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Henry took a glance at the clock after waving at the security men as he drove in through the gate, it was twenty minutes past nine am. He had overslept and ignored the alarm when it rang, waking up later by eight o’clock, the exact time he was supposed to resume work. He decided not to rush as he was late already by the time he woke. It would be his first time of getting late to the office, and it wasn’t that he was going to be chastised by anyone. His eyes met something in the rearview mirror as he killed the engine. It took sometime for the picture to finish processing in his brain. He opened the door and turned to look at it, there was a blue Camry parked at the parking space at the opposite side. The car park was constructed to have spaces for cars at the left and right side and a space in the middle through which vehicles drive in and out.
The blue car could have been for anybody else but the plate number was what looked familiar. He got out of his car and banged the door unconsciously. Locking it again with the control in his hand. He almost ran into another vehicle that was trying to occupy the space beside his car. He apologized to the driver and crossed to the other side, to inspect the car that got his attention. It was the same car he thought he hallucinated about the day before. He turned to the front of the car to check for the mark on the bonnet. He couldn’t find it but there were signs of repainting at the exact spot the mark was supposed to be.
He scratched his head and heaved a sigh. His heart began to beat fast as he circled the car. Was Omotara really in the same compound with him? He asked himself. He began to walk slowly away, rolling his car keys in his hand. He decided to take a last look when he got behind the car.
‘AA689-GGQ’ he read the plate number to himself again. He moved closer and squatted behind the car, touching the letters and numbers on the plate, just to assure himself that the number he was seeing was real and not a part of his hallucinations. He got up and walked slowly to the front of the car again, taking a peep inside. He could see football magazines and newspapers at the backseats. That got him a little bit confused. He was a hundred percent sure that Omotara wasn’t a lover of football, so maybe she wasn’t in the compound as he thought or maybe the car was brought in by one of her male accomplices.
He paused and let out a deep breath, thinking of what he could possibly do to find out who brought in the car. He took a glance at the security post, he thought of going there to ask but that would look strange and may raise unnecessary security scare. A better idea came to his mind, he turned back and walked to his car.
++++ **Katsina, Katsina State**
Benny and Aisha waited patiently for Cole in the car as they were set to embark on their first visit to the Ata’s Foundation. Benny had grown miraculously old overnight, he had his hair cut lowly, his slightly greyed hair made him look like a man in his late fifties or early sixties. His beards were also grey and sturdy. He had a dark pair of eyeglasses on his face.
Aisha who was looking different already only added some makeups to make her face lighter than it was. There were both dressed in black suits. Soon, Cole appeared and opened the door to the driver’s side. He was also dressed in a black suit and had grown a miraculous moustache too. He was made to look older than his age but not as old as Benny was, he looked like a man in his late thirties. His phone began to ring as soon as he settled in the car.
‘Hello boss’ he answered the call.
‘Are you set?’ Tarasha’s voice sounded at the other side.
‘Yes, we are about to drive off’
‘Yes, but not from the house like we planned’
‘Good, make it go smoothly and keep me connected always. I want to listen live to all of the discussion.’
‘Got you boss’ Cole replied and the call ended. He dropped the phone and took out a tiny recording device which he clipped behind his tie. ‘Let’s go’ he said and took a glance at Benny by side and Aisha at the back before starting the car engine.
Dakolo stared at the man dressed in a blue suit in the picture, lines of disappointment began to show on his face as he recognized the person in it. Henry E.G. Dakolo could still recognize him even though his head was bowed in the picture. He was seated alone, pouring wine into the cup.A female bag and another bottle and cup of wine was at the other side of the table.
‘He looks like someone I know’ Debo said, contorting his face like someone who just swallowed a bitter pill. Ken got up from his seat to join them.
‘Okay’ Dakolo said and swiped to the next picture as he saw Ken approaching. Three other pictures which contained Henry’s image showed up as Ken joined the view but luckily, Henry’s face was not shown at all in the new pictures. It was obvious that the photographer was more interested in the cloth he was putting on than his face.
‘Well…’ Debo began after pausing to recollect some information from his memory. ‘I remember seeing this man closely that day. I saw him when I went to discuss something with someone sitting close to his table. He was sitting alone then too.’
‘So, you saw him very well?’ Ken asked.
‘No, not very well. I was seated at his back’ Dakolo felt a need to hide Henry’s identity for the time being. He didn’t want to believe what his detective mind was suggesting to him, that Henry could be one of the assassins. After scrolling through all the pictures, Dakolo and Ken returned to their seat with the device.
