Eze was just arriving at the shop the morning after the trouble inside the train along with Ifeanyi and Jude. All thanks to Jude and not thinking things through, he went to jump into a fight they could have postponed. They were outnumbered on the train but the idiot wasn’t using his brain.
Good that no one really got hurt because it would have been hell to pay for, and their faces hadn’t caved in, because those spare part dealers and mechanic boys can be very strong, those boys have been known to be super strong and can land heavy punches on them.
Everything seems fine this morning though. He hadn’t heard from Ifeanyi and Jude today but he wasn’t really bothered about that, definitely, they would come by his shop later in the day. He alighted from the Oyingbo bus and began to trek towards the shop.
His Oga wouldn’t come in until about 1 pm in the afternoon, after doing all the “serenren” that he needed to do. He had started feeling hungry but not so much, so he thought to open the shop first, bring out the home theatres, DVD, and TV stands first. By the time he had finished setting up, his boss or someone around should be able to help him watch the shop, so he can quickly go buy breakfast.
All that was what was in his mind, as he approached the shop to open up, but it seems there is something wrong, he saw a group of boys just hanging around the front of the unopened shop. It was unusual, but they seemed to recognize him, as they were pointing at him as he approached his shop, even worse, a group of them began to approach him.
Eze didn’t wait to find out what the issue was, he was guessing it was probably about the fight on the train yesterday. He turned back and took to his heels, running as quickly as he could. The boys chased down after him.
“Eze, stop! Stop!”
One of the boys yelled at him. He burst out of the street where their shops were into Oyingbo road, skipping and running over the market women who had their wares by the roadside. The boys chasing after him ran as much as they could, they pursued him with everything they’ve got.
Eze ran down the road, and arrived just in front of the Total filling station, taking a turn on the other side of the road, and ran into the Oto street, the market was just beginning to get filled up, as the market women were still arranging their goods by the roadside, he ran into the street, pushing other road users to the side as they cursed at him for throwing them out of the way. He ran down the line until he arrived at the back gate of the white sand market.
It was brimming with activities as trucks from the north just arrived and were unloading yams, others were unloading tomatoes and other food items, he ran in between them and ran fast. Immediately after the trucks been unloaded, he entered a covered region where pepper, meat, fish, and other kitchen groceries were arranged.
He continued running, scattering whatever he could find into his path to reduce the speed of the people after him, evading capture from them. He continued running until a big fellow jumped into his front, and blocked his path, grabbing him by the neck, as the assailants arrived at the place.
Everyone was panting and sweating profusely, the big guy let go of his neck, and instead, held Eze in between his hands, held him down by the shoulders.
Eze panting as he tried to speak,
“Wetin I do una” as the sweat dripped from his wet forehead down to his eyelid.
“No be wetin you suppose ask before you start to dey run?” The leader of the guys said
The other guys behind began to wipe the sweat on their face with their clothes.
“Wetin I do? Talk na? If na that yesterday thing, abeg no vex!” Eze said
“Yesterday thing?” The leader asked
“No vex abeg, Na Jude, him too like that girl…” He said
“That one no concern me… wey your friend, Ifeanyi?” The leader asked
“You don go their shop?” Eze said, the leader looked at him curiously, and looked at his henchmen, they both squinted at their boss
“So, you think I know where to find him, and I’m asking you?” The leader said
“Oh,” Eze said, still in the tight embrace on his shoulders by the big guy
“I never see am today, na yesterday I see am last” Eze replied
“He never come shop, we don dey wait am, and him don comot for house” The leader continued
“Na Jude una suppose dey look for o, Ifeanyi no no anything about the fight. Na just one ode boy” Eze said
“Na Ifeanyi we dey find, no be Jude” The leader emphasized
“I never see am” Eze said
“If you see am, call me, or tell him to call me,” The leader said, handing him a paper with his phone number
“Make I even totori you well well, if you call me as soon as you see am, I go give you N100,000 when we reach” The leader said.
He nodded towards the big guy, who let him out of the tight grip as they all turned back and headed their own direction.
What type of trouble has Ifeanyi gotten himself into, was all that was running through Eze’s head? That much trouble that could earn him N100,000 easily, but that will only make him a bad friend.
N100,000 isn’t small money but for a simple call, probably the most expensive 30-second call ever in the history of the world.
Ifeanyi left the house, packed as little as possible in terms of clothing, but essentially carrying away all the money neatly tucked into the bags, he was carrying, he looked like someone who went for a lot of shopping, he managed to drag the bags with him to the bus stop where he got a yellow taxi, dumped all the bags into the boot of the car, and sat behind.
The cabman started his car, Ifeanyi sitting behind him the driver is one of the rarest occasions of his life, as a big man or big boy. He left as a new man, happy but also conversant about the type of trouble he was in.
