With the last instruction from his sponsor being for him not to lose who he was tailing, Lanre was sure the end of the show was drawing to an end. He had employed all the known tactics he knew about tailing people without getting known. He allowed two cars in between them with his eyes glued to the car he was tailing.
The LR4 seemed to be heading off the island and towards Apapa. Lanre wasn’t sure if Alhaji suspected he was followed and diverted but either way, he would find out where he was heading.
Apapa isn’t exactly tailing friendly as Alhaji’s SUV kept swerving in-between containers making the tailing difficult. With his absolute attention on Alhaji’s car and maintaining visible distance from him, Lanre had eliminated the space of 2 cars he was using initially. He cut the distance down to just a car in between them.
Lanre’s attention was broken by a call on his phone. His caller was his sponsor and he picked the call.
“Hello Lanre, hows it going?” Asked the caller.
“Well, I guess. We’re at Apapa right now” Lanre replied.
“Apapa???? ” The caller asked.
“Yes, I’m positive it’s Apapa, the Port is down the road” Lanre restated his point.
“I don’t think Alhaji has any property in Apapa, he particularly disliked the area, always complained about how busy the roads are with containers everywhere” The caller replied.
Lanre cut in “I will have to call you back because he’s making a turn as we speak”
The line went off with Lanre’s voice being the last. Alhaji’s SUV turned into a street, Lanre turned in as well after about 4 seconds after. The street seemed deserted; Lanre reduced the acceleration as he moved through the houses on the street. All the gates of the houses were locked, he continued driving down the street. He saw a gate closing down the road, he sped up to the place where the gate was closing in and by the time he got there, the gate was completely shut.
He got out of the car, took of his top, put on his bulletproof vest and put his shirt back on.
He brought out his 9mm handgun, tucked it safely behind his back, put some catridges in his denim pocket. He had a hunch that whatever lay beyond the fence of the building was definitely more than just an old man trying to escape discovery.
Lanre got out of the car, moved close to fence. The fence, not so high that he scaled it easily and turned around to hear guns corking. He knew the protocol of such things was to raise his hands clearly above his hand, spreading his whole fingers out and turn slowly.
When he fully turned around, he surveyed the small army who numbered almost 15. They were evenly spread around him in a semi circle. He couldn’t find the old man who drove the car but found another car driving out of the compound.
Lanre didn’t need anyone to tell him it would be difficult to get out of this alive. Looking through the boys he could tell they weren’t military grade mercenaries; they were just thugs for hire. One of them stepped forward to him clearly to identify himself as the head of the gang.
He said “You do know it’s dangerous tailing a retired Military man”
Lanre replied ignoring his earlier statement “So, what’s this place?” Looking around the compound, scanning around for exits other than the one behind him, making himself at home in the surrounding. The head of the gang couldn’t sense fear from Lanre rather he could perceive courage even in the position where he had been outnumbered by them.
One of the trigger happy thugs corked the gun but the head of the thugs signalled to him to drop his gun. He obeyed the gesture and stood at ease.
The leader continued “You seem rather at ease despite how outnumbered you are, how is that possible?”
Lanre smiled and whispered the following into his ears
“The whole of your crew are untrained in warfare, they just believe as far as they have a gun nothing else matters but from what i can see, some of the guns they’re carrying look dirty and unclean.
There is a 70% chance of 80% of the guns jamming when you open fire. Most of these guns are used by your thugs to bully people that’s all.
There is no actual usage and if you don’t use a gun just like another other metal device it will rust and am banking on that for some of your guns.
My friend, i used to be in the Army infact i was a Major in the Army, Nigerian thugs don’t scare me, all of you put together do not scare me. I have gone for peacekeeping in Somalia, Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, folks there don’t have no mercy. None of you would last a day in those territories. I spent 5 years there, I was a commanding officer for my squad.
So, a little charade of hoodlums with guns will not scare me. Ok?
Now, I will ask you a few questions and you will give me the answer to the questions i want or i might have to test the loyalty of your men for you or Alhaji.
