Please, leave Agent James out of this. I only asked him to follow me there,’ Inspector Dakolo explained to the police agents standing in front of him. He was putting on a white t-shirt and black three-quarter shorts. His forehead was bandaged, a neck guard was around his neck and his left hand hung on a bandage which was tied across his shoulder.
‘You both have lots of explanation to make,’ Agent Tim said. ‘The DSP in Abuja has no record of your trip and you never submitted a report that you were able to track Mrs Henrietta. James also has to explain why he joined you in a case that he has no business with.’
‘Shut up Inspector Dakolo, you’d surely pay dearly for your insubordination.’
‘They hacked the NSCC system early, I couldn’t follow them.’ Cole gave a reply to Tarasha’s question. She had just entered into the computer room and was taking out the guns from her pocket. She took out three revolvers all together and placed them on the table, then she also took off her electronic wrist band and her Talkon communicator receiver from her trouser waist.
‘So they weren’t captured in any of the footages?’ Tarasha asked as she walked close to him.
‘They were in some of them,’ he answered. He was seated in a more comfortable seat different from the normal chairs used in the computer room. His belly wound was still been covered round by bandages and the usual computer room seats were too hard for his injured back.
He tried to move his chair backward on seeing Tarasha approach him but she signalled for him not to bother. She stood behind him and rested her right hand on the top of his chair backrest as she looked into the computer screen.
‘I traced them here when I got the notification that someone was trying to track my location with my debit card details,’ Cole explained as he showed her the first footage. Stainless could be seen standing outside a phone booth with two other mean looking men and Madam Henrietta dressed in her hijab.
‘This was the shop you got her phone from?’ Tarasha asked after two minutes of silence and staring at her mother’s eyes in the paused video and also wondering why the woman was dressed the way she was.
‘Yes, I guess they asked her questions and it resulted in forcing her to lead them to the phone booth.’ Cole replied.
‘But how did she get into their hands?’ Tarasha asked in a concerned tone.
Cole looked leftward and dragged a chair closer. ‘Why don’t you take a seat, I’ve traced everything already and I’ll explain to you in details.’
Tarasha took the seat reluctantly and listened intently as he continued to explain.
‘I traced the whole journey back to the international airport, Madam Henrietta was brought into the country by some United States Special Agents. She broke our rule and did not heed to your instructions, ‘I checked the records of the new credit cards and identity we gave to her and discovered that she never used it, she probably continued to use her real identity and credit cards and it got her discovered by the special agents who brought her secretly into the country and handed her over to Agent Dakolo who was in charge of the kidnap case of the woman and Stephanie.’
‘So how did she get to the hands of Stainless? that guy works with Rex and she’s in danger with them.’
‘Here,’ Cole opened one of the footages showing Agent Dakolo and James in the airport together before he continued with his explanation. ‘Agent Dakolo went with James Elvis to get her from the airport, I guess one of them told a third party and the Vice President probably got wind of her return to the country and informed Stainless to do the job for him.’ He closed the footage and opened another one. ‘They were followed from the airport and they got double crossed in a Petrol Station, Stainless and some other guys attacked and took the woman from them.’
‘Zoom in,’ Tarasha said. The footage showed Agent Dakolo and James being attacked in the Petrol Station. The camera which captured it was at a far distance, hence the need for it to be zoomed.
‘Stainless took her from here and stopped by at a warehouse,’ Cole continued to explain. He opened another footage to show her the warehouse they got into. ‘After some minutes, they took her out again and then visited the phone shop where they must have gotten the details I used for the payment of the phone. They tried to track me with that and I got the alarm, since then I cut off her connections with Madam Henrietta, they can’t create a link from her to us.’
‘You shouldn’t have done that,’ the words fell out of Tarasha’s mouth before she knew. She looked up and saw the surprised look on her face. ‘Ermm… I mean you did the right thing but we still need Madam Henrietta,’ Tarasha quickly tried to correct herself.
Cole kept a thin stare of her face, he noticed something was amiss and it wasn’t just about the step he took. He was sure he had done the right thing for the team’s safety.
‘What do we need her for?’ Cole asked with a raised eyebrow.
She looked away and sniffed in. Cole realized there was something more to it, he could see that she was emotional.
She turned back her face to him after some minutes, she had been able to compose herself. ‘I have a strange feeling about it, we need to apply more caution.’ She said.
Cole stared at her with confused eyes, ‘More caution in what aspect?’
‘There could still be a way of tracing us to this place for them,’ she replied. ‘I know Madam Henrietta cannot lead them here because she would not remember but Rex is intelligent, he could dig deeper and still trace us here through her.’
Cole just stared at her, she was acting weird. It was the first time he was hearing her talk about having a ‘feeling’ and not just talking about it but making decisions based on the feeling.
