**Monday morning** 5am
Tarasha was laying on the giant sized bed, the pillow under her arm as she stared into her tablet device, studying the information she had gathered the last night. She had gotten so much already about the targets, their jobs, investments and family, all that remained now was to plot the best way to carry out their murder. This time she planned for it to be neater than the previous jobs. She turned off the device and turned to face the ceiling, putting the pillow under her head. She closed her eyes and took in a deep breath.
Nasiru Attahiru, the Senate president who was also a business tycoon had three major companies in Nigeria and several other branches in other African countries. He had a cement factory, a large cocoa plantation; the largest in the country and an Agro products factory. He had three children, Fatima, Aisha and Kamal who were all schooling in the United States. His wife was also a business woman who travels out of the country on regular intervals. He had several houses; one in Abuja, three in his hometown, Katsina , one in Lagos and many others in different parts of the country and in Africa.
He had a mother who he held in very high esteem. She recently celebrated her seventy fifth birthday and it was reported that he spent money lavishly in honouring his mother and entertaining all the guests that were in attendance. He had only one sibling, a younger brother who was also a businessman though not as successful as he was but was doing well enough to fend for himself and his family and also live comfortably.
Elvis Richards, the vice President was a greatly feared and at the same time loved in the nation. As a result of his great contribution towards curbing the crime rate in the nation and bringing the country’s security to a dependable level, he earned respect from several countries and world leaders. He was also known for his intelligence and wisdom; he was never outsmarted in anyway. He had three children also, James, Nathaniel and Vivian. His first son James had gone into the police force like him and was gradually growing in rank while Nathaniel his second son was the director in an oil company. The only girl and last born Vivian, was a hip-hop artiste who had several hits across the nation and regions beyond. His wife was late, she died two years ago after suffering several years from b—-t cancer.
Elvis was brought up by a single mother in a poor home. His father who used to be a politician was thrown in prison before he was born, after several of his political enemies had come together and plotted against him for his unshaken honesty and incorruptibility. The man was subjected to serious hardship and labour in prison, he was later found dead after few weeks. His wife who was a foreigner and had forsaken her country and family to marry him was left to bring up the boy alone after all the father’s properties had been seized by the court.
He finished his primary education easily through scholarship that was provided by the government of his state but had to stop schooling for some years after primary six. But he was desperate to survive especially when he heard about how his father died and those who caused the death. He was also desperate to continue schooling and become successful.
He left his mother’s home at a very tender age to live under the bridge, there he learnt the very harsh lifestyle. He started with hawking sachet water by the road and later graduated to selling beef roll and plastic bottled soft drinks. He also involved himself in petty thefts at times and was arrested by the police on several occasions; they always had to release him because of his age and because no one was coming for him. From the little money he made, he was able to enroll himself for evening classes which he did for three years after which he wrote the university entrance exam and passed after the second attempt.
Elvis’s strong will and determination to survive continued to push him forward. After he graduated from school, he joined the police force in determination to pursue and ensure that the perpetrators of the crime against his father. But he discovered that it wasn’t possible because of the rot in the system. He lost his desire and will to fight back. He was now influenced and corrupted by the system, since he couldn’t fight them, he began to live by their rules.
Tarasha got up from the bed and began to take off her night gown, it was time for morning exercise.
Henry stopped and turned to face the opposite side in front of the old gate before turning off the engine. He took off his seat belt and opened the door. He took out his phone and dialed Jefa’s phone number.
‘Hello sir’ he spoke as Jefa answered his call. ‘Are you there now?’ Jefa’s asked anxiously.
‘Yes but I’ve not gotten into the house. I’ll call you when I’m with her. Just pray that everything goes well’ Henry answered. He spoke for another few seconds before the call ended. Then he stepped out of the car and began to walk towards the gate. He stopped in front of the gate, it was properly closed unlike the way it was the day before. He stared around for a while, it looked like something had changed. He didn’t know what it was. He pushed the gate open and walked in, the compound seemed different, he couldn’t tell what was amiss. He shrugged and continued walking further, undisturbed. Nothing was going to stop his excitement, the excitement of breaking the news of a new job to Omotara. He hoped that she would appreciate it and that he would be able to totally convince her to totally leave her job as a fraudster. He also had plans for all her accomplices, with his reputation he could get a job for everyone of them no matter what qualification they held. He was positive that Omotara would accept his idea especially when she hears about the handsome pay attached to it.