Where is Alhaji heading to? ” Lanre said in the most sincere and confident voice ever.
The leader couldn’t believe what he just heard, he was furious, the anger brewing in him was like a volcano. He wanted to move back to his thugs were, but as he turned his back to Lanre, in a rather swift and deadly calculated move, Lanre took the head of the thugs captive hiding behind his frame.
Clouding himself behind the frame of their leader, not giving them a clear shot at taking him out.
He pressed the tip of his 9mm handgun firmly against the side of his head. The captive immediately dropped his weapon. The thugs weren’t sure of what to do next either to spray their boss along with Lanre or just not do anything.
Being a captive, their boss screamed at them to all drop their guns and they obeyed. Lanre carefully masked himself behind their boss making sure that any shot fired will kill their boss.
Lanre began his questioning behind their boss.
“If you remember correctly, I asked you a question less than a minute ago, you didn’t answer me. I wasn’t mad at you for not answering. I mean….. it’s natural for you to hesitate but walking out on me??? Thats what I couldn’t take” Lanre said.
The leader was breathing fast and hard,he could feel the tip of the metal against his head wondering what sort of maniac Lanre was.
He said, “I still will not tell you, you cant get out of this alive; we have everywhere covered”
Lanre smiled and replied “Let me give you a little analogy of how I will survive this with little bruises anyway. I will make you instruct your thugs not to follow us, which they will obey because if you don’t my will cut the superficial vein at the back of your arm.
You will bleed to death,your boys will try to stop the bleeding but they wont be able to, by this time, i would have scaled the fence into the main street and scale another random fence in the area before they can even get out of the compound because i will throw a grenade to the fuel tank beside the house.
Some of your boys will be wounded while some will be trying to save your life, either ways there is a low probability of more than 2 of your boys coming after me.
Do I look like i cant handle 2 of your men?
So, I would say your best bet is to tell me now, so i wouldnt have to cut your superficial vein” Lanre explained
“Now, let me ask you again, Where is Alhaji heading? ” Lanre asked.
“Porto Novo!” The leader screamed, the thought of the complete foolproof plan scared him.
Lanre used him as a shield out of the house, the thugs were all looking as Lanre escaped with their Boss.
Lanre opened the boot of the car and pushed him inside,he protested
“What of the grenade and all the plans you spoke of earlier???”
Lanre replied “I changed my mind! Moreover I lied about the grenade”, he closed the boot of the car and drove off. The thugs came out as they heard the sound of the car but they couldnt shoot.
Chike brought Emmanuel back to the JTF office debriefing room, Emmanuel sat down confused. Chike was watching from the one-way bulletproof glass that demarcated the room from the debriefing room. He sat down trying to de-mystify the Alhaji Hassim man, alot of questions were running through Chike’s mind and the only person that could answer the question as Alhaji Hassim himself.
His phone started ringing, the caller was Col. Weyinmi
“Hello sir” Chike answered
“So, do you have Alhaji Hassim in your custody now?” Colonel asked
“Yes sir, however, the suspect is a young polished man” Chike replied
“Have you questioned him?” Colonel asked
“I’m about to, but from the looks of things I don’t think he’s the one we’re looking for” Chike added.
“Looks can be deceptive, Chike ” The Colonel said.
“I will speak with you soon, please go ahead and question him and if possible get a confession out of him”, Colonel Weyinmi ended.
Chike dropped the call and took the Alhaji Hassim case file into the debriefing room. As soon as Chike entered into the room, Emmanuel became anxious.
Chike dropped the gigantic folder on the table, Emmanuel looked at the folder and back at Chike’s face. Chike who at this point continued to look through the folder, which contained as more pictures as papers.
Emmanuel couldn’t understand what the silent treatment was about. Finally Chike closed the folder and looked at Emmanuel and spoke, “What amazes me is how you’ve managed to stay under the radar this whole time, I mean more than 20 years.” Chike said.
“Stay under the radar for what?” Emmanuel asked.