‘Well, what do you think we should do?’
‘We’d be alert, very alert.’ Tarasha replied as she got up to her feet.
‘Okay boss, I’ll try put all security checks in place.’ Cole replied.
‘So you can’t remember their location or the way which leads to it?’ Rex asked. He was sitting in front of her on a plastic chair in a living room. She was on a sofa, her hijab was already taken off.
‘No, a needle was driven into my hand after dressing up that day. I only came back to consciousness some minutes before we got to the phone booth.’
Rex nodded slowly. He wasn’t expecting less. ‘We don’t plan to keep you here or hurt you. We only have some few requests for you and we would allow you go when you meet our requests,’ Rex said in a calm voice. He took some seconds to observe the woman’s response before he continued. ‘Would you like to tell, not just us, but the world who Samantha Osman really is?’
The woman frowned. ‘I don’t understand, I know nothing about her. Stephanie knows her more than I do,’ she said.
‘Stephanie knows more about her?’ Rex picked her line.
‘Er…Yes,’ she answered reluctantly, feeling foolish to have mentioned Stephanie.
‘That means Stephanie knew about your abduction before hand and it didn’t come as a surprise to her.’
‘No, she didn’t know. Samantha Osman did not abduct us, she helped us from some people who attacked us that night and kept us with her.’
‘Don’t be gullible madam! You think she didn’t plan that attack on you just for her to appear as a saviour?’
The woman was speechless.
‘I know you know little about Samantha Osman but I know somebody who knows much about her already,’ Rex said and then sat up. He snapped his fingers.
The woman looked around for some seconds wondering what the snapping of his fingers meant until she saw him stepping out from behind the curtains of the hall way. She opened her mouth in big surprise.
‘Doctor,’ Tarasha called as she entered into the living room.
The man was seated at the dining room with Stephanie taking dinner. He looked towards Tarasha as she settled on one of the sofas.
‘Good evening Samantha,’ the doctor replied, after eating up the remaining food particles in his mouth.
‘Good evening sir, please finish your food.’ she replied when she saw he was already making moves to get up.
‘Good evening Samantha,’ Stephanie also greeted and Tarasha replied her with a smile.
The doctor finished five minutes later and joined her at the sitting room. He sat on a one-seater sofa adjacent her but she signalled for him to join her on the three seater. He answered and joined but sat at the opposite end. She moved closer to him.
‘I’m sure the liquids prepared for Dave James should be ready by now,’ Tarasha asked in a low voice.
‘Yes, everything is set.’ the doctor replied also in low tones.
‘You’d inject him tonight and we’d drop him off tomorrow somewhere he would be easily discovered and helped,’ Tarasha said to him.
‘Okay, I’d go get it done once I leave here.’ the doctor replied.
She gave a light smile and kept her stare on the doctor’s face for a moment. All the while she was talking she could feel someone’s eyes fixed intently on her, she looked away from the doctor’s face and looked up in Stephanie’s direction.
Stephanie quickly looked away immediately their eyes met and continued to use the spoon on the empty plate pretending to be serious with her food. She had been trying to listen to their conversation but heard none of their words, she only saw their lips moving.
She got up from the table and packed her plates and the doctors on a tray, consciously avoiding looking towards Tarasha. As she walked out of the dining area, she heard her name called and she froze.
‘I’ll like to see you once you keep the plates,’ Tarasha added. Stephanie nodded without looking back and hurried away. Tarasha turned to the doctor. ‘That’ll doc, please do a good job.’
The doctor bowed and got up from the seat.
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‘Henrietta,’ Elvis Richards said with an evil smile as he walked into the living room, followed by Agent Tim and Stainless who carried a chair for him to sit. Elvis was putting on the same clothes he wore that morning but he now had a waist coat on it. He had left for Lagos at the same time James had left but travelled by land.
He sat on the plastic chair beside Rex after Stainless dropped it for him.
‘I gave you freedom and a new life but you decided to work with Samantha Osman to pull me down,’ Elvis Richards began accusingly. Tears began to form in Madam Henrietta’s eyes. ‘I don’t know how you thought you could escape me,’ the man paused and let out a chuckle. ‘But here you are, at my mercy again.’
Tears began to roll down her cheeks and she couldn’t look at Elvis Richard’s face. She hadn’t considered yet that her return back to Nigeria was his work but now that she was seated in front of him, she confirmed her fears that she truly could not run away from him. That was the reason she had warned Stephanie not to bother taking up the case of her family against him.
‘I have another opportunity for you to save yourself and your daughter,’ Elvis Richards continued. ‘You’re going to do all I say without questioning me, Okay?’
Madam Henrietta nodded in approval. She was scared of him and knew he was capable of doing anything he said, just like several years ago when he promised to destroy the George’s family and fulfilled his promise without mercy.
