Madam Adaeze’s Residence. Nibo, Anambra State.
In a large and beautiful sitting room. Six people were seated, all in a worried mood except for Miss Adaeze who looked more relaxed. Tracy, her daughter was lying on the three seater sofa with her head resting on the armrest. Two other members of the extended family sat each in the one seater sofas directly opposite miss Adaeze and her eldest son, Martin. A policeman was seated on a footstool in front of Martin.
‘Inspector, she destroyed some of the cameras in the house and even the ones left didn’t capture any view of her.’ Martin jnr complained bitterly to the policeman who in turn took down notes.
‘The maid who saw the woman, is she here?’ the officer asked, looking at Martin’s face.
‘No, she isn’t.’ Martin replied. ‘My Dad’s house isn’t far from here; I would have asked her to come here if wasn’t late already.’ Martin replied.
‘Okay, what about your sister who you found tied in the house?’
‘She’s here,’ Martin said, pointing to the three seater where Tracy laid.
‘Okay, I’ll like to ask her some questions before I go.’ his eyes lingered on Tracy for a while. ‘Has she been seen by a doctor?’
‘Yes, she wasn’t injured except for the few marks left on her body from the ropes.’
‘Okay, so when last did you hear from your father?’
‘Between four to five o’clock, we agreed that I’ll come drive him from his house in Ngozika to Nnewi where some of my younger ones are…’
‘You have siblings leaving in Nnewi?’ the man interrupted.
‘No, they’re family members who are so close to us.’
‘But where did you go to? I thought you said earlier that you were with him all through the morning time.’
‘Yes, but I had to bring my mum back here after she met with him. We agreed that I was coming to pick him to Nnewi but I got to the house in the estate and did not meet him at home. I called to find out where he was and if Tracy told him in the morning that she was going somewhere else from his place, that was when he told me that she was in the first room at the upper floor.’
‘Your Dad told you where she was?’ the Inspector asked, pointing at Tracy.
‘How did he know? Do you know if he came here today?’
‘No, he doesn’t even know this place.’
‘But how then did he know where she was? How did he know about the rooms at the upper floor?’
‘I suspect that someone was with him and was telling him what to say.’
‘Did you hear any other voice apart from his?’
‘No, I didn’t. But I noticed he was slow in answering. I’m sure he was listening to someone else.’
The Inspector stopped to think for a while but he wasn’t able to make a conclusion yet.
‘Did you ask him where he was?’
‘Yes, but he didn’t tell me. He only said I shouldn’t worry about him and that he was going to be fine. He cut the call afterwards.’
‘He cut the call?’
‘Yes, I tried to reach him again but his line was switched off and it’s been off ever since then.’
‘And what did you do?’
‘I came to the police station, I called my mum and she told me to ask of you but you weren’t there. So I made a complaint to the officers present, they requested for details and collected my contacts and told me that I had to wait for twenty four hours before he can be declared missing. And they claimed the case was even different because he walked out by himself.’
The Inspector let out a silent breath, his gaze moved for a moment from Martin’s face to the mum who was seated beside.
‘Do you know if he had any disagreement with anyone that day?’ he turned to Martin again.
‘Humn…’ Martin was reluctant to answer. ‘My mum went to see him that afternoon.’
‘And was there any argument?’
He flashed a look at his mum with one side eye and looked back at the Inspector. ‘It wasn’t a pleasant conversation, I believe. But none of them raised their voice against each other.’
‘Did you speak to him immediately after that? Was he still ready to go to Nnewi?’
‘He was never ready to go to Nnewi, I talked him into it.’
The Inspector cleared his throat. ‘Well, it doesn’t look like your Dad is in danger.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I mean… I think he’ll come back home soon. You said he cut the call without telling you where he was, it could mean he just wants to take some time off.’
‘No, Inspector, ‘ Martin disagreed. ‘I would have agreed with you if that girl wasn’t involved.’
‘That girl, hmmm…’ the Inspector bit his lower lip for a moment, wondering whether it was wise to say what he wanted to say in the presence of Adaeze. Even though she was seated in a way that obviously showed that she wasn’t paying attention to them, he knew she would still hear what he was about to say. He then remembered that she had divorced her husband and didn’t have any reason to be jealous about him anymore. ‘Do you know if your father keeps girlfriends?’ he leaned forward and whispered to Martin, still being careful for Adaeze not to hear.
‘Girlfriends?’ Martin questioned in a loud tone, contrary to the Inspector’s desire of not wanting his mother to hear. She however made no visible reaction, she seemed not to be concerned. ‘My Dad doesn’t keep girlfriends, he’s not been with anybody since he and mum parted.’
