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Tricia’s Nightmare – The Finale

It’s the FINALE!!! And I’ve made it the longest episode of anything I’ve ever posted on the blog.  Tricia’s Story ends with 2012 and new things begin in 2013. Thanks for the wonderful year we’ve had on tlsplace. It started as something real small, that I just did to find expression for my stories, and somehow you’ve grown it (cos me no fit explain as e grow o) into something that’s evidently beyond me. I indeed appreciate everyone who has taken time to read, share, comment on and critique my stories. We’ve together proven that Nigerians read, and read well too. Happy New Year in advance, and may 2013 deliver great things to you. It will be the time to live the things we only dreamt before. I look forward to delivering great stuff to you in the coming year. Enjoy…

Tunde Leye 2

Kofo woke up to the steady nudging from Teju the next morning. They had made love, slept, made love some more, ate and various combinations of those activities severally all through the previous day. Now they needed to leave this cul de sac they had honeymooned in to face the reality of an impending showdown in court in a few days time. Teju had ordered a full English breakfast which they both ate heartily, enjoying each other’s company in serene quietness, interlaced with moments of catching each other’s eyes lingering on the other and laughing at those moments.

They had decided on a few things – there was no reason for Teju to remain hidden now, Olu would already know about him by now anyway, so they might as well come out clean to everyone with him. Teju was not going to underestimate Saranja’s desperation too. If he had gotten rid of Ivie, he could attempt to get rid of anyone else. Kofo would have to detail some of her team to keep watch over them, and they would all be together until the trial at Kofo’s.

Now, it was time to contact the rest of the team.

*************************************************************

Maro woke up to the shrill sound of his phone ringing. He needed to change that ringtone from Terry G to some cool Asa. He had spent the whole of yesterday with Tricia, and he felt renewed vigor to make sure they won this case and freed her. His father had called again, and they had had a serious falling out. He would deal with that later. Groggily he reached for the phone. When he saw who it was, the sleep cleared from his eyes instantly.

“Kofo!” he hollered into the mouthpiece “where under the good Lord’s heaven have you been?”

“Haa,” she replied, “that’s a rather long story. Let’s meet up in my office in an hour. Pack your things, you might not be going back home.”

“Madam, you have been rather interesting recently. I cannot wait. I’ll be there. Have you called Taju?”

“Calling him right away. Call Olu. We need him to be there too.”

“Alright General Kofo,” he replied “your wish is my command.”

“Thanks Maro, would see you in a bit,” and then she hung up.

He jumped out of the bed and began to get dressed before he realized he hadn’t bathed. He laughed at how excited he was as he undressed and got under the shower. This was about to get even more exciting.

****************************************************************

“They’re all on their way, yes?” Teju asked Kofo as he did the lace on his sneakers.

“Yes,” she said, rolling her eyes “and we should get going otherwise we will keep them waiting. You know, in Nigeria, it’s the woman that wastes time and is hurried up by the man.”

Teju sprang up from the bed and reached out to carry his luggage when his phone rang. It was Peter. He placed the phone on the dressing table that doubled and dining table in the room and put it on speaker.

“Hi Peter,” he said and Kofo noted how thick his accent had become almost automatically.

“Mr. Bello, you didn’t bother to let me know your hide had been saved, maybe I should have left you in the hands of what’s his name… yeah, Saranja for a bit longer.” Peter said, obviously upset with Teju.

Teju smirked, and Peter growled. It seemed to Kofo they were used to this kind of communication. She listened quietly.

“Okay, so James Peter Bond, a very English thank you to you. But I’m certain you didn’t call me to demand the outpouring of my gratitude so what might it be?”

“Mrs. Ujah should be landing in Nigeria as we speak,” Peter said in a matter of fact manner.

Kofo’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets in surprise and Teju dropped all unseriousness in an instant.

“You should have told me earlier. That makes things significantly easier,” Teju said, rubbing his chin

“How so?”  Peter asked.

“Haa, Peter, if she was in the UK, and there was a charge against her in Nigeria, there would be all manner of legal wrangling to get her to a Nigerian court. In this case, she has come right here. Anyway, Peter, leave the rest to me. I’m certain now your four million bucks is safe in your books.”

“That’s why we employed you. Now quit jabbering and get to work,” Peter said

“Well, you’d have to get of this phone to allow me do just that,” Teju replied before Peter could hang up the call. They both laughed before Teju said seriously

“Thanks mate, for having my back.”

“Always my pleasure, always,” Peter said and cut the connection.

“Why do you think she came in?” Kofo asked once she was sure Peter would not hear her.

“I cannot deduce that, but whatever reason it is, she has just committed a blunder. Now you were saying we should get going. I’ll be a proper Nigerian man now – hurry up woman!”

She grinned and they kissed lightly before setting out.

***************************************************************

Aisha Ujah landed in Nigeria that morning with the 6:45am Virgin Atlantic flight. She had made special arrangements to be picked up that morning. She did not have much time. She first visited the mortuary where Bruno’s body was being kept. She knew the body would not be released for burial until the case was over, but she needed that for the smokescreen of trying to arrange burial to work.

The driver that met up with her at the airport had been instructed to buy and register three mobile lines on three different networks. She called her contact on the one designated for the day now

“Do you have him?” she asked, straight to the point.

“Yes ma’am, he’s with us now.” the female voice from the other end of the line responded.

“Good, now make the call and make the demand.” She instructed and then cut the call off. Then she headed for her family house to ensure that everyone saw her.

**************************************************************

Justice Toboriye Douglas had just finished her exercise routine for the day. Since they had been given quarters in Lekki phase 1, she had created a daily routine of jogging and then exercising in the serene and secure environment provided by their government provided estate. She had not had an easy life, the justice. Her husband had died in an air-crash just after they had their first son. And she had chosen not to remarry but dedicate her life to the two things that were now most important to her. The first was her career and she had fought tooth and nail in the male dominated world of the bench to get to where she was. The second was her son. She loved and doted on him with all her heart. He was seventeen now, and looked so much like his father and had his brilliant mind. He had gotten into university at sixteen and was in his second year now. The second bit of her morning routine was to call him in school. He didn’t like it, but she had made him promise he would always take her calls, and good boy that he was, he had stayed true to his promise.

She took a cool shower and savored toweling herself dry before packing her hair up. She liked the way the grey was beginning to mingle with her dark brown hair. It gave her a distinguished, judgelike look in her opinion.

She reached for her phone to call her son and was scrolling through to his number when the phone began vibrating in her hand. “Mtchew, who is this one disturbing me this early morning? It’s even an unknown number.”

She cut the call off and dialed her son’s number. It rang twice and then it was picked

“Hello darling, how are you,” she began.

“Hello Justice Douglas, you just cut our call to you” a chilling female voice answered. She nearly dropped the phone in astonishment.

“Who is this? Why is Timi not answering the phone?” she shouted.

“Listen carefully Justice. We have your son now, and you will do as we say, otherwise, you will never see him again. There is a murder case that you will pass judgment for on Monday, concerning a Miss Tricia Abah. You must pass a guilty verdict unfailingly with maximum penalty, otherwise you will see Timi, but he will not see you again, ever, permanently. Do not try to withdraw from the case, or contact the police. We will know, and I do not need to repeat what will happen. We have sent you an email containing a picture of Timi from his phone.”

With that, the line went dead. Almost instantly, her phone beeped. An email had come in. As if in a trance, she reached for the phone and checked the email. It was from Timi and there was a file attachment. She opened the attachment. It was a picture. Of her baby. Tied up, with a gun to his head. If she had thought this was a joke of some kind, all doubts cleared from her mind. This was no joke.

She called her secretary “cancel all appointments I have today.”

Then she called the commissioner of police on his private line “Mike, I need your help…” she began.

**********************************************************************

They had all gathered in Kofo’s office. Teju and Kofo were seated on Kofo’s side of the desk, while Taju, Maro and Olu took the visitor’s seats opposite.

“Teju Bello, I presume,” Olu said, addressing Teju.

Teju nodded in the affirmative.

“I have heard about your role in the downfall of Saranja” he continued.

“Since you both seem to know about each other already, it would be nice for Kofo to introduce Teju to the rest of us who do not have the intelligence network of the police force,” Maro interrupted.

Kofo smiled. Maro was still Maro, very direct and sure of himself. Kofo took them through who Teju was and how he had helped with the case so far, plus his ordeal with Saranja and how she had gotten him out. And then as an afterthought, she added

“Oh, and Bruno’s wife has come into the country today. I wonder why she came in…”

“This is why,” Maro said, holding up his phone.

“She came to get your phone?” Taju asked.

“I’m on twitter,” Maro responded “and the news just went viral that a Timi Douglas was kidnapped in school today. His mother is a Justice of the High Court. Her name is Toboriye Douglas.”

“Tricia’s prosecution judge!” Olu exclaimed.

“So she has kidnapped the judge’s kid to force the judgment she wants! That’s desperate!” It was Maro.

“She is rather desperate for four million pounds,” Teju pointed out.

“I think Olu should make that call to Saranja now,” Maro said.

Kofo looked intently at Olu and asked “Olu, are you set?”

“Yes I am,” he responded, as if finally making a decision.

****************************************************************

When he finished the call, Olu could not help but marvel. If he had any other doubts in his mind, it was killed. Saranja was fried, especially considering the considerable leverage he knew the insurance company would have on the British government and by extension the Nigerian government.

“Do we contact the Justice?” Taju asked.

“While the call was going on, I did a background check on her,” Kofo said. “She’s widowed and he is her only child. Except we can guarantee that she will get that child back, she will not listen to us. And she will be desperate now.”

“And the weakness of our system here is that there is no jury. The judge’s pronouncements are final. So get the judge and irrespective of what the lawyers say, you have the case.” Taju pointed out.

“I will get the boy.” It was Teju who spoke. He stood up and Kofo reflexively almost pulled him back to his seat.

“You do not even know the country. You cannot!” she said.

“You can assure the judge that her son will be unharmed and delivered to her. But she should do the right thing.” Teju said.

Then turning to Kofo, he looked at her intently and then said “I will be fine.”

With that, he left the room and Kofo felt her heart lurch.

**********************************************************************

It was late in the evening when Justice Douglas received a call. Ever since the ordeal began, her phone was her one constant companion. The commissioner of police had dedicated multiple teams of policemen to scour everywhere for the kidnappers. She had called every government official she knew and by now, a huge search operation was going on for the boy. These people did not know who they were dealing with. She would find them and deal with them.

“Hello,” she said coarsely.

“Call the search off, and do not try this any longer. We will find out and you will lose your boy”

The line went dead.

She slumped into her seat. The Nigerian security apparatus was so compromised. This was supposed to be top secret, and the kidnappers had found out.

The phone rang again. Another number. She quickly picked it up

“Hello! How did you find out about the search?” she shouted

“Hello ma. My name is Detective Kofo, I was in your courtroom as witness for a murder case involving a…”

“Tricia? That wretched case! What in hells hordes do you want! Are you one of them?” Justice Douglas was shouting at the top of her voice.

“No ma, I am on your side. I know they have your son and want you to deliver a guilty verdict. Trying to get him through the police is an effort in futility. Top members of the force are involved in this case and all want the innocent girl condemned.”

“What would you have me do? Just before you called, they had threatened to kill him if I didn’t call the police search off. How they found out about it, I do not know,”

“Ma,” Kofo interrupted “you cannot trust the police on this one. You will have to trust me.”

Kofo spoke with such assuredness that the Justice calmed down. “I do not want to sentence this girl to death, if she is innocent. My conscience could never live with it. But I cannot stand by and watch my only son die. My heart could not take that!”

“We will get you your son. That I promise. We only ask that you deliver fair judgment on the day the case is heard.”

“I want to see you. How can I trust someone I have not seen properly?”

“Trust me ma, while I would have loved that, they will be watching you. And we need to keep them in the dark about what we are doing. Once we are seen together, they will be on the alert for us.” Kofo said.

“What more can I do right now, really? I’ll have to trust you, seeing that the police have failed me. But you had better delivered; otherwise, I do not trust myself to do the right thing in court.”

“We will,” Kofo said. “Do have as much rest as you can ma.”

“Goodnight.”

*************************************************************************

“That went better than I thought it would,” Maro said as Kofo dropped the call.

Olu Williams got up to leave “it’s late already, I should be on my way. I have to prepare the evidence and file it properly so there are no issues in court on Monday.”

“Very well then,” Kofo said. “See you in court.”

When he had left Maro asked “do you trust him?”

“No,” she replied “but I trust his intelligence. He will do what he is made to see is the wisest for him”

“Hmmm, and if he doesn’t decide going along with our plan is the wisest?” Taju asked.

“I have made a backup of that conversation,” she said, removing a tape from underneath her drawer. “Experience has taught me not to give anything to Olu without backing it up.”

**************************************************************

The next morning Aisha finally decided to call Saranja. In response to her hello, he exploded over the phone

“You kidnapped the Judge’s son without running it by me!”

“And how is that different from you killing Ivie without running it by me?” she retorted

“Because, in Nigeria, the judge can pull powerful strings. And if it’s ever traced to me, I’m dead and buried. She will make sure of that.”

She laughed scornfully “oh, so you are just afraid for your hide? Don’t worry, we have it all covered, unlike you. She called all those people yesterday and they began a manhunt. We called her and threatened her in the evening. By this morning, the search has been called off. She is ready to play ball. And you know, if you had handled your part well, I would not have had to resort to such desperate and crude methods.”

Saranja clenched his fist in anger. This woman ticked him off!

**********************************************************************

That afternoon, Justice Douglas received a call.

They did not even allow her say hello. This time it wasn’t the female voice she was beginning to grow familiar with. It was a male voice she had never heard before

“We are pleased you are cooperating. All the police search parties seem to have been called back, so we will allow you on favor. But note that if we as much as suspect any foul play on your part, he’s a goner. Now, to the favor – the voice you will hear next is one I’m sure you are dying to hear”

“Hello mum,” Timi’s voice came clear over the connection

“Oh, my baby, how are you? Are you eating? Are they hurting you, Lord, protect my son,” she said, the words rushing out of her with the same intensity as the tears gushing from her face.

“We will be watching you in court.” The male voice came back to the line.

And then the line went dead.

**********************************************************

Peter’s phone rang and he picked it on the first ring. He had been waiting anxiously for any news on the Nigerian situation

“Hello Teju. What’s happening over there? Everyone here is walking on tip toes, waiting for information on this!”

“Well, Peter, here’s information for you man. The judge’s son has been kidnapped by Mrs. Ujah, to ensure the judgment is a conviction for Tricia.” Teju responded

“Well, that works in our favor. Because even if Tricia is convicted now, we can point to the kidnapping and deny payment,” Peter responded

“Don’t be a scrooge Peter. What evidence will you point to that there was any kidnap? She has layered it so well that it’s not traceable to her. If you do nothing now, you will be parting with four million bucks and make Mrs. Ujah and the former AIG Saranja very rich people.” Teju responded.

“So,” Peter said “quit beating around the bush. Just hit the nail on the head already and say what you think we should do. I know you wouldn’t have called if you hadn’t come up with something”

“Unfortunately for Mrs. Ujah, she didn’t study the Nigerians well. There’s a strict hierarchy of criminals here, and if you can get to the very top, the lower down criminals have no choice but to do the bidding of their higher-ups. So, I went as close to the top of that hierarchy as I could get. They will get the boy, but it will cost you Peter, cost you quite significantly,” Teju said.

“And how much are we looking at here,” Peter asked quietly.