He stepped on the balcony, that was when he realized what had changed in the compound. He turned back, the two vehicles he had met there the day before were no longer there, his heart skipped a beat. Does that mean that Omotara had left the house? He proceeded to the day immediately with curiosity. He began to knock. After knocking several times without getting an answer, he started to call out her name, he got no reply also. He touched the door knob and it opened, revealing that it wasn’t locked before.
He walked into the living room, it was devoid of any living thing. ‘Omotara’ he called repeatedly as he walked towards the room section. He entered into the first room, it was empty apart from the furniture in it. Same as the second and third rooms, they only had the beds and wardrobes in them, it was obvious that Omotara had left the place with her team. He ran his fingers into his hair, frustrated. He had lost her again.
Cole the pressed navigation button and gradually began to pull over to the small space left beside the buses parked in front of the motor park. He halted beside a white bus and killed the engine. He took off the seat belt and took a glance at Tarasha to get the next instruction.
‘Go into the park and make enquiries on what it takes to hire a good car to Katsina’ she said to him as she also took off her seat belt. He opened the door and stepped out at once. He paused and took a look at the big sign board again, Rasmag Transport. He returned eight minutes later with a paper in his hands, he handed it over to Tarasha.
‘It’s fifty thousand naira to hire a fully air conditioned car’ he explained to her. ‘And we have to book at least five hours before the movement time so that the car can be prepared for us’
‘It’s okay’she replied as she folded the paper and tucked it into her front jacket pocket.
‘Boss’ Cole called as he put back on the seat belt. ‘Why don’t we book a flight instead? It’ll be less stressful and faster’ he suggested.
‘It’s not an emergency journey, so we don’t need to get there fast’ Tarasha answered him. ‘It’ll give us more stress trying to smuggle in weapons into the plane’ Cole nodded thoughtfully in agreement, he wasn’t thinking that the traveler would need weapons. He started the car engine and turned on the radio before reversing the car out of its parking space.
“…interested programmers and developers should send in their CVs to email@example.com‘ a female presenter’s voice came up as they drove off. ‘I repeat once again, the NSCC has urgent vacancies to be occupied this week, interested programmers and developers should send in their CVs to firstname.lastname@example.org, as soon as possible”
“You know Funke” a male’s voice joined in. ‘The vacancies are really urgent, considering the way the nation’s activities were brought to a stand still yesterday because the security cameras stopped working’
‘Yeah, but it wasn’t really because the security cameras failed, it was because of the fright that the notorious assassin group of Samantha Osman was believed to have initiated the failure’ the lady added.
‘Yes, that’s true. But no case of assassination by the group have been reported yet, it was just something like a false alarm. Maybe something happened wrong with the NSCC machines and procedure and they thought that it was being tampered with again by Samantha Osman’
‘Yeah… That just buttresses the fact that the NSCC needs more capable hands, they …’ On and on the presenters continued their talk.
‘Mr Henry’ Sylvester called as Henry walked past the reception, heading for his office. Henry waited and turned to answer him. ‘How far with the person you went for?’ Sylvester asked, extending his hand to Henry for an handshake.
‘I didn’t meet her’ Henry replied and they began to walk together towards his office.
‘Don’t you have her phone number?’ Sylvester questioned.
‘I don’t have her contact’ Henry said as they walked into the corridor leading to his office. Sylvester remained quiet for a while, wondering why Henry was looking so distraught and answering him lifelessly.
‘Who is this lady?’ Sylvester asked as Henry opened the door.
‘She’s a programmer’ Henry answered. He opened the door and allowed Sylvester in first after which he followed behind and shut the door. He turned on the air conditioner and light before going to sit down.
‘I mean who is the lady to you?’ Sylvester asked again after he was settled.