‘Well… I was just saying… You know we are all men and ermm… We sometimes…’ the Inspector struggled in low tones to find word to support his question.
‘Just forget that Inspector, my Dad does not do that.’ Martin defended.
‘Well, I believe if you say so.’ the Inspector lied. Martin’s argument had further strengthened his opinion. ‘Well, I believe your father will try to reach you soon but allow me ask your sister some questions before I make any conclusion,’ the Inspector said and looked towards Tracy.
‘Of course, you can.’ Martin said and got up from his seat. ‘Tracy, Inspector Mezie will like to speak to you.’ he said to his sister who was trying to sit up as she already heard them mention her name in the conversation. ‘I’ll be back,’ Martin said and walked out of the living room.
The Inspector moved to the one seater beside Tracy and settled in. He cleared his throat before he began to talk. ‘Hello Tracy, I’m Inspector Chimezie.’
‘Good evening Inspector,’ she replied, folding her arms across her chest and placing her knees close together.
‘I hope you’re feeling better now.’
‘I’m fine, she didn’t really hurt me.’
‘So tell me how it happened and what she did to you,’ the Inspector adjusted himself on the seat to listen properly.
‘I just returned from the shopping mall that afternoon, I was about entering into this living room when I heard my mum and elder brother arguing about my father. I didn’t want to join the argument because it happens every time and I was tired of it. So I decided to enter through the backdoor so that both of them would not see me. As I got close to…’
‘Sorry please…’ the Inspector interrupted. ‘What time was that?’
‘It was some minutes past one,’ she replied.
‘Okay, please continue.’ he said as he wrote down some details.
‘I was close to the entrance at the back when someone grabbed me from behind and covered my mouth, she was with a gun and her face was covered with a mask. She dragged me in and pushed me against the wall with her gun. I initially thought it was a man because of her strength but then I noticed she had breasts when she held me to the wall. She asked me what direction my room was, but I was too scared to answer.’ she paused and shook her head. ‘That is all I can remember about her. When I woke up, I met myself tied in one of the guest rooms. My mouth was covered and I couldn’t make any sound.’
‘Why didn’t you call for help when she attacked you?’
‘She covered my mouth with her hand, I couldn’t make any sound.’
‘And you didn’t try to fight her?’
‘Try to fight?’ Tracy raised her brow. ‘I fought her but it was useless, she was to strong.’
‘Hmm… That’s strange. So she carried you all the way upstairs?’
‘I don’t know how I got up, but there is a staircase close to the back entrance.’
‘Okay but was there no one else in the house?’ Inspector Chimezie asked, knowing Martin jnr had returned and was leaning against the wall behind. He didn’t use a loud voice but the voice he used could be heard by those sitting close because of the silence of the house. ‘You and mummy were at the living room then,’ he said, referring to Martin as he looked at him. ‘Is there no one at the gate or no maids at home?’
‘We have no maids here, we can’t keep them because we only use this place for few days in a year or sometimes two to three years.’ Martin jnr was the one who answered. ‘The security guard lives here with his family to keep the house occupied while we are away. They stay at the back quarters but his office is just beside the gate.’
‘And does he stay there always?’
‘Yes, he does. At least while we’re around. He opened the gate for me to drive in when I came.’ Martin replied.
‘Okay, I think he has some questions to answer too.’ the Inspector said and turned his focus back to Tracy. ‘Tracy, did she do anything else to you?’
‘No, I’ve not noticed anything except for the marks the ropes left.’ Tracy replied.
‘Did the medical checkup confirm it?’
‘And she didn’t take anything from the house?’ he looked back at Martin.
‘Nothing, we’ve not discovered anything missing yet.’ Martin answered.
‘Now, where did you go from your Dad’s house? I’m aware you spent the night at his residence and left this morning,’ he turned back to Tracy.
‘Yes, I left around eight in the morning but on my way here, I decided to get something from the mall. I met an old time friend there and that’s why I took so long. We spent time together, catching up on old times and she even took me to see one of our course mates from school.’
‘Your course mate at the university?’
‘I thought you schooled in Europe.’
‘Yes, we were at the same school there.’
‘Okay and you came home directly from her place?’
‘Did you drive or you took a cab?’
‘I drove in mum’s car.’
‘Did you notice anyone following you?’
Tracy squinted deeply for a moment. ‘No, I didn’t,’ she finally replied, shaking her head to emphasize.
‘Okay, well… It’s even obvious that the intruder was in the house before you. What else do you think I need to know?’