“Two Hundred Thousand Pounds or the equivalent of Fifty Million Naira,” Teju responded evenly

“What!” Peter exploded. “Where in the British Isles do you expect me to get that kind of money on such short notice?”

“Peter,” Teju said calmly but firmly “I am asking you to save Four Million Pounds with Two Hundred Thousand. It’s your call really. I’m sure you’ll need about a day to convince all those involved to authorize this. I’ll wait.”

“I know I’m mad for saying this, but I will try. And if we do get the money released, you do know that my career would be over if you fail?” Peter said

“You fail to realize, dear Peter, that mine would be even deader if I fail.” Teju said and then ended the call.

Peter sighed ruefully as he began to call board members to set up a conference call.

*********************************************************************

Considering all the build up to it, the weekend before the final appearance was uneventful, outside of routine paperwork and the likes from both the prosecution and the defense. The kidnappers did not contact the judge any longer and she went into some sort of normalcy mode, as if to handle the situation. She immersed herself totally into work, preparing for this case. Kofo was not fooled though. She knew that the judge would deliver judgment against them if she resigned herself to thinking that was the only way she could get her son back. From her study of the judge, she deduced she would rather have a ruined career than a dead son, if the choices came down to that.

And so she was worried. Teju had been mysteriously incognito since he had left them at Olu’s office, only calling intermittently to assure her that he was well and that the boy would be found. Maro had come around every day, spending most of the time with Tricia in her cell. She had allowed them that liberty and Tricia seemed to liven up more and more over the course of the days that led up to Monday.

And so, the d-day came and they all gathered in court. She had chosen a conservative suit for Tricia today, to communicate a seriousness she knew they must all have felt. Still no Teju, and no Timi Douglas. Teju’s number had been unreachable all morning.

As the judge sat down and the clerk’s voice rang through the courtroom, “All Rise!” Kofo noticed that Justice Douglas’ eyes darted back and forth across the courtroom. They finally rested on Kofo, as if asking questions “I thought you promised I would get my son back if I trusted you.” She then looked from Kofo to Tricia and back.

By then, the clerk had finished calling the case up.

“Counsels may begin,” the judge said.

In the corner of Kofo’s eye, she caught Saranja come in. One piece of good news thus far. She willed herself not to turn around. But then a thought crossed her mind, niggling at it until the curiosity got the best of her and she turned around to check. Sure enough, seated in the corner was Mrs. Aisha Ujah. She recognized her instantly from the picture Teju had shown her. Their eyes met briefly and she held the gaze deliberately. Then, she slowly turned to face forward.

Taju was in the center now, holding up a piece of cloth

“My Lord, this is the piece of clothing the defendant was wearing when she was arrested. It is already amongst the police evidence presented for this case.” Then he walked back to his table to retrieve a few photographs from the thick file there.

“These,” he said, passing copies along to Olu’s team and the judge “are photographs that were taken of the immediate vicinity where Mr. Bruno was murdered. Observe the blood splattered all over the white wall and the black seats.”

He paused to allow them peruse the photographs and then held up the cloth again and continued

“Now observe this cloth. If it indeed was what the defendant was wearing when she murdered the victim, shouldn’t there be blood splatters on it, consistent with all the other items in the immediate vicinity?”

“Objection my Lord! She could have changed into this after she carried out the murder, to conceal her culpability before the police arrived at the scene. There was at least three hours between the time of murder and when the police arrived.”

“Sustained.” Justice Douglas said

Taju walked over to his table and again retrieved a series of photographs. He passed them to the prosecution and the bench again.

“These are pictures taken by the defendant with her blackberry phone right after she was brutally raped. Please note the parts of her clothing showing in this picture. The outfit is the same as this one I hold,” Taju said

“Objection!” Olu interjected again. “The small fraction in this picture is insufficient to establish that the clothes are the same.”

“Sustained,” Judge Douglas again said. “Defense will desist from drawing inferences unfounded in clear facts.”

Where Kofo sat, she wondered why Olu was puncturing the exact arguments he had suggested. And the judge was agreeing all of his objections. Taju looked like he was struggling. In the corner of her eye, she saw Saranja smiling. He looked like an alligator about to clamp its jaw on prey.

Taju walked over to Olu and spoke to him quietly.

“You have the floor,” he said, with meaning. It was the time the plan was meant to kick in. it was now or never that they would know if it was wise to trust Olu.

“I do not have any questions or witnesses to call,” Olu said.

Taju stopped dead in his tracks. “There must be a mistake, counsel” he said, addressing Olu. “You cannot say you have no questions or witnesses whatsoever.”

Olu did not meet his eye “that’s exactly what I said,” he responded.

Taju backtracked to Olu’s seat and spoke under his breath with wellsprings of anger emanating from every word he spoke “why are you doing this?” he growled.

“Because…” Olu began saying, when they heard Kofo exclaim.

Had she not been looking back at Saranja, she would not have been the first to see him. Her heart swelled with relief and pride as Teju entered the courtroom. And he did not enter alone, there, beside him was Timi Douglas. “Timi!” she exclaimed loudly.

Her exclamation drew the attention of all in the courtroom, first to her, and then at what she had been looking at that caused the exclamation.

Aisha literarily froze. She saw Teju’s eyes scan the courtroom and settle on her. The moment their eyes locked, he seemed to anticipate what she was thinking and blocked the only exit from the courtroom. It was clear he was making sure she could not get out.

Justice Douglas sprang up, forgetting for a brief moment then as if comporting herself with considerable effort, she mouthed the words “thank you” to Kofo and then took her seat in a dignified manner that had seemed absent from the beginning of proceedings that day.

Olu turned and stared Saranja full in the face and then shook his head. Slowly, he turned back to the now seated judge and said “I would like to call Retired AIG Amedu Saranja to the witness stands”

“Please go ahead,” Justice Douglas said. Taju was by now seated.

Saranja stayed put where he was, not responding to Olu’s invitation.

Olu walked back to where he was seated and pointed at him “sir, would you be kind enough to take the stands?”

Saranja shot him a look that would be lethal to an elephant in one dose and then shuffled up, deliberately taking his time.

The clerk promptly administered the oath to him after which he waited for Olu’s questions to begin. Rather than ask any questions, Olu produced a tape and a small tape player from his jacket side pockets and Maro volunteered the speakers they had used a week earlier to listen to Dr. Obochi’s recording a week earlier.

Saranja and Justice Douglas looked at Olu curiously, wondering what he was doing.

“I would like the court to adopt this tape as evidence,” he said.

Justice Douglas waited for an objection cry to ring out from the defense but when none came, she said “adopted, counsel.”

Olu deftly rigged the playback apparatus and his voice first rang out loud and clear in the now quietly attentive courtroom.

“Hello sir,”

“Hello Olu,” a second voice said. Immediately, Saranja jumped up from his seat and pounded his fists on the rostrum “you bastard doublecrossing two-faced son of a gun!”

Olu paid him no attention, and the tape kept rolling.

“Sir, this case is getting out of hand. I thought it was a regular murder case, where the defendant is really guilty, but things are beginning to say otherwise. There was another murder, this time Ivie, Tricia’s aunt.”

“Oluuuu,” the voice which Saranja’s earlier outburst had identified as his own responded “look, there is a lot of money involved in this, and the girl was becoming a liability. I had to handle her before they got to her and she began singing. Do not worry, like I promised, you’ll be well taken care of when this is done.”

“Taken care of? That could mean I end up like Ivie, as a lose end too,” Olu’s voice said

“Haa, Olu, I would not do such a thing to someone who was of such service to me now,” Saranja’s voice said.

“But it seems Ivie was of service to you sir. I wonder, what kind of service. And I begin to wonder if it wasn’t beyond being a mole in Kofo’s camp to ferret documents to you. Was she asking for money?”

“Olu, you are smart,” Saranja cooed. “She was becoming greedy, that girl. All she helped us do was arrange for her niece to be there, and then get us the key that gave access to Bruno’s place so we could enter without a disturbance. She was supposed to get just ten percent before, but she began to ask for half of my share. So apart from being a liability, you see she had become greedy. So I killed two birds with one stone by taking care of her”

There was an uproar in the courtroom and Olu stopped the tape. The prosecution was in particularly wild jubilation. It took several shouts of “order!” by the clerk for the courtroom to settle.

Olu then turned to Saranja, whose eyes were now bloodshot and asked

“Sir, confirm before this court that the voice on that tape was yours and you indeed had that conversation with this prosecution counsel with the view to induce him to somehow manipulate proceedings in this court?”

“Damn you Olu, damn you!” Saranja screamed

“The witness will do well to watch his tongue and answer the questions directly or he will be held in contempt of this court.” Justice Douglas said sternly.

“Mr. Saranja, please answer the question. Was that you on the recording?” Olu repeated.

“It appears to be so,” Saranja growled.

“That would be all,” Olu said and turned to Taju said “your witness”

Taju stood up with a sheet of paper in his hand and then asked

“Mr. Saranja, you mentioned a large sum of money involved in this matter, a sum that would have enough to settle the prosecution had he decided to play ball. Would you care to tell this court about the source of this money?”

“I am not a poor man,” Saranja said “money for the likes of him would not be a problem.”

“Haa, good sir, would this money happen to be the insurance payout of four million pounds from Mr. Bruno’s life insurance policy?”

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Saranja responded gruffly.

“Mrs. Ujah, who happens to be the sole beneficiary of this policy, filed claims for the insurance all the way in England, just hours after Mr. Bruno’s death, with complete papers. It is curious that a few weeks before Mr. Bruno’s death, she began calling you a lot. These documents show this, they are copies of your call records. Also, she called the deceased Ivie a lot too in this time frame. Before that time, you guys were not talking. Now would you care to intimate this court on what this sudden burst of international conversation was about?”

“Calling or talking to anyone has never been a crime, and I am not compelled to reveal the contents of my private conversations in any court. If it’s important, get the recording of the conversations from where you got the call records.”

“Well, the calls were not recorded by the phone companies. However, it might interest you to know that the lady has told us that you kidnapped Justice Douglas’ son in order to coerce her into giving judgment in your favor.” Taju said coyly.

“What! That witch!” a now livid Saranja said, pointing at Aisha. “I had absolutely nothing to do with kidnapping anyone. I even warned her that it was uncalled for, and that I would handle this, but she still went ahead to kidnap the boy. I had no hand in that!”

“Sir, I didn’t mention the lady’s name. I wonder how you are certain it’s this woman. Would you please tell this court who she is?” Taju asked

“That is Mrs. Aisha Ujah, Mr. Bruno Ujah’s wife!” Saranja responded.

“I have no further questions for the witness,” Taju said and stepped down.

“This case has taken a new dimension, as the facts that have been unearthed show that the witness’ involvement in this case goes beyond the mere role of being a witness and requires further investigation. Mr. Amedu Saranja will be remanded in custody until such a time as the state will bring him before this court to stand trial for the murders of Mr. Bruno Ujah and Miss Ivie Ovie.” Justice Douglas said. Immediately, two policemen arrested Saranja, cuffed him and led him away from the stands.

She continued “the evidence before us also shows that Mrs. Aisha Ujah might be somewhat involved in the murder of her husband, Mr. Bruno Ujah. Equally as grave is the fact that she sought to pervert the course of justice by kidnapping Mr. Timi Douglas, the son of the presiding judge. She will be remanded, along with Mr. Amedu Saranja until such a time when she will stand trial for these crimes.”

Again, the policemen immediately arrested Aisha and led her away.

“Finally,” Justice Douglas said, “the evidence before this court shows that it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that Miss Tricia Abah did not only suffer a brutal rape from Mr. Bruno Ujah, but she also did not kill him. Therefore, this court declares her discharged and acquitted of all charges before it. Tricia, you are free to go. This court is dismissed.” Then she banged her gavel!

“Cooooouuuurt!” the clerk shouted, but his shout was drowned by the wild jubilation in the courtroom.

For the first time in her career, Justice Douglas did not go straight to the changing room after delivering judgment. She raced straight for her son and smothered him in a barrage of kisses and a smothering hug, thanking Teju and Kofo profusely.

Maro led Tricia away in the commotion.

****************************************************************************

A month later, Saranja was sentenced to life imprisonment for the two murders. He is appealing the judgment.

Aisha was also sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of her husband and the kidnap of Timi Douglas. All of Justice Douglas’ colleagues personally promised her to exact the maximum penalty. And that’s exactly what they did. She is also appealing the judgment.

The First Lady’s prayers did get answered. Exactly a month after the sentencing, Tricia wedded Maro. And Kofo wedded Teju in the same ceremony. In attendance was the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria himself, along with the very exuberant First Lady, who was mother of the day. Of course, where the president went, all the political bigwigs went. A very proud Chief Dickson reveled in the honor of having all these people at his last son’s wedding. Even the British High Commissioner was in attendance. All the threats of disowning Maro were forgotten. Oloye was absent. Tricia still hadn’t forgiven him, especially when she learnt her mother had died in a road accident when he could have paid for a flight. She specifically asked him not to come. An uncle gave her away.

And so ended Tricia’s Nightmare.

THE NEXT STORY

Finally, Tricia’s Nightmare has given way to a blissful morning, and I’m glad you’ve followed the story all the way. I do hope there are a few of the things I desired we would see about law enforcement in Nigeria were seen. As it is structured, law enforcement here does not promote civil liberties; it in fact curtails and impinges on it. This is one of the fundamental flaws of our democracy – the lowliest of policemen can take away my liberty and there is precious little I can do about it exploring the legal means. I would have to part with monies, or know someone if I hope to be free quickly. We in essence run an illiberal democracy. It is important that we grow to a point where a gun or a uniform does not automatically grant you the right to act as you please. The law gives you legitimacy and not your uniform or your gun. This amongst many other things I sought to point out with this story

I read someone on TL say “Fiction is truth wrapped in a cloak of cowardice”. That fellow cannot be more wrong. I disagree not because there is not some truth in the statement, but with the fact that the word “some” is missing from before the word “fiction”. The generalization and blanketization is what I have and ish with. The “bravery” of writing is not found in the form the writing takes, but in the character of the writer. There can be cowardly and well as bold and critical fiction. In the same vein, truth can be wrapped in cowardice in any of form, type and medium of expressing thought. As an example, whenever I want to open my mouth to speak unnecesarily in praise of my efforts for something I was helped by many to achieve, I remember the story of how the tortoise cracked its shell. I doubt I would remember that lesson as vividly if it wasn’t wrapped in fiction I loved. In fact, fiction has been one of the most powerful tools of expressing truth in ways that last beyond the generations in which they were written, keeping it fresh and accessible for people who did not live in the era in which the events mirrored by the fiction was written.  Animal Farm’s representation of the Russian Revolution and communism did a lot more for many of us than any critique written in the same era. Elechi Amadi’s great ponds, Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horsemen, Achebe’s Man of the People are all in this mould. And then, in all honesty, there is writing (as with all other forms of creative expression of thought) that is simply to be enjoyed and entertaining. The writer is at liberty to chose the story he/she wants to tell and if its for pure entertainment or a different purpose. (So all of una wey dey fight me say I no dey do advocacy with my writing, una hear?).  Each writer will find their voice, expression of their thoughts in the cadence that their intentions dictate and with the medium and form they chose. Even Jesus resorted to parables to share deep truths about the kingdom. Oya, let me rest this and tell you what’s next

I’ll be taking a one month break from posting fiction series, all through January, to do a few things. I’m in the studio, working on a song called FLY which should be out in a few weeks, and all the preliminary work requires some time. I’ll count on your support to make this a success when it does come out.