‘I visited the NSCC’s office like we planned the last time’ Dakolo began after a brief moment of quietness. ‘I spoke with Henry and he told me that the number was really Canadian’ Debo shrugged.
‘I don’t really need that information anymore. I don’t know how Mrs Jubril intend to run the organization’
‘Do you still have the number?’ Dakolo asked.
‘Yes, but in the office’
‘We’ll need to get it as soon as possible, please’ Dakolo said and paused to type in something into his device. After asking some more questions, they left Debo’s residence and headed back to the office. In the car, Dakolo was unusually quiet. He kept thinking of the possibility of Henry being a member of the Samantha Osman’s group. Maybe he was even the one in charge of disrupting the cameras system for the gang operations. It had to be. That was why no solution to the problem had been found with all the efforts of the other people in the NSCC. Or how could you explain how Henry was the man who accompanied the suspected Alexander Evelyn to the party? The same Evelyn who was suspected to be Samantha Osman. But he had thought Henry was a patriotic citizen, committed to nation building and development. It was hard to believe that Henry is actually a part of the assassin group.
A thought came to his mind on remembering Henry’s past association with Dare. He also recalled that the reason for all the recent killings were still unknown. Could it be possible that it was no political killing? That the assassins were embarking on a personal vendetta? It could be. And it could also be possible that Henry may have found out that Evelyn Alexander was an assassin and only decided to help her because Chief Jubril and Dare were his enemies. There were two options in Dakolo’s heart now. It was either Henry was part of the Samantha Osman’s gang or he helped the gang in carrying out Chief Jubril and Dare’s assassinations. Somehow, Dakolo still felt the need to dig further personally.
A third and strong option was developing in his mind. He had a soft spot for Henry which grew ever since the time the grave injustice was done to Henry’s family. He decided to hide the picture which showed Henry’s face for sometime. He took the tablet device from the backseat. He swiped it open and clicked the gallery option. He pretended like he was just taking another look at the pictures while be transferred it to his own personal device. He deleted the picture from the device afterwards and spent some more time with it before returning it back.
‘You’ve not still told me the program you used to elongate the monitoring time of the system yesterday’ Sylvester said to his new volunteer staff. She was sitting behind his table with the laptop he had given her to use.
‘Sir, I didn’t use any special program, I only changed the settings of the same program you were running with’ shereplied him.
‘But how come I never saw that option in the settings area?’ he got up from his seat and began to make a turn. Tarasha answered with a shrug. He stood still when he got beside her and bent to look into the laptop. ‘Can you show me where it is?’
‘Sure.’ She clicked open the software and waited some minutes for it to load. A knock sounded on the door.
‘Come in’ Sylvester picked up the door control and turned to the door to click unlock. Someone pushed open the door and walked in
‘Good morning Mr Sylvester’ Dayo walked in briskly.
‘Good morning Mr Dayo’ Sylvester turned back to receive him. ‘How are you doing today?’
‘Fine sir’ Dayo said, taking special interest in the lady who had Mr Sylvester bending over to look into her laptop while she was comfortable seated. He thought it was one of their junior staffs who had such effrontery.
‘Alright, how may I help you?’
‘Sir’ Dayo turned his look back to Sylvester. ‘I noticed that you made some changes to the system yesterday. It shows that you can actually be receiving notifications offline for over twelve hours now’
‘Sixteen hours precisely’ Sylvester corrected with a bold smile. ‘And I’m not just receiving notifications, the signal would still be strong for the sixteen hours offline duration’
‘Interesting’ Dayo’s eyes lit up.
‘That’s what we’re talking about, bright innovation’ Dayo commended.
‘Yeah’ Sylvester flashed his teeth brightly, resting his bum on the table.
‘I actually came to see if I could learn the new method from you, I may need to combine something of such in my new project’ Dayo presented his real reason of coming.
‘Ermm… ‘Sylvester’s smile diminished, now he knew the reason for Dayo’s commendation. He had wanted to take the credit for Tarasha’s work, that was part of the reason he wanted to learn how Tarasha did the job. ‘I didn’t really do it myself’ he finally confessed, after realizing he had no choice.
‘Oh!’ Dayo gave him a naughty kind of look. Sylvester could interpret the look as a silent way of saying “I thought as much, I knew you weren’t so intelligent”. ‘Who did it?’ Dayo asked when Sylvester remained speechless.
‘She did… We did it together’ he replied, pointing to himself and Kimberly.
