Chike’s flight to Abuja landed a few minutes after 5, his mission in Abuja was clear. He needed to report to his Boss and it was not something he couldn’t do over the phone but the Colonel wanted to see him in person, also to investigate the anonymous tip he got about the fire on 3rd and 4th floor. Walking through the arrival section of the airport, he could see people moving around with no care in the world, going about their businesses.
Some families hurrying around to travel back home for the weekend, Friday evenings were always hectic. He couldn’t but notice some girls dressed like they were going for a party, he shared the same flight with them, they were so noisy, talking about their boyfriends comparing them with their Aristos. He knew definitely these were runz girls, a little question popped in his mind; the inner voice asked him when last he had sex. He ignored the question and brought himself back to reality.
He brought his phone and called the number of the driver assigned to bring him into the office. The driver pulled up and they left.
The drive back to the fire ravaged building was uneventful, Chike was silent and the driver was also silent. For a minute, Chike prayed that every driver should be like this guy, no need to chit-chat. Chike always told them point blank that he wasn’t interested in chit-chatting, telling them before the journey starts usually works wonders.
As the driver passed by the abandoned containers, Chike wondered, was there any reason why these containers hadn’t been thrown out or sold. So, he asked the driver, earlier in his career, he had found out that the secret of most influential people and the organizations were with the people at the bottom of their pyramid. If you want information about anything, all you need to do is ask the cleaners or the office assistants, from who is sleeping with who to who is sabotaging who. The people at the bottom of the corporate pyramid had it all.
Chike asked the driver “Oga, wetin all this containers dey do for here”
The old man answered “Na business center dem be before, dem bin don dey there since late 80s.
Some of them na office for them the people wey dey build Abuja road that time, some of them dem dey use am sell food. If you look am very well, dem dey scattered for every wia.
When I first come Abuja early 90, na that time I just born my second son, Rapheal, dem pack all of them go, dat time I hear say them dey sell am. My Oga then arrange for me to buy am but my wife never relocate to Abuja then, I plan am that time say she go dey use am sell her small market but Man proposes, God disposes.
I no no why them no just sell them, e get one time like 7 years ago wey dem sell some out of them. Na that time I come buy am for Mama Michael, my last born Racheal just finish Primary 5 that time, wan write common entrance.
I hear rumour say them go sell the rest very soon, Life dey very organized that time, number dey all the container body, all of them get wetin dem mean.
Abi, you wan buy ni?
Chike knew typical of driver, ask them one question and the diarrhea of the mouth begins, i only asked about the containers but the driver has managed to tell me about when he started working in Abuja, his kids, his wife. Cabmen aren’t security conscious at all. Chike knew he had to answer this man stylishly so the conversation can end else the man might just continue to tell him how the civil war broke out.
Chike replied “I no dey buy, I just dey wonder why dem dey here, thank you for the enlightenment.”
The driver was sad that Chike cut his speech mojo, he wanted to narrate how he and his father survived the civil war and escaped to Lagos. The driver parked in front of the building.
Chike got out of the car, it was already getting dark, but he could see the destruction of the building, he thought to himself that it was because the building was old, the materials used for building were reliable else the fire on the third floor would have brought down the whole building.
The third floor was leveled, all the chairs, tables, shelves, everything was gone, same for the fourth floor as well.
Chike went through the staircase up, entered into the third floor; saw a couple of colleagues, everyone wondering how the fire could have started. Everybody had their own theory of how the fire started. People were trying to give their best scenario of what really happened Mohammed was there, Chike joined in, greeted everyone around with a handshake; he walked around the whole floor, making observations.
It was Mohammed’s turn, he continued
“I think what happened was that, the fire came from the wiring, I can remember a few months ago. I came here to pick some files and I heard some spark from the junction box. I called the electrical department.
They told me they would fix it but they didn’t fix it, these things don’t just happen in a day, it was little by little. I think the reason more people didn’t notice is because more of the detectives in this place were becoming lackadaisical about investigation.
Most of the detectives’ here hate paperwork; nobody had been down there for a long time. I saw this coming”
Mohammed continued blabbing in his Hausa accent to the colleagues citing instances he had warned them about it but no one had taken him serious. Chike wanted to offer his own theory as well but then he remembered the text message he got from his anonymous source.The last part of the message kept playing out in his head
“Talk to the Obese Hausa detective”
Chike knew Mohammed was the one been referred to as the Obese Hausa detective, there are other detectives’ but Mohammed was the only one with a thick Hausa accent. He allowed Mohammed finish, when he was about to leave, Chike escorted him down asked him if he could join him for a short talk.
In his proud ways, Mohammed kept lamenting about how nobody ever took him seriously in the department, he claimed to have warned them about this impending doom. Chike listened to him all through without interruptions.
Mohammed just couldn’t stop talking about forseeing the doom.