I also need to kick-start the 2nd iteration of working on the draft of what I consider my best work so far, Guardians of the Seals. It’s a novel of epic proportions ranging right from the beginning of creation to a time in our future; it is my hope that it will be my Opus Magnum. It is the direct reason I asked on twitter a few days ago if people would read a Nigerian authoured Fantasy tale in the mould of Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia, two of my favorite book series. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see, abi? I’ll be shopping for a literary agent for this one and publishing it will take some time; unlike Golden Sands, I cannot do justice to this one self-publishing. I’ll post an excerpt from it next week – it will be the only bit of the book that will be publicly seen before the book is published, so you must miss it not.

I’m also seeking sponsors for making Finding Hubby into a TV and Web Series. If you have any info, connects or you’d like to sponsor, please o, reach me by email. It’s ajileyeb@gmail.com

So until February when I bring you a new series (It’s called Broken Mirrors), enjoy…

Tunde Leye

Tricia’s Nightmare – Episode 13

Today’s Episode is a special Christmas Love Episode. It’s specially dedicated to my friends Koye and Tunrayo who got married on Saturday. They dated for 12years and we finally followed them to the altar that day. Merry Christmas everyone! Enjoy today’s episode.

xmen 2

Teju was again bundled into the stuffy back of the pick-up truck that had brought him. The battery of his phone was flat and he didn’t dare stretch his luck by asking that it be charged. He had been asked where he would like to be taken by the gentleman he spoke with over the phone who had introduced himself as the Minister of Police Affairs. He had been divided between saying Kofo’s office or his hotel, but he had decided on the hotel for two reasons. The first was that he didn’t want any trouble for Kofo, and he didn’t know if his release was by her effort or Peter’s. The second was that he didn’t want her to see him this way. Despite Saranja’s best efforts at cleaning him up, he still looked well beat.

The drive to his hotel took about an hour and there were times of waiting in traffic, since they were moving at the morning rush hour. He had requested to be dropped off a street from the hotel, as he didn’t want to attract any attention by coming down from the back of a suspicious looking police car smack in front of his hotel.

They dropped him off and sped off in the way he now thought was characteristic of police driving in Nigeria. Five minutes later, he entered the lobby of his hotel. There, seated on the stuffed waiting chair was Kofo.

***********************************************************

The three men hadn’t slept all night. In that time, they had gone through all the evidence one more time in painstaking detail and had formed a plan. Maro was worried that they had heard nothing from Kofo since she had left them visibly distressed after receiving a message on her phone. But apart from that niggling issue, a fruitful night it had been.

“I’ll still remain Tricia’s prosecution attorney, that’s the only way this can work” Olu was saying

“Of course, and Taju will still defend her. You should still keep in touch with Saranja and in fact try to reach out to him. it’s critical he is in the court room on the trial day.”

Taju and Olu nodded in agreement with Maro. “You know, Maro,” Olu said as they rose to leave “you should consider a career in intelligence.”

Maro laughed “a politician’s son in intelligence? No way.”

“You really should, you would be an invaluable asset.” Olu retorted. They all laughed, shook hands and then wearily dragged themselves outside. The morning shift policemen smartly saluted Olu as he peeked out of his office to bid them farewell.

Maro waited until they were safely in the car before he raised the first of the two questions on his mind

“Do you think we should have trusted Olu as much as we did?” he asked.

“We didn’t have much of a choice in the matter, did we? It was either that, or grope in the dark. And without Kofo around, we would have gotten nowhere without opening up to him.” Taju responded.

“Now,” Maro said as the car began to move “the success of our plan hinges on our being able to trust that he will not betray our trust but go along with the plan. Do we hold any aces? Or are we totally in his hands and by extension Tricia’s fate?”

“Except you have any other ideas, that’s what we would have to do. Doesn’t it worry you that we have not heard from Kofo at all since yesterday night? Very unusual of her, on a normal day, she would have called to find out how it’s going with Olu. And she looked pretty worried about whatever she had read on her phone as she left.”

Maro nodded at each inference that Taju drew about Kofo’s departure “Yes, that she was. I’ve been tempted to call her a few times, but there was something in the way she looked at me as she left that said, ‘let me sort this out and I will call you’. So I guess we will go home, refresh and wait for her call. Abi?”

“Alright, where should I drop you off,” Taju asked

“Kofo’s office,” Maro responded.

“Why would you be going there?” Taju asked, confused.

“You have forgotten who this is all about, yeah? Tricia is there and I would like to see her before going home,” Maro responded curtly.

If Taju was white, he would have turned bright red out of embarrassment at Maro’s light rebuke. They were quite during the drive to Kofo’s office.

******************************************************

Olu watched them leave from his office window and for the first time since they had arrived here, he permitted himself to really think and analyze the situation properly. They were no fools, so they would have deduced that he had been induced somehow to ensure Tricia got
convicted. If there was any doubt in their minds, it would have been erased with his evidence destroying antics when he broke the memory card Kofo had brought to him, and with the phone records with Saranja. But they had chosen not to dwell on that, and he had trusted them by bringing all he had to the table. They had even formed a plan to save Tricia. But could he really trust them? Wasn’t it possible they were just setting him up.

And there was the issue of the plan. He would still remain in the force after this case was over, and he would have superiors. This was Naija after all, and cases got swept under the carpet every time if it involved someone high up and connected enough. And if he was on the wrong side of that someone, he might as well leave the force, and leave the country while at it. He was torn between following his heart, trusting Kofo and her cohorts and doing what he felt was right, and the raw, basal instinct of self preservation. Tough choice.

*************************************************

To say that Teju was extremely surprised to see Kofo would be an understatement. In spite of himself, he felt a series of contradictions as their eyes met. It was obvious she had been waiting there for him, and he wondered if it was all night. He found himself surprisingly delighted to see her, but embarrassed by how he looked at the same time. The reason he had come to the hotel first and not her office was to try to put himself together well enough to see her.

He had seen her first and paused where he was standing. Seconds later, she looked up from her phone and saw him. She jumped up and was in front of him in two giant strides. All the thoughts flew out of Teju’s head when she threw herself into his arms and kissed him – a firm, fiery and deep kiss that took his breath away.

“I was so,” kiss “so scared” kiss, “I was going to,” looooong kiss, “lose you” kiss of life!

When she gave him a breather and he could gather himself together, he went to the receptionist, who was making a rather bad attempt at acting like she hadn’t seen any kissing, to get the keys to his room. By the time he had gone through the formalities of getting his keys and turned back to her, she seemed to have become the comported Kofo again, different from the exuberant one he had met a few moments ago.

“We should talk in the privacy of your room. There’s much I need to tell you, and that I would like to know,” she said to him evenly.

They took the flight of stairs to Room 219 in contented silence. It was a large room, larger than what Kofo would have thought would be available in this hotel for a regular single room. Everything was orderly and arranged as the room service had left it.

Teju went straight into the wardrobe and selected a pair of shorts and a t-shirt to change into. He sat on the bed and then asked her “so how did I get out?”

She just walked up to him with a mischievous smile of her face “now that we are alone,” she said, sitting on him and facing him, “the first thing you really wanna do is talk? I still have a debt to pay, remember?”

He didn’t need to be told more. He kissed her passionately and she kissed him back like her life depended on that kiss. Initially, the kisses stayed on the lips, but it was only a matter of time before Teju’s lips strayed from her lips and explored the rest of her. Her back arched and she let out a moan as he bit her nape lightly. Then his hands crept under her top and she suddenly froze and jumped up from his laps and shouted “No!” pushing him onto the bed with force in the process.

Her move was so unexpected that Teju fell freely onto the bed, banging the back of his head on the wooden frame at the other end of the bed. Searing pain tore through his being, from the base of his brain to all his extremities.

“Oh my God!” Kofo screamed and she jumped on the bed to the other side. His eyes were clamped shut.

“Oh my God, Oh my God, what have I done, what have I done,” she kept mumbling to herself and cradled his head in her laps, rocking back and forth.

His eyes opened and she could see the pain in them, pain that seemed to be beyond the physical pain of bumping his head. All he said in a weak voice that tore at the fabric of her heart was “why?”

The tears were flowing freely from her face now

“I was barely entering my teens, and I lived with an aunt. Both my parents had died a couple of years earlier and life had been live with a series of relatives. My aunt’s husband had lost his job but she still worked. One day, aunty had gone to work, and I returned from school. I was in the kitchen, trying to make lunch. Uncle came in, casually picked one of the kitchen knives, sauntered over to me and threatened to slash my throat if I cried out. That day, he raped me repeatedly, doing it as many times as he liked. I was too numbed, in too much shock to resist or scream after a while. I lost my virginity to him that day and the pain was excruciating. He warned me to make sure aunty did not get to know, on the pain of death. I kept my mouth shut and hid my pain as best as I could. When aunty noticed that I winced a little each time I walked and asked what was wrong, I told her it was menstrual pain. She gave me money to buy drugs, and to make some lime tea to help with the pain.

After this had gone on for months, aunty walked in one faithful afternoon. Nothing could convince her it was serial rape. Since I hadn’t been screaming and had quietly lain down like a log, she was convinced I had seduced her husband. Sadly, to save himself, he acted like he had been bewitched and I was labeled a little witch set to destroy her aunt’s marriage. She beat me mercilessly, channeling what I now know was anger at his betrayal into my own torture for being a party to it, unconsenting I might have been.

So, I ran away. But ironically, the very thing I had run away from seemed to be waiting for me out there. Some boys, seeing I was alone, tried to rape me that day. I was only saved by a passing police car, which returned me to the nightmare called my uncle. I had formed an opinion that men were all like that deep down, and I have been unable to allow a man touch me since. He died, along with my aunt, a few months later. By then, I was pregnant with my daughter. I had to give her up to an orphanage when I had her. But I found her when I became a police officer and used all my means to adopt her. I…”

Her eyes had been clouded by the tears that were flowing freely from her face that she didn’t see or even feel he had gotten up. She was in a trancelike state and seemed to have been transported back in time to the horror of those memories. He interrupted her with a kiss and then whispered into her ears “shhh. I love you.”

Then he carried her off the bed into the bathroom and under the shower. One by one, he removed every item of clothing she was wearing, taking gentle care not to touch any of her privates as he did. Then he turned the shower on and slowly began to bathe her, looking into her eyes intermittently, the eyes saying more about his love for her than any words he could have said.

And then they made love. He was gentle. And this time, she gave the whole of herself to him, matching every thrust, following every movement. Together they made a rhythm that fused their hearts together. That day, Kofo found the release from her past that love could bring.

***************************************************

AIG Saranja left Force Headquarters for the last time that day. The meeting with the IG had been brief and direct to the point. His recent actions had embarrassed the presidency to important British interests and the First Lady and they had demanded a scapegoat. The president had in turn demanded for Saranja’s figurative head, but he the IG along with the minister had been able to convince the president to just quietly retire him, considering the number of good years he had put into service of the country in the police force.

Saranja knew that was cock and bull that should be told to the birds. The IG was glad about ridding the police force of him. But he was under no illusions as to the fact that he had been lucky to get off with just a retirement. If the formidable First Lady had been involved in this, then he was twice as lucky. But he wasn’t out of the woods yet. She had brought ruin to not a few powerful men in her hsuband’s political circle and she was to be feared. That call to the Speaker must have helped; otherwise, he would have gotten off much worse. The official communication of his retirement would be in the papers the next day, he was sure of that.

His phone rang. He ignored it the first and second times but the caller was persistent and he decided to pick the call the third time. It was Olu Williams.

“Hello Olu, how are you?”

“Very well sir, I hadn’t heard from you since yesterday and thought I should call you.”

“Look Olu, I am in no mood to banter. Your Kofo girl has proven more dangerous than I anticipated.”

“Kofo? What could that one do?” Olu replied. If Saranja had not been as agitated as he was, he might have picked up the exaggerated disdain in his voice.

“It is that kind of underestimation that has gotten me into this wahala. I am officially retired from the force, effective today, and its by that girl’s hand.”

“What! How can? That’s impossible!” Olu exclaimed, this time genuinely surprised. Those guys hadn’t told him anything in these lines. But then, maybe they didn’t know. There had been something suspect about how Kofo had left them the previous night.

“You will read it in the papers. She had been working with one UK boy who I suspect was sent here by Bruno’s life insurance company to verify cause of death, since he was not a serving policeman. I had wondered how she came about much of the info she had and so I did what you should have – put her under surveillance. I picked the boy up to rough him up a bit and find out what he knew after he started to bark up my trail. Apparently, the boy was smart enough to have a plan in case just that happened. And here I am, victim of that plan.”

“Wow!” was all Olu could say.

“Look Olu, I cannot stress enough how important it is to win the case. I’ll be plain with you, since you’ve been such a good boy. There’s four million pounds involved, and I can make sure you are settled properly, settled well. Just win this case for me, that is all.”

“Be rest assured sir, this case is in the bag. In fact, that was what I actually called to tell you.” Olu responded.

Saranja permitted himself to smile in spite of the situation. This was good news.

“When is the case adjourned to?” he asked

“Monday sir,” Olu responded.

“I will definitely be in the courtroom to witness our victory,” Saranja said. He wasn’t doing any police work in Abuja anyway, so where better to be than that courtroom?

“My thoughts sir, I was just about to ask you to try to be there.” Olu said.

“Alright good man, you can count on that,” Saranja said, and ended the call.

In Lagos, Olu had made up his mind which side he would be on in this Tricia brouhaha. He was in self-preservation mode and would serve the interest that would benefit him the most.

*******************************************************

Maro got to the corridor of Tricia’s cell and the two sentries Kofo had posted stood approached him. They recognized him immediately and greeted him cordially. Kofo had included him the list of people they should allow access to Tricia. But they were also under strict instructions from Kofo about Tricia’s security and so they still frisked him and patted him down thoroughly before allowing him to Tricia’s cell.

She was seated on the single, well laid bed in the far corner of the cell. There was a book open on the bed that she seemed to have been reading before the clang of metals from the door opening activity got her attention. Her natural hair was packed neatly to the back

Maro walked into an astonished Tricia. She hadn’t been expecting him at all. She lowered her eyes when they met his. His heart ached at how broken the trauma of this experience had left her. The Tricia he knew before would meet his gaze firmly.

He quietly sat beside her and then wrapped his arms around her shoulders. “I came to talk with my fiancée. I have missed you dearly dear.” In one movement, he sat with his back to the wall and moved her into a position to meld into his side better. They sat like this for a while, while she sobbed quietly, taking in his scent. And then they talked. And talked. And talked. For the first day in more than a week, Tricia laughed.

**************************************************

Saranja was watching CNN at home when his phone rang. He was avoiding watching the local news since he had heard that news of his retirement had broken on twitter minutes after he had left Force Headquarters. He had thought the news would break the next morning, but things were different these days than in the good old days. Then, they had control of information flow. But these days, things were not so easy to control.

“Hello,” the female voice said over the phone.

“Hello madam, good to hear from you,” he responded.

“I have heard a few things that have made it necessary for me to call you, otherwise, I would not,” she said

“It’s okay,” he said, alert to what she would say.

“First, I hear Ivie is dead. And by your hand. While I do not think it was necessary, I would not weep over her. What is done is done. It does change a few things in the equation and we should talk about that.”

“It had to be done,” Saranja said firmly. He would not have any overseas person talk to him as if he was not capable of discerning which killing was necessary and which wasn’t.

“I hear you,” she said, almost mockingly. “The second is even more important. I hear you have been shown the door from the police. I wonder why, and I wonder if you are such an asset anymore. Maybe I should look for another…”

“You will do no such thing!” Saranja hollered.

