The funny thing about a problem is that no one plans for it. No one knows when the showdown will really begin. Let’s say you have issues with a colleague, employer, business partner, or over a transaction, the next thing you know is the police showing up on your door or sending you an invitation to report to the station. In fondo, when you get to the station, 70% of the times, you will be detained. It ought not to be so, but ay, this is Nigeria and it is a notorious fact. Well, look at it from this perspective, if you know how to protect yourself against harassment, you will have yourself to thank, and if you do not, then you will have yourself to blame.
STEP 1: Be the first to cry havoc!
There is always an illogical presumption, that the first person to complain, is in the right. So as soon as someone threatens you, rush like a child to the mother, and complain to the Police that you have been threatened or that someone is about to finagle you. Just make sure you call your lawyer for advice to crosscheck whether there is a criminal complaint to make on the matter, so it will not bounce back at you. By the way, make sure you report to the headquarters of the area where the crime or possible crime emanated from. Make a statement as advised by your lawyer and ask them to hold on before pressing charges if you do not intend to bring havoc on the other person yet.
Why Step 1? Should the other person report you first, you will be the suspect, victim and detainee. And if you report to a lower police quarters and the head office sends you an invite, you are done for, and the lower office can do nothing! If the lower quarters send you an invite, your lawyer rights back to them, and let them know that the matter is already before the headquarters. That is the end of the matter most times. Then, you may activate the headquarters to bring down havoc on the other person or simply let it remain in abeyance! Comprende?
STEP 2: surround yourself with trusted friends that are tax compliant and cooperate with your lawyer.
Let say, you did not assimilate step 1, and you know you are going to be detained! Or somehow the other person turns the headquarters against you, before you go to the station, call your tax compliant friends, your lawyer, and the person with the money to bail you if it is a bailable offence! (Bail is free right? Come empty-handed and see what happens!). So, this is how it will go down – when you arrive and you are questioned and asked to make a statement, your lawyer will make sure you do not write anything detrimental to your defence, neither will you or can you be forced to make a statement. If they insist you write, it means they do not have anything substantial against you and want to use your own words against you. By the way, do not get a fresh out of law-school-lawyer or a corporate egoistic lawyer. Nope. Get a people-friendly lawyer. That way, the police will not be too irritated or too mean. Your Lawyer will be able to relate. That way you will survive and get out the same day!
Should they decide they will keep you and charge you to court immediately, your lawyer will be there to defend you in court while applying for your bail; your tax compliance friends will be there to get you out (let them come with their passports, acceptable I.D, statement of account, tax evidence of 3years, offer letters/corporate document, etc); and the person with the money you may need. That way, you will not be taken to the Prisons if your lawyer is fast and wise about it and you will have everything you need. Your lawyer may need to mobilize the crazy prosecutor and/or court bailiff to verify your surety address (do not panic when you see your lawyer discussing with the other men). Mobilization is a cliché for something illegal of course, and you shouldn’t partake in it because such findings ought to be carried out without you paying, just know, however, that chances are that you may stay longer in prison with angry prison bullies.
STEP 3: Make a good case! If your lawyer is nonchalant, let him loose immediately!
Your life and freedom hereafter, even though you have been bailed and appear to be free, is dependent on the case you make in court. It is about who tells the best story and offers the best evidence.
Do not fail to show up in court, if your lawyer fails to put in diligence, drop him/her. You don’t want to hear the Court declare ‘You are hereby sentenced to 14years imprisonment’. You remember all that statement you made in the police? They will turn up for or against you in court. The simple idea behind not being found guilty is to make sure you provide empirical evidence which, anyone hearing the matter, will believe you are not guilty. And if you are found guilty, in most cases, even appeal cannot save you, except when the trial judge’s/magistrate’s judgement is apparently with error in fact or in law. As a doctor in charge of your life, so is the lawyer during your defence. You want to take him/her seriously and truthfully, and you do not want to be stingy about it.
I will leave you now to save on your speed dial – 2 Tax Compliance Surety, The Money Bringer, and The Right Lawyer.
Ifeanyi E. Okonkwo (Legal Practitioner & Writer) firstname.lastname@example.org; +2348080603002