When Mohammed finished, Chike continued looking at the floor as they walked side by side
“Mohammed, I think this whole fire accident was carefully organized”
Mohammed stopped in his step “What are you talking about”
Chike continued “I think someone is trying to cover something up”, mimicking a deep thought mode.
Mohammed replied in deep thought to what Chike said “What were they trying to cover up, Chike”
Chike looked up and replied “Mohammed, you should answer that question yourself, you already said you’re the only detective that appreciates paper work”
Mohammed replied getting furious at the accusation “Chike? What are you trying to insinuate?”
Chike replied firmly “We’re discussing this, lets reason this together Mohammed”
Mohammed’s breathing stabilized and he replied in a low tone “Ok”
Chike continued “My theory to this is that, firstly it was carefully organized.
Secondly, we all know that floor is for records and almost nobody goes down to that floor asides for people who flirt”
Mohammed replied “I still don’t agree with your first point but the second one is true to an extent”
Mohammed smiled at the second part of the statement, Chike continued
“I think what happened is that someone opened the backdoor of the third floor which hasn’t been opened in a very long time, almost a decade, the locks, the doors, the iron I saw was in a bad shape.
The person came back in the middle of the night or under the disguise of working late, set the place on fire, did the same on the 4th floor and spoofed the electrical systems on both floors”
Mohammed wasn’t sure how to respond to the analysis of how the fire was staged. Mohammed replied
“That! My friend is a good plan and it might have worked”
Chike exclaimed “It already worked!”
Chike was ready to delve into how he was sure the fire was staged by Mohammed, when his phone began to ring, the caller ID was Colonel Weyinmi.
Mohammed was still looking dazed when Chike told him he would catch up with him later, Mohammed was so sure they were unto him. Instead of going to the beer parlour for his usual tradition, he skipped it and went home with 2 people on his mind, Jibola Balogun & Alhaji Hassim.
The Minister of Defence was sitting at the table with his family having dinner when the call came in, the call was one he had been expecting, that line which the call came in with was a special line, the people who had that number were special people, his business partners, shady only, his girlfriends, his baby mamas.
You would expect that a 62 year old General wouldn’t be so randy but his type of randiness needed a new word in the dictionary, he would spearhead different parties to bring in girls from different countries just for orgies, most recently, the South African party, where all the girls were south Africans, flew in about 15 of them.
The General at home was a different man, decent, even an Elder in the church. He looked at the caller number and saw Hakim.
He stood up sharp from the table and excused himself to his room, locked the door, went into his library, locked the library door behind him as well. He shut the windows, the doors, settled into the comfy sofa and continued his conversation.
The Minister continued “They’re unto you big time!”
Alhaji’s voice was hard and firm, he replied “You already said that yesterday and what do you mean by ‘you’?”
The Minister almost stammered “I mean we, they’re unto us”
Alhaji responded “I thought you handled them few weeks ago when the Joint Committee set up the task force?”
The Minister replied “I did but the mercenaries were all executed by Chike”
Alhaji rubbed his hands over his eyes and replied “But why should I be bothered about this one, they always open them only to close them a few months later”
The Minister replied “Alhaji, this time around, they have someone in your camp!”
Alhaji replied”am listening”
The Minister continued “They know about Karim’s bomb explosion, they know about the new associate recruitment. The JTF building has burnt, burning specifically the records department.
Definitely, this is serious this time around.”
Alhaji replied “Hope my records have been expunged from the records room”
The Minister replied “I thought you had arranged for Mohammed to do that”
ALhaji replied “I think he has wiped it out but I also think he’s the one responsible for the burnt floors. Can we arrange for Mohammed to be permanently relieved of his duties?”
The Minister replied “I can do that”
Alhaji replied “Make sure it is done well and urgently”
The Minister continued “This might as well be the biggest challenge to this your reign, the President has given JTF all the necessary backing it needs. They’ve been given the access to break whichever door they need to break, to question whoever they deem fit. I think you should be out of the country for now”
Alhaji replied “Thank you General for your concern but I will stay, I am not a coward, have you forgotten my antecedence so quickly?”
Alhaji continued “Hope he knows that if I fall, the economies of so many African countries are going with me”
The Minister replied “He doesn’t care about other countries; all he cares about is taking you down. He doesn’t seem interested in the depth of your involvement in other economies. He keeps complaining about how Nigeria loses from your crude oil lifting. ”
Alhaji continued “He still doesn’t have an idea that I contributed N300 million to his campaign funds, does he?”
The Minister replied “He doesn’t know it was you, I think you should arrange to meet with him”
Alhaji kept quiet for a minute and responded “I will get back to you, just make sure you handle Mohammed as discussed”
Alhaji was the last voice in the conversation as the phone call ended.
