Martin heaved a sigh of relief. He stretched his hand to draw his mother closer to him.
Dave stared at their faces, he had them where he wanted now, but he knew deep inside his mind that the chances of getting out Dr Ekwueme without him being hurt were very slim.
‘Apart from being former colleagues, do you know if your Dad has other businesses with Dr Francis?’ Dave continued with his questions.
Martin Ekwueme looked at his mother’s face. She released herself from his embrace and sat up. ‘I don’t think so. They weren’t even that close.’
‘Okay, the news reported that Dr Ekwueme and the lady asked about the house Agent that sold the house to Dr Francis. The agent’s name was Lewis George, do you know anyone by that name?’
‘Lewis George? No,’ Miss Adaeze answered in a frank tone.
‘Okay,’ Dave took a brief pause to write some few words on his device notepad. He looked up and stared at the woman’s face silently for some seconds. ‘Ma, I would have to ask some sensitive questions now and I’ll appreciate if you do answer every one without trying to hide any details.’
Miss Adaeze stared at him blankly. She didn’t know what kind of questions he was going to ask and didn’t know whether to agree that she would answer all without hiding anything.
Dave took her silence as consent and continued after a thirty seconds pause.
‘Is there anything Dr Ekwueme has done in secret?’ Dave asked in a calm voice, mentioning his words carefully and one after the other. ‘I mean is there a crime he’s committed in a secret with someone powerful which you think they may come after him for?’
Miss Adaeze heaved a heavy sigh. The tension in her heart increased and tears began to form in her eyes.
Martin knew at a glance at her that there was something secret his mother was hiding. He always knew there was a secret but he never thought it could be a crime. His wildest guess about the secret behind his parent’s divorce had been that his mum caught his dad as a serious serial cheat but it was obvious that he was wrong, it had to do with something probably more serious.
The woman suddenly began to sob, surprising Dave and her son.
‘Mum,’ Martin called softly and drew her close to himself.
Dave remained quiet and unruffled. He balanced himself well on the seat and placed a narrow look at the woman.
She managed to wipe off the tears in her eyes with a napkin she took out of her purse. She sniffed in gently before she began to talk, ‘I have sworn that I would not tell anybody about this and that my children would never hear it from me.’
Dave repositioned himself. Martin slowly disengaged himself from the embrace and balanced on his seat.
‘But you have to tell me now, if you don’t want us to lose him,’ Dave said, flashing a glance at Martin’s face.
The woman sniffed in again. Martin leaned towards her and drew her closer to himself again. He then turned to look at Dave’s face, ‘I’ll excuse you, and I don’t really need to hear what she has to say.’
NEW GENERAL HOPITAL, GBAGADA
Agent James was seated on the plastic chair beside the bed where his father laid in the hospital ward. His legs were crossed and he had his phone in his hands which he was using to surf the internet. A nurse was standing beside his father, changing the drip bag hung on the top of a stand.
James waited for the nurse to finish and walk out of the ward before he moved his chair close to his father.
‘Dad,’ he called softly.
The man turned his face from the wall to his son.
‘Dad, have you heard about Chief Rikau?’
‘No,’ the man shook his head. He wondered what James heard, he knew that Chief Rikau was supposed to be in a plane in the air at the moment, far away from Nigeria.
‘I just read on the news now that the Inspector General was attacked on the way earlier today and was kidnapped by some unknown assailants.’
The Vice President could not hide the shock on his face. He felt like he was going to pass out that moment but somehow, he still managed to stay alive.
‘Where…did you…read that?’ he stammered in a weak voice.
‘On the PobsOnline website,’ James replied.
‘Ah!’ the man heaved a heavy sigh.
‘Agent Tim is working directly on the case and I believe we would get results as soon as possible, I just hope that this kidnap isn’t by Samantha Osman again.’
‘James, I have something to tell you,’ the Vice President said resignedly. He knew there was no need hiding who he was from his son anymore even if the boy hated him for it. He had no one else to listen to him or by his side, Rex was gone; already taken by Samantha Osman, the Inspector General was now gone too.
‘Is there a problem Dad?’ James asked, noticing the look on his father’s face.
‘There has always been a problem,’ Elvis Richards replied with a sigh. ‘I know you may hate me for what I’m about to tell you, but it’s time I do.’