Tracy frowned at him, not knowing what else to say.
‘I mean did she say anything to you?’
‘Okay.’ The inspector paused for a while to scan through his note and think. ‘Did you have a quarrel or fight with anyone who you suspect might be responsible?’
‘Quarrel?’ she gaped. ‘What would I quarrel with anybody? And why would someone just want to punish me by just tying me down?’
The Inspector folded his lips in, he had no answer to the question. ‘Well, I believe that lady did something we’re yet to discover.’ he paused for a moment staring at the ground. Then his gaze moved to Martin’s face, ‘I think I have to see the man outside now, will you accompany me?’
‘Yes, sure.’ Martin replied and stepped forward immediately.
‘So, miss Tracy, take care of yourself.’ he said to her with a smile. ‘Goodnight.’
‘Thank you Inspector,’ she replied before returning to her previous lying position.
‘Nnukwu nne,’ the Inspector turned and addressed Adaeze in an Igbo word which meant ‘great mother’. ‘I’ll be leaving after seeing the security man, it’s late already and I have to be home soon.’
‘Alright, thank you Mezie. Greet your wife for me,’ she said with a light smile.
‘Goodnight ma,’ he bowed slightly before proceeding out of the house with Martin.
5 minutes later
‘Didn’t you notice any lady coming in?’
‘Walahi talahi officer, I no see any woman enter.’ Audu replied the officer in Pidgin English using his thick Hausa accent.
‘But she was in, she tied up your madam’s daughter upstairs and even got out of the house without you knowing.’ the Inspector insisted. He sat on a metal chair in Audu’s security room, Martin stood leaning against the wall beside him while Audu sat on a mat, his legs folded and knees slightly raised with a prayer rosary in his hand.
‘Officer, walahi I no see am.’ Audu couldn’t stop swearing.
‘But is there any entrance apart from this gate?’
‘No officer, no other place wey people dey enter.’
‘Then it means she could have only entered and left through the gate. Your fence is well secured so, I don’t think she’d easily go over it.’ he paused for some seconds. ‘How many hours did you spend away from here?’
‘Haba Officer,’ Audu gaped, knowing the man was trying to trick him with words. ‘I no comot from here at all.’
‘All through the day you were here?’
‘How did you eat and how did you take your bath?’
‘Oga, my pikin them go bring me food and I get toilet for here’ he said, pointing to the door of the bathroom where his towel was hung on.
‘So you no comot for here at all?’ Inspector Chimezie decided to also use pidgin but in a very strong tone.
‘Ermmm… Na only when I go buy shaving stick for afternoon and I no tey for the shop at all.’
‘Oh! So you went to buy shaving stick in the afternoon,’ he said, nodding his head thoughtfully. ‘What time in the afternoon?’
‘I no check time but na after Oga Martin here come,’ Audu answered with a frown, hoping that he hadn’t implicated himself by admitting he went out.
‘How long did you stay outside?’
‘E no reach five minutes.’
‘And you didn’t notice anything when you returned?’
‘Ermm… I no see anything o.’
The Inspector stared at him in silence for a while. ‘Well, you’re still the one to be held responsible for allowing an intruder into the house. If no valid conclusion is drawn out of what we have already, we may have to invite you to our office for more questioning.’
The Inspector rose from his seat and signalled to Martin that it was time to go.
‘So what next Inspector?’ Martin asked after both of them walked out of Audu’s security room.
‘Let’s watch what happens before twelve noon tomorrow,’ Inspector Chimezie answered.
‘Watch?’ Martin stopped walking and stared at the Inspector with his eyes widely shone.
‘Yes, we can’t do anything yet. The way the situation looks now, it like your Dad got into something with some dangerous people or maybe a dangerous girl and he’s being forced to do something.’
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‘Cole, give me directions.’ Tarasha finally had time to fix the mouthpiece back and respond to Cole who had been trying to get her attention for a long time.
‘Where exactly are you?’
‘I just got out of the hotel and I’m driving in a Zenvo ST1,’ she replied.
‘Okay,’ there was a silence for some seconds. Cole was trying to spot the car. ‘Okay, boss I just spotted the car.’
‘Okay, should I continue on this road?’
‘No, take the next U-turn, there’s traffic jam at the front.’
‘Was Henry able to work on the communication lines?’
‘No, he said there is no way to do which it won’t affect you and our communication with you. The distance is much.’
‘Okay,’ Tarasha sighed. She switched to the lane beside the median as she approached the U-turn. ‘How do I go from this road to Udoka Estate?’
