The bus finally stopped and as everyone alighted, the sounds I heard were unmistakable as the vans approached our end. The cynical smile was seated perfectly on the lips of Paula and as her brow rose in sync, I could have sworn I was in a Nolly Wood movie.
Before I go on, if you haven’t read the part one of this tale please visit https://www.360nobs.com/2011/06/georgia%e2%80%99s-tale/
Yea, so moving on. I looked at my wristwatch and figured I had some minutes to spare seeing as I had to wait for my parcel. And even if I didn’t, I’m beyond certain that I would have still stayed there. Whatever, I thought to myself, I might as well put the time to great use. As I was about to pretend to be buying something from the near buy kiosk so as not to flaunt my newly launched tatafoo venture, I looked behind me and saw the funniest view ever.
Apparently there were quite a number of ‘entrepreneurial’ minds like mine that wanted to see the events unfold. Half the people from the bus were lurking around and this queer gathering quizzed people and thus added more to their number. This view gave me such a boost that suddenly I became confident and even puffed my shoulders somewhat.
The sounds gradually came closer and suddenly the air seemed different, hotter I think. Suddenly, uniforms were flying everywhere, guns advertised everywhere and the noise tripled (just add a bit more noise to Idumota on a weekend).
In my quest for better view of the vans, I had forgotten our dear Georgia. As I looked in her direction, she looked more confused and morose than a bereaved. It then occurred to me that maybe she had no inkling to the confusion. Looking at Paula’s face, I had expected to see the exact opposite, however, she also looked taken aback.
A uniformed man then came to answer the questions we silently harbored within (or so we assumed).
“I have reliable intel that you all gathered here alighted from vehicle registration no 10JKA54. All of you may have to come with us” the sergeant barked. From his name tag, I gathered he was Sergeant Lebechi.
Murmurs suddenly grew into barks as all the commuters were not ready to be dragged into this drama and would rather hand over Georgia effortlessly as she seemed the cause of this seemingly growing drama. With this entire ruckus, we were all surrounded by uniformed men, their rifles and ugly/ unpleasant faces. I tried to sneak away and take advantage of my famous petite nature, however, the look on the rifled guy behind me taught me better.
Suddenly the air of arrogance around Georgia seemed to vanish and was replaced with innocent sarcasm. “Excuse me officer “she started politely (I on the other hand couldn’t be fooled). She continued, “I did nothing wrong to this woman. It isn’t my fault she couldn’t read the obvious signs placed on top the vehicle. Though I admit I may have been a bit rash and her emotions couldn’t handle it. Well sorry if that’s what she summoned you all to get out of me”.
Now sergeant Lebechi looked even more irritated and confused. Anger crept up again as he looked from face to face. With a wave of his hand and slight disgust “look here lady, I have no idea about what you speak of. I’m here to do my job and you WILL comply” he enforced. With an air of dismissal he turned and said “corporals get all of them into the van. Anyone who tries to pull a fast one, shoot on sight”.
If that was to give us a fright, it sure did. Silence enveloped the arena and faces became solemn. Suddenly I knew this had absolutely nothing to do with Paula, she looked even more scared than the rest of us. The fear I felt translated to vicious goose pimples on my skin. It then occurred to me that this was no longer a joke, my tatafoo venture had backfired this time. “Why didn’t I just leave that devilish arena immediately” I wailed on the inside.
As we marched into the vans, inwardly I decided to look on the bright side. At least we were not entering the Black Maria or black malaria as my friend calls it (and trust me she thinks that’s the correct name). The van was actually comfy and then started my head count to know the foolish ones such as I who waited behind. The funny discovery was that only about 4 people were missing out of the 12 people in the bus and I thought to myself ‘Nigerians!!!!’ but in that condition, who was I to judge.
As we were seated, all cell phones were seized. In that moment realizations came to the fore, there was no more bright side to look at. These people had not even stated why we were being taken away or where for a fact. Also, we being a people without an inkling to our rights had foolishly entered (well not so foolishly I chided. They had guns now, I subtly patronized myself).
