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.
Enjoy today’s Tricia’s Nightmare.
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.”
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.