Thursday, May 26, 2011
LAGOS SACKS NOTORIOUS MAGISTRATE
Thursday, the 28th April 2011 is a day, Mr. Wilberforce Meigbope, formerly of the magistrate court 3 Isolo will never forget in his life.
It was a day that he was forced out of his exalted office of magistrate and booted out of the employ of the Lagos State Judicial service.
His dismissal, critics say, so richly deserving, came late. According to our sources, the fallen magistrate in the last five years had no less than forty-eight petitions against him before his employer.
Well known, feared and held in contempt by many lawyers who had practiced before him, Meigbope became a law unto himself. Brash, rude, queer, ignorant, pompous and out rightly abusive to lawyers and litigants in court, he over-stepped his bounds about two years ago, when he rushed out of his court room at the Botanical Gardens Magistrate Court, Ebute Metta to confront some policemen who were taking away a suspect. That move proved costly for Meigbope as the policemen descended on him, beating him to near stupor.
From Ebute-Metta, Senior Magistrate W.A.O Meigbope was transferred to Isolo, with his reputation for being very corrupt intact. He was known as a magistrate who collected bribes for granting and approving bail to accused persons brought before him.
Our investigations reveal that one usual method of ensuring that accused persons or their relatives pay bribes was for Meigbope to hand down stiff or impossible conditions upon the granting of bail.
If for example a man is accused of stealing money or chattels of a plastic company, Meigbope would demand that one of the sureties of the accused must be a manger in the very company or a senior staff of another plastic company! Please see the case of MM/C/67/10 COP vs HILARY OKEY & 9 ORS OF 27/10/2010 (date of arraignment) in the Meigbope court.
And if a person is charged with visa fraud or forgery, Meigbope would demand that one of the accused person’s sureties must be a “commander in the immigration service”! (Please see the case of MM/C/32/2011 COP vs OBINNA OKOR (M) OF 12/4/2011 (date of arraignment). Of course faced with the terrible bail conditions, the affected persons and their relatives often played ball. As soon as the bribes demanded for and negotitated upon via middle men were paid, the bails met Meigbope’s approval.
By the time, the very last petition (of Prince Tunji Adejare a legal practitioner, wrongly and heedlessly labeled and arrested at the Magistrate court Isolo by the police upon the orders of Meigbope as a quack lawyer) reached the authorities, Meigbope’s days in the Judiciary became numbered.
In reaction to the strongly worded petition (please see cover Story Exhibit), the Lagos State Judicial Service Commission summoned Meigbope to appear before a Disciplinary Panel.
The petitioner also gave his testimony before the panel likewise Adesina Ogunlana, in his capacity as General Secretary NBA Ikeja branch. Two members of the Public Training and Complaints Committee of the Lagos State Judiciary told the Squib that in the last six years, petitions against Meigbope were always coming up at every sitting of the PCTC.
As the news of the sack of the notorious magistrate spread, the reaction of people was “good riddance to bad rubbish.”