Alhaji left the special room he was making the call, came out and join his committee of friends as they were arguing loud about the chances of their politician candidate. It was a special gathering, a higher class of elites, the meeting of kingmakers. None of them had the idea that one of them was the myth called Alhaji Hassim. They had all dined together for years, had their political views, consulted with different government across Africa and some parts of Europe. Their organization was called the African Interest.
They were elder statesmen. Ten minutes later, 15 naked South American girls walked into the room and scattered themselves amongst the old men, it was their Brazilian night.
One could tell Alhaji was thinking about something but as soon as the entourage of the crème Brazilian girls came in, he put a pin on the thought and pushed it to the back of his mind.
The Colonel couldn’t get into specifics with Chike, yesterday evening when he got back from Lagos, the meeting with the President, he had to leave at about 7PM.
The Colonel and his family had a dinner date with his first daughter’s fiance; the families were meeting that evening to plan the wedding. The Colonel had stated it times without number that whatever they decided was okay with him but his wife had to make sure he sat in some of the meetings.
He couldn’t understand why his wife would leave him out of that particular meeting, been in a meeting where the President was firing people was enough motivation for him to get to his work.
However, the meeting was rescheduled for this morning. It was 9AM in the office, the JTF had been moved to the floors untouched by the fire.
Chike entered the Colonel’s office and greeted
“Morning Sir!” Chike said
“Good morning Chike” Colonel Weyinmi replied
“I need updates on this Alhaji Hassim’s case” Colonel continued
“Sir, we’re making progress I can assure you sir” Chike responded
“We need to accelerate the progress; the President was busy firing people in the Police department” Colonel emphasized
“Sir, I got an anonymous tip that pointed accusing fingers at Mohammed for the burnt floors” Chike chipped in
“Well, that’s a dead end now because he was found dead in his car this morning. Apparently, he was strangled in his car last night.” Colonel cut in
“My goodness” Chike replied, moving towards the window, looking down from the 5th floor.
“The rate at which people die in this case is alarming, this ground we’re treading are filled with land mines” Chike replied
“But we need to look into his things to see if we can find anything that can help us investigate this case better. I have other things to discuss with Mohammed, all our investigations relayed back to the earlier investigations. We kept missing points, I was going to ask Mohammed today but a dead man can’t talk” Chike continued
“Do the best you can, let me know when you’re leaving back for Lagos” Colonel responded.
Chike stepped out of the Colonel’s office.
As he walked down the hall, he picked up his phone and called Lana;
Lana picked and Chike started the conversation
“Bad guy, good morning” Chike said
“Don’t talk to me like we’re friends, you’re holding my balls in your hands. If it wasn’t for what it is, we might actually be friends but guess what? We aren’t! ” Lana replied harshly
Chike laughed and responded “You take things too personal, it’s my job, I’m actually a good guy, people in my squad have said such about me”
Lana laughed sarcastically “You’re a fun guy! What do you want?”
Chike replied “I actually just wanted to check up on you, these days’ people in your business die like chicken”
Lana cut in “You mean assassinated, I have survived 2 assassination attempts in just 2 months of this Alhaji Hassim’s business”
“You’re actually very caring” Lana replied sarcastically
“If you wanna be caring, how about assigning me security details. My bodyguards have been killed, i move around with thugs rather than trained mercenaries” Lana continued
“I can’t do that, it will disturb the investigation. Moreover, your girlfriend might notice and start putting things together which might jeopardize the investigation” Chike responded
“Okay, I can see you’re fine, please keep me posted on any new development” Chike said
“I will but one more thing, I don’t trust this Nikky lady anymore, she keeps getting these anonymous phone calls, can you help me dig up on her” Lana said
“Since when did you have the privilege to ask for things? Ehn” Chike replied
“Just do it” Lana replied
Chike dropped the call.
A short dark guy sat in a room,his legs have been amputated. He had alot of hate in his being, a very bitter human being, someone who had lost everything but left with a plan.
He was sitting with another guy who looked every inch like a soldier of fortune. They were looking at different documents, trying to compare and contrast, the document had to do with the location of Alhaji Hassim.
They were both in this operation for a reason, the soldier of a fortune was someone who got left behind in an operation, the short dark guy wants to unsit Alhaji Hassim.
The documents had the photograph of Karim, and Mohammed, they both knew something valuable about their quest.
The soldier of fortune was the same guy unseen fleeing from Karim’s house after his car exploded, the same guy also went unnoticed after he strangled Mohammed in his car and left with the file that he snuck out before the fire he planned.
Things aren’t what they seem most of time. The short dark guy looked up and told the soldier
“The best thing about being dead is that nobody looks for you, you can lurk behind the curtain and get things arranged until you need to come out”
He continued “These people took my birthright, it’s time to get it back.”
He put his hands on the tyres of the titanium wheel chair, rolled it forward with tears in his eyes, he stopped and spoke softly to his mercenary
“Let me know when we’re ready to hit them hard!”
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