‘Boss’ Cole called softly, taking a glance at Tarasha who was seated on the first black leather sofa. The whole team was in the living room, Cole and Aisha was seated on the tiled floor close to the plasma TV , busy with their pads playing the “Full Time Murder”, a bloody game created by Cole.
Cole was seated on the three seater sofa working on his laptop and Tarasha was also doing the same where she was seated. Tarasha stood up and dragged herself and her laptop to the three seater sofa.
‘They’ve responded to our e-mail’ Cole looked up as she approached him.
‘What’s in their reply?’ Tarasha asked and dropped her laptop on the left side as she sat close to him, her body resting on his. She rested her elbow on his lap as she bent forward to look into the laptop.
” Re: Donation of three hundred bags of rice to Atta’s foundation With joy and gladness of heart did we receive your email, we’re glad that we have such passionate people like you who would extend a helping hand to promote a good course whose root isn’t even in their home country. We’ll be glad to receive your representatives here at our head office in Katsina, Nigeria. And like you offered in your email, we would also be glad to work with you on other projects. Thanks Management Atta’s Foundation ” Tarasha sat up and licked her lips softly.
‘One step accomplished. We’re going to need new fleet of cars and customized shirts for this new task. Benny would be in charge of that’ she said to Cole. She looked towards Aisha and Benny who were still engrossed with the game and turned back to Cole. ‘Three hundred bags of rice would cost about two million naira, Aisha would handle the buying of the rice. Please note this’ she said and glanced towards Aisha again. Cole looked away from the laptop to Tarasha’s face and frowned.
‘Do we have enough money to run this operation?’
‘No, and I don’t think the Chief can provide up to thirty percent of the funds, we’re going to need almost a hundred million’
‘Yeah… That’s what I’m saying’
‘But it’s our strategy and we don’t have to get all the monies from the Chief. Waiting for him to raise the money would take a long time’ Tarasha spoke with a very careless tone that made Cole stare at her like he had seen someone fall from Jupiter. Where were they supposed to get the monies from, if not from the client who gave them the job.
‘Then he has to wait then’ Cole asserted.
‘Yes, it should have been so but I can’t wait for finish the jobs’ Tarasha stated, mindful of the fact that she was in a hurry to complete the jobs and leave the country.
‘Then what do we do?’
‘Nasiru Attahiru would fund his death by himself’ she replied.
‘How?’ Cole widened his eyes in surprise.
‘That’s where you come in’ Tarasha placed her legs up the chair and positioned her self like a Hindu meditating, facing Cole directly.
‘Your job now is to search all his bank accounts and check how much he have there. I’m sure we can get a lot more than we need from his accounts’ Cole squeezed his face bitterly.
‘I can search his bank accounts but how do we take the money from there without being caught? The banking system is very secure…’ Tarasha interrupted him with a light slap on his cheeks.
‘How are we going to get caught?’
‘Erm…’ He stammered, touching his cheek with his hand. ‘They’ll be able to track our IP and even the bank account we’re transferring it to’ Tarasha frowned at him, disappointed with the way he was reasoning.
‘Did the Camera security system locate our IP?’
‘Oh!’ Cole pressed his palm against his forehead and exhaled. His brain had not told him that they could also hide their IP address like they did to the cameras system. He removed his palm from his forehead and stared at Tarasha.
‘But they’ll still be notified of the transaction and they may freeze the account we’re transferring the monies to’ Tarasha pouted her lips and stared at him for some seconds.
‘Then we ensure that they are unaware of the operation’ Cole stared at her, still confused, he had not done such a job before. ‘We’ll carry out the process on their own server; this will ensure that they don’t know that there’s an intruder. Then after hacking their server, we disable the notifications settings for his account and do our transfer, then we delete the records from their database immediately. We’ll repeat the same process for every bank account of his. That way, there’ll be no record of transaction, they’ll just discover later that money is missing in the account’ Tarasha explained but Cole still looked confused. ‘Okay, I’ll do it myself.’ Tarasha said after seeing that Cole wasn’t going to understand easily. Cole gave a sigh of relief.
‘Thanks, I’ll learn it’
‘What you have to do now is to search all his bank accounts’ she said as she got up from her seat, she picked up her laptop and was about to leave to her former position. She remembered something and turned back. ‘Cole’ she called. He looked up from his laptop. ‘I noticed that most banks here in Nigeria uses the Wincorf Nixdorf to operate their automated system’
‘Wincall…’ Cole stared at her amusingly, he had never heard about whatever it was the bank was using. Tarasha gave a gasp of astonishment.