‘She’s a friend’ Henry replied in a very low voice. .
‘Then why don’t you have her phone number?’
‘You won’t understand’ Henry replied as he took out two laptops under his table. Sylvester shrugged.
‘Well, we’ve gotten some CVs submitted already. The total CVs we have numbers up to nine already’
‘Have you checked them?’
‘Not all, but I forwarded them to your mail’
‘Okay.’ Henry busied himself with his laptop for few minutes while Sylvester also took the second laptop and began to work on it. ‘I’m downloading the first five attachments, you work on the remaining ones’ Henry said. After fifteen minutes of proper scrutinization, three out of the nine were picked, two from Sylvester and one from Henry. ‘Send letters to these people immediately, invite them for an interview by three pm tomorrow’ Henry said, closing his laptop.
‘Why three pm?’ Sylvester questioned.
‘I think one or two of them would be traveling, so we should give them enough time to travel’
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Dakolo sat quietly in his new office, studying the documents on his table. He had been able to confirm the claim of his colleagues about the good use of arms by the assassin gang through the doctors reports on the bodies of those that were killed in the event centre. He could also tell from the reports that an insider was involved in helping the gang. He looked up as a knock sounded on his door. ‘Come in’ he said into the megaphone. Inspector Ken walked in briskly and took the visitor’s seat in front of the table. He dropped a document on the table.
‘Here’s the report from the ball test’ he said.
‘Which ball?’ Dakolo raised his eyebrows.
‘The one that was launched in to release the gas that made the people faint’
‘It was a ball?’ Dakolo questioned, taking the documents from Ken.
‘Yes, it was’
‘Do we have the pictures?’
‘Yes, it’s in there’ Ken took the document from him and opened to the page where the picture was.
‘This?’ Dakolo asked in surprise, staring at the picture.
‘This is a grenade ball’ Dakolo stated boldly.
‘It looks like but it isn’t. The ball contains something else entirely, a strange gas’ Ken corrected. ‘Just read the report and see for yourself’ Dakolo let out a deep breath and began to read silently. Often times he would look up and stare into Ken’s face, whenever he read a surprising truth. He looked up finally after ten minutes. ‘Here’s a strong proof that Chief Jubril’s assassination was carried out by Samantha Osman’s group’ he said. ‘This unknown compound is always used by the gang, the ball also contains it. But the major constituents are tear gas elements’
‘Which unknown compound are you talking about?’
‘It’s an unknown compound which was discovered to be used in the previous two assassination. In the first one, it was used to put three police officers to sleep after which their car was hijacked, their uniforms were also stolen and the car was driven into the minister’s compound to carry out the killing. In the second assassination, it was also used to put to sleep some of the other people in the plane’
‘Now, it is here also?’
‘Yes, this analysis of the substance is the same we got from the forensic teams in Port Harcourt and Lagos’
‘Wow! Or is it the same with the substance found in the US investigation today?’ Ken asked with inquisitiveness in his eyes.
‘It’s sounds like they are the same’
‘Was there any substance found?’ Dakolo asked, bringing out his phone. Ken took out his phone too. ‘I saw the news of the assassination on the headlines today’ Dakolo continued, ‘but I’ve not been able to read it.’
‘Yes, there was’ Ken said and handed his phone to Dakolo to read the news. Dakolo dropped his own phone and took Ken’s.
‘The symptoms are the same’ Dakolo said after one minute of scanning through. ‘We need to contact the US authorities to see if we can link these cases ‘
‘But what’s the name of the gas?’
‘It’s unnamed yet but it was said to have no natural occurrence and has not been found to be legally produced anywhere’ Dakolo spoke, mentioning his words carefully, one after the other.
‘The only place signs and effects of these gases have been found are in these assassination cases’
‘Hmm…’ Ken cleared his throat. He looked into Dakolo’s face and Dakolo was also looking into his.
‘Agent sir, are you thinking the same thing I’m thinking?’
‘I think so’ Dakolo smiled, his teeth showed slightly.