“I am a law abiding citizen, I don’t understand what you’re talking about. I file in my taxes as i should. I haven’t done anything illegal all my life”, Emmanuel continued.
Chike definitely wasn’t buying any of his stories and he replied “I’m not expecting you to cave in immediately”.
Chike pulled out pictures of Karim & Mohammed and pushed them to Emmanuel.
“These men worked with you for a long time and died mysteriously a couple of days ago” Chike said.
Emmanuel picked up the pictures and dropped them after a few seconds and replied.
“I have never seen these guys in my entire life” Emmanuel confessed.
“Okay, let me give you a background on yourself, I love your convenient Amnesia but with what you’ll be tried for. It’s better you start confessing right now” Chike said
“Mr. Chike, I’m not the one you’re looking for….Take a second look at me” Emmanuel said.
“Looks can be deceptive, my boss just told me” Chike said.
“You and your dubious organization are responsible for over 60% of the Oil bunkery that goes down in Nigeria. This is a FG approved and sponsored operation. The lowest prison sentence you’ll get is life in prison and everything you have will be taken from you. You will be publicly humiliated, so for the sake of the your kids and wife, just confess” He continued.
Sweat was gathering around Emmanuel’s forehead despite the chilly condition of the room. Emmanuel felt the weight of the whole world on his shoulder.
The images of his family flashed infront of his eyes, his daughters, his wives become public hate spectacle, his friends and family’s rejection. He couldn’t hold it anymore, he spoke
“Chike, I know you’re bent on solving this case, but can you look more closely at your investigation, I am surely not the person you’re looking for” Emmanuel said.
“So, why are you living in that house? That house is Alhaji Hassim’s house!!!!” Chike screamed hard at Emmanuel.
“The house is a lease, its not mine. I leased it from someone” Emmanuel lashed back
“What????? You better not be lying to me”, Chike said.
“We just moved back into the country about two years ago and we were scouting for houses. My wife and I looked at all sorts of places. We visited the house just beside where we are living now and we really liked the house.
Someone came out of the house we currently live in now, the gateman actually.” Emmanuel explained
“Hold on” Chike interrupted him. “You met the gateman inside the house??” Chike asked.
“Yes, he was the agent for the house, he gave us the phone number for the landlord, we spoke with the landlord, we negotiated and it was really low, all we had to pay was 3.5 million per year for a house at Bourdillon.
The deal scared us, we investigated, we covered all our basics, the owner of the house lived in the states, we spoke and exchanged emails and finished the transaction however there was one single condition to the deal”, Emmanuel explained.
“Go on, what was the condition?” Chike asked.
“We have to keep the gateman” Emmanuel said. “It wasn’t a big deal moreover we didn’t have to go out to find a gateman”
“I noticed his room had A.C, strange isn’t it? Also he was wearing a limited edition Rolex wristwatch which I assumed you gave him, right?” Chike asked
“I never gave him that wristwatch, I don’t know how he got it, might be from the owner of the house. Even the A.C he had it before we got there.” Emmanuel said.
Chike got up, stormed out of the room and went straight into Femi’s office. “I think we’ve been barking up the wrong tree. Remember the gateman of the house?”
“Yes,what has he got to do with this?” Femi replied.
“Notice he was wearing a very expensive Rolex wrist watch?” Chike asked.
“Emmanuel must have given it to him, right?” Femi asked.
“He just said he didn’t and from what I saw, that wristwatch is at least N5 million. We move out back to that house in 5 minutes pick a team of 3 more men…” Chike continued.
“Chike, where did you get the Bourdillon address we went to today?” Femi asked.
“Colonel sent it to me” Chike replied
“Are we sure this isn’t a witch-hunt?” Femi asked
With that he ran out of Femi’s office without answering Femi’s last question, hoping they would still catch the gateman in the house.
Nikky got the message kind of late but it came anyway, she was approaching the house on Bourdillon, her cover was another agent from the JTF. She had put together her fake credentials, dressed smart and knocked at the gate.