Summoning courage I asked “excuse me sergeant, this is illegal. You are holding people against their will especially if you don’t have a warrant. If you are”… the sentence didn’t even ‘land” before the sergeant wanted to fly into my oesophagus. “Shut up little lady” he roared, “I have no patience for your supposed wit at this point. You could continue though if you are tired of this life”. He finished with a little cynic smile
“What an ass” I muttered. With that closing remark, I retired to my shell and retreated even more into my seat with the hope that maybe, just maybe I may eventually disappear. During the course of the ride, I decided to ask Paula who happened to be beside me all this while. I then gathered that apparently she actually summoned uniformed men “but not these ones oh” she finished humorously. At least her sanity was intact, ‘good for her’ I thought.
Hours which seemed like days had passed and the time had come to for us addressed. Apparently there was a higher ranked official in the vehicle unknown to us all this while. As he made an attempt to face his newly gotten package, I knew I would never sleep peacefully again. There was no way in heaven that those precise lacerations (or tribal marks as they are ‘fondly’ called) across his face would not taunt me at night, from the vertically aligned to the horizontal / upward slanting ones. It was clear he was either he was accustomed to the awkward stares and actions all the time or he chose to ignore all of us including the elderly man’s agape mouth.
“You have all been arrested because we have reason to believe that the vehicle with Reg no 10JKA54 which you were all in was commuting a nationally wanted criminal” the brigadier quietly started. The van jumped into uproar and suddenly those who I didn’t know possessed voices became strong ‘opinion leaders’.
“Ah “”yekpa” “criminal ke”“Lai Lai oh oga” “so why did you now carry all of us then?” “You must think we are jobless oh?” Various opinions both valid and otherwise flew about the whole place and the brigadier seemed to be enjoying it. As soon as he felt his fancy had been tickled enough, “shut up all of you” he said tartly. “The reason you are all here is because any attempt at sieving all of you to i.d the particular criminal could have resulted in flee. We couldn’t let 3months worth of work go in vain”
Quietly I sat, absorbing this new discovery and hanging to every word like a life jacket. I could feel the sobriety of everyone from where I sat. “We are taking you to our newly built private facility where the criminal would be apprehended and the innocent would be freed and conveyed back to civilization”. Towards the conclusion of the speech, the elderly man who almost knocked off my frames during his amebo repositioning earlier started the most bizarre trend ever.
Without provocation he began, “okay oga sir. I admit say na me una dey find oh! But the only reason I use juju kill dat my stupid half brother na because e get too much money and see the way me I con dey suffer for this wicked world”. With this new revelation, everyone became fidgety and unsettled once more. I could have sworn I saw the people beside him shift a bit. “choi” I exclaimed internally, so I was beside a local murderer all that while I thought. This elderly man however seemed oblivious of the racket he was causing as he continued in his newly launched book of lamentations. “Me and my children no get food to chop, sometimes we dey chop once a day and d next day we no go see the one wey we go chop, school dem no dey go, nothing good dey ever happen to me. How I no go kill am eh? Common 5thousand naira I beg am last year, im tell me say my last child must con do house boy work for im house” with that he burst into tears and sobbed so hard that I genuinely pitied his plight.
The Brigadier seemed to enjoy that episode. The sinister smile confirmed it but he said something puzzling. Apparently, the elderly man wasn’t the wanted criminal. This made the van go into frenzy. Just as we were trying to digest that overwhelming story, more was dumped on us. I had been hearing her subtle weeping behind me, I just didn’t expect her to go next. A young lady who could not have been more than 21 years of age started her own narration. “Them no tel me say na prostitution oh!! she scream- cried( yep she was doing both at the same time) . My madam say make I go help am wit im clot branch for Italy. When I reach there i not fit come back but na only small I do oga. I swear na only small oh!. Before I con tiff one customer moni con come bak. I no wan go prison abeg oga helep me”. She started crying again and bowed her head.