‘You don’t know Wincorf Nixdorf?’ She exclaimed loudly in unbelief, placing her left hand on her waist. Aisha and Benny turned back to look at them. She rolled her eyes and exhaled before returning with her laptop in her right hand to sit on the sofa she was sitting before. She sat quietly and opened up the laptop, Aisha and Benny were still staring at her.
‘Boss’ Benny called softly, dropping his game pad on the floor. Tarasha looked away from her laptop to him. ‘You said you were going to explain to us the strategy and why we have to go to Katsina’ Tarasha’s shoulders dropped.
‘I would, when the right time comes. For now, some of the strategies are changing, if I find a better idea, we won’t have to travel to Katsina. But just keep in mind that Mrs Attahiru is the weakest link by which we can get to her son, the Senate President’ she explained and turned her face back to her laptop.
‘Okay, thanks’ Benny said and turned back to the TV slowly. He picked up the game pad and remained motionless for a while. He turned and glanced briefly at Tarasha again, wondering what kind of person she was. At times she could be so sweet and talk to them like a mother, explaining things calmly and she could become a tough boss in the next moment.
Tarasha looked up from her laptop after some minutes and began to look at everyone else in the living room. She took a minute to look at Cole who was busy with his laptop and another minute for Benny and Aisha who had returned to their game. She stared more at Aisha.
‘We need a clipper’ she said with a chuckle before she closed her laptop and got up from the seat.
‘Her lips are not that big’ the man corrected the artist who was making a sketch of his description. ‘Yes, perfect now’ The interrogation room was brightly lit up now, an artist had a standing drawing board erected before him while Ken was seated on a chair close to the interrogation desk and staring from there. They had gone to the man’s office to search for the credentials of the new employee but they couldn’t find it. They had to resort to making a sketch of her face from the man’s description.
‘Is this how she looks?’ Ken walked closer to the man and the artist.
‘Yes’ the man replied. They all turned back as the door to the interrogation room opened, Dakolo walked in and closed the door, he had left briefly to pick up a file in his office.
‘Do we have the drawing now?’ Dakolo asked as he approached them.
‘Yes’ Ken answered. Dakolo stopped when he got close to the artist and stared into the sketch.
‘Is this her?’ He asked the man under interrogation.
‘Yes, she looks like this’ Dakolo shook his head doubtfully, he opened the file that was with him and took out a picture containing Aisha Bello’s image. He tried to compare the drawing with the picture but there was no real resemblance except for some slight ones he was careful enough to notice.
‘Some of their facial features look alike’ he said as he handed the picture to Ken.
‘Aisha Bello’ Ken muttered as he stared at the picture and did his own comparison. ‘They don’t look alike in any way to me’ Dakolo collected the photo back and turned to the man. ‘I’m not satisfied with this yet’ he said, giving the man a stern look. ‘You couldn’t find the credentials in your office?’ He asked for the third time since the Man and Ken had returned.
‘Yes’ the man replied in a tired voice. ‘We searched everywhere in his office, her credentials were missing in the files’ Ken supported the man.
‘That further proves that she must be part of the assassin gang and your company would be in trouble if we don’t find her’ Dakolo asserted, making the man tremble in fear. Dakolo moved closer to the drawing board, the artist had finished packing his drawing materials into the bag and was about to leave. He removed the pins holding the drawing sheet to the board and handed over the sheet to Dakolo.
‘What’s her name again?’ Dakolo asked the man, staring at the drawing.
‘Khadijat is her first name, I don’t remember the last name’
‘Khadijat’ Dakolo muttered. He handed over the drawing sheet to Ken. ‘Let’s trace the name on the citizen’s directory and see whose picture matches it’
~~ **Three Days Later (Thursday)**
Now, all is set for the trip to Katsina on Saturday. Tarasha and the team would book two cars from the transport firm. As usual, Benny and Aisha would go in one while Cole and the boss in the other. Tarasha came down from the car as she got to the gate of the house. She was about to walk in when someone greeted.
‘Hi’ a man who came out from the next compound greeted.
‘Hello’ Tarasha turned back to answer.
‘Yeah’ the guy smiled sheepishly. He had a somewhat fat body and a round head, his chubby cheeks and light skin colour made him look like a cartoon character. He wore a red tie on a white shirt which was properly tucked into his black trousers. He had the NSCC ID card hanging on his neck.