He knew Ebute Metta this morning will certainly not be the same, people are bound to figure out he’s the one in charge of the money, someway somehow. Some people know how to add 2 and 2 together, the Bureau De Change owners, the real owner of the bag, even that fight last night inside the train.
The money may have mistakenly landed in his path but him keeping it will certainly not be a mistake because everyone will hope to take advantage of him or his new prosperous circumstance.
He was lost in thought, when he came back into the conscious, he looked left and right, and could tell that he was on third mainland bridge as he surrounded by a huge body of water. A few minutes later, the yellow cab found its way into Eko hotel.
He told the cabman to wait for him, the cab parked at the car park just beside the Eko Signature building, he got out of the car, and went to the little building beside the gate. As he began to approach the building, he got accosted by several Bureau De Change agents, flashing dollar and naira at him to come buy with them.
He looked at one, that looked trustworthy to him, and followed him into his small building, in there, he changed some money and exited the shop with more naira he has ever seen in his life.
Instead of getting back into the cab, he strutted towards the Eko Hotel, he had followed his uncle here a couple of times when they met people who just came back from abroad. It was perhaps his second or third time visiting Eko Hotel. He got the idea of changing Dollar at Eko Hotel from his Uncle who had to change some for an emergency when his junior brother came back from Italy.
Far from home, nobody will find him here. His newfound financial freedom made him think of himself as a big boy, so he strutted over to the counter of Eko Hotel, paid for a room, went to the car to get his bags, and disappeared upstairs.
He got a room on the seventh floor, he got in, looked around, and felt like a big boy. Is this how the big boys live? He went towards the window, and opened the curtains, and he could see Victoria Island, looking around the island, he felt very good about himself. What a way to live, he said to himself.
However pleasant his new status was, his paranoia that someone is out here trying to find him never left his mind. He was rich but not peaceful in the least bit. He jumped on the bed that had all the bags, he spread his arms and legs wide, like he was swimming on the bed.
Last night, he was sleeping in the ragged dump of his uncle, sharing room with their little son, and here he was, staying on the seventh floor of the Eko Hotel. Things are looking good, Ifeanyi.
He wanted to relax but his mind won’t let him. The stolen money was burning a hole in his peace of mind, he needs to trust his guts and do what it says else his body might be dumped into the Lagos lagoon if he isn’t smart about it all. Be smart, he kept telling himself.
The case was taking an interesting turn, Inspector Beni and her team just arrived Eko Hotel, and headed straight into BDC place where they were called. They stormed in and entered the place where Ifeanyi had just changed money.
Shehu took over the communications, and asked the questions in Hausa, and asked him to explain in English
“The numba wey Alhaji send, I see am for inside dollar the boy bring” The BDC guy said
“When did the boy come here?” Inspector Beni asked
“E never tey, maybe 10 times go just pass” He answered
“Where him come go?” Inspector Beni asked
“Him enter hotel, him go dey inside. I see am for my eyes” The BDC guy said
“Good… good” Inspector Beni said, as they walked towards the hotel.
If he was still in there, this case could close quickly and she can go back to her vacation mode. Thankfully, through her expansive career, she had a few contacts, and luckily for her, she was friends with the Chief Security Officer working at Eko Hotel, former Commissioner of Police, Editoro Effiong.
“Please I’ll look to see Editoro Effiong, Head of Security” Beni said to the Front office officer.
“From where? Is he expecting you?” The officer asked her
“Yes, he is expecting him. Tell him Beni” She lied
The officer picked up the intercom and buzzed him at his office but he wasn’t responding, he grabbed the radio just beside the intercom phone. He switched on and said,
“Mr Effiong, Beni here to see you at the reception”
“On my way, give me one minute” Mr. Effiong said
Less than a minute, a tall towering figure appeared behind the team.
“Beni, it has been such a long time,” He said embracing her
“My Oga, it has been way too long,” Beni said
“Boss, I’m afraid this isn’t a social call, I really need your help. Can we talk anywhere private? Would prefer your video surveillance room” Beni said
“Please meet my colleagues, Abu and Shehu, we’re working a case together” She continued
Mr. Effiong shook hands with both men, as he led the way,
“So, tell me, what do you need? Because I know you need something” He said smiling
“There is a case that I’m working on, some boys stole a lot of money from my client, and I’ve got reliable information that the thief is currently on your premises” Beni explained.
“Have you called the police?” Effiong asked
“No sir, there will be no need, it’s just petty stealing. We don’t want to blow issues out of proportion. Just catch the boy and move on” Beni lied again.
“Well, I don’t know. We have loads of guests every single day, how can we single out who the boy is. What information do you have that can help us narrow it down” He said
They arrived at the video surveillance room, the room was filled with several screens showing multiple places around the huge hotel.