“Really? And why can’t I?” she asked

“I still have things under control, and my boy has promised to deliver a conviction on Monday. The reason I am no longer in the police today is how committed I have been to making this thing happen. Your insurance company had sent an agent into Nigeria to make sure Tricia is not convicted. I neutralized him, but got caught in the backlash because he was a British citizen.”

“Hmm. So they did. That’s interesting. I’ll be in Nigeria tomorrow morning. I should come and see how things turn out by myself in that courtroom.”

“I’m not sure that is necessary, and it puts you in danger. This her defense team is well connected. They cannot get you arrested there, but I was in the police, and I know what is possible here with the right connections.”

“Oh, Saranja, shush. What kind of wife would I be if I do not come to attend to my deceased husband’s burial?” she said, and then hung up before he had the chance to respond.

That woman infuriated him, but he would endure her anyway. Right now, she held the aces as regards his money and endure her he would.

Tricia’s Nightmare – Episode 12

mulan_mushu

“So, Tricia’s aunt has been murdered to hide something,” Olu said, rubbing his chin.

“Yes, and from what we have gathered, she began talking with Bruno’s wife recently, and Bruno’s wife happens to have begun talking with an AIG Saranja at about the same time, and AIG Saranja began talking with you at about the same time.”

A flicker of something Maro couldn’t place his finger on passed across Olu’s face. “You’ve been snooping around my call records!” he said with emphasis on the snooping.

Taju retorted “we didn’t snoop around your records actually. We followed a trail that leads from the person most likely to gain anything from Bruno’s death and it led right up to you. To put it in perspective, she stands to gain four million pounds in life insurance payments, and coupled with his infidelities, she had good reason to want him dead. I would have expected you to at least know this, rather than remain obsessed with getting Tricia a conviction.”

Olu shot out of his sit and said angrily “are you suggesting that I do not know how to do my job? Or that I stand to gain anything from Tricia’s conviction beyond enforcing the law?”

Maro stood up and waved his hands “calm down gentlemen. No one is suggesting anything at all Mr. Williams. What Taju means is that since the trail of conversations led here, we thought we should ask you. If we thought you killed Bruno or Ivie or was knowingly covering up for someone, we wouldn’t come to you. We would simply have gathered the evidence and demolished you in court with it. So you see, this is an olive branch.”

Spoken like the son of a politician that he was, Taju thought. He saw Olu visibly relax as he sat back in his seat, and he wasn’t convinced Olu wasn’t hiding something. But he would humor him and play along, just to get what he needed. He hadn’t forgotten that this Olu destroyed evidence shown him by Kofo earlier in this case. And he had done it knowingly.

“I have had my doubts about this case from the onset. Hold on a second,” he said as he stepped out of his office.

When they were alone, Maro said “he’s hiding something, yes. But we need him on our side, if we will save Tricia. So let’s keep him happy, okay?”

Taju nodded, and they waited for Olu for about five more minutes in silence. He returned with a small safe box, the type that requires a combination of three numbers to open. They wondered what this was as he set it on the table and went around to the other side where his chair was. He took his time to seat down and then methodically arranged the numbers. The safe opened with a loud pop sound.

******************************************************

Driving like I’m being chased by a speed demon now seems to be the norm, Kofo thought to herself and she weaved through the side streets in Surulere to avoid the traffic on Western Avenue. She knew the hotel Teju had mentioned very well, it was off Adeniran Ogunsanya and it was an area she knew well. He stayed that close to hers. She got there twenty minutes after she left Olu’s office and walked up to the uniformed receptionist. “I’m here to see Mr. Teju Bello. Would you notify him that Kofo is here for him?

The guy looked up at Kofo and then lazily punched the keys on his keyboard. He seemed to have found Teju’s name in their records because he straightened up a little and asked “is Mr. Bello expecting you?”

“Yes, he should be,” she replied.

He picked up the extension phone beside him and dialed what she guessed was the extension in Teju’s room. There was no answer and he dialed again. Still, there was no answer. He replaced the receiver and looked up at Kofo. “It seems Mr. Bello is not in his room, please allow me confirm if he dropped his keys with us.

Kofo knew that in most hotels, customers were expected to drop their keys when going out of the premises to enable the cleaning team access to the rooms. The receptionist went into the back of his counter area and rummaged through things, until he came back with a bunch of keys. Room 219.

“Sorry madam, but it seems Mr. Bello hasn’t returned since he went out this morning. The register says he returned his key at about seven in the morning and it’s still here with us.”

Kofo smiled quickly to hide the worry she that raged within her. Teju was not here, and she thought of a thousand and one things that must have happened to him. “Thank you,” she said, as she turned towards the door.  “I’ll just call his mobile to find out where he is.”

She left her car in the hotel car park and hopped on an Okada at the gate. It was late already but it would be easier to move around on bikes within Surulere. In ten minutes, she was at the café and she quickly paid the okada man without waiting for change. All she found out from the café staff was that the gentleman she had been with earlier in the day had left by himself and didn’t appear to have been in any form of trouble. They had seen him walk off on his own. She seemed to have hit a dead end.

A lot of times, the thing that brings illumination is usually unplanned and unexpected. As Kofo sat at the café, thinking of what to do, short of confronting AIG Saranja who was many times her superior, her blackberry got a new message. She wanted to ignore it, but as usual, the blinking red light indicator won the battle and she picked up the phone to see what the message was. She opened it and saw the text color – purple; a broadcast. She was about to close the message and delete it when something caught her eye. The last story “Popular member of defunct music group rounded off by police indiscriminately in Surulere – Ynaija.”

A light bulb flashed in her mind but she couldn’t place a hand on it. She decided to find out more about that story and promptly went to the Ynaija site to read the full story. She was halfway through the story when it struck her. The location the police had taken them was just a few minutes away. She jumped up and raced to the door before realizing she had left her bag on the table. She dashed back to get it and hurried towards the junction mentioned in the website. She scanned the area and saw a vulcanizer by the roadside. She was certain he would have been there all day.

“Oga, good evening o,” she said casually.

The man looked up from the tools he was arranging and did a quick scan. He was disappointed, since she hadn’t parked a car and was not likely to be a potential customer.

“Good evening madam,” he said briskly and returned to arranging his tools. Kofo contemplated showing that she was police to get cooperation but concluded it would be counterproductive. She decided on a more subtle approach.

“Oga, abeg no vex, I wan ask you something ni,” she began. The man looked up and raised an eyebrow. The illumination from his single bulb did not hide his calloused hands. “My brother from London come this side for afternoon, and he no sabi Lagos well. We dey find am.” She brought out her phone and showed him a picture she had gotten from Teju’s facebook. The man’s face became softer as he saw the picture.

“I remember the oga,” he said and Kofo’s heart leapt up in hope. “I hear him oyinbo English as he dey call taxi for my front here,” he pointed to a spot less than two meters away.

“You hear where him tell the taxi driver say him dey go?” Kofo asked.

“Haa, madam, e no matter where he been wan go o,” the replied with a wave of his powerful hands.

“How?” Kofo asked, perplexed.

“Those foolish police boys wey dey raid with danfo come pack people. Them pack am join, carry am go for their danfo.”

“Shit!” Kofo said. He could be in any of the many stations in Surulere and environs. The man was still talking but she was already moving away. She checked the time. It was past eight already. Shifts were changed at nine. She needed to find out which station Teju had been taken and fast.

***************************************************

It became obvious to Teju immediately that the whole police abduction saga had been carefully staged to provide a smokescreen for his own abduction. By the time they led him out of the police station into a waiting black pickup truck, it was already very dark. He couldn’t see much, and even if he had been able to, he wouldn’t know where they were. He strained to read any of the addresses on the shop signages before he entered the truck but it was simply too dark. And once inside the back of the pickup and its door firmly locked, he could see nothing but thick darkness.

They drove for what he estimated could not have been more than fifteen minutes and then he heard the creaking of a gate and then the crunching of tires on gravel and guessed they had reached their destination. Moments later, the door opened and strong floodlights assaulted his darkness acclimatized eyes. He was dragged roughly out of the vehicle and towards a small bungalow. Obviously, this was not somewhere that was occupied too regularly, because there was overgrown bushes all over where a lawn should have been. Teju silently prayed that this would not go awry.

When then got in, Saranja was seated already and Teju was shoved into a straight backed seat, the type normally used for dinning tables, opposite him.

“Mr. Bello,” Saranja growled, “I am told you wanted to meet me. Otherwise, I cannot understand why you have been making enquiries into my call records. So, how may I help you?”

“You could start by telling how much of the settlement money you have been promised by Mrs Ujah,” Teju said with a sarcastic smile. A resounding slap from one of Saranja’s goons wiped the smile clean of his face and sent him reeling. They helped him sit upright again and Saranja said coolly

“You seem to have the situation mixed up. I am asking the questions here and you are going to give the answers. Now, you can either make this a short night, or a very very long one.”

***********************************************

Kofo began to work contacts that had been built over fifteen years of police work. What she needed to find out was which of the police stations had that area of Surulere as their turf. Even amongst the police, for such raids and illegalities, they had a system of sharing territories amongst each other. She quickly found out, as she had guessed that the territory belonged to the Bode Thomas police station. Fortunately, the DPO of the station was a friend of hers. She would go and see him in person, since it was a bike-able distance. She got there ten minutes later and went straight to his office.

He was a short, squat man with a disappearing neck and beaded eyes. The most pronounced feature on his face were thick lips that seemed to collide awkwardly when he spoke. It added a slight pop to his words when he spoke

“Madam Kofo, to what do I owe this honor o. Since the light fom the first lady has shined on you, we no see your brake lights.”

Kofo smiled pleasantly and exchanged some force banter with him for some seconds. But she wasn’t here for pleasantries and so she quickly moved the conversation to what she was there for.

“Charles, there was a raid today, you know the normal bus raids, and it happened in your territory here on Adeniran. There’s someone that was picked in that raid that is my person. When I found out he was with you, I was happy, as you are also my personal person”

DPO Charles was surprised. “Kofo, I can authoritatively tell you that there was no raid here, except these boys have been running things behind my back. But they won’t try themselves like that.”

He called some of his men in and when they had all lined up against the wall like criminals set up for firing squad, he got up and walked menacingly towards them

“Which of you bagas went out to raid in Adeniran Ogunsanya today? Because there was a raid and I didn’t authorize it. So it’s either one of you or one of you. Start talking!”

One of the men said in a shaky voice “it was not our men sir. We heard it too after it happened.”

“So,” Charles paused and waved a finger at the man, “if it wasn’t you, who would encroach on our area like that? you better have names or you will be sorry.”

“They were from Panti sir,” the officer responded.

“And why am I just hearing this now? So you just allow people come to your area and do as they like? Get out! I will deal with you people later.”

The shuffled out quickly, almost stumbling on one another. Charles had returned to his seat. “Kofo, I’m sorry I cannot help you, your man isn’t here.”

“Who is DPO at Panti?” she asked.

“Unfortunately, its that foolish goat Tanko,” he responded

“Oh shit! That’s almost a no no,” Kofo exclaimed.

Tanko was anti two things – female police officers and people who were not from the north like him. “I can’t just walk into Tanko’s and bring someone out,” Charles mumbled.

“The man is probably no longer in Tanko’s custody,” Kofo said evenly.

“Oh, he has been released? So what is all this fuss about then?” he asked with a confused look on his face.

“I am going to trust you Charles, because we go way back,” Kofo said.

Charles sat up and Kofo briefed him on Teju helping her with a case she thought Saranja had interest in and how Saranja’s men had followed him just before the bus raid.

“It definitely smirks of a smokescreen to capture your man. I have a boy in Panti we can call for information,” Charles said after she concluded her story.

He dialed the number and put it on speaker. A thickly accented Igbo voice answered after two rings

“Oga good evening o. Your boy is loyal.”

“Pattison, how are you? I need to find something out quickly,” he interjected “the raid your people did today, have they released the people they brought in?”

“Haaa, oga, you have heard sharp sharp. Yes, they’ve released the ones with ID cards, but the ones without will be here till tomorrow morning,” Pattison replied.

“Was there any guy, mid-thirties, with Oyinbo accent amongst them?” Charles asked, and in the brief moment it took Pattison to respond, you could see the tension mixed with hope on Kofo’s face.

“Yes oga, I remember that he said something that annoyed the constable that was checking them and they screened him last.”

Kofo heaved a sigh of relief.

“So,” Charles probed “did he have an ID card?”

“Yes sir,” Pattison responded

“Ha, so he must have been released along with the others,” Charles asked, smiling a relieved smile at Kofo.

“Ha, oga, no o. they didn’t release him,” Pattison responded.

Kofo nearly blanked out, but managed to steady herself to listen.

“Why in the bloody hell didn’t they?” Charles shouted

“One big oga enter with him boys and they took him away. From the man uniform, he is an AIG, serious big oga. The thing looks like a planned thing between Tanko and the Oga. But I just noted it and assumed that maybe the guy is an international criminal or something”

“Okay Pattison, I will call you if I need anything else,” Charles said and ended the call.

“Incredulous!” Charles said, to no one in particular.

Kofo had the confirmation she required. She stood up and thanked Charles and turned to go. He stopped her at the door, the worry lines tracing the chubby parts of his face

“This is an AIG we are talking about Kofo, and he came down to personally handle this himself. What are you going to do?

Kofo looked at him with brown eyes that held a quiet steel “Finish him.” And then she left.

*********************************************

Olu opened the box and emptied its contents on the table.

“He held up a piece of silk nightwear. “This is what Tricia was wearing that night,” he said. Maro recognized it instantly. He had bought her that nightgown.

Olu continued “If she had killed Bruno in the manner he died, surely there must have been some blood splattered on the nightie.” He spread it carefully on the table. “Not a drop, not a drop at all,” Taju mumbled.

“Yes, and I observed the wall myself. There were blood splatters there, so the clothing is inconsistent with the pattern. She either changed what she was wearing before the made the call, or she didn’t kill him” Olu said.

“She also claimed to have been in shock after the trauma of the rape, which we all know happened,” he continued. “She claims it was her mother’s call to her that jolted her out of the shock and that she called the police right after that. I checked the records and the sequence of the calls jived. The probability that the rest of her story is true is therefore high.”

The two other men nodded their heads in agreement. Taju realized he hadn’t done a good job defending Tricia. He hadn’t even thought along these lines. It was as if he could hear the whirring of Olu’s mind as they went through the points. He was sure of one thing though. It was going to be a long night.

***************************************************

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria started his day early. He valued those first waking hours, when he was truly alone and the vast retinue of aides, power grabbers, stakeholders, chieftains and all other types of creatures that holding political office brewed were not around. So when his personal mobile phone rang within that solitude, he knew two things immediately. One, that it was someone he could not ignore. The fact that the person had this number sealed that. second, that it was urgent  and important and so he might have to break out of his blissful solitude and attend to it. Sometimes he wondered whether being president really made him powerful or that was just an illusion and he was merely serving these powerful forces.

It was the British High Commissioner. He was tempted to ignore the call, these bloody Brits sometimes acted as if they had forgotten that they were no longer running their former colony. But common sense prevailed and he picked the call and said in his most pleasant voice “Hello Sir Walter. To what do I owe this pleasure?”

His face went from forced pleasantness to irritation as he listened to the reply.

He responded “Sir Walter, we cannot override the rule of law. I understand he is a British Citizen, but if he has broken any laws, he will be tried appropriately.”

The Brit pointed out to him that the man was picked as if at random by the police, but their findings showed that he was not in the custody of any police station. They had been reliably informed that an AIG Saranja was holding their citizen privately.