‘Give me a few minutes to check and get back to you.’
‘Okay, be fast about it.’
Tarasha made a turn to the other side of the median and continued with the same speed. She considered whether going back straight to Udoka Estate was a good idea but she had no option. The time for the effect of the sedative she had given the Doctor there had elapsed and it was possible the doctor was now awake and fully conscious. Even though the area was quiet and it would be difficult for the man to get attention or help with the way she had firmly locked the doors and windows, she still didn’t want to give a chance. She had to find a way to change her car first, Cole would help make sure the new car would not be traced by the police.
‘Boss, someone is following you.’ Cole’s voice sounded through the earpiece again.
‘Huh?’ she quickly placed her gaze at the rearview mirror to confirm. There were some cars behind her but none of them had a motion which suggested they were after her. The darkness of the day also made it difficult for her to see more.
‘The guy’s in even in your car, the Chevrolet.’ Cole said. ‘I watched him leave the hotel after you did.’
Tarasha looked again at the rearview mirror and the side mirrors, she couldn’t see the Chevrolet yet. ‘I can’t see him yet, what direction should I take?’
‘Continue going straight, I’ll tell you when to turn.’
Tarasha continued without increasing her speed, she wanted to see the car trailing her first. The vehicle she was in was faster than the Chevrolet and that was why she had chosen it. Soon the Chevrolet overtook the cars behind and was directly at her back, only about eight mebehind. Tarasha increased her speed.
‘Good speed boss, you’ll take the next turn right, I’ve located another car for you to take.’
She moved to the other lane in readiness to turn. In two minutes she left a good space between herself and the Chevrolet and the driver in it was trying his best to catch up.
Soon she got to the junction and made a turn to the left. It was a single carriageway with two lanes, she wondered if Cole knew what he was doing but she still followed the direction. The road was a less busy one so she sped on with no disturbance and caused panic on the road as she switched to the opposite direction lane whenever she met a car.
‘Slow down boss, we’re close to the car.’ Cole said to her. She obeyed. She couldn’t see the Chevrolet anymore, she knew the driver could still be after her but she was sure her car which was being used couldn’t meet up with her speed.
‘That’s the car boss,’ Cole voice came through as she approached a Toyota Yaris. ‘The owner just left it there.’
She slowed down and parked behind the car. The shops in the area had closed due to the lateness of the day and there was no one in sight. The Toyota Yaris was parked at the front of an unfenced compound.
Tarasha stepped out of the car and looked around, there was no one around and she could only see the headlights of only one car coming from the other direction. She pulled out the metal she used in breaking into the Zenvo and pulling out her backpack.
‘I hope the owner isn’t around?’ she asked Cole as she walked to the car.
‘No, he isn’t. He walked into that house with his girlfriend some minutes ago,’ he replied her in a joking tone.
She chuckled. The door of the car gave way immediately she used the metal. She bent forward and threw in her backpack to the backseat first. She looked around again before stepping into the car.
‘What direction should I go?’ she asked as she started the car engine.
‘Turn back the same way you came and continue straight on the previous road.’ Cole replied.
She obeyed his instruction without asking questions. The Toyota Yaris wasn’t as fast as the car she left but changing it was a good option that’ll waste the time of anyone coming after the Zenvo.
‘I’m going to clear the NSCC system records once you drive out to the main road,’ Cole said to her.
‘Okay. What’s the location of that Chevrolet now?’
‘He’s turning into that road way now, all you need to do is to keep the tinted window glasses closed and there’s no way he’s going to even see you in the darkness.’
‘I think they’ve called other police officers to join the pursuit but the police cars are still far off.’
‘Keep me updated.’
She drove on and soon the Chevrolet came driving past her, she could see that a man was the one pursuing her but didn’t see his face properly.
Dave was getting frustrated as he drove on. The Zenvo was totally out of his sight and the speed of his car couldn’t match up with it. He got the direction to take the left turn from Clement who was now with a NSCC staff and monitoring through the security cameras.
‘Any change in her movement yet?’ Dave said into his mouthpiece.
The answer came after thirty seconds. ‘We’re trying to locate the camera covering her now, we have been following your car.’ Clement’s voice sounded in his earpiece.
‘Okay,’ Dave drove on. He could hear Clement discussing something with the NSCC officer but couldn’t make out what was being said. Clement must have taken off the mouthpiece and left only the earpiece on.
He drove for two more minutes before he saw something that looked like the Zenvo parked at the front
‘Hey sir! I can see the car parked here, I think she stopped already,’ Dave said in an excited voice to Clement through the mouthpiece.
