restricted access Chapter 12
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52 12 The Prison Superintendent declared an open day in Sanko, a holiday of sorts during which inmates could visit with other inmates and outside visitors were allowed more time with their imprisoned ones in the open yard. This was the first such day in their now close to one year in the place and the feverish joy it occasioned seemed to say something about the great expectations of those who had been cut off from the outside world. Levi and Shechem were not expecting any visitors: in his learned wisdom garnered from seventeen years of infallible service to the law and from partnerships sublimated by an innate critical sense, The Right Chief Justice Dan Mowena, President of the Tole Magistrate Court, had judged it appropriate that the two detained journalists be isolated from kith and kin, so they walked across the yard into Teacher Efuet’s end of the cell blocks. He was in Block D, the one that held people condemned for minor misdemeanours or still awaiting trial. The cell was empty but for the transistor radio that spurted out muffled sounds from under the pillow where it was tucked. Levi extracted the device from its hideout and it immediately cleared up as if celebrating its own release from jail. The local station on which Teacher Efuet had left it announced news time and the visitors settled on the bed to listen amid the strange feeling of once more being connected to the outside world and its run of daily life. The news opened with promotions and appointments in the Department of Justice and they listened anxiously for Dan Mowena’s name, each one rehearsing his own wishes in his head. The Court President’s poor record was public knowledge and one did not need to strain to imagine what awaited him. But they didn’t have long to wait or speculate as his name was read in third place. He had been promoted to Magistrate Grade Three, up from Magistrate Grade Two, and confirmed as President of the Tole Magistrate Court with jurisdiction over three other neighbouring courts with no resident magistrate. The appointments ended with a special release from the Minister of Justice saying something like a special commission was at work on the records of all senior magistrates. Levi turned off the radio angrily but the news continued to reel on in Shechem’s head, this time centred exclusively on Dan Mowena. He heard the man clinking champagne glasses with Motine and the 53 motley come to congratulate him… Thank you! Thank you so much! The appointments have come and gone. You can see for yourselves. The wood of Justice has been shaken to its roots and only the toughest; no, what am I saying, only the most upright, yes, the most upright have remained standing because their feet are planted in the sustaining soil of Equity. And there aren’t many of them. Eight. Only eight Magistrates in a staff force of more than seventy-six have been found to be worth their salt. Chin-chin-chin! To Your Lordship! Thank you! Thank you! He! he! he! The Law has eyes. It sees those who practice it with honour and dignity. The Scale of Justice. It weighs your every act and deed, and it is merciless in its sanction. Many are weeping and gnashing their teeth right now as a just reward for their breach of the Law. If you come to Equity with clean hands you will be raised in the eyes of the public. Only eight of us have been so honoured. Congratulations Your Lordship! Congratulations! To your health! Thank you! Thank you all very sincerely! I know there are some who would have rejoiced to see me disgraced. But Justice cannot allow such a thing to happen to me; not the Justice I serve with all my heart. And let those who seek my downfall know that life is a battlefield where the strong kill the weak. If they miss me I will not miss them! And I have the Law on my side. Bravo! Bravo!… And Motine Swaibu jumping to his feet to deliver a toast to his friend on the occasion of his double distinction… I’m not given to lengthy words but when a man is justly rewarded there is no crime in saying so and saying so in many words. Dan Mowena has been confirmed and his powers extended. He is the second strongest Magistrate now after...


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