He hated when these arrogant people were right, but in this case they were. He would have that Saranja’s skin when this was over. “Sir Walter,” he responded “be assured that no harm will come to a British citizen in Nigeria. I will personally direct that this be investigated and we will get to the bottom of this. We will leave no stone unturned.”

Sir Walter reiterated the fact that the only acceptable outcome to the matter was to either release their citizen or publicly charge him with whatever crime he had been arrested for. Then the Brit politely thanked him for his time and hung up. Politely arrogant Brits. He would see to this later, it wasn’t urgent in his books. No foreigner would force him into breaking the time he enjoyed the most.

He was settling back into the quiet relaxed state when the loud knocking of the door shattered the peace and quiet. Whoever it was had just lost their jobs. He was still getting up when the door swung open and in walked the only person he could not sack – his wife. And from the look of things, she hadn’t come in to lovingly awaken him.

“All these your overzealous and greedy boys, you will not check them!” she started, her voice loud enough to carry to their domestic aides outside in the hallway. With her, they didn’t even need to eavesdrop.

“What is the problem again that I cannot have peace and quiet en?” he asked, more to himself than her.

“One of my good daughters called me that your police people are detaining her fiancé without charge. What makes it worse is that she is one of those we have been praying for husband for, she is not a small girl again. This man who is not Nigerian came to Nigeria to marry her, and now your police people have spoilt everything!”

He held his hands in his heads. What was wrong with these policemen! If the British High Commissioner couldn’t get him to act immediately, his wife definitely could. She was spoiling for a serious fight, and the gossip mill in the villa fed on these fights.  He wasn’t about to give them cannon fodder now. “Do you know the boy’s name and where he is being held?”

“The boy’s name is Teju Bello and this my daughter is Kofo, you remember that good girl that is helping with my anti rape pet project. She is 36 and now this Teju boy wants to marry her. She said he’s British though his parents are Nigerian. See answered prayers that these people want to pour sand inside o.”

“Who is holding him?” he asked, a quiet anger  welling up inside him.

“One AIG Saranja,” she responded.

“The man is a goner!” he said with such force that his wife was impressed. She knew nothing about the earlier call from the British High Commissioner or that this Saranja’s name had shattered his peace twice this morning.

“That’s my husband, I knew you will handle it,” she said, smiling broadly as she embraced him and left.

The president got dressed and called the Minister of Police Affairs and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission to meet him within thirty minutes in his chambers.

Teju had endured one of the worst nights of his life. They had kept him awake, seating upright in the very uncomfortable chair. He had been slapped, punched, shoved and kicked all night in between rigorous questioning. He hadn’t said anything yet, but he was nearing breaking point. Saranja had stayed awake too, and he could see that the man was tired too now. What would happen if it was decided that he had no value to them? He shuddered at the thought.

He had heard birds singing outside for a while which mean it was daybreak. His interrogators were on a food break when Saranja’s phone rang. He saw the man pick the phone and check the caller ID and then stiffened as if unconsciously. It was a shiny black one he saw all the other men carry and he assumed it was a standard issue of some sorts. Saranja stepped out to take the call.

********************************************************

Saranja hadn’t been expecting any calls from the Inspector General of Police. He hardly got any calls from his direct superior, and hardly did at seven in the morning.

“Hello Saranja.”

“Hello sir,” he swallowed bile as he said the sir.

“You are on speaker and I have the Minister and the Chairman of the commission here.”

Saranja wheezed. What was going on?

The minister spoke “Saranja, you are holding a young man that has caused us plenty trouble this morning. Teju Bello is his name and he is a British citizen. First, you will let him go, and then you will immediately proceed to Abuja to explain why you have embarrassed the presidency like this. Bring the young man to the phone, we need to confirm to the president that he is alive and well.”

Saranja was dumbfounded. Straight from the presidency? The minister? IG? What in the world did this guy do? One thing was certain and he knew it. His police career was over.

He took the phone inside and handed it over to Teju. He just heard Teju say a series of Yeses and then he rounded the call off.

He signaled two of his men “clean him up and take him to his hotel.”

And then he left for Abuja. More than ever before, he thought on the way to the airport, they needed to win this case.

Tricia’s Nightmare – Episode 11

Christmas is in the air!! So I’ve decided to record a Christmas Song to say thank you to y’all for making this blog the prima donna of Fiction series. I appreciate you very much. So download the song, listen to it, love it, use as your ring tone, share it, do christmas videos with it, do whatever.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TL’S CHRISTMAS SONG

Enjoy today’s Tricia’s Nightmare.

donkey_shrek_the_final_chapter-t2

Kofo left immediately, not bothering to finish her food. She weaved expertly through traffic, avoiding some near hits a few times. It took her the whole of forty minutes to reach Ivie’s apartment and she went straight to the door. It was early evening now and she passed some children who were just returning from school. She didn’t bother to knock, and the door was not locked, so she went straight in. The curtains had been drawn to allow light in. Taju was sitting on the edge of the sitting room couch, legs crossed and hands on his chin, with a distant stare in his eyes. Kofo guessed he was still trying to come to terms with the fact that someone who he had slept with just hours before was dead and gone. Maro was more alert and he came to meet Kofo before they called out to a startled Taju who then broke out of whatever distant thoughts he was thinking.

“Which of the doors leads to her room?” she asked Maro.

Maro led her towards the door and Taju got up and followed them. She quickly took in the surroundings, noting the disturbances on the dressing table and the way some of the cosmetics had been scattered beside the bed. Evidently, there had been a struggle, and that ruled out a projectile weapon like a gun. She then let her eyes rest on the body, surveying it deliberately. Just a few days ago, she had sat at a table with this woman, eating and talking. Ruefully, she thought about how ironic it was that a non homicide officer like her was the first officer at two murder scenes within the space of a week. It happens sometimes that it is when you are so lost in thought that you are unconscious of your surroundings that you notice things more acutely, albeit unconsciously. In the periphery of her vision, Kofo spotted something that the two others had not – a footprint clearly outlined on the cream tiles beside the bed. And from the size of the print, it had to have been made by a man with really small feet, or a woman. She quickly took a picture. Then she called the homicide officers, taking care not to report it to anyone that was close to Olu. He would hear through the grapevine soon enough, but she needed the delay.

Maro spoke first “we will never know for sure if she was the one that took the documents from Taju’s file now. Tough luck that we couldn’t find anything out from her.”

“She was the one, I am certain of that now,” Kofo said firmly.

“And how come you are suddenly so sure of it now that Ivie cannot say anything of it? Accusing the dead because they cannot defend themselves?” Taju asked.

Kofo handed over the call records she had obtained from Tejuola to both men. She had highlighted Ivie’s number yellow in all the places it occurred. “Bruno’s wife’s call records to Nigerian numbers in the past few months. She has been talking with Ivie. A lot. A whole lot.”

“They could have been quarreling. I know Ivie had something with Bruno a while ago, and his wife might have found out about it. Or it could have been a quarrel about her having Tricia in Bruno’s house. The fact that two people are talking does not necessarily mean they were planning murder.” Taju argued. But it was clear that even as he argued, he knew already what the truth was. Ivie was somehow complicit in all this, and she had died because of her involvement.

“And by extension, Bruno’s wife killed Bruno and then killed Ivie now, all out of jealousy yeah?” Kofo said sarcastically.

“Yes! That must have been what happened. It has to have been! Ivie would never have…” Taju said

“Pull yourself together Taju!” it was Maro who interrupted him and then turning to Kofo, he gave her a hard look and said sternly “your point is made. Now, be nice, okay?” there was cold ice in the air for a few minutes as they all took a breather to calm down. The silence was shattered by a shrill sound. It took a few moments for Kofo to realize that it was her phone that was ringing.

****************************************************************

Tejuola Bello was halfway through the money he had brought into Nigeria. He had asked for more than usual, and had been given but he sensed he would be needing more to run this case. He contacted a source he had gotten in MTN but here, he met a brick wall. He needed the call records of AIG Saranja. While he agreed with Kofo’s suspicion that he had something to do with Olu’s zeal, his police college instructor’s voice rang in his head –“VERIFY!”

But MTN was not a government agency. The staffs were better paid, and systems were better protected. So getting the call records through the backdoor was proving to be a near impossibility. But get it, he must.

Then out of the blues, zit! The idea hit him. He quickly called up his NCC contact and explained what he wanted clearly.

“Yes, I can get it for you sir, but it will cost you o. I will have to settle people within MTN after taking my share, so it’s double what you paid for the other job,” the voice said. Tejuola imagined him rubbing oily hands as he spoke greedily but without hesitation, he said

“You’ll get paid if you can get it in thirty minutes,” he responded. If he was going to pay a premium, he might as well extract maximum value for his money.

“That one will be hard o. They do shifts, and we will be lucky if my person is on duty now.”

“Then pray that your luck is in. You earn this money only if you get it in thirty minutes or the info will be useless to me,” Teju responded and then hung up. Greedy pus!

Next, he called Peter. If this was going to get as dangerous as he suspected it would, he needed to have a backup rescue plan from base, in case things got really messy.

********************************************************

AIG Saranja received the call he had been waiting for.

“We spotted her leaving a café about fifteen minutes ago,” his agent reported.

“Good, do you have anyone on her tail?” he asked

“Yes sir, I put one team on her, on bikes, so they can keep track of her and not be held in any traffic.”

“Good job man,” Saranja responded. “Now, who was she meeting?”

“She was meeting a man, looks mid thirties. We could not say if it was a private meeting or anything that had to do with the case, but she rushed out after receiving a call. She left him sitting there. I’m here with my team, still watching him to see if he will make any moves.”

“Follow him as soon as he leaves the café and pick him up as soon as you have the opportunity to do so with as few people seeing you as possible. We might need to make him disappear permanently and we don’t want anyone remembering if Kofo gets nosy.”

“Yes sir.”

Saranja ended the call.

**********************************************

Money is often a powerful motivator and the NCC staff was not an exception to this rule. Teju received a call from him fifteen minutes after their conversation.

“I have sent you an email with a detailed list of the calls over the past two months. It’s divided into dialed and received calls and you can easily sort it out to find whatever you are looking for.”

Tejuola smiled “I’ll credit you as soon as I read the email and confirm the job is well done.”

“Okay. I will call you in ten minutes,” his informant said and then cut the call.

Teju quickly checked his email on his tablet and retrieved the attached spreadsheet. He sorted the spreadsheet by phone number and then search for Olu’s number. “Yes!” he exclaimed out aloud and a few heads turned towards him in the café before he cautioned himself. Olu and Mr. Saranja had been having a lot to say to each other lately. Precisely since the day after Tricia’s ordeal began.

He quickly saved the sorted excel sheet and forwarded it to Kofo and then he called her.

******************************************************************

It was this call from Tejuola that caused Kofo’s phone to ring right after Maro rebuked her.

“Hello man, what’s up?” she asked, taking the call with her earpiece.

“Hi. It’s confirmed. Olu and the other dude have been talking.” Teju said, sounding excited.

“Okay, how did you confirm this?”

“I obtained Saranja’s call records.” Teju answered

“Teju! You need to stop doing this. I could have gotten it for you legally and without making it traceable to you.” Kofo said, surprised at herself. Why was she even concerned for him? He continued what he was saying without pausing to acknowledge her worry for him and she was somewhat galled.

“What’s interesting is that they were not talking at all before. All of a sudden, they started talking a lot, the day after Tricia was arrested. The last time they talked – today, right after court.”

“Hmm, I think I should pay Mr. Williams a visit. I’ve known him to be many things, but murderer is not one of them. I think someone is using him and he at least needs to know it. What’s your take?” she had asked before she caught herself. Why the heck did she have to ask for his take?

“I think you should. You know him well and I trust your judgment on this one. How’s things over there? Homicide there yet?” Teju asked.

“Things pretty bad, nerves are frayed. They’re on their way. I’ve gotta go now. Later.” She hung up before he could protest and caught her breath. She didn’t allow herself wonder about how some bits of the conversation had gone. There were immediate things that needed her concern right away and she could occupy herself with those.

She turned to meet the inquiring eyes of the two men in the room with her. With as straight face as she could muster, she explained the gist of the phone conversation and who Saranja was to them, without giving anything away of Tejuola’s identity. They wisely did not ask who the caller had been.

There were heavy knocks on the door and Kofo knew the homicide people had arrived. She met them at the door and quickly explained briefly how they had come upon the scene. It was important that she met them first. She knew her colleagues could get over-excited if they had met a non-cop first. Meeting them and giving them the walk around of the scene took their minds away from harassing Maro and Taju. Because of how well she managed them, they only interviewed the two guys briefly and then the crime scene guys moved in collecting evidence and taking pictures before they carted the body away and then sealed the apartment.

********************************************************

Teju stepped out of the café and he was glad it was evening already. The heat had since subsided and the sun was now a red giant in the horizon. He had by now adapted to the Lagos heat but still yearned for the coolness of his London home. He had walked for only ten minutes before his trained eyes picked them out of the crowd. Two men had been following him since he stepped out of the café and while it might have been a coincidence, he was not trained to take chances on coincidences. VERIFY!

He walked on for another five minutes and then stopped abruptly and broke into a run towards a small side road he had passed a few minutes before. He had jogged there on some mornings and he knew it bent back towards the road if he took the first right turn off the street. His maneuver achieved exactly what he planned it would. Fearing they would lose him, two more men joined the other two and moved hastily towards him. He had lain to rest the possibility of coincidence and had forced them to reveal their numbers and positions. He stopped abruptly before reaching the side street and stood still in the evening crowd on the main street. Again, the men did exactly as he did. He composed an SMS

“I’m being followed by some stooges I suspect to be Saranja’s. I’ll try to lose them now. Chances are they followed you too, so lose them. Meet me at Kolex Hotels in another one hour. And if I’m not there, raise an alarm.”

He sent it to Kofo and then quickly composed another SMS to Peter informing him to kick start the embassy pressure plan if he did not hear from him before morning.

He checked his wrist watch. It was now 5:30pm. He strolled to the side of the road and called a cab. As he was negotiating with the cab, a yellow danfo pulled up right in front of the danfo and uniformed policemen jumped out of the vehicle, releasing the safety of their AK-47 rifles and shouting menacingly.

He tried to walk away and cross the road but one of them blocked his path shouting “spot check search!” while the others rounded off everyone in the vicinity of the bus and ordered them into the vehicle. The people who were not within the area the police were rounding people up moved a safe distance away, but said nothing. It seemed they were used to police rounding people off just like that. Once the vehicle was full, they drove off like crazed men. Tejuola was in the vehicle.

By the time they got to the police station twenty minutes later, they had confiscated the phones of all of them in the bus. Teju was cramped into the space behind the counter along with ten others. All the other people seemed to know the routine and had begun to rummage through their pockets. Some produced national ID cards, others drivers’ license, and still some school IDs. Then they waited. The policemen that brought them in had rushed out as soon as they dumped them there, on another raid, it would seem.

A couple of minutes later, two police officers came around and asked that those who had ID cards should raise them in the air. Teju had his international driver’s license on him and he raised it in the air. Of the eleven of them, seven had means of ID. The ones that did not have any means of ID were separated and led further into the police station. Teju just watched and marveled as the drama unfolded before him.

The two officers then systematically checked the means of ID of each of them, and he noticed that once they seemed satisfied with your ID, they led you to the worn chalkboard corner and took whatever money they could get from you and then asked you go. He had just watched the police legally rob citizens. “This country is fucked” he said under his breath. The bigger of the two policemen approached him and asked “what did you say?” with a menacing scowl on his face. Teju thought it best not to aggravate the fellow and clamped his mouth shut.