‘I’m listening Dad,’ James readjusted himself to a good listening position.
‘I am guilty of everything Samantha Osman accused me of in those documents she sent to you,’ the Vice President stated. ‘I did them long ago, it started when I was still young and I had to survive.’
The Vice President’s confession came as a shock to Dave, even though he always doubted the man’s innocence. He stood up from his seat and walked to a window which was just by the side, only a meter away from where he sat. He rested his arm against the top frame of the window and rested his head on the arm.
‘I did them long ago,’ the Vice President continued. ‘I was hungry for success, I was hungry to come out of poverty and live a good life. I wanted to have a say in the society and a name for myself, I wanted to keep riches for my family and myself. I have never regretted these things until today, I never thought that I would regret them.’ The man stopped to sneeze and then continued immediately. ‘I have tried to fight nemesis but it doesn’t look like I’m going to be successful with it.’
‘But, Dad why?’ Why? James said in teary eyes as he turned back. He dropped into his seat and placed his forehead on the bed beside his Dad’s hand where the hypodermic needle was inserted. ‘Why did you do so much evil to the nation? So many people died as a result of those actions and many are still suffering from the aftermath.’
The Vice President wasn’t teary at all, neither did his voice show regret, only his words did. ‘I was a young man, I didn’t start out evil. My only undoing was that I was desperate to make success and I followed anybody who suggested that they were ready to help.’
James raised up his head and looked at his father’s face. ‘What about the recent accusations she made against you, did you kidnap Stephanie George and Madam Henrietta?’
‘No, I didn’t.’
‘But she released some proofs that you had a case with late Stephanie George’s father.’
‘Yes, that’s true. And the pictures of me with Madam Henrietta at the airdrome were also very real but I didn’t send men to kidnap them and I don’t know their whereabouts.’ Chief Elvis said.
There was silence for a minute. James did not know whether to believe that his father was innocent about Stephanie’s disappearance or not, but he also didn’t see any reason his father should hide the truth from him again after confessing that he did the other crimes Samantha Osman accused him of.
‘But Dad, what led you into all these even as a police officer?’ James asked thoughtfully.
The man let out a deep breath, he closed his eyes and swallowed gently. Then he opened them again and stared blankly at the ceiling. ‘I wasn’t always like that, even as a young police officer, there was a time I was dedicated to serving the country with all my might.’
‘Then, what happened?’ James asked impatiently.
‘The bosses I had in the police force made me believe that there was no way one would rise to the top without being dirty, they showed me several examples of people who talked and thought like me and how they ended badly, but I didn’t see and wasn’t showed those who ended well. I wanted success and I desperately wanted it, so I had to be obedient and follow the cunning ways of those who led me. As I grew, I became more useful in their hands and several politicians got to know me. Then, I met Chief.’ He paused to take a breath in. He tried to adjust the pillow under his head, James got up quickly and helped him with it.
‘Chief was a nice man, a very nice man. He was ready and willing to help me rise far above where I thought I could get to, and he also had special interest in me and in my personal affairs. I remember when I had issues with my wife, your mother, he intervened and introduced me to someone who could provide the solution. His life was glowing and is still glowing, so I followed and served him with all loyalty because I wished to be like him. And he helped me greatly, because unlike others who worked with him, I was intelligent and always had solutions to every issue that came up. So he’s behind my success till date, there’s really nothing I can say I achieved without his support.’
James listened to his father keenly, his eyes fixed on the man’s face. ‘Sir, who is this Chief you are referring to? I know so many Chiefs with you,’ James interrupted, wondering who the chief was and hoping that it wasn’t Chief Rikau.
Chief Elvis was about to answer when the door flung open and a doctor walked in with the nurse who had been there previously. The doctor had the patient’s file in his hands and a stethoscope hung around his neck.
‘Mr. James,’ the doctor muttered as he got closer to the bed. He extended his hand towards James for a handshake and the latter stood to his feet received it warmly.
James moved his chair backward for the doctor to have enough space to attend to the patient.
‘How are you feeling sir?’ the doctor asked with a smile.
‘I don’t know, I don’t feel any different.’ Chief Elvis replied.
The doctor took some seconds to check his pulse and eyeballs. Then he turned slantly to James, in a way that his face could be seen by the Vice president also. ‘Another doctor would be taking over from me now,’ the doctor said, scribbling something in the file with his pen.