‘Wow!’ Dayo exclaimed, trying to take a peep at the lady’s face but she would not still look back. ‘She’s my new personal staff, Kimberly’ Sylvester introduced. That was when Kimberly finally turned back, she got up from her seat and smiled at Dayo. ‘This is Dayo, he works with Henry E.G’
‘Nice to meet you sir’ Kimberly said cheerfully as they shook hands.
‘My pleasure’ Dayo replied, still holding her hand in his. He wondered silently why she wasn’t looking back until Sylvester introduced her. ‘So how did you do it?’
‘I was about to show him when you came in’ Tarasha replied and sat back on the seat.
‘Okay’ Dayo said and joined Sylvester as they both looked into the laptop to learn grim Kimberly.
2pm, same day. ‘Afolabi David, Audu Noah, Sunny Nkem, Nwakolo Ezekiel’ Ken read aloud, looking into the computer screen. ‘All found dead, in the same event centre’
‘And these guys are also the suspected kidnappers of Henry George?’ Dakolo asked, taking a glance at Ken.
‘Yes, Afolabi David is the head of their gang’ Ken answered.
‘Where were their bodies found?’
‘Their bodies were found in the security department, the same place Dare’s body was found. The same type of bullets were found in their bodies’ Ken expatiated, pausing from time to time to look at the screen..
‘According to the report we got from the investigation, these guys were part of the security officials provided by the Jubrils for the event’
‘Hmm… How do we connect this?’ Dakolo muttered.
‘Henry E.G stated that Dare was the only person he suspected. I think Henry was contending for something with Dare and he got threatened’ Ken said.
‘With this, it’s highly possible that Dare was behind the kidnap’
‘Well, sir. One case solved already’ Ken said with a smile on his face.
‘The kidnappers have been discovered. It’s a pity that they are late already.’
‘Yes, but there’s still a lot more to this’ Dakolo said thoughtfully. Henry’s face popped up in his mind again, he took a deep breath. Now it has been discovered that not only was it Henry’s long time enemies that were killed, even his recent kidnappers were also killed. Henry was looking more dangerous to him. Very soon, he’ll have no choice than to spill it out to Ken. He already had a strategy in mind to use once he fully verifies Henry’s personal involvement in the assassinations. Although, Henry’s involvement have been verified enough according to police standards, he still needed to do more verifications because of his long time emotional attachment to Henry.
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Don stared around the large living room in awe, astonished at the excellency of interior decor. His eyes met with the President’s picture on the wall and the Vice President’s beside it. The Vice President looked a little bit younger in the picture but not as young as when Don had first met him. That was over ten years ago. Don was still under training then. He remembered how surprised he felt when he saw Elvis who was then the Inspector General of Police, notable for his harshness against all sorts of crime, come to patronize his boss.
Since then, Don had stopped trusting anyone, no matter the level of innocence displayed by them to the public. Don kept on wondering what job the man had for him that was so urgent that an order for his immediate return from Cameroon had to be made. A question arose in his heart. How did the man get his contact? He asked himself. Even when he had tried his possible best to cut off all connections with Nigeria for the short time he was planning to stay in Cameroon. He discarded the question with a brief smile.
He remembered that Elvis Richards used to be a crook who had contacts with several other crooks. Once a crook, always a crook. One thing he admired about the man was his ability to keep people so faithful to himself, no one had ever come out to mention his name or implicate him in a crime. Don thought he had not been so lucky in that aspect; he felt betrayed by Cole, Aisha and Benny.
Don stood up in respect as Elvis Richards walked into the living room. He was dressed casually, in a blue shirt and black shorts which stopped above the knee, a pair of black leather sandals on his foot.
‘Don’ Elvis gave a crooked smile, noticing the great change in Don’s look, it wasn’t the same Don he knew. Don smiled back.
‘Your excellency’ he hailed in a coarse voice and bowed.
‘Good afternoon sir’
‘Good afternoon, thanks for honouring my call.’ Elvis offered him an handshake.
‘Anything for your Excellency ‘ Don replied as he received the warm handshake.
‘Please have your seat’ Elvis said and sat on the couch close to Don.
‘Thank you sir’ Don replied and took his seat.
‘Don’ the Vice President called as he began the main discussion. Don fixed his eyes on the man’s face at the sound of his name. ‘What have we done to you?’ Elvis added. Don couldn’t hide his surprise at the question. He narrowed his gaze and held his breath. ‘Why have you decided to punish some of us?’ The Vice President continued. ‘Or is there anyone who has requested that you disturb us so much like this? You know I can pay you double if you reverse the attacks’ Don looked more confused, wondering what the man was talking about.