‘I noticed that you guys just moved in and I thought I should say hello and welcome you to the estate’
‘Oh, thanks. That’s nice of you’ Tarasha smiled back at him.
‘You’re welcome. My name is Henry Paul’ he said, extending his hand to her for a handshake. Henry’s picture flashed back into Tarasha’s mind as she took his hand in hers. This Henry Paul was a complete opposite of Henry; fat, chubby and light skinned and worst still, an ugly round face.
‘I’ll call you Paul, you can call me Evelyn’ she replied.
‘Oh! Nice to meet you Evelyn. I hope to invite you over to my house for a meal one day’
‘Well, let’s see how it goes’ she smiled.
‘Okay, we’ll see later then’ he said to Tarasha and waved goodbye. She waved back before proceeding to enter the house and open the gate from behind. She drove into the compound and parked the car beside the van. The space in the compound wasn’t a large one but it could take two to three cars. There was a short tree at the left side which provides a shade for them to sit outside during sunny hours. Benny had come out on hearing the sound of her car driving in. He helped her to close the gate.
‘Thank you’ Tarasha said to Benny as she stepped out of the car with a box of clipper in her hands. She looked over the fence to the compound by the left from which the chubby guy had come out from. It was larger than theirs. In it was a one storey building of four flats.
‘Take this to Aisha’ she gave the clipper box to Benny. Benny smiled as he took it from her and began to walk inside the house. He couldn’t stop smiling as he imagined how Aisha would look like on skin cut. That was part of the team’s conclusion on the best way to disguise her since her face and name was still on the police wanted list. She needed a different method of disguise apart from the makeup method she used for the last job.
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**NSCC Head Office, Abuja**
Except from the sounds made by the tap of the fingers on the keyboard, no other sound could be heard in the computer room as the three developers worked. Only one out of the three invited for the interview passed and was made to start the job immediately. A new house and an advance pay was given to him. Henry had to invite an additional person, his friend who was also a good developer and software engineer to join the team for a short while. The three developers worked in silence, sitting on three different rows, they communicated with each other when necessary through chat messages.
The door flung open and Sylvester walked in, holding a file in his hands. He walked straight to where Henry was seated and placed the file on the table beside the system Henry was working on. Henry glanced up to him and returned his face to the screen immediately. Sylvester released a breath.
‘We need to talk, you’ll be going with me to the meeting tomorrow’ Henry turned up his face slowly to Sylvester. ‘Yes, you will’ Sylvester reiterated. ‘I spoke with the IG today and he insisted that you should be in the meeting when I told him of how I’ve been working with you’ Sylvester dropped the file and began to walk out.
‘What? What am I supposed to do in the meeting? We’ve not gotten a solution yet’ Henry murmured.
‘That’s the more reason the IG wants you there’ Sylvester paused after opening the door and turned to him, attracting the attention of the other other men working. ‘He believes that you’ll talk more convincingly to the President and others in the meeting’ Sylvester said and closed the door.
Henry picked up the file from the table and opened it. He stared into it for some seconds and muttered some words before getting up hurriedly. He held the file in his hands and hurried after Sylvester.
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‘Ouch!’ Aisha exclaimed as Tarasha defeated her the sixth time that day. She was surprised at the way Tarasha was handling the game even though it was her first time of playing it. She had thought it would be easy to defeat her like the Ludo game, not knowing that Tarasha was good at computer games especially the ones which involved bloodshed.
Cole and Benny were both seated on the three seater sofa smiling and staring into a laptop together. Cole took his eyes off the laptop for some seconds. He just couldn’t help but smile again, Benny looked at his face to see what was the cause of the smile and joined too as they both shook their heads funnily and stared at Aisha’s smooth and shining head, the lightening in the room made it reflect like a mirror. Her backhead had a round slightly protruded shape which made it look as if a mold of fufu was gummed to the back.
The gate bell receiver sounded, startling all of them. They stared at each other’s faces, the look on their eyes communicated the question in their hearts without them voicing it, they wanted to know which out of them was expecting a visitor. Tarasha dropped the game pad and got up, she straightened her short Ankara gown.
‘I’ll get it’ she said and began to proceed out of the house. She peeped through the hole before opening the gate. ‘Paul’ she said with a smile, standing in the middle of the smaller entrance.
‘Hi, Evelyn’ Paul greeted with a smile, wrapping the fingers of his both hands around each other.