‘I hope there’s no problem,’ James said.
‘His PCV is still low, he’s would require blood transfusion,’ the doctor answered. He closed the file after putting a full stop to what he was writing. He fixed his eyes on James’ face, ‘Would you please come with me, so that you can meet the new doctor?’
‘Oh! Sure,’ James replied and got up from his seat immediately. He flashed a look at his father and gave a reassuring nod.
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20 minutes later.
James returned into the ward with another doctor, an elderly doctor this time around, probably in his early sixties.
‘It’s nice that you want your blood to be used for your father but we still have to test if you are fit to donate your blood and if your blood matches with your father’s, else we would have to opt for the blood bank.’ The doctor said to James as they both walked in, the vice president’s assistant was following behind them, two nurses also followed behind.
‘I’m ready for whatever test you want to do,’ James said.
The doctor stopped beside the bed and stared at the patient’s face with a smile. ‘Chief Elvis,’ he said in a calm tone.
‘You, Dr Reuben,’ Elvis Richards called back in a surprised tone.
‘Yes, it’s me. We meet again,’ Dr Reuben said with a smile. ‘I was glad when I saw your case file been transferred to me.’
Chief Elvis smiled back, but in contempt. He remembered Dr Reuben very well. It was the same Doctor who had diagnosed him of low sperm count several years ago before he and his wife gave birth to James. After the birth of James, he had an accident and the same doctor gave the bad news that he wouldn’t be able to have children again. But contrary to what the doctor said, he had two other kids after James.
‘You’re supposed to have retired,’ Vice President Elvis said.
‘I’m retiring this year,’ the doctor replied. ‘I was transferred to use the remaining few months here.’
After some checks, the doctor turned to the nurses. ‘Prepare to check him,’ he said before turning to James. ‘Please, go with them when they come to call you.’
‘I’m sorry Mister, I can’t tell you what you asked me to,’ Miss Adaeze said after taking some time to think about Dave’s request.
‘Why?’ Dave asked. There was disappointment written all over his face. He had expected that Miss Adaeze would begin to reveal all the doctor’s secrets to him after Martin left but he was surprised when she announced her complete change of mind.
‘Because I can’t trust you,’ the woman replied. ‘I don’t know what you need this information for, you could cause greater harm to him and our children.’
Dave took in a deep breath. The woman was intelligent and thoughtful, he had to admit. He could be a bigger threat to Dr Ekwueme truly. He decided to still push further, but to go about it in a different way.
He smiled and shifted forward on his seat, sitting at the tip. ‘I know so much about his secrets already, I only want to hear your own views so that I can help him out easily.’
The woman stared at him with her eyes unblinking, it was obvious she wasn’t convinced about what he was saying.
Dave smiled again, he decided to take a wild guess and make a suggestion to her and see if she would fall for it. ‘I know a lot about Dr Ekwueme, I know all he did with the Vice President and other politicians but I’ve kept it for a long time, after I saw that he now helps in his country.’
The woman twitched and her facial expression changed, Dave noticed. He particularly saw the expression on her face when he mentioned the Vice President.
She was still quiet and her lips were not moving, but Dave needed to get her to talk.
‘You’re making some thoughts pop up in my mind ma,’ He said as he narrowed his gaze at her. ‘Is it possible that you were also involved? Were you his accomplice?’
The woman gave him a sudden and shocked look. ‘God forbid!’ she exclaimed.
‘I do think you were involved in the crime and that’s why you are quiet about the matter, and even if you weren’t involved, you’ve become an accomplice since you decided to hide his heinous crimes.’
‘No, how can I be involved in such wicked and murderous acts? I have only been quiet because I loved him so much and more because I didn’t want the news to affect our children.’
‘Then you have to tell me all you know, I may get some facts from you that’ll help us rescue him.’ Dave said.
The woman stared thoughtfully without giving any response.
‘Ma,’ Dave continued. ‘You should have read in the news about several ongoing kidnaps, Chief Elvis Richards, the current vice president have been accused of kidnapping several people recently and I understand he’s doing this to cover up his past sins. Your ex husband must have been taken by him. I think that the Vice President is blackmailing your ex husband and would be using him to commit more crimes. Take for example, your husband was seen at Ogun State, asking about Lewis George and then days after, the surviving child of that Lewis George was kidnapped and the Vice President has been accused.’