‘I don’t understand sir,’ he spoke softly.
‘You do’ Elvis said and relaxed back. He folded his arms. ‘You went to rest in Cameroon while you sent your guys to do the jobs here’
‘What job are you talking about sir?’ Don asked.
‘The three recent assassinations that the whole country is still talking about. I don’t know of anyone else who is powerful enough to carry out those attacks except you.’ Elvis answered. Don stayed quiet for a while, realizing that he was being credited with Tarasha’s job. ‘The police is putting much effort into that case now and I’m telling you that very soon, they’ll catch up with you. That’s why I’ve called you personally to know the reason behind these assassinations, so that you can seize the attacks before the police gets you.’ Elvis stopped and waited for Don’s reply. Don stared silently for a moment. He licked his lips slowly and exhaled before he began to talk.
‘Are you talking about the killing of the Minister of Health, Rivers State Governor and the former minister of defence?’ He asked a question with an already known answer.
‘Yes’ Elvis answered briefly.
‘I wasn’t involved in any of these jobs, neither do I know how they were carried out’ Don stared calmly.
‘Huh?’ Elvis stared at Don in surprise. ‘You don’t know about the assassinations?’
‘Then who could be the one behind it? Your gang was the only one I can think of. I don’t believe that there’s another gang that is capable enough to break through all the security systems we have in place right now’
‘My gang isn’t involved in it’ Don insisted.
‘Are you sure that none of your trained boys are taking these jobs behind you?’
‘No, none of my boys can handle those kind of jobs.’ Don said the truth in his heart but refrained from saying it out. He tried to come up with a suitable answer for the VP’s question. ‘None of my boys would dare do that’ he finally said with a threatening chuckle.
‘Are you sure of what you’re saying?’
‘Yes, they wouldn’t dare do a job without my permission’ Don insisted.
‘Then who the hell could be behind these Samantha Osman’s attacks?’ Elvis burst out loudly, a confused look appearing on his face.
‘She is’ Don said in a calmer voice, staring at the floor and rubbing his palms together.
‘Who is?’ Elvis looked up hurriedly and asked impatiently.
‘She is’ Don said calmly again, unmoved by the man’s countenance.
‘Who is she?’ Elvis held his breath, mentioning each of his words slowly, one after the other.
‘Samantha Osman, she is behind the attacks’
‘Samantha Osman? Is she real?’
‘Yes, she is.’
‘But the police have tried to search for her records but found no perfect match’
‘How did that try to find her records? Was her fingerprint gotten?’
‘No, that would have solved the issue’
‘I don’t think she’s a Nigerian, the police would not still find her in our records but we can then trace it to other countries’
‘Is it possible that she’s really a part of the suspected world assassination gang? The same that has been terrorizing the US and some other countries?’
‘She’s likely a part. While I was in Cameroon, I found a lot of similarities between her operations and the other assassins in the other countries. They seem to have a central gang’ Elvis paused and inhaled a deep breath. He brushed his lowly cut hair backwards with his bare hands.
‘But the good news now is that you know her’ he stated.
‘Know her?’ His face turned expressionless.
‘Don’t you know her? You just told me some things about her’
‘I know her name and some other things about her. I’ve never seen her face and I’ve never worked with her or spoken with her’
‘Do you know who she is working for and why she’s killing those people?’ Don had to think for some seconds before answering. He was sure that the Vice President had called him for a job. Spilling every information he had now could make the man change his mind and not commit to him the job anymore.
‘I don’t know why she’s killing anyone, I guess she’s just doing the job she has been sent’ Don finally said.
‘You don’t think she’s on a personal mission?’
‘No, I don’t think so. She’s a trained killer like me and she drops anyone she has been paid to’
‘Then who is paying her?’
‘Ermm… I don’t know.’ Don lied, for personal reasons. The first reason was that he may not be taken serious if he mentions Chief Gab as her sponsor because the man was just a newly freed prisoner who was trying to gain his stability, no one would believe that he had enough money to sponsor the assassinations. Even Don himself does not know the source of Chief Gab’s funds. Another reason was that he could lose the job he was expecting from the Vice President. The man may decide to go through other ways in dealing with Chief Gab and not involve him anymore. The third and most strong reason was that letting out the identity of his client as an assassin was against his job. He was supposed to protect his client’s identity, no matter what may be; even if the client had stopped working with him, as far as the client hadn’t turned to his enemy. Letting out the identity could also cause danger for himself in the future.
‘Do you think it can be someone outside the country since she isn’t from Nigeria herself?’