She made sure the JTF team had left before she approached the gate.
She pressed the bell several times before the maid came in to open the gate, the maid was still fidgeting from the morning raid. It was her first time seeing so many armed men in the house.
Nikky sensed her fear, and took advantage of it, She entered into the compound and looked around, trying to imagine how the arrest took place. Nikky asked the maid what happened in the house earlier on.
Being naive, the maid was scared and ran through everything from how the JTF came, the arguments in the house, how her boss was taken to how the gateman took off as well.
Nikky stopped her at the point where she said the gateman took a car and left. She immediately went to the gateman’s room. The room was locked, Nikky was in the middle of breaking into the room when the Emmanuel’s wife, Sarah came out.
“Hello, Please who are you” Sarah asked
Nikky stopped and moved over to Sarah to introduce herself.
“Hello, My name is Chioma Ogochukwu, I’m with the JTF and we’re running data forensics on your property. Our tactical team just left with your husband. Am I right?” Nikky lied.
“Yes, they did! But just out of curiosity, what’s the job of the forensic team in this case”, Sarah asked.
“We’re here to see if we can dig for more evidence that might have been missed by our tactical team.” Nikky explained.
“Why are you trying to break down the gateman’s door?” Sarah asked.
“We just received intelligence that your gateman has left the house with your husband’s LR4 SUV, is this true?” Nikky asked
“He has left alright but not with my husband’s car, that’s the Landlord’s car and we’ve been told the gateman can use the car. The owner of the house is a really generous man” Sarah explained.
“Have you ever met with the owner of the house in person?” Nikky asked.
“No, we communicate via email. We just pay the rent into his account and send him an email when such is done” Sarah replied
“I’m sorry ma’am, I need to break down this door, we need to gather evidence as the gateman has fled” Nikky said.
Nikky broke the lock of the room. It was cozy and chilly as the A.C wasn’t switched off, nothing seemed out of place. Looked exactly like a gateman’s house but a lot more conducive.
Nikky continued looking at the room, she pulled the mattress up, nothing underneath. She walked over it and it seemed like there was something underneath the rug, Sarah and the house maid were standing outside observing her. She pulled the rug aside and saw a small safe embedded into the concrete and covered with a soft wood. As she pulled the lever of the safe, she found out it wasn’t locked but all that was left there were papers, junk and all.
Nikky received another text on her phone, she pulled out of the phone and read it, “JTF team heading back to that place, their E.T.A is 5 minutes”.
She grabbed what she could and heaped them in her car, however she saw some French ticket stubs in the place, she took some and left some for the JTF team.
She came out and explained to Sarah that some of her team members would be coming soon, but that she had to leave because it was another unit that was coming. Nikky heaped the documents into her car and disappeared.
She drove back to her hotel room and started analyzing the document. She found out that the next place Alhaji would go would be Benin Republic, if he wasn’t already there.
Alhaji was just clearing his vehicle at the Seme border under another alias of Modibbo Graham Missah. The customs had just cleared him to move on. He picked up his Benin phone and called his yacht to prepare for him.
He was laughing to himself, he was sure someone sold him out, who sold him out was what he was about to find out.
Hot behind his trail was the dexterous Lanre, Lanre grabbed his phone and called his sponsor.
“Hello, Alhaji is heading to his Yacht, the time is now, leave right now” Lanre said.
A smile came up Rooney’s face, payback time…. He rolled his wheelchair into another room where a team of mercenaries were waiting for him…
Jibola Balogun was also waiting for a phone call but got a text message on his phone, it read, “Alhaji is about to escape, head to Porto Novo immediately”.
Jibola went into his room, entered a secret password into a wall and the door slid open, his little home armoury. He picked up guns, catridges, cash and his international passport.
He went to his wife’s room, on her sick bed and kissed her goodbye, promising to redeem her family’s image…..
As Jibola was about to leave, he sent an anonymous tip to Chike about the Porto Novo departure of Alhaji Hassim.
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