‘Good evening Paul’ Tarasha replied, still standing in the middle of the way.
‘I came to check on you’ Paul said, trying to look into the compound. ‘We closed early at work today’
‘Oh! I see. Thanks’ Tarasha gave a forced smile.
‘Can…I’ Paul made the gesture with his hand, asking for Tarasha to let him in.
‘Okay’ Tarasha reluctantly gave way and he stepped in slowly. She closed the gate and pointed him in direction of the house. He delayed, taking his time to feed his eyes on everything in the compound first. ‘Do you guys close so early at the NSCC office?’ She asked. He was still staring at the vehicles and the tree in the compound.
‘Huh?’ Surprise was clearly written on his face as he turned back to her.
‘How do you know I work in the NSCC?’
‘I saw the ID card on your neck this morning’ she answered.
‘Oh! And you could read what was in it within that short while?’
‘I’ve seen the ID card somewhere before, so I recognized it immediately I saw it hung on your neck’
‘Okay, although I work in the head office, I’m a regional staff. We work on shifts most times’ he responded and they began to walk leisurely towards the house entrance.
‘How about the urgent vacancies? Have you got people to occupy them?’ Tarasha asked.
‘Yes, we have two more people working with us now. The team is being led by Henry Ekene George? You know him?’ Paul paused and asked, staring into her face.
‘I’ve heard about him so many times, people say he’s a guru’ Tarasha replied.
‘Yes, they say he’s a guru but he has not been able to provide us a solution to the current problem’ Paul said as they stepped on the balcony. ‘What about you? Why didn’t you apply for the vacant position? I’m aware that the post is higher than the regional staff position you occupy now?’ Tarasha paused at the door, placing her hand on the knob. Paul smiled.
‘I’m not a developer or programmer, I would have loved to. What I do is oversee and ensure that nothing strange is happening in my region. I make a report and summary of any crime or unusual occurrence that takes place during my working hours.’
‘Alright, but all the vacant positions are occupied already?’ Tarasha asked and was about to turn the knob.
‘Wait!’ Paul stopped her. ‘I didn’t ask you about your flatmates’ he said in whispers. ‘Are they your siblings or friends or…’
‘Why do you worry?’ Tarasha asked with a smile.
‘I’ve seen two guys come out of this place and I don’t know if one of them is your boyf…’
‘You have nothing to worry about’ Tarasha cut in and opened the door. He walked in, following behind her like a timid child. Everyone in the living room looked towards their direction. The TV was still on but had been switched to the station airing the national news.
‘These are my friends’ Tarasha said as she ushered him to one of the one seater sofa by the left. Paul waved and smiled at all of them before he sat down. Tarasha took the seat beside him and crossed her legs.
‘So what should I offer you?’
‘Anything nice’ Paul answered with a smile, staring at her thighs which were clearly revealed the way she sat.
‘Yes’ he shook his head like a frog in response.
‘Please Khadijat, could you help me get the juice called “anything nice” for our guest’ Tarasha joked, making everybody chuckle. Aisha got up at once.
‘Okay, I’ll get him a good fruit juice’ she said before leaving. Paul’s eyes followed Aisha as she stood up and began to walk away, her shining head was what got his attention.
‘Strange’ he muttered as Aisha walked out of sight.
‘Strange’ Tarasha chuckled, ‘but she loves it that way’
“An important meeting with the President have been scheduled for tomorrow morning to discuss the current security problems in the country. In respect to the growing assassin gang and assassination attacks that begun in the country sometime close to the c—-x of last year, representatives from all security bodies would be present to discuss the way forward with the President. We believe that a valid conclusion would be made tomorrow on this issue…’
The female newscaster’s voice was heard as Cole increased the volume with the remote control. Everybody in the room had turned to the TV. Aisha had also returned with a pack of cold fruit juice and a transparent glass cup on a tray, she placed it on a stool and put it in front of the visitor.
‘Representatives from the NSCC would be there also, the chairman Mr Sylvester and Henry E.G would be there’ Paul began, talking in a manner as if he had been asked by Tarasha. Tarasha seemed less interested but he continued. ‘The vice president would be the one working closely with Henry E.G and the newly employed developers, due to his experience in that line and being the pioneer of the system in Nigeria’
‘Oh! The VP would be working with the new employees?’ Tarasha asked, now more interested in the topic.