This was too much for me. This had to be pure jokes or something mehn! At this point, I was point I was expecting a camera crew to just probably jump out and tell me I’d been punked by probably STV O_O. However the sobs told me contrary. Also, I couldn’t voice my laughter because making enemies at this venture was not a very wise move. So quiet I remained and to my amazement, in my very before emerged a ‘yahoo boy’ and a drug peddler (who had quit). In summary I was seated among a local murderer, an Italian prostitute, a yahoo boy, an ex- drug lord, 1 business men, Paula and Georgia. Thank God at least there was no suicide bomber I thought quietly.
During the testimony session, the looks on all the officials in the van showed that nothing prepared them for this. They even stopped the routine of stating who they wanted at the conclusion of each revelation.” how can this many evil doers be together and not even have a clue?” Sergeant Lebechi squirmed.
At that the van stopped for the first time since take off point and with that I felt that unmistakable pang within me. As we disembarked I knew that time had come. Finally we all had the much needed fresh air and privilege of stretching our cranked up joints.
I noticed the hand cuffs coming towards my end and my tummy jumped in anxiety. ‘Phew” I heaved. It was for little Miss Italy and grandpa killer behind me. Another set of cuffs came for the fraudster and ex drug lord and I knew this might be the end.
I was left with the business man. Wait a minute! Where did Paula and Georgia disappear to? In a bid to answer my thoughts, I saw the two walking in harmony with the Brigadier.
As they approached me, they weren’t wearing the venomous looks. The even seemed like they just shared a good joke. The three were now in front of me and the feeling in my gut told me this was it. But then again I never ever left a trail. I am the best at what I do and never left any links to trace. They couldn’t have gotten wind of it, it was 5 months ago. I debated all these within but with the most pleasant smile ever. I looked like I just won the miss congeniality award.
After staring long and hard at me, Georgia purred with a smile on her face “You Miss Zatan Audu are hereby arrested for the bank heist, robbery and hacking of the Standard Bank International. You are hereby required to remain silent as anything and everything you say can and will be used against you”
Terror gripped the marrows within in me but I couldn’t afford to crack a frown. NO! Anger is the first sign of give away. With a much mustered smile I purred right back at her “sorry I have no clue as to what…”
Oh cut the crap Paula snapped. “Your last job was 5months ago and you are quite good at what you do I must say. Your skills with soft wares are amazing. However you were quite careless in a fling. Thus we discovered your next assignment. That’s where you were headed yea?”
“shit!!!!! I knew there was something fishy about that guy. Shit!!!” I cursed so hard inside that I’m surprised it only translated to the rolling of my eyes in contempt.
Well anyways Georgia said with glee “we did our research and knew you were expecting a parcel once the bus stopped. We thought to our selves we might as well entertain you seeing as you also have a strong passion for amebo; this we gathered from a video analysis of you.
To prevent myself from reaching out to slap the taste outta this idiot’s face I looked away. However the judgmental and surprise stares I met with threw me off balance. Nigerians can stare for Europe I must confess. I might as well stick to the former I thought and gently looked away.
Just as I was about to get my cockiness on, the Brigadier stole my moment “congrats! You both have done excellently. Without your brilliant idea and strategy she would never have been caught. However, your thought of travelling the commuter way to blend in is quite commendable but stupid all the same. He finished crisply. At that retort the three of them chuckled.
I then knew my initial pangs of anxiety were not baseless. From the episodes of revelations, I knew it had to be me. Those fools, u killed your brother so damn what? I have killed twice the number of people in your village. You were a prostitute so what? Are you the first? Shit! I should have trusted my guts. Rounding up the thoughts in my head, I met with Georgia’s face. Cuff’s stretched out, I made no attempt to resist. If they were going to take me, it must be written that I went with in with my head held up high.
As I entered the facility I knew it was the end of the road for me. My deeds finally caught up with me.