“You want to be troublesome abi? We will check you last.”

So Teju watched as the other five people were screened and then frisked for their money, before being let go. Then the menacing police officer walked up to him and hollered “ID!”

He presented his international driver’s license expecting that the routine would be the same and that he would be out in a couple of minutes.

“What is this oga? We only take driver’s license, national ID card or work ID card,” the officer spat.

“But this is a driver’s license. It’s just an international one,” Teju retorted.

“Aha, I knew you were a troublemaker,” the man responded, and the second officer joined in, shoving him towards the cell area.

“Can I call my lawyer?” he asked

“Mtchew… with your nonsense oyinbo accent, you think this is wherever you are from abi? You will see.”

Shouts of “Shun sir, shun sir!” rang through the air and distracted the officers who were manhandling him. When the two officers blocking his view parted ways, Teju let out a gasp. For right before him were the four men who had been stalking him earlier, he recognized them clearly. There was a fifth man with them, and he was the one who was getting the salutes. Teju read his name tag. Saranja. “Shit!” he exclaimed out aloud.

******************************************************

Kofo, Maro and Taju all set out for Olu’s office immediately the police sealed off Ivie’s house and left. She concluded her explanation of what she thought was going-on on the journey. They got there just as it was beginning to get dark enough to need headlights on the road. Straight through the building, they hustled up the stairs to the second floor to Olu’s office where two of the three of them had been just a few days ago. Dudu got up to stop them as they passed through the large office space that had several officers at their desks but he had seen them too late and was slow to react. They skipped past him and Kofo busted into Olu’s office without knocking and caught him unawares before Dudu could catch up.

“Olu Williams,” she said in a measured but clear voice to him, “what exactly is going on?”

By now, Olu had composed himself, and shot Dudu a stern recriminatory look.

“It took you so long to come and gloat on your little victory today, Madam Kofo, and her rangers,” he said sarcastically.

“Olu, while I would love to do just that, I’m afraid that more pressing matters have brought us here,” she responded.

He raised his eyebrow as if saying, “let’s hear it,” and she continued “we went to Ivie, Tricia’s aunt’s house after court today. We found her dead, murdered in her own bed.”

Olu’s eyes widened in surprise and Kofo’s years of interrogation experience told her he wasn’t faking surprise. He really had not known, either before the event, and she had carefully made sure he didn’t hear it through the grapevine.

“Please sit down,” Olu said now, still visibly shocked. He nodded to Dudu and the albino silently left the room while the rest of them took sits opposite Olu.

“Tell me,” Olu said quietly.

Maro recapped how they had found Ivie, interjected here and there by Taju to clarify some points. Kofo took over the tale from the point and she was at the point where the homicide team arrived at Ivie’s house when the loud beep of her phone interrupted her narrative.

Her expression went from curious to grave as she read the message. She got up, clearly agitated.

“I need to leave you guys and attend to something urgently. Olu, I’m sure the guys can fill you in on the rest of what we came to say.”

They all looked at her with interest but it seemed they all understood that she had chosen not to mention specifics of why she was leaving and they decided to respect that and not query further. They all nodded as she left.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD TL’S CHRISTMAS SONG

ff on twitter @tundeleye

Tricia’s Nightmare – Episode 10

 

checkmate

“Now would be a good time to tell us what really happened, doc,” Taju said quietly, right after he stopped the playback.

“Men came to my hospital, violent looking men. I initially told them I was going to uphold my professional ethics and report what I had observed. But when they produced my report to you, I realized there was someone in your camp that is working with them. I was still going to resist them, but things got violent. There was a gun pointed at me after that scuffle you heard on your recording. And they followed me around unseen, calling me intermittently to tell me where I was and what I was doing. I feared for my life and had to say what they wanted in this case.”

“So,” Taju pressed, “what is the real result of your examination of my client?” He knew he had to get the witness to actually state this clearly.

“Miss Tricia had evidence of vaginal bruising only attributable to forced penetration without lubrication. She also had fading bruises on her face, signs that she had been recently struck across the face. This is consistent with her story and also consistent with rape. All these indicate that she indeed was raped. However, I was unable to ascertain the identity of the rapist, as there was no semen samples collected to test.”

“Thank you doctor, that would be all.” Then turning to Olu, he said coyly “your witness.”

“No questions, my lord,” Olu said dryly, deliberately ignoring Taju’s obvious gloating.

The judge addressed Doctor Obochi, “doctor, while I sympathize with you as regards your dilemma, and the fact that your life was truly in danger, the law is clear on what you have done. Lying to this court after taking the oath is perjury and is a criminal offence, for which you will be tried and sentenced appropriately, if found guilty by a competent court of law. I do not like a fellow professional who has put in so much work to go down like this, but I also doubt that you will retain your license. So you see, the very things you were trying to protect, you will lose now. Cooperating with criminals and succumbing to their threats is never a good idea.”

With that, Doctor Obochi stepped down from the witness stands and was arrested immediately and taken into custody, amidst murmurings in court. The clerk shouted “order” and the murmuring died down.

Taju got up and addressed the judge “my lord, we can establish that my client was raped, based on the last witness’ testimony”

“Objection, my lord. The witness has been arrested on perjury for that testimony, which makes it inadmissible as evidence in this case,” Olu interjected.

“Objection overruled. While your postulation is true, there are only two options in this case, either she was raped or not. If the doctor stating she was not raped has been prove false, then she was raped.”

You could have seen the smoke coming out of Olu’s ears as he sat down if you looked closely. Taju continued

“What we will establish next is the identity of the rapist, beyond reasonable doubt, and the circumstantial evidence available. We would like these two folders to be admitted as evidence in this case. We have made copies available for the prosecution,” he said, as copies were passed to both the judge and the prosecution corner. He continued

“The first folder contains police images taken of the crime scene, as well as images taken by my client with her mobile phone right after the rape incident. It merely reiterates what the doctor’s evidence has already established.”

Olu studied the images. There were two sets, one set with a high resolution, obviously taken with high powered police cameras. He had those images in his files too. The other, however feeling like he was wearing a donkey head. He had seen the images before – they were the images on the memory card he had destroyed. Kofo had obviously backed them up before showing him. He felt too weak to object anything. He knew the real reason they were bringing this out was not to establish rape but to gag him from making any objections. Taju continued

“The crux is to look at these two images, one a police image and one taken by my client. They both show a cotton bud lying on the bed. The police image clearly shows that the cotton bud has some fluid on one of its head. As the police were unwilling to pay for the DNA tests to confirm the owner of this body fluid, we undertook getting this done ourselves in the United Kingdom. The second document is the report from the lab of the London School of Medicine. It confirms that the fluid was indeed Mr. Bruno’s seminal fluid. We can therefore conclude that my client was raped by Mr. Bruno as she reported.”

Tricia nearly jumped for joy where she was, but she controlled himself with considerable effort. It was the first time she saw the case taking a turn in their favor.

As Kofo expected, Olu did not raise any objections, even though she could see he was dying to. She had correctly deduced that since this was only establishing rape but not precluding Tricia from murder, he would not risk objecting. If he did, questions would be asked about why the police did not have Tricia’s pictures. And he did not want to have to answer those questions. She smiled smugly.

Taju continued “my lord, on the basis of all these, I would request that this court grant bail to my client, as she has not received any treatment after this crude invasion of her body.”

The judge thought on the matter and then spoke slowly and deliberately “I would be the first to admit that this is a most unusual case. The defendant is accused of the murder of the man who she is in turn accusing of raping her, a rape which all the facts point to having occurred. This court will however decline granting bail to the defendant – the charge is murder, and it will be treated as such until proven otherwise. Furthermore, seeing that the evidence shows that the police investigation into the matter has not been as thorough as would have been expected, this case will be adjourned for one week, to enable both prosecution and defense to investigate properly and return to court with all necessary facts to support their cases. The defendant will be remanded in the more hospitable custody of the SRDV pending the determination of the case.” Then she banged her gavel and the clerk quickly shouted “rise”, at which everyone rose, and the judge went into her chambers to de-robe.

Olu rose and walked over to Taju and Kofo. He breathed only the words “Pyrrhic Victory” to them and then walked off with measured steps.

 *******************************************************************

“Someone has been asking about you sir,” AIG Saranja’s informant told him over the phone.

“Someone has been asking about me? What type of questions exactly?” he asked, wondering which of his police adversaries was trying to get him this time. Thankfully, he kept a well oiled informant network running and it was paying off in this case.

“A discreet request came through the ranks to get the identity of the owners of two mobile numbers. It’s not directly under my purview, but I listen for these things here. When the results of the search came out, your name was returned as the owner of one of the numbers.”

AIG Saranja thought briefly and then asked “which of my numbers was this?”

“Let me get the number sir.” there was a slight pause and then the informant came back on the line “08038205231 sir.”

Saranja’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. That was his private number, and few people called him on it. A thought flashed across  his mind and he queried the informant “you said there were two numbers that came in the request. Did you get the name of the owner of the other number?”

“Yes sir,” the informant replied.

“What was it?” Saranja asked impatiently.

“Ivie sir, Ivie Ovie”

Saranja wheezed unconsciously and then caught himself. Speaking as normally as he could, he quickly rounded off the call with the informant without giving away the gravity of the information he had just received. This definitely had to do with this Tricia case. He wondered who it was that was already putting things together. But whoever it was, he had to nip it in the bud. There was too much at stake. It took a few seconds before it registered on him that the shrill sound he was hearing was his own phone ringing. He picked it up and checked caller id. It was Olu Williams. He hoped the news he was about to hear was good.

“Sir,” Olu began without the usual courtesies, “the least I would have expected was to be in the picture about your agents paying the doctor a visit.”

AIG Saranja was caught off guards “how did you know about that, Olu? Have you been snooping around behind my back?”

“You would have had a smaller problem if it was me snooping around. Apparently, Tricia’s people had the doctor’s office bugged and recorded the visit. The doctor was shamed in court as a liar. I had the perfect defense set up to still get a conviction even if they were able to establish rape. They also know that someone removed documents from their lawyer’s file. I’m beginning to wonder if this is not more than this girl. No, I’m not just beginning to wonder, in all honesty, I’ve always known. So sir, I need you to come out plain to me, is there something I should know that I don’t?” Olu sounded exasperated as he spoke.

“Olu, I’ll be frank with you, your deductions are right. And it is important that this girl gets convicted for this murder, the stakes are very high. I will take care of this loose end, but ensure you focus on winning this case. I have not reneged on my promise, if you deliver. Now, I’ve got to go. I need to make some calls to sort some things out.”

Olu had more questions to ask, but even now, he didn’t forget that AIG Saranja was by far his superior and in the force, that meant a lot. He would ask later. He politely allowed the AIG to hang the call up.

AIG Saranja swung into action immediately he hung up. He dialed a number and after two rings, the call was picked up. The voice that said hello to him was clear and crisp. The connection was very good. He spoke in low but clear tones

“Change of plans. The girl dies.”

 *************************************************************************

The four of them sat around the hardwood table in Kofo’s air-conditioned office. They had all agreed that there might be serious threats to Tricia’s life and Kofo had detailed four of her best men to watch her cell with at least two being there at any given moment. If they could go to those lengths with Doctor Obochi, there was no telling what they could do. She felt for the doctor. The poor man had lost everything and had a jail term hanging over his head now. She was all the more determined to get to the bottom of this case.

The mood in Kofo’s office was a mix. There were reasons to celebrate, as they had won some victories in court today. The most important perhaps was that Tricia was now in their custody and she would be better treated, and as Taju pointed out, they could ask her questions better. They had also established rape, and with that a viable defense by reducing the charge to manslaughter in the worst case scenario. But, as Kofo somberly pointed out, there was someone in the ranks who was in league with Olu’s people. She was privately happy that none of them knew of Teju. Teju had been right when he had first pointed out the advantage of his anonymity.

“The only person that could have done this is Ivie,” Taju said. Kofo and Maro had been hesitant to point fingers at the obvious choice in respect to Taju’s sensibilities. He had helped them by voicing what they were both thinking.

“The million dollar question is,” Maro paused and opened his palms “why?”

“I would love us to discuss our plans on how to prosecute Tricia’s defense, but I think speaking with Ivie is more pressing as she is the only one that can answer that question. I would even have expected her to have at least called to find out about the case,” Maro said. Kofo nodded in agreement and Taju picked up his phone to dial her. It rang out and he tried again. The phone rang out the second time. “Not picking,” he said.

“I think both of you should go and speak with her at home. I would have come along, but I have another meeting this afternoon that I cannot miss.”

 ********************************************************

In her cell, Tricia thought all kinds of thoughts. She didn’t know whether to be happy or sad. True, her conditions here were better and that scary albino was no longer her to torture her with his mere presence. But she worried about Maro. There was something she could not place a name to, but she felt he was avoiding personal contact with her. Even here, where she guessed he could see her alone if he really wanted to, he hadn’t made the effort. And she didn’t want to stretch her luck by requesting to see him alone. They were good to her here, but she was still an accused criminal in police custody.

“He is avoiding me, because he can’t stand looking at me now he is certain I was raped,” she said out aloud to herself. She spoke her thoughts out loud; she was alone in her cell anyway. “He seems to see freeing me more as some project he has to complete now. And when I am free, will he take me back?” She shook her head. She did not know for sure, and she wished she knew.

 ******************************************************************

Kofo waited for ten minutes after Taju and Maro had left before she left the office for the café where she was rendezvousing with Tejuola Bello. He sat there, in his unassuming polo t-shirt, with lunch already ordered for two.

“I took the liberty of ordering lunch, since I knew you would keep to time,” he said and flashed her a smile that would have made the toothpaste models jealous.

“Are you attempting to flirt with me, Mr. Bello?” she quipped. “It will get you nowhere sir,” she said with a hint of a smile and then continued “and thank you for coming through with all the evidence that helped so much with the case. I am in your debt.”

“Ah, but you have said the only way I wish to receive payment for that debt is a no no,” he said, a sly upward curve forming on his lips.

She cleared her throat dramatically and then asked him what had been bothering her “we think Tricia’s aunt was the one that stole the doctor’s report from Taju’s file when he went for a roll in the haystack at her place. The question that is bothering us now is why. Why would she do such a thing when she was helping with the case? It’s a puzzle I’ve been unable to unravel. The other two guys are on the way to her house now to talk to her.”

Teju still had a playful smile on his face. “I’ll tell you why if you agree to dinner with me, a no work dinner.”

“Teju, please be serious.”

“Who says I’m not serious? Allow me to increase your indebtedness to me…” he said as he produced the piece of paper that had the two numbers he had gotten owners to earlier in the day with the names written by the side.

“These are the two Nigerian numbers that Bruno’s wife called the most within the three months before his death. I have managed to obtain the owners of the numbers, thanks to your SIM registration exercise. One of the numbers belongs to Tricia’s aunt. The other name, I do not know.”

“What!” Kofo exclaimed. She reached out and collected the piece of paper from Teju. Her eyes widened as she looked at it.

“I know the other name,” Kofo said quietly.

Teju instantly became serious “who is it?”

“He is an Assistant Inspector General of police,” she responded

“Holy mackerel!” Teju exclaimed.

“That explains Olu, and so many other things,” Kofo said.

Teju sat back, looking into space and then said as if to himself “this might get dangerous.”

