.
Maybe the judge doesn’t like your face. Or is jealous that you’re richer. Or maybe you’ve had a previous encounter with the judge because you just can’t stay out of trouble.
You can make up any reason to challenge the competence of the judge to do a fair job, and the court will be compelled to entertain your grievance and stop talking about your actual crime for a quick minute.
Whether this succeeds or not, the time wasted for the court is precious time gained for you.
If you get really lucky, witnesses get tired and change their minds, the case file keeps changing hands and everything just peters out.
This is how you know you have good karma points.
playIf you end up in a Nigerian prison, you most likely deserve it; or are too poor to afford proper legal representation.
3. Challenge the court’s jurisdiction
Instead of moving just a single piece on the board, you can throw caution to the wind and shake the whole table by telling the court it has no adequate authority to stand in judgement of you.
How dare they!
For example, if the prosecution charges you to court in a location where you didn’t even commit the stealing, you could challenge the court’s jurisdiction and wail over how inconvenient it is for you to make court appearances.
If spending money on travelling and accommodation is putting a strain on your financial state, you can tell the court to move it to a place you’re more comfortable with.
What’s the point of stealing money you’ll waste on a court case?
4. Fall sick with an exotic illness
This is an industry favourite.
We all know that getting accused of stealing money puts a huge strain on anyone especially if you’re guilty but don’t want to go to prison because prison is for suckers.
So, it’s understandable if you fall ill now and again during trial.
Depending on how seriously you want to stall your case, your illness should have an edge to it; an ordinary headache or malaria won’t help you here.
You could ask the judge for adjournments because you have to treat your crippling case of aquagenic urticaria, lipodystrophy, psoriasis, lupus, celiac disease, or multiple sclerosis; the more exotic it sounds, the better for you.
Or just keep it simple to heart-related ailments and/or cancer.
playGo big or go home (Laila News)
To get even more of a kick, you could ask the court for permission to travel to the abroad to treat whatever ails you since the country is out to get you before you spend every dime of what you stole.
Nobody deserves to die for a little bit of stealing.
5. You could just not make it to court at all
Depending on who you are, you could really just stop an investigation dead in its tracks before it gets severe enough to get in front of a judge.
If, say, you’re a former governor, you could get some vague legal thing called “perpetual injunction” that permanently restrains the EFCC from interrupting your life.
The EFCC could even forget to appeal the decision before the window period to do so expires.
Maybe if you are a former minister, you could get off the hook by telling the court that subjecting you to trial might potentially embarrass your party and create “adverse effects and irreparable damage” to Nigeria’s “nascent democracy”.
While all of these methods take a great deal of time and money, you could just simply switch allegiance to whoever is the ruling party and maybe something will lead to something that’ll lead to a headline like, “Whatever happened to that corruption case?”
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