‘I don’t know who it may be and I’ve not had any reason to investigate since she has not crossed my path.’ He lied again.
‘Now that I’ve brought her to your path, can you find out for me?’ Elvis asked and got up to his feet. ‘The reason I’m really getting myself involved in this is because her operations have taken out two of my close friends already. I don’t know who her next target is, my life could be in danger’
‘Yes, I can find out for you sir’ Don answered confidently. ‘But she’s very dangerous and not easy to deal with, I would require a lot of money’ Elvis turned to stare at Don’s face, he gave him an expressionless look.
‘Come on, you know money is not an issue. I’m ready to pay any amount it would require as far as you’ll find out the reason for the killings’
‘That’s a simple job sir’ Don assured. ‘Consider it done.’ The Vice president sniffed and turned back. He took out a pill from the pocket of his shorts and threw it into his mouth. He turned back to Don after crushing the pill with his teeth and swallowing it.
‘Can you kill her?’ He threw an unexpected question to Don.
‘You said?’ Don shivered a bit at the question but tried to conceal his fear. ‘Can you kill her for me? After you find out the reason for what she has done already’
‘That won’t be an easy task sir, but it’s possible’ Don remarked. The task had been made a weightier but he wasn’t planning to back out.
‘Are you capable of doing this job?’ Elvis asked, for the first time doubting Don’s ability.
‘Yes sir’ Don replied, trying to show more confidence. ‘Like I said earlier, she’s also a specialist like myself, so it won’t be easy to drop her like any other small assassin. But it can be more easier for me now.’ He added a mischievous smile. Elvis narrowed his gaze at him with an expression to ask what Don meant by the last statement.
‘Now, I have the federal, I have you at my back’ Don began to explain. ‘I’m also aware that you are working closely with all the security bodies to ensure they nab this assassin. I’ll have access to the police data and investigation on her through you’ Elvis nodded slowly in agreement with Don’s proposal.
‘I’ll make sure you get everything you need. Just get this girl for me’ he said in a determined tone. ‘I want you to start the job immediat…’ He stopped abruptly as a thought struck his mind. ‘I want you to start immediately’ he continued, with his face squeezed. ‘But I want to know something’
‘What’s that sir?’ Don fixed his gaze on the man’s face.
‘You said that you don’t know about her apart from her name. You’ve not seen her before, is that?’
‘I actually I know more than her name sir, I know more about her and members of her gang. As at the time they dropped the Governor of Rivers State, they were only three people working with her. Those three, I know them. They are younger assassins, but well trained and developed.’ He expatiated, consciously omitting his role played in supplying the members to her.
‘Just three?’ The man’s face showed surprise.
‘Yes, but I don’t know if they’ve increased or decreased in number now’
‘But they are led by Samantha Osman? Or she’s just the major hitman?’
‘She’s the Boss, she leads them’ Elvis nodded slowly and thoughtfully, impressed by the confidence displayed by Don in answering his questions. Even the police weren’t so sure as this about the results of their investigations. He decided to push further with more questions.
‘Is Samantha Osman the same person as that girl whose records were found?’ Elvis asked, tapping his head as he tried to remember the girl’s name.
‘Aisha Bello?’ Don suggested.
‘Exactly, Aisha Bello.’ Elvis affirmed.
‘Aisha Bello works for her, she’s not the same person with Tara…’ He stopped and cleared his throat.
‘Okay.’ Elvis turned and dipped his hand into his pocket to take out another pill. ‘When would the estimate of your requirement be ready?’
‘Alright, get it to me as soon as possible.’
‘I will sir’
‘Okay, the boys would take you back to your hotel now.’ With that, Elvis walked away from the living room. Like a huge construction project, an estimate bill for an assassination project like this also had to be done. Unlike other petty jobs where they’ll just name the price to the client immediately, several other considerations have to be made in this and then something similar to a bill of quantity is presented to the client.
Don rose up immediately the man walked out of sight. Though he was sure this new job would not be an easy one as he already knew Tarasha’s capabilities, he was still had a personal determination to ensure that Tarasha’s reign come to an end. He had already developed a rivalry between himself and Tarasha when she came in between his association with Chief Gab and even outsmarted him after he tried to deliver her team to the police through Aisha’s flaw. That was part of the reasons he fled to Cameroon to stay with his friend and plot his comeback. His plotting was still going on when Chief Elvis had called for him to return to Nigeria urgently, only for him to find out that the person troubling the Vice President was the same person who sent him out of the country. He was therefore going to make use of this opportunity and make sure that Tarasha regrets coming to Nigeria. …
to be continued