‘Yes’ he said after taking a sip from the glass cup. ‘I overheard the chairman saying something like that’ Tarasha paused for a while and thought deeply while staring at the TV.
‘Is there still space to employ one more person?’ Paul was surprised by her question, the glass cup made noise as he dropped it on the stool.
‘I don’t know. Why do you ask?’
‘Ermm… Nothing really’ Tarasha covered up with a smile. ‘I just love your job, I wish I could work in the NSCC’
‘Oh! I’ll tell you when there is any vacancy available again’
‘Thanks’ Tarasha said with a light smile. ‘What time is the meeting tomorrow?’
’11am’ Tarasha nodded her head slowly and turned away from him, she ran her fingers through her hair. If Elvis Richards was going to work with the NSCC, then his murder would be easier if she could work with the NSCC. Certainly, their plans has got to change. Her eyes met with Cole’s who was also staring thoughtfully. He was thinking about the same thing.
7pm Henry was seated in his living room with Jefa, both of them in a kind of sober mood. Jefa had his palms covering his mouth, his elbows on his lap and his shoulders down.
‘I shouldn’t have showed up at all’ Jefa complained loudly. ‘I made her leave the place’
‘It’s not your fault sir’
‘It is, whose fault is it if not mine? I should have just left her to continue her life the way she was used to living it. Now, she may be gone forever’
‘No’ Henry objected. ‘I have this strong feeling that she would show up very soon, sooner that we expect’
‘Stop trying to console me’ Jefa shouted and got up from his seat.
‘I’m saying the truth, she would resurface soon’ Henry insisted, getting up from his seat too. Jefa picked his nylon bag and began to walk towards the entrance.
‘Bye Henry, thanks for your help’
‘I’ll drop you off’ Henry quickly picked his car keys from the centre table and followed Jefa out.
**45 minutes later**
Jefa was back in his house, tears had formed in his eyes as he stared at his mother’s diary which was before him on the table. He wondered how his mother would have felt in heaven at the thought of him reuniting with his sister to live happily again. But no, he had blown the opportunity and she was gone again, maybe forever this time. Was their mother’s spirit even in heaven? No, she couldn’t be. Neither could his father’s. Their spirits could not be at rest yet when their murderers were still roaming the country as free men and living as Kings. Their parent’s spirit would never be at rest, he thought, until their murderers had all died. He flipped open the front page of the diary, he felt an urge to open to the place he stopped at the last time but on remembering Omotara. He paused and tried to recall her birth date. May 27, 2006. He traced and opened to the page.
“Today, we returned to Erin forest to mark our wedding anniversary. We found something we weren’t expecting, a teenager with a newly delivered girl child alone in the bush. The only words she said before fainting was ‘I named her Omotara’. I and my husband quickly rushed her to the clinic in the village, we hope and pray she stays alive.” Jefa closed the book as a sharp pain pierced his heart. He could remember that day when his parents brought a new baby to the house in Lagos, he was eight years old then. He was surprised when their mother walked into the house carrying the baby in her hands happily and he didn’t see the mother of the baby following behind. It was more surprising when their father announced the next day to him and his only younger brother as at then that the baby was their new sister.
‘How could it be?’ He had asked himself. ‘Mom wasn’t pregnant with child before, or is it possible to conceive and give birth the same day?’ Several years went by and they got so used to her, even Jefa totally forgot how she had come into the family. The baby grew up to be an intelligent young child and was loved by everybody, she even became the favorite of Danjuma, their father. No mention of her real parents was ever made by his parents to them, he had only overheard them talking about her mother when the baby was just a month old, and from their mood that day, he could guess that they were mourning her.
Benny, Aisha and Cole sat on the three seater sofa, facing them closely was Tarasha seated on a stool. They were changing the strategies. Cole, Aisha and Benny were to travel to Katsina while Tarasha would remain in Abuja and push for the NSCC job. She had explained all they needed to do to them. All was also set to extract monies from Nasiru Attahiru’s bank accounts. Tarasha was ready for anything, she was going to storm the NSCC office prepared, prepared to face Henry and if need be the police.
After checking and certifying that they had covered every track in the previous jobs, she was sure that even with all the background details Henry may have provided the police about her, they would never get any proof to link her to the assassinations.
‘You’ll be made to pay severely for any of your mistakes and I won’t step in to help you’ she warned. ‘So for anyone of you who carelessly picks up anything that looks attractive, you gotta use your brain and don’t leave any trace behind’