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Mokola's Instant Justice


That scream, I shall never forget.


Olehhhh … !! a heavy woman shouts in Mokola Market, Ollleehhhhhh … Olehhhh … !!


Na-Wow!! I didn’t know the meaning, but I knew this one is bad.


When I saw Olabode's reaction, I knew this is not just bad, this is probably horrible.


I asked Olabode, the driver, - what is going on here?


Olabode, in short Bode, answered - "first let's get out of this Mokola area."


So, we run away as fast as impossible, until we hit Bodija.


A few days later Bode told me what actually happened in Mokola.


Every community in the world, has laws and regulations. Now, in this Ibadan community, there is a traditional justice system, with a procedure called "Instant Justice".


One such a case, that definitely requires Instant Justice by all accounts, is when a thief is caught in the market. Particularly in Mokola Market, in Ibadan.


The procedure begins when a Market Woman starts shouting - Oleh!! Oleh!! Oleh!! (Thief in Yoruba).


The entire market starts boiling. No one knows what happened and who stole what, or if anything was stolen, but all are terrified of the outcome.


These screams are bloodcurdling, since all know that very soon blood will be spilled here, in Mokola market, and no one wants it to be their blood.


All know that at the end of this procedure there shall be "Instant Justice"; which, many times, is just a simple act of burning someone with a used tire.


No one really knows if that person on the fire, within the tire, stole anything, or if he is the one that the Market Woman refers to, at the beginning. Justice must prevail and instantly.


It might jolt those that are not familiar with this "Instant Justice" system. Especially, if they come from places where the justice system cooks their customers slowly for many years about small and simple cases.


It is even more mind blowing, when you know that it is clear that every woman and man are aware that the living torch is not necessarily the actual thief, or if anything was stolen, for that matter.


In fact, the case is very simple, a market woman screams Oleh! Oleh! Oleh! and it shall end with a human torch and it is considered an "Instant Justice."


That's the traditional justice system that works fine for years, or at least that is what the Market Women of Mokola believe.


Olabode explains - usually, there are some kinds of a quite pause, because all women and men need to know, what is the screamer's status in the market.


If the screamer is in a high status and heavily respected, then the rest of the market women, will join her without any hesitation, and that's mean that without a doubt someone must be caught and burned, no matter what, even if nothing was stolen.


That's the traditional justice system that works fine for years; at least that what the Market Women of Mokola believe.


Before anyone can tell who is what, or how, a hunting team is already organized, chasing after a poor young boy.


Obviously, this poor boy, has no idea of why he is being chased or why they are after him, nevertheless; he knows well what would be his fate, if he is caught.


Now - Bolade tells me - that boy was agile, fast and smart enough, and after few twists and corners of the narrow alleys of Mokola, around Gbadebo Street, the hunters lost him.


In the meantime, in a short time, the hunters' team has a leader and he is no less than Honorable Judge Adebamgbe himself, a self-appointment.


Of course, Honorable Judge Adebamgbe is not a judge and was never at the vicinity of any court of law. He is not familiar with any law, except the laws of Mokola Market, and he call himself "Judge" just because he really likes the sound of it.


Whenever the "Oleh" scream sounds, Adebamgbe is the first to show up to the task of the pursuit, and anyone who knows Honorable Judge Adebamgbe say, that he can't afford losing a thief. This is not an option.


First, it's a total disrespect to the screaming Madam in the Market, the one who started the "Oleh" scream.


Second, losing a thief will damage the Honorable Judge position in the market and he cannot afford such an embarrassment. After all Judge Adebamgbe makes his living as a small petty market trader.


But despite the status of Honorable Judge Adebamgbe in Mokola Market, the nimble boy who was being chased has disappeared around Gbadebo Street, and that can be a big humiliation for the Judge.


So Adebamgbe looked in all directions, angry and frustrated. There is no way he shall return empty handed.


Suddenly a small goat emerged out of the corner of the street from which the agile boy turned and disappeared.


Honorable Judge Adebamgbe claimed that he immediately perceived that the goat was behaving somehow suspiciously. The Judge instantly knew what is going on, and he shouted – it's him, the thief! pointing at the little goat.


The Honorable Judge said proudly to everyone about the goat - he can't fool me.


And it was true, and they all knew that. No one can fool Honorable Judge Adebamgbe. At least, this is what he is telling all those who are willing to listen.


Honorable Judge Adebamgbe arrested the goat and took the goat to the Mokola Market center. And there, in front of the crowd, he challenged the goat and begin to interrogate him, accusing the goat that he is the thief that with the help of the Juju became a goat. He shouted - you are the thief and you did JUJU to become a goat. You think you can fool me? huh?! - I am Honorable Judge Adebamgbe!"


And hence, the Honorable Judge took the little goat to the screaming Madam in Mokola Market, for identification. After all, no one would like to punish an innocent by mistake, just like that; they must make sure that he is the thief, without the slightest of a doubt.


That's the traditional justice system that works fine for years; or at least that what the Market Women in Mokola believe.


So, the heavily respected Madam in Mokola Market listen with great attention to the explanations of the Honorable Judge Adebamgbe, telling her exactly how the thief, using Juju, became a goat, just to avoid justice.


Then, the Market Woman carefully examined the goat closely and managed to identify the goat as the thief. She said – yes, now I am very sure that the goat is the thief, they have the same eyes and same smell! she concludes with confidence.


At this point, the Honorable Judge Adebamgbe arranged a trial at the Mokola Market center, in front of the crowd that has gathered around him. The Judge scolded the goat and demanded that the goat shall confess that he is the thief, that became a goat by the Juju just to save himself.


It is likely that even a small goat would be shocked by the very interaction with Honorable Judge Adehabambabe. In any case, what Adhebamba managed to get out of the goat in the face of the field trial he held at the center of the market, was one long "mmmeehhhh", which was enough for the Honorable Judge to announce in front of the crowd: "The goat admits guilt!"



This is how it goes; anyone who knows Honorable Judge Adebamgbe, knows that he can't afford losing a thief. This is not an option with the Honorable Judge Adehabamba.


Someone from the crowd brought a used tire and gave to Judge Adebamgbe. The Judge took the tire, installs the goat inside the tire, and set the tire on fire. They call it Instant Justice.


This is horrible – I tell Olabode, and he answered – As soon as we are born, we are given the death penalty. This is life.


Plus, that's the traditional justice system that works fine for years; or at least that is what the Market Women in Mokola believe.


And that is the end of the story.


Except that a week later, Olabode tells me, the goat's owner appeared in Mokola Market looking for his goat. He furiously went up and down the market from one trader to another, asking and investigating few people here, there, and around, until someone told him about the Honorable Judge Adebamgbe.


The owner of the goat found the Honorable Judge Adebamgbe, grabbed him and dragged him to the center of Mokola market.


He placed a used tire on the Honorable Judge and lit it.


They call it Instant Justice. That's the traditional justice system that works fine for years; or at least that is what the Market Women in Mokola believe.




By the way …


After years of getting to know the traditional instant justice system of the Mokola market, I read about a shocking case, outside of Africa, in which three criminals attacked a thirteen-year-old girl and brutally raped her.


The judge who heard the case said that they were behaved "like animals".


Your Honor - animals don't behave like humans.

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