The woman heaved a deep sigh. Dave stared at her in anticipation. He had her where he wanted now, and he knew she was going to talk. He already had the idea that the crimes Dr Ekwueme committed with the vice President were serious ones which included murder but he needed to get more details.
‘While we were still married, I was searching the house one day when…’
Tarasha stared at the gate of the house from the driver’s side of her car. She checked her wristwatch from time to time. She had made her findings and knew that the house Dave had gone into was owned by Madam Adaeze, the ex wife of Dr Ekwueme. She wondered what he had gone to do in there, but she knew for her certain that she needed to end his life that day.
She closed her eyes for a minute and her mind flashed back to her conversation with Stephanie before leaving the hotel room.
‘Have you heard of the place Ne we?’ Tarasha asked, turning to Stephanie who was still seated on the bed.
‘Ne we?’ Stephanie squinted. Tarasha had gotten the pronunciation of the name wrong.
‘Come here,’ Tarasha beckoned on her to come closer to view the laptop screen.
Stephanie stood up immediately and joined her in front of the laptop. The browser was opened and the Google search engine had come up with results for the search “Nnewi”.
‘Nnewi?’ Stephanie called, looking at Tarasha’s face.
‘Is that what it is called?’
‘Yes,’ Stephanie replied.
‘Repeat it, I need to know the correct pronunciation so that I don’t miss my way as I go there now.’
‘Nnewi,’ Stephanie said again and repeated severally as Tarasha recited after her until the pronunciation was gotten. ‘Why are you going there?’ Stephanie asked. She had been thinking of all possible reasons why Tarasha would have to go there, it wasn’t connected to her mother who was their main reason for being in Anambra.
‘I have some business to finish there,’ Tarasha replied her as she shut down her laptop.
‘Business?’ Stephanie muttered with a trembling voice. She feared that Tarasha was going after Dave and didn’t know what would be the outcome if it was true. ‘Are you going to meet Dave James?’
Tarasha only glanced at her and looked away without replying. She packed the laptop into the bag and got up from the seat. ‘Where’s my bag?’ she asked, looking at Stephanie. ‘Did you bring it from the vehicle?’
‘Yes, it’s in the wardrobe,’ Stephanie answered, looking towards the wardrobe.
Tarasha walked there quietly and took out a new set of clothes from the wardrobe. She arranged them neatly on the bed before taking off her clothes. She pulled out a towel and walked into the bathroom.
Five minutes later, she was out of the bathroom. She put on the new set of clothes and arranged the necessary weapons in her pockets. She took out a small hand bag and put in some makeup kits into it, she also put in a face mask. She proceeded to the door after making certain that she wasn’t without anything that she needed to be with.
‘Please don’t hurt him,’ she heard a tiny voice as she put her hand on the knob.
She didn’t look back but only glanced sideways, but she was still able to see Stephanie with the side eye. She turned the knob and stepped out of the room.
Twenty minutes later, she saw the person she had been waiting for come out through the gate. He walked straight to the car parked by the left side and entered into it. Few seconds later, he drove off.
Tarasha didn’t drive after him immediately, she still had the tracker on his car, so there was no way she could lose him.
65 Minutes Later
Mandil Hotel, Off Ngozika Estate.
Dave laid in the bed tiredly after taking another meal. He had taken off his clothes and had only his briefs on. Thoughts of the day’s activities filled his mind. He never knew his visit to Anambra or his quest to find Dr Ekwueme would be connected with Samantha Osman. Everything and everybody just seemed connected to the assassin. And now that he knew the business Dr Ekwueme had with the Vice President, he was more than a hundred percent convinced that Samantha Osman had Dr Ekwueme with her. And since Samantha Osman was in Anambra and was even found at the hospital, it also meant that the Doctor could be somewhere around. Maybe they had come to do something in the doctor’s hospital, he thought.
He made up his mind to find out, but his problem was how he was going to go about it. He had no backup because his mission there wasn’t official and it would be difficult for him to face Samantha Osman alone, especially now that she knew of his presence.
He was startled by a knock at the door. He quickly sat up and stared at the door, wondering who or what could be at the door.
To be continued