‘We’ve already seen it sir,’ Clement replied in a sad tone. ‘I’m sorry she left there already.’
‘What do you mean?’ Dave said as he parked behind the Zenvo.
‘We watched in the footages how she parked there but we can’t seem to find what she did from then on.’
‘I don’t understand,’ Dave said as he switched off his car. He took out his gun and looked around before stepping out of car.
‘Agent Dave!’ Clement called in an urgent manner as Dave wanted to close the door. ‘She’s no longer there. We rewound to the previous footages now and there was a Toyota Yaris there before she parked and when she did. I think she left in the Toyota but we can’t confirm that, footages from when she parked to the following five minutes is missing.’
‘Did you say a Toyota Yaris?’ Dave asked, pressing the earpiece to his ears.
‘Oh! Damn it! I saw the car pass me when I was driving down here.’ Dave hurriedly returned into the car but jumped out as soon as he jumped in. He picked his other guns from the Chevrolet and proceeded to the Zenvo. He entered into the Zenvo with his tools, Tarasha had already broken the lock so it was easy for him.
In less than a minute he had turned and sped back in the direction which he drove there.
‘Have you located her now?’ he said into the mouthpiece.
The reply was delayed as usual. ‘No. You said you saw her pass by your side and we’re trying to follow that direction and locate her. I’ll get back to you as soon as we do.’
**12 minutes later**
‘Shi*t boss!’ Cole’s voice suddenly through her earpiece after over ten minutes of silence. There roads were clear as they usually were at that time of the day.
Tarasha could tell that there was trouble from his tone, ‘What is it Cole?’
‘The guy is still after you boss, he took the Zenvo car you left behind.’ Cole explained.
‘Where is he now?’
‘About 0.93km behind you.’
‘What?’ she widened her eyes in shock. She rolled down the window and adjusted the side mirror, she also adjusted the rearview mirror. She confirmed Cole’s claim, she could see something far behind her even though she couldn’t tell what kind of car it was. The driver was an experienced one and had dimmed his light to ensure that she doesn’t know that he’s tailing her. She increased her speed, ‘Cole, didn’t you clear the footages?’
‘I did. I think boss, he’s also connected to a security staff monitoring live just like I am.’
‘What about the other police officers?’
‘They’re far behind and SSS officials too. But I believe the one after is the one giving them the directions to follow but I don’t know if anyone is coming from the front.’
‘Crash the NSCC system now and tell Henry to crash the communication lines,’ she said in a desperate tone. The Zenvo was closing in on her.
‘What? Boss, we would loss this connection.’ Cole sounded afraid.
‘Yes, I know. I can handle it if he’s the only one pursuing and so we have to stop him from communicating to other police officers.’
‘Okay boss,’ Cole let out an audible sigh.
‘I should overtake her in few minutes but I still need the officers,’ Dave said into his mouthpiece.
‘There are three cars coming behind you and we also contacted another set, they’ll meet you at the front.’
‘Thank you,’ Dave said and released a breath in excitement.
He noticed that she had increased her speed, it meant she was now aware he was coming after her. He increased his too. He was sure of catching up with her in less than seven minutes time no matter how hard she tried to drive faster.
Soon, he could notice her reducing her speed gradually. He reduced his too and took out his gun in readiness, anticipating what she was about to do. He was surprised when the Toyota Yaris took a turn into another road, then he knew the reason for the reduction in speed. He increased his again until he got to the turn.
‘She has changed direction, have you seen her?’ he said into his mouthpiece but was replied with total silence. ‘Hello Sir, are you there?’ he said, touching the earpiece with his fingers, there was an unusual silence. He detached the connection box attached to his belt and checked the screen. ‘Shi*t,’ he cursed, the signal had totally disappeared. He attached it back, hoping that the signal would return soon. He also hoped that Clement was still being able to communicate with the police officers.
The signals did not return. He continued driving, getting closer to the car as it approached another junction on the short road. He held his gun in his left hand, he was sure he would catch up with her before she gets to the next turn. He planned on firing at the tyres of the car without caring whether she dies immediately or not, or if a terrible accident would go. He was willing to capture Samantha anyhow; whether alive, injured or even dead. He raised up his gun in readiness.
Tarasha could see the car closing in on her and she was sure that she would be overtaken before she got to the junction. She rolled down all the windows and took out her revolver in readiness, she placed it on her lap and focused back on the road and the mirrors.
The Zenvo was right behind her, it was only a matter of seconds before it got to her front. She held up her gun and suddenly hit the brakes hard.
To be continue