Fiat Justitia Ruat Coelum!


A couple of days ago, I shared my thoughts on getting your day in court here Well, today was another day in court for me and I’m going to share it with you. Sometimes, the concept of justice can seem so vague and elusive that we do not know exactly what it really means or how it works. Today, I realized that if I could not speak up against an unjust ten naira inflation, I might not be able when it becomes a ten million naira inflation. The quality of the future we’ll have can easily be gauged by our current everyday actions and inactions. When I think of the trouble I went through to get justice, it looks like much ado about nothing but when I think of the depressing feeling of having been flagrantly cheated and my trust betrayed, it was the least I could do for myself.
It all started two Fridays ago when I bought a fourty naira biscuit. Now two brothers manage the shop and the younger had sold to me. That wouldn’t have been an issue at all if a few days ago I hadn’t gone with someone to the same shop and while buying other stuff shown the person the biscuit and preempted the older shopkeeper by telling her it’s fourty naira. The shopkeeper then gave us a shocking ‘where did you buy it for fourty naira?’ look. I told him I’d bought it from his brother and went on to ask if the price had been inflated- from his expression of course. He promptly denied and said it was and is still fourty naira. Fast forward to three days later, my roommate buys the same biscuit at the same shop from the older shopkeeper for thirty naira. I felt stupid, very stupid and outwitted. And I told my roommates I was going to get justice. One of them was going to buy stuff at the shop so we went together. First we went to the younger shopkeeper who was outside the shop and after starintimidating him (it’s one of my secret arts of war), I laid out the facts and obtained an admission as to having been sold to, an inflated price. I promptly demanded my ten naira change. He directed that I go and get it from his brother but I insisted he follow me and get it for me (his brother wouldn’t prolly give me- experience). He obliged me. His brother did not have that denomination. I told him he himself was owing me some money. He still didn’t have it all together. We then gave him some money in exchange for a bigger denomination totaling my change and what we’d given him. He gave us a very bad note.
I’m sure by now you already know that an average Nigerian shopkeeper would be pissed already so, we left. We went to buy pepper. The woman refused to collect the bad note so we had no choice but to take it back. This man insisted he hadn’t another note and one of his many allies sitting around insisted someone would collect it from us. Thankfully, another ally exchanged the note for us and then we left.
That is a summary of how I got my ten naira justice folks. Now that I think of it, many, a lot, a whole lot of my money has gone the way of ‘I don’t want to be finicky’, ‘I don’t want to get on the shopkeeper’s nerves,’ ‘let it go’, ‘let it slide’… but this, I just had to do.
Now that I also think of it, I read Isaiah 61:8 earlier in church today where the Lord said He hates injustice. What kind of child would I then be if I let injustice slide?
When I think about Joe Okei Odumakin, whom I respect as a voice for justice in contemporary times by the way, I try to imagine how she started by taking up seemingly negligible cases of injustice and unfairness, and how the little drops of water, water of fighting injustice, culminated in a mighty ocean, the ocean of international acclaim as a voice for courage and justice. When I think of things like this, I smile. And neither the tag of being finicky nor the anger of shopkeepers beaten to their game can withstand that smile, that feeling of fulfillment. Fiat justitia, ruat coelum! Let justice be done, even if the heavens fall!


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