Mokola's Instant Justice
That scream I shall never forget. Olehhhh … a woman shouts, Ollleehhhhhh, Olehhhh. Wow!! I didn’t know the meaning, but I knew this is really bad.
I saw Olabode's reaction and I knew this is not just bad, this is probably terrible. I asked Olabode, the driver, what is going on here. Olabode answered – first let's get out of this Mokola area. So, we drove as fast as impossible, until we got to Bodija.
Few days later Olabode tells me what happened.
Every community in the world, have certain rules. In this Ibadan community, there is a traditional justice system, with a procedure called "Instant Justice".
One such a case, that require Instant Justice, is when a thief is caught in the market. Particularly in Mokola Market, in Ibadan.
The procedure begins when a Market Woman start 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 knows that very soon blood will be spilled here, in Mokola market, and no one wants that it shall be his blood.
All knows it shall end with "Instant Justice"; which, many times, is just a simple act of burning someone with a used tire. No one really know 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 for many years, about small and simple issues.
It is even more mind blowing, when 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.
That's the traditional justice system that work fine for years, or at least that is what the Market Women of Mokola believe.
Olabode explains - usually, there are some kinds of 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 will be burnt, no matter what, even if nothing was stolen.
That's the traditional justice system that work fine for years; at least that what the Market Women of Mokola believe.
Before anyone can tell who is what, or how, there is a hunting team, chasing after a poor young boy. I am willing to bet with you, that this poor boy, has no clue of why they are after him, nevertheless, he knows well what would be his fate, if he is caught.
Now - Bolade tells me - this boy was agile, fast and smart enough, and after few corners of the narrow alleys of Mokola, around Gbadebo Street, the hunters lost him.
In a short time, the hunters' team have a leader and he is Judge Adebamgbe, a self-appointment. Of course, Judge Adebamgbe is not a judge and was never at the vicinity of any court. He is not familiar with any law, except the laws of Mokola Market, and call himself "judge" because he likes the sound of it.
Whenever the Oleh scream sounds, he is the first to start a pursuit, and anyone who knows Judge Adebamgbe say, that he can't afford losing a thief. It is not an option. For one it's a total disrespect for the Madam in the Market, the one who started the Oleh scream. Second it is an embarrassment for Judge Adebamgbe, a small petty market trader.
But no matter how respected Judge Adebamgbe is in Mokola Market, the boy has disappeared around Gbadebo Street, and that can be a big humiliation. Adebamgbe looked at all directions, angry and frustrated. No way Judge Adebamgbe return empty handed.
Suddenly, the Judge saw a goat, right at the corner where the agile boy turned and disappeared. According to Adebamgbe, he noticed that the goat behaved somehow suspicious. The Judge instantly knew what is going on, and shouted - this is him! pointing at the goat.
The Judge said proudly - he can't fool me. It was true, and they all knew Adebamgbe. No one can fool Judge Adebamgbe. At least, this is what he is telling all those that are willing to listen.
Judge Adebamgbe arrested the goat and took the goat to the Mokola Market center. There, in front of the crowd, he challenged the goat - you are the thief and you did JUJU to become a goat. You think you can fool me, ha?! - I am Judge Adebamgbe.
So, the Judge brings the goat to the screaming Madam in Mokola Market, for identification. After all, no one would like to punish an innocent boy, just like that; they must make sure that he is the thief, without a slightest doubt.
That's the traditional justice system that work fine for years; or at least that what the Market Women in Mokola believe.
So, after the heavily respected Madam in Mokola Market listen to Judge Adebamgbe, telling her how the thief, using JUJU, became a goat to avoid justice, the Market Woman carefully inspects the goat. She managed to identify the goat as the thief and said - now I am very sure that the goat is the thief, they have the same eyes and same smell! she said with confidence.
At this point, Judge Adebamgbe arranged a trial at the Mokola Market center, in front of the crowd. The Judge scolded the goat and demanded that the goat shall admit, that he is the thief, that became a goat by the Juju.
The goat was definitely in a shock, just by the presence of Judge Adebamgbe. At a certain point the goat bleated – mmmeeeeehhh! and that was enough for Judge Adebamgbe to announce that the goat confessed that he is the thief.
Anyone who knows Adebamgbe, knows that Adebamgbe can't afford losing a thief.
Someone from the crowd brought a used tire and gave to Judge Adebamgbe. The judge took the tire, placed the goat inside the tire, and set the tire on fire. They call it Instant Justice.
This is terrible – I tell Olabode, and he says – The moment we are born, we get the death penalty. This is life.
Plus, that's the traditional justice system that work fine for years; or at least that is what the Market Women in Mokola believe.
And this the end of the story, except that a week later, Olabode tells me, the goat's owner looked for his goat around Mokola market. He furiously went from one trader to another, asking few people here, there, and around, until someone told him about Judge Adebamgbe.
The goat owner caught Judge Adebamgbe, took him to the market center, put a used tire on him and lit the fire.
They call it Instant Justice. That's the traditional justice system that work fine for years; or at least that is what the Market Women in Mokola believe.
By the way and no connection –
I once read in a newspaper. Three criminals brutally raped a young girl. The Judge said that they behaved like animals. That Judge don’t know that animals don't behave like people.