Tragedy struck on Tuesday, when a lawyer slumped and died at the premises of the Lagos State Magistrates’ Court sitting in Igbosere.
The deceased, identified only as ‘Chidi’, was scheduled to appear as defence counsel for two men: Okedairo Okedeji, 38, and Akolade Agbola, 28, who were alleged to have stolen meat and snail worth N28,000 from Southern Sun Hotel in Ikoyi, Lagos.
The men had been arraigned on February 29, and were out on bail after meeting the conditions set by Magistrate (Mrs.) F. M Dalley.
The deceased was due to represent them Tuesday at their trial, but he and the defendants arrived in court after the case had been called and adjourned till April 14.
Our reporter learnt that he apologised to the court for their lateness and explained that it was due to heavy traffic.
He also tried to plead with the Magistrate for a change in the adjourned date, but in the course of pleading, he was cut short by fits of coughing and began gasping for breath.
When the coughing would not stop, he started clutching his chest and gasping, ‘Obim!’ ‘Obim!’, the Igbo word for ‘My chest!’ ‘My chest!’
Those around quickly helped him, unloosen his tie and helped him outside the courtroom to get fresh air.
He pleaded that they should help him get a cab to take him home.
As he was rushed downstairs, he appeared to have lost consciousness and one of his clients carried him on the back down the staircase.
By the time the cab arrived he had stopped breathing.
The apprehensive cab driver was persuaded to take him to the Lagos Island General hospital and the deceased was put in the vehicle and driven away.
The cab driver returned returned minutes later with him to the court premises and declined to carry a corpse in his taxi for fear of police harassment.
Our reporter learnt that his corpse was eventually deposited at the Lagos Island General Hospital morgue.