Elvis Richards turned to Rex, ‘Are you sure we would get her tonight with this?’
‘Yeah, as long as this woman cooperates with us, we can stop her from releasing tomorrow’s video.’ Rex replied confidently.
Stephanie returned three minutes later. She stood at the other end of the sofa until Tarasha asked her to sit.
Stephanie sat reluctantly. She had so many thoughts running through her mind and she feared what Samantha was going to say to her.
‘Stephanie, when are you returning to school?’ Tarasha asked.
Stephanie took a slow glance at her face, she didn’t expect the question. ‘I don’t know for now,’ she answered.
‘School have resumed, are you planning to forfeit your final semester?’
Stephanie looked at her face again. ‘No, but I can’t return for now until everything is settled. Everyone still thinks we’ve been kidnapped.’
Tarasha raised a brow. ‘And that brings to my mind this question,’ she said and paused to cross her legs. ‘When last did you talk to Madam Henrietta?’
‘The day she left here.’
‘And she never tried to reach you since then?’
‘No, I couldn’t reach her also.’
There was silence for a moment.
‘I’ll organize for your return to school this week and I’ll tell you the way to go by it before you leave.’
Stephanie looked somehow confused. ‘But…I can’t leave until I see the Vice President paying for his sins an…’
‘He begun the payment already,’ Tarasha cut in. ‘Haven’t you been following the videos on my blog?’
‘I saw both of them on the news, but…none has talked about the Vice President sins yet.’
‘I have to let you go first, we’re getting to those parts and it’s getting increasingly dangerous for you to be here with us. Arrangements would be made for you to leave with your mother this week and go back to your normal lives without being troubled by anyone.’
‘But I can’t leave without…’
‘Shhh…’ Tarasha hushed her. ‘That will be all, you can leave now.’
Stephanie got up from the seat sluggishly, she took another glance at Tarasha before turning to leave. She heard Tarasha call her name again and she stopped.
‘Steph, who have you been talking with?’
Her heart began to beat fast and her legs felt too heavy to turn back. She however managed to turn and face Tarasha. ‘My mother is the only one I’ve been talking to,’ she replied in a shaky voice.
Tarasha let out a chuckle, she could sense the feeling of guilt all over Stephanie. ‘I hope you haven’t been talking to someone you’re not supposed to talk to while you are here.’
‘No… I don’t have access to my phone any longer, I don’t have my contacts on the device you gave to me.’
‘But you have the internet and you have your mouth.’
Stephanie was speechless.
‘Well, I like you a lot but I also enjoy killing those who I like when they betray me. I hope you would not be one of them.’ Tarasha said in a strict warning tone. ‘You may leave now.’
Stephanie bowed and walked away as quick as she could. She wondered if Tarasha had been monitoring her movements or probably knew that she had gone to see Dave secretly or if she just doubted if she had been communicating with people in the outside world.
As she walked through the hallway, her thoughts drifted back to Dr Ekwueme and what Tarasha could have told him. She wondered if it was about Dave. Her mind skipped a beat as she got to the door of the laboratory and found the key in the keyhole. She froze for a second and then her heart began to beat faster. She looked around for a while before she got the courage to check what was happening in the place. She held the knob and turned it. The door opened and she stepped in. To her surprise, the doctor was not in as she expected. She looked around and found nothing different until she looked towards the shelf and noticed a particular ampoule missing. Her heart began to beat fast again.
Cole walked into the dining room just as Stephanie left the living room. He had his plate of food on tray and a small nylon containing his drugs beside the food.
‘Are you done with the security checks?’ Tarasha asked him as their eyes met.
‘No, but Henry is there now, completing the job for me.’
Tarasha nodded in response and looked away from him. She rested her back and took in a deep breath as she closed her eyes, shutting herself temporarily off from the world. She filled her mind with thoughts of her mother and wondered what she would be facing now in the hands of her abductors. She was the only one who knew that the woman was her mother and that gave her some rest of mind that Rex would not think of using that as a bait for her. That was why she refused to tell anyone else, and apart from the risk of having it being let out, it could change the attitude or response of the person towards her.
She thought of ways to go about rescuing the woman without letting it affect her already made plans or relationship with her team. No idea was coming to her mind and there was no one she could talk to about it. At that moment, she really wished there was a God who answers prayers and could tell her how to go about rescuing her mother. She hoped silently within herself that she would see her mother again, hale and hearty.
‘Omotara, you need to see this.’ Henry’s voice cut Tarasha off from the realm of thoughts. She looked up and saw Henry walking towards her with a laptop in his hands. Cole also looked from where he was. ‘Someone is making a counter video against you and they have Madam Henrietta in the video.’
Tarasha raised her brows and waited until Henry joined her on the seat. He placed