“The person we are looking for would have been here less than 15 minutes ago, and would have paid with cash” Beni said.
“Sure. we can take a look at the footage, we usually don’t get so many people who pay with cash so that might be a key detail to narrow it down” He said.
He picked one of the screens that the camera was focused on the main lobby just at the reception, and turned one of the knobs on the huge keyboard, he turned the knob backward, and everything seemed to rewind back.
He kept going back until they saw a young guy bringing out a big wad of cash to pay. The boy seemed anxious as he kept looking left and right as he was bringing out the cash like someone was looking at him.
“Please freeze that frame where he looked at the camera, can you help me print that picture?” Beni said
“Sure,” Effiong said
“That him?” Effiong asked
“I think so, fits the profile,” Beni said
“But that looks nothing like the guy that escaped yesterday,” Shehu said
“Yes” Abu seconded Shehu’s statement
“Could there be a fifth person in the people who robbed yesterday?” Beni asked
“Beni, you made this seem like a small petty robbery, not multiple accomplice robbery,” Effiong said.
“It’s a little bit more complicated than petty robbery,” Beni said.
“Can reception help us with the room number where the boy is staying?” Beni continued
“Beni, I shouldn’t help you with this but I will; make it clean and uncomplicated,” Effiong said
“Thank you, we will be out of your hair, we just need to get him out of the room, and you won’t hear from me again… for a while” Beni said, and smiled at the last part.
Effiong picked up the phone and called the reception for the information.
“Room 725,” He said to Beni
He escorted them to the elevator, as they moved to storm the room, and take the boy into their custody. Beni and her team were thinking, this is good, their case is about to be closed, and everyone can move with their lives.
The elevator stopped, and they got off and started looking for the room number, it wasn’t hard to find. They arrived, and they knocked, there was no answer. They continued to knock but still, there was no reply.
Beni and Effiong stared at each other, Beni nodding at him to open the door with his all-access pass.
“No!” Effiong said
“I promise, this will be over very soon,” Beni said, thinking to herself, finally this case is over. Easy money.
Effiong brought out his keycard, sighed, and opened the room. What they found was not what they hoped to find, the room was absolutely empty, no one inside, neither was there a bag or anything. The room looked good except the bed was rumpled meaning someone had checked in but was gone.
“Fuck!” Beni said
“Check everywhere,” Beni told Abu and Shehu, they dispersed immediately in opposite directions.
Only Beni and Effiong were left in the room, Beni opened the window and step towards the balcony, Effiong joined her there.
“I think you’ve got a mole,” Effiong said
“I think so too, how could he know we were coming,” Beni said, as she looked out at the beautiful skyline of Lagos.
Ifeanyi couldn’t take it anymore as his mind never let him enjoy the room in peace, he got his bags and headed for the elevator. He got his bags, crossed the road, and remembered another place his uncle once took him to, called 4points. If he had known he would move minutes later, he wouldn’t have dismissed the first cab guy. Unto the next one, he thought to himself
Maybe he will feel better there, and not exposed like this Eko Hotel, he may need to eventually run out of Lagos for any peace of mind, that’s for sure.
He got out, and picked a cab and headed to 4points by Sheraton for now.
“The boy is no longer at Eko Hotel” An SMS came into Ugo’s phone, along with a picture of the boy through Whatsapp. He had just arrived at Eko Hotel. Ugo thinking of his feet felt the need to talk to people around.
The boy couldn’t have bought a car yet. There is a chance he took one of the cabs around the hotel or inside.
Ugo left the hotel, and went opposite to the unpainted cab under the shed, he had already created a story to sell to the cabmen there.
“Good morning sir, abeg, I need your help. I dey look for my friend, him just comot now. He no too tall, he dark small laidis. He don wait for me tire, na today he dey travel comot. Abeg”
“Call am now, sebi na your friend. Person like that don come hia” One of the Baba playing draft said to him.
“Him phone don die, I don call am sotey” He said, dramatizing how much urgent it was to talk to him, dialing and cutting the number
“Why you sef no come quick, dem don go. I see person wey you talk. Na Ibo boy abi” Another cabman said, looking up from the game he was playing
“Yes sir. Na my guy o. Him don dey abroad for 5 years now, him suppose gimme something for my papa. Him bring my papa drugs come for am” Ugo lied, hoping that would get them closer to telling him.
“Na 4points by Sheraton dem go. Better make u dey go now” The first cabman said
“Thank you, sir,” Ugo said, and immediately ran across the road to his ride, and they headed towards Ozumba Mbadiwe
Ugo knew he couldn’t afford for this money to go, he had to get his money back or die trying, plus his plug was really on his neck now.
Unknown to all the people looking for him. Ifeanyi is inside a Toyota Hiace bus heading out of Lagos.
The chase continues…
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