‘I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these assassinations are occurring at the same time in several countries. Although the intensity here in Nigeria is high because it involves top citizens’
‘Yes, the pattern here is different. The similarity is that there’s so much neatness in the way the job is being carried out’ Ken out in.
‘No Nigeria’s cases are a lot more accurate’ Dakolo disagreed.
‘Do you remember that Robin Kahn was able to stop an assassination attempt in his country before he came here?’
‘Yes, he did stop two assassination attempts. One in his country, US and one in South Africa before he handed the cases over to other people and traveled down to Nigeria’ Ken spoke.
‘But he wasn’t able to arrest the assassins, they always escaped with claims of receiving several wounds from Kahn and his men’
‘The cases in the other countries were different because the assassination attempts were not on heavily secured people, you can’t compare the way Jubril Lawal himself and the event centre were heavily secured and the assassins still penetrated neatly. Come to talk of the one that happened directly under my nose, the assassination of the Rivers state Governor. It is unexplainable how they got on board with the governor’
‘So are saying the assassinations are not connected now?’ Ken queried.
‘No’ Dakolo stressed, wiggling his head. ‘As a matter of fact, I think they are connected but we just have to verify first. We can’t conclude that they are because our cases are somehow different from other countries’
‘It’s true’ Ken inhaled deeply and took a brief pause.
‘No government official or politician has been killed in other countries but that’s what we have here’
‘Yea, if Kahn couldn’t do anything here but instead got himself killed. Then we don’t have any strong evidence to connect them yet until we confirm first that the same substance was used by the assassins’
‘But… ‘Ken stammered, he paused and heaved a heavy sigh. ‘How the killer escaped from the event’s centre after killing Chief Jubril still baffles me.’
‘Yea, I was coming to that’ Dakolo adjusted himself on the seat. ‘Has everyone working there been thoroughly investigated?’
‘Yes all except one, who was very sick but now recovered. He has being invited to our custody and I believe he should be here very soon’ Ken glanced at his wristwatch. ‘In fact, he should be here already.’ Ken took his phone from the table and drew the pattern. He was about to open the dial pad when he saw a SMS notification on top of the screen. A junior officer had just sent him a message of the expected man’s arrival.
‘He’s here already’ Ken stated.
‘Yes, tell me. Who is this man? What is his job there?’
‘He was in charge of serving food that day’ Ken replied.
‘Okay, can we go and question him now?’ Dakolo said getting him from his seat.
A middle aged man was seated behind the interrogation desk, he was staring at Dakolo who was seated at the other end of the desk, Ken was standing close to Dakolo with his arms folded.
‘Was there anybody you saw that day among your staffs who looked or was acting suspicious?’ Dakolo asked the fifth question.
‘No, everything was going perfect until we saw people who were at the entrance of the hall run outside. Most of them fainted before they could move too far. We didn’t quickly realize what was going on, everybody who entered into the Hall to check also inhaled the gas and experienced the effect. We thought that something had gone wrong with our machines inside’
‘How did you know what was happening?’
‘I came to monitor those serving the drinks and snacks then and I was returning when I saw people coming out of the hall and falling to the floor’
‘Yess…’ Ken interrupted with a clap, he just remembered something important. He made an eye signal to request permission from Dakolo, Dakolo authorised him to go ahead with a nod.
‘You mentioned earlier that there were ten people who served food and drinks’ Ken began.
‘Yes, ten’ the man confirmed.
‘Five guys and five ladies?’
‘Yes’ Ken lifted his head up as he inhaled abruptly, he looked back to the man.
‘We were only able to interrogate nine of them, I was thinking that you were the tenth person’
‘No, I’m the supervisor’ the man frowned. ‘Do you have the names of those interrogated?’
‘Yes, we have their names written somewhere. The list is in my office’ Ken said.
‘Go get it quickly’ Dakolo said to him. Ken obeyed immediately, he returned two minutes later with a file in his hands. He took out a paper from it.
‘Here, we have nine names. Five men and four ladies’ Ken placed the paper in front of Dakolo first. Dakolo transferred it to the man.
‘There’s a name missing here’ he said, slowly. ‘She’s a new girl, she just joined us two days before the event, one of our workers had an accident’