 *****************************************************************

Maro and Taju arrived at Ivie’s house a couple of minutes after Kofo and Tejuola had made their discovery in the café. The whole house was quiet and Taju decided to surprise her. He had his own key and let himself in, calling out her name. Maro went in after him and they both entered an empty parlor. The television was on but the volume was turned low. The flicking of images on the bright screen soundlessly in the dark room gave some sort of ominous foreboding to both men. Cautiously, they went into the kitchen first, and saw fried plantain in a bowl. It looked like it had been left there for a while. Then Taju went towards the room, Maro keeping a distance, lest he come upon a near naked sleeping Ivie. Taju entered the room while he waited just outside the room.

“Damn it!” Taju exclaimed loudly from the room. He rushed into the room and there on the bed, was Ivie in a flimsy t-shirt, her not so perky full breasts clearly outlined. She would have looked like she was peacefully asleep, but for the fact that those breasts were not rising and falling as they should. And then his eyes took in the pillow beside her, stained with a fluid that he guessed was her saliva.

“Do not touch anything,” he said to Taju, as he brought out his phone.

 ******************************************************************

“I know it’s about to go a notch higher,” Kofo was saying to Tejuola when her phone rang. It was Maro. “Maybe they have some news for us from Ivie,” she said to Teju as she picked the call up.

“Hello,” she said “what’s up Maro”

“Ivie is dead,” Maro replied unceremoniously.

“What do you mean Ivie is dead? How?” Kofo said, and Teju’s eyes shone as he realized the implications of what she said.

“She’s dead dead noni. We got here and Taju let us in, since he thought we should surprise her. We found signs that she was in the house but when we called out, she didn’t respond. We found her on her bed, inside her room.”

“Can you ascertain cause of death without touching her? Any wounds? Does it look like suicide? Any signs of break in?” Kofo fired rapidly.

“I’ve taken some pictures and sent them to you by email. It seems to me she was suffocated with her pillow, there’s no bleeding or external wounds on her. Definitely not suicide, except she could suffocate herself.”

“Okay Maro,” I’m on my way and I’ll alert homicide officers to start coming too. Do not touch anything in the house.”

“Roger that,” Maro responded and cut the connection.

There were questions in Teju’s eyes but rather than answer them, she opened the email that was already waiting on her phone and showed him. This had gotten really dangerous, and whoever was behind this seemed to be a step ahead of them in covering their tracks. But to do this, they were getting desperate too.

Tricia’s Nightmare – Episode 9

I’ll be announcing a new giveaway next Monday, something around writing, and it’s gonna be real interesting. Y’all should look forward to that. Enjoy today’s Tricia’s Nightmare.

TL

Teju had finally been able to obtain the call records of Mrs Aisha Ujah’s phone records on Sunday night. Peter had gone to considerable lengths to arrange them for him and he had been able to extract all Nigerian numbers in the list. He quickly removed Bruno’s number and was left with about five numbers.

Three of them were not significant; she had called them less than thrice in the last six months and none of the calls were close to Bruno’s death date. The other two numbers were however another kettle of fish. He silently thanked the government of the day in Nigeria. Unlike what he had feared, getting the identity of the owners of the numbers wasn’t as difficult as he had thought it would be. There had recently been a SIM registration exercise mandated by the Nigerian Communications Commission, and critically, the agency had created their own copy of the records. If the records had been safely in the network provider’s custody, it would have been a very tall order to get them out. But with the government agency, it was a different case. A few well placed wads of cash and guarantees that they were safe, the civil servants in the agency provided him with the names. He had been promised the response Monday morning and as he sat in the back of the courtroom and watched anonymous as Olu attempted to destroy Kofo’s credibility as a witness, he received an SMS from his source.

  • 08038205231 – Amedu Saranja
  • 07023205182 – Ivie Natasha Ovie

There was something familiar about both names that he couldn’t place his hands on. He itched to talk to run them by Kofo, but seeing that she was still in the witness stand, he rubbed his hand on his chin and said to himself

“patience Teju, patience.”

 ************************************************************************

Ivie woke up groggy that Monday morning. She knew it was Tricia’s first day in court but Taju had advised that she should not show up so as not to upset Tricia. So she lay in bed, flipping through channels and wondered what to have for breakfast. There was power from PHCN and the neighborhood was quiet from what would have otherwise been a chorus of overworked generators. She knew that by now, her compound of four flats would be empty as all the neighbors would have gone to work, they were of all those vampire-worker kind of stock that were on the road only in the dark.

She settled on plantain and eggs and got about slicing the plantain when her doorbell rang. She didn’t answer on the first ring, hoping that the person would just leave. She was in no mood to wear anything more than the flimsy t-shirt she was wearing. But when the visitor persisted and rang the bell for a third time, she hissed and went to the door just as she was. She peered through the peephole on her security door and saw no one at her door. She fumed, because she lived in one of those estates that didn’t have a fence and she assumed some kid had come to play with her doorbell until the kid heard her coming and then scampered away. She quickly opened the door, hoping to catch a glimpse of the kid so she could deal with him later. The moment she stepped onto the first of the two stairs in front of her door, she heard a voice say

“look here slowly, Ivie.”

She turned slowly to the right where the big flower pots were and found herself looking straight into the barrel of pistol.

 *******************************************************************

Back in the courtroom, Kofo received a small package containing an MP3 player plus small, earplugs and a pair of small cylindrical rechargeable speakers. There was a note attached to it, and the note said it was from Teju. It instructed her to listen to the only track on it with the earplugs and then share it with Taju. She quickly turned around and scanned the courtroom for Teju, and she saw him seated in the back. He didn’t give any indication that he recognized her and she didn’t either. She knew that sitting somewhere in the courtroom would be Olu’s agents, taking not of such things. She plugged in the earphones and plugged one of her ears so she could listen to it while being aware of the proceedings in court at the same time.

 ************************************************************************

Taju stood up and went to the front of the courtroom again, every illusion of a clean legal fight shaken away from his mind with Olu’s last theatrics. He had begun to speak about doing a re-examination of the witness but a firm shake of Kofo’s head stopped him in his tracks. It was obvious she just wanted to get off the witness stand at that time.

“The defense will now call its second witness,” he said and then turned around and scanned the courtroom before calling him. “Dr. Conrad Obochi, please take the stand.”

The small bespectacled form of Dr Obochi made its way to the front of the courtroom, wearing an oversized cream colored suit and cream colored shoes to match. Taju thought that it was the likes of Dr. Obochi that Nollywood must take its inspiration for how doctors were dressed in their movies from. The clerk administered the oath quickly and Taju began briskly

“Could you introduce yourself to this court?”

The doctor adjusted his spectacles and responded

“I am Dr. Conrad Obochi, chief medical officer and senior consultant of Wintonton Clinic. I had thirty working years as a medical doctor with twenty years of those spent specialized in field of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a further specialization in Maternal Fetal Medicine. I have consulted for the Special Rape and Domestic Violence Squad since its inception and worked with the police force as an expert in rape cases for a combined fifteen years.”

Taju paused to observe the judge. He could see that she had the look of respect in her face that one professional had for another who was equally as accomplished in his field. He allowed himself a brief smile before continuing his questioning

“So would you consider yourself qualified to give an expert opinion on a rape case?”

The doctor’s hand went to his specs again and he answered “Yes I would be. As I mentioned earlier, I have consulted in this capacity for fifteen years now.”

Taju smiled again “What would you consider the standard time lapse between when a rape is reported and when the victim is brought to you?”

“The closer the time of examination is to the time when rape occurred, the more reliable the conclusions we can draw from them can be. So typically, the victim is brought to us within twenty four hours of when a complaint is made,” Dr. Obochi responded.

“So in Tricia’s case, which was brought to you about five days after the complaint was made, would you say standard procedure was not followed?”

The doctor finally took the specs off and placed it on top of the witness stand. His eyes looked tired as he responded “In this case, there was the complication of the murder charge on the victim. That is not typical; hence, I can say that though the victim was not brought in within standard procedure stipulations, it is understandable.”

“But in other to be clear,” Taju reiterated, “please answer in a yes or no manner, was standard procedure followed in this case?”

He half expected to hear Olu raise an objection to his questioning, but none came. Dr Obochi answered after a brief pause as if he was considering his answer “Yes, standard procedure was not followed,” he simply said.

“Obviously, the investigators had reason to delay this examination.” He again expected an objection to fly from Olu’s desk but none came. It seemed that Olu knew that the case would turn once the doctor gave his opinion. He continued

“In your opinion, doctor, did this fact adversely affect your ability to draw a definite conclusion when you eventually examined Miss Tricia?”

“In this case, the time lapse did not impede our ability to make definite diagnosis,” Doctor Obochi responded.

“So tell this court your conclusion upon examination of Miss Tricia, doctor.”

Doctor Obochi seemed to feel uncomfortable with his glasses off and put them on again

“From all our observations, there was definite evidence of recent intercourse. However, there was no trauma consistent with a forced penetration of her vagina as which would be expected if she were not a consensual partner in the intercourse. The only way intercourse could have occurred without such evidence is where the vagina is properly lubricated, once more indicative of consensual intercourse between Miss Tricia and her partner, most likely Mr Bruno on the said night.” He took his spectacles off again and looked at Taju with a straight face “Therefore, my conclusion is that Miss Tricia was not raped but had consensual sex with Mr. Bruno.”

Maro leapt to his feet “Liar! You clearly said she was raped when we were in your hospital” he screamed, before realizing where he was.

The judge banged her gavel and then addressed Taju “you will do well to advise the gentleman in your entourage to get a hold of himself and not interfere with proceedings in my courtroom any further otherwise he will be held in contempt of this court. Do you have any further questions for the witness, attorney?”

Taju was dumbfounded for a few moments, as the courtroom spiraled around him. how could this doctor lie through bare teeth like this? He saw that Olu had a smug smile on his face. The snake, he thought. What irked him though was that Kofo was equally smiling. What was happening? Had the two police officers been working together all along and had they just set him up to look utterly stupid? The doctor had been recommended by Kofo, and he could not help thinking that she was working in concert with Olu to secure a murder conviction in this case. He raced to his desk, and rummaged through the papers to find Dr. Obochi’s initial report. It was not there. The report was somehow lost in his file. That file had not been out of his sight since he got the report delivered to him. He felt the room spiral faster.

The he felt Kofo shoving something into his hand and mouthing the words “listen,” and “evidence” to him. He had enough of his wits on to put one part of the earphones into his left ear and press play on the MP3 player. He only needed to listen for a few seconds to hear that it was Dr. Obochi’s voice coming through loud and clear. He looked at Kofo with questioning eyes again and something in the way she looked back at him convinced him to trust her. He went with that instinct as she mouthed the words “evidence” again.

The judge was saying “Barrister Tajudeen, are you going to tell us if you have further questions for the witness or rummage through your papers all morning?”

Taju turned around dramatically and raised the MP3 player in his hands towards the judge “Apologies for the delay, my lord. I would like the court to adopt this device and its contents as evidence in this case.”

Olu’s eyes filled with suspicion as they darted from Kofo to Taju and for the first time since Dr. Obochi took the stands, he raised an objection “Objection my lord. This court cannot allow itself to be distracted from the matter by the defense’s shenanigans.”

The judge looked from one lawyer to the other and weighed the objection briefly and then responded.

“While I am skeptical as to how whatever is contained on your player will be of effect on this case, I am equally concerned as to the prosecutions sudden objections to evidence he is yet to observe. I will therefore humor you and adopt this device and its content as evidence, but I hope for your own sake that its contents are as important as you make them out to be.”

Taju bowed and said “thank you very much your honor. I have taken the liberty to also provide these portable speakers,” and he held up the rechargeable speakers “to amplify it for the whole court to hear.”

Then he walked over to the clerk’s table and put the player and the speaker on the desk and connected them. The moment he pressed play, a piercing screech filled the courtroom and then a voice, loud and clear. The small speakers were more powerful than they looked.

“Doctor, you are handling a case that is of peculiar importance to us and your testimony will be critical,” the voice said.

The doctor’s wispy voice responded “and which case might this be good sir?”

“How did you get this!” Dr. Obochi shouted, gripping the witness stand as if he would tear the top off.

Taju paused the playback and addressed an ashen faced Dr. Obochi “doctor, as this is a law court and not your examination room, I suggest that you let me ask the questions here. Since you have interrupted the playback, please confirm that the voice we just heard is yours before we resume listening.”

The doctor hesitated and Taju asked with a sarcastic raise of his eyebrow “it would seem the doctor has lost his voice. Let me repeat the question clearly for avoidance of ambiguity. Doctor Conrad Obochi, confirm that the second voice in the playback is yours.”

“Objection my lord, this would be coercion on the prosecutions part,” Olu hollered.

“Overruled!” the judge responded firmly. “The witness will answer the question in a simple yes or no manner.”

“Yes, the voice appears to be mine,” Dr. Obochi responded quietly.

Taju continued the playback as a hush ran over the courtroom

“The accused, Tricia was brought to you for examination as regards her allegations of rape.”

“Oh,” the doctor said “that young lady. Yes, she was truly raped.”

“Ahh, doctor,” the other voice replied “you will not report that. You will report that there was no rape in this case, irrespective of your findings.”

Doctor Obochi’s wispy reply was “but I cannot do such a thing. All the evidence suggests she was indeed raped and I have sent a report saying so to her lawyers. You see,” he paused here and Taju imagined he would have been adjusting his specs “I cannot contradict a report I have sent and that has my hospital’s letterhead and my signature in court.”

There was a ruffling sound and then the other voice said “would you be referring to this report?” Apparently, the person had produced the report because Doctor Obochi screamed in his now characteristic way

“How did you get this?”

The voice chuckled and said “doctor, we have our means. Now that  this obstacle to your cooperation is out of the way, we believe you will be willing to cooperate with us? You really do not have a choice in this matter.” The last line was said as coolly as the others, but it seemed to carry a threat that hung in the air. The doctor’s objections were feeble

“I have consulted for the police for fifteen years and I have never told untruths in any case. I will lose my license, my practice and my clinic if I do this and am discovered.”

“Doctor, we will make sure you lose all those things and” there was a pause and then a scuffle before the voice resumed “much more if you do not cooperate.”

And then the courtroom went quiet, as the doctor held his hands in his head.

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Tricia’s Nightmare – Episode 8

While Olu and company waited for Dr. Obochi in Lagos, AIG Saranja was making calls to ensure that the Tricia case was heard on Monday. It was a good thing that none of his other colleagues in the force saw the import of this case and merely saw it as something he was obsessed with because he had lost a grip on the real juicy parts of police business. He was happy to let them believe that. An hour later, he had secured assurances that the case would be heard at noon at the Lagos High Court, he called Olu. He didn’t bother with pleasantries “It was hard and I had to pull strings, but I’ve secured it. You jump the queue and will have the case heard on Monday. Now, you had better deliver. I need a guilty judgment for first degree murder for this case within one month.  Is that clear?”

“Yes sir,” Olu said quietly, even though he had stepped away from Dr. Obuchi’s office, he was still conscious of the company he had.

Olu wanted to explain to the AIG that the Monday hearing would be mainly to take the plea and then have the case adjourned for another two months before it was argued and if they were lucky sentenced on the same day. However, what was typical was that the case would then be adjourned further for sentencing. He knew the AIG knew this but it seemed the man was bent on getting the impossible out of him. Yet deliver, he must. He strolled back into the office just as Dr. Obuchi was emerging from the theatre with Tricia.

“Ha, detective, we were just waiting for you to return. My assistant is putting together the final report from my examination notes, but if you like, I can give you my general conclusions from examining the young lady,” the doctor said to him

“We’d be glad to hear, doctor,” he replied curtly.

“First, there is evidence of forced penetration of her vagina. There is bruising consistent with penetrating an unlubricated vagina forcefully. This and other observations therefore rule out the likelihood of consensual intercourse.”

Even as he spoke, Maro visibly let out a sigh of relief and Taju’s face lit up with a huge smile. Only Olu’s face remained stolid in the room. “Continue,” he said to no one in particular but the doctor guessed it was meant for him and so he did.

“Secondly, there are bruises on her face that indicate she was hit with considerable force which is consistent with her story of being hit, except,” he turned to Dudu as he said this “you would like us to conclude that she came about the bruises in your custody.”

“You give the facts and leave the interpretations to the court, doctor,” Olu growled at the little man.

“Doctor,” Taju asked, “surely you will be available to testify in court this Monday, wouldn’t you?”

“Most definitely,” the doctor responded, clasping his hands as if to say he was done and then turning to the door, he said “the report will be forwarded to your offices by tomorrow morning. Now, you will see my cashier to make the necessary payments.” With that, he was gone.

Olu turned to Dudu and with that they moved Tricia towards the squad car. At the door, he turned to the duo left in the room “I will see you in the court,” he said coldly and then turned away slowly.

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Taju and Maro arrived at Kofo’s office one hour later. The traffic had gotten worse since morning. Maro wondered how many man hours were lost in Lagos traffic daily.

“How did it go?” Kofo asked as they sat in her office, grateful that she at least had air-conditioning compared to the regular police office.

“Very well,” Maro responded, beaming with a smile. Kofo stood up to get them cold water from the small fridge in the corner of her office as Taju gave her the details of how it had gone with the Doctor Obuchi. “He is always dependable,” Kofo said and then turned to Taju “since the case will be heard on Monday, I have a niggling feeling someone is pulling strings for Olu to speed it up. Cases like this normally take longer to come to court, so they are anxious about something. How are you doing for witnesses?”

“None of the neighbors heard anything useful, so it comes to your testimony and the doctor’s. That at least will establish rape and we can then argue that there was provocation and maybe she acted in self-defense. Has time of death been confirmed?”

Kofo produced a manila file, “I had to pull strings to get this but get it I did. Time of death, 2A.M. Using her text message as reference for when the rape occurred, that puts it in a 30minute time frame. Close enough for the provocation to hold. How do we prove self defense though? He was killed just outside his room, not in hers?”

Taju rubbed his chin “that is a problem. She doesn’t remember him coming back or going after him herself.”

“Well, it could be because she was in temporary shock right after the trauma of rape, or that she is blocking out those memories unconsciously now to preserve some of her sanity. I did see the body right after Bruno was killed and it wasn’t a pretty sight. Today is Thursday, so we don’t have the time to get any psychiatric evaluation before Monday. Plus we’d have to fund that ourselves. The state prosecution is typically on a stringent budget and they won’t spend any money that they don’t absolutely have to.”

“Hmmm,” Taju said, his hand still on his chin, his brow furrowed in deep thought. “I always wondered about this. Would that be why the fingerprints on the knife that’s the murder weapon have not been taken?”

Kofo nodded a yes and both men shook their heads.

“I’m going to apply for an administrative bail for her on health grounds, since we are pleading rape. Of course, there can be no prosecution for the rape, seeing that Bruno is dead and hence a suit cannot be brought against him. But,” he paused and placed a hand on Maro’s shoulder, “we can at least leverage it to get her out of police custody for the duration of the trial.”

“I like all the things I’ve heard so far, except for one small problem,” Maro said, in a quiet voice that drew Kofo and Taju away from their brainstorming conversation into listening to him. “And what might that be?” Kofo asked.

“You seem to accept as a fact that Tricia killed Bruno and your defense is to justify why she killed him. She on the other hand keeps saying she didn’t kill him.”

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Olu sat in his office, browsing through a stack of files, searching meticulously for something. Each time he got to the end of one document and didn’t find what he was looking for, his eyes darkened with disappointment. After working into the early hours of Friday, and depleting his coffee stock considerably, his eyes lit up. He had found it at last. He cleared his table and set out for home. He would plan his assault in court from there. He left instructions with Dudu to buy Tricia a new outfit. Her look in court was crucial to his case.

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Three hours after Olu left for his house early Friday morning, Teju put a call through to Peter. He had made a return visit to the mortuary where Bruno was being held on Thursday and had parted with some more thousands of Naira before he could collect the samples he needed and had then called Peter to impress the criticality of this piece of evidence was. Somehow, he felt that doing his job would be intricately linked with sorting this Tricia’s case out. Now, as he called again he imagined that Peter ran his hand through his blond hair as he answered in a clear crisp voice “Hello Teju, how are you today?”

Ever polite Brit, Teju thought “did you get my package and my message?”

“Yes,” he responded, “but processing DNA samples that fast, over the weekend is going to cost us quite a bit.”

“I’m sure you’d gladly spend what you have to, to save nice insurance company four million pounds,” Teju responded with a chuckle, and then he added “I need the results by Sunday morning, latest.”

“You’ll get it without fail, Teju. Now I have to go into a meeting. We will talk on Sunday.” With that, he ended the call and Teju put another call through to Kofo. “Hi Kofo, how are you doing today?”

“Fine, fine,” she responded. “Any luck with my request?”

“Ah, thankfully, the money involved was enough to get Peter to pull all the stops and oblige me, so yes, we will have it on Sunday evening, in time for Monday. Now, I’ve got an appointment at Wintonton Hospital to see our dear doctor today. Let’s see what I will find.”

“Okay Teju, we’ll keep in touch. Thanks for all the help.”

“My pleasure ma’am. Just doing my job.”

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The proceedings began in the Igbosere High Court at 10A.M even though Tricia’s trial had been slated to be the second case on that day. The court clerk called the court to order as Justice Toboriye Douglas sat down. She was a massive woman with streaks of grey hair interlacing the originally brown hair. She had built a reputation for herself as a judge every lawyer labored hard to be prepared in her court. After thirty eight years on the bench, ten of which had been spent in this high court, Taju quietly thanked his stars. He could at least be sure of one thing – his client would get a fair trial. Taju noticed that special care had been taken to make sure Tricia looked okay and cleaned up.

The preliminary introductions were quickly over and then the question was asked “how does the defendant plead?”

Taju was up on his feet “my Lord, my client pleads not guilty of all the charges brought against her by the state.”

In a normal case, once the plea was taken, the case would be adjourned for hearing. But this was no ordinary case – AIG Saranja had made sure of that. Justice Douglas towards Olu and invited the prosecution to begin arguing its case. Olu looked towards Taju with a shark-like smile on his face. The boy had better be prepared for a roforofo fight in this case or he would be torn to pieces.

Taju saw the smile on Olu’s face. He was glad he had Kofo on his side. He would not have survived the battle with Olu otherwise.

Kofo smiled where she sat with Maro behind Taju and Tricia. Her preparations had paid off. Olu and team had predictably tried to play a fast one. But they were ready for him.

“My lord,” Olu began as he stepped into the centre “this case is a straightforward case of first degree murder. All the facts and evidence points to the fact that the accused indeed was the only person who could possibly have killed the deceased in the manner he died at the time. She was the only one present in the house, and there was no sign of forced entry. The defense will try to make a case for provocation. This is immaterial…”

“Objection my lord,” Taju said, rising to his feet

“Sustained,” the judge said. “Prosecution will stay within the facts of the case without preempting the materiality of the defenses’ argument.”

Olu continued “We have filed all necessary evidence with the court, and will call no witnesses simply because Miss Tricia here was alone with the deceased when he was murdered. There were no witnesses for the crime, except for the perpetrator of the crime.”

He then adjusted his wig and walked briskly to his seat. The judge called the defense and Taju got up.

“My lord, my client, a young hardworking lady has been accused of murder.” He paused briefly and then continued “However, the prosecution has not made any effort to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Tricia killed the deceased. All the evidence that has been presented against her has been circumstantial. The fact that the door to her room was broken down was not considered. The prosecution has not attempted to determine that the murder weapon was used by my client that night or even ever at all. The basis of her guilt is purely her presence there from the prosecution’s perspective. There is no law that makes presence at a crime scene equal to being guilty of that crime. The defense would like to call its first witness. The defense now calls Police Superintendent Kofoworola Denton to please take the stands.”

The clerk led Kofo in taking the oath and then Taju approached her and then asked “Superintendent Kofo, please tell this court your recollection of the events of the morning of the 5th

“I received a call from my office at 6A.M that morning of a rape report at Number 5, James Robertson Street, Surulere. Thirty minutes later, I arrived at the venue with two of my detectives, and we knocked on the door to gain access as the door was locked from inside. Miss Tricia came to open the door for us, and I immediately observed the swelling and bruising on her face. I could see from the doorway that the door to a room which we later discovered to be hers had been forcefully broken down as with blunt force. We moved into the apartment to ascertain if her assailant was still in the flat, when we observed Mr. Bruno on the far side of the living room, right at the door of his room. I went over with one of my detectives for a closer inspection of the body and ascertained he was dead. There was a big kitchen knife sticking out of his left breast, and we observed that there was knife cuts on his hands as if he had tried to ward off blows and on his throat too. I immediately reported the case to the Homicide Division, secured the perimeter and arrested Miss Tricia.”

Taju asked “would your observation as the first officer at the site, and with your experience in such cases agree with Miss Tricia’s report that she had been raped?”

Kofo nodded “in my opinion, yes. There was evidence of forced entry into her room, as well as evidence that there had been a struggle in her room. Also, the bruising showed she had struggled with someone stronger than her.”

“What would you consider normal procedure to confirm a rape case?” Taju asked, turning dramatically towards Olu. Olu was making notes while Dudu behind him was furiously fiddling with his blackberry. Taju guessed they were researching something. His question had caused Olu to pause on the scribbling and look up.

Kofo answered evenly “in rape cases handled by my special unit, getting a doctor’s opinion is absolutely vital to the case.”

Taju strolled to his sit and picked up two pieces of paper “My lord, I present these two as exhibits.” Copies of the documents were circulated to the prosecution desk and the judge who scanned it quickly. “This,” Taju said, holding up the first of the documents is Detective Kofo’s initial report. It clearly states the incidence of rape. No action was taken by the prosecution to get my client examined by a physician. It took a memo to superior authorities and then the defense literarily stampeding the prosecution to get this done. One begins to wonder why such a salient issue was being swept under the carpet by the prosecution except for ulterior motives”

Olu jumped to his feet at that instant “objection my lord. That constitutes a malicious attempt to undermine the integrity of the state based on conjecture only.”

“Sustained. Defense counsel, stick to the facts of the case.”

Taju smiled and bowed slightly and then turned back to Kofo “one last question detective – observing Tricia’s frame as compared to Mr. Bruno’s physique, would you consider her physically capable of killing him in such a manner as you have described that he died?”

Kofo shook her head “Tricia is about 5feet 6inches tall, with a slight build. Bruno is over 6feet, with a heavy build and apparently in great physical condition before he died. It would have been impossible for her to overpower him and slash him repeatedly like that with a knife. The only way Tricia could have successfully killed him would be a sneak attack with a weapon like a gun which would kill him in one shot, or knocking him out with a huge object. There was no blunt force trauma as the autopsy shows, so that also didn’t happen.”

Taju turned to the judge and said “I have no further questions for this witness, my lord,” and then he turned around and took his seat.

Olu gathered the notes he had been writing and walked to the center. “Detective Kofo, you were the first officer at the crime scene. And the first person you arrested for the murder of Mr. Bruno was the defendant. Why is that so, if you believed that she was not the murderer?”

“At that point, she was the only person physically present at the time of murder. It was the logical thing to do, until the evidence was properly analyzed and she was eliminated as a suspect. You will agree that arresting her as a suspect is different from deeming her guilty under the law.”

Taju smiled. Kofo had this covered.

Olu then asked further “I recall that you inferred that Tricia was raped by the deceased because you saw bruises on her face and other evidences of rape at the crime scene. Following your logic, can we infer that Tricia killed Bruno since there was evidence of her presence at the time of death and you clearly saw that Bruno was dead when you arrived?”

It was Taju’s turn to shout “Objection my lord. That is not a question but a statement.”

“Overuled,” the judge responded.

Olu smiled as Kofo answered his query “in my response, I said the evidence pointed to the fact that Tricia had been raped, but didn’t conclude on who raped her. I also mentioned that only a doctor’s report could confirm that she had been raped. This is quite different from your inference where you concluded on Tricia’s guilt by circumstantial evidence only. Her presence there doesn’t mean she killed him.”

Taju heaved a sigh. She had managed it quite well again.

“Was it possible for Bruno to have killed himself in the manner you observed he died?” Olu asked casually.

“No, except his hand was detached from him and acted on its own that is.”

Olu laughed, “Of course not. He seemed to have been a perfectly normal human being with no alien DNA.” He paused and the continued his questioning  “You said the door was locked when you got there. Was it locked from inside, or outside?”

Kofo responded “It was locked from inside, yes.”

“And from your observation and all the police reports on the issue, there was no sign of forced entry?”

“Yes” Kofo answered.

“SO, we can conclude on the following.

1. Bruno did not kill himself

2. Nobody else had accessed the house. There was no record of anyone breaking in, so we can assume the only other person with Bruno was Tricia

3. Except a phantom killed him therefore, we can conclude that Tricia alone was the one that killed him”

“Your second inference in wrong sir. Someone who had the key could have gained access, killed Bruno and left.”

“Detective, I know you are used to asking questions, but in this court, I’m the counsel and I ask the questions,” Olu said coldly.

“The witness will do well to be guided,” the judge iterated.

“You also were of the opinion that there was no way someone of Tricia’s size could have killed someone of Bruno’s size the way he died. Is my recollection correct?”

“Yes it is,” Kofo replied tersely.

“Have you heard of Shock-Induced Super Strength?

“No,” Kofo responded.

“Allow me to read the report of the Smithsonian Institute to you on the matter and educate you.

‘Individuals have been found to be able to lift twice the expected maximum based on muscle mass calculations when in sufficient state of shock (flight or fright shock)’

It is not scientifically impossible therefore for Tricia to have in a state of shock, or adrenaline induced rage to gain the strength needed to commit this murder.”

“Objection my lord!” Taju interjected again, looking up from googling the report on his blackberry. “This report is disputed by the mainstream medical circuits, and while Smithsonian is a reputed institution in historical circles, they are hardly an authority amongst medical practitioners.”

“Sustained. Such opinions can only be admissible as expert opinions and the prosecuting attorney is not a doctor.”

Olu bowed and then moved towards his seat. Then as if remembering something, he turned towards Kofo and asked “I wonder, since this is a murder trial, why the defense is bent on translating it into a rape trial against the deceased. Could it be because of the special unit that you head, detective?”

“I beg your pardon sir, I volountarily transferred the case to the homicide department the moment I confirmed that Mr. Bruno was dead, even while at the crime scene,” Kofo replied, in an even tone which did not reveal the anger at his question.

“Then could it be because you are yourself a rape victim and have declared a personal vendetta against men because one man repeatedly abused you twenty years ago?”

Kofo lurched forward, the anger bursting through to the surface her being, uncontrollable and raging. She did not even hear Taju screaming “Objection my lord. She did not see anyone else in the courtroom but Olu. She had carefully kept this hidden from everyone and had never mentioned it to anyone, not even her mother or siblings.

“You viper,” she said to Olu at the top of her voice “I will make sure you are finished.”

Olu did not acknowledge her. He just turned to the judge and said “I have no further questions for this witness,” and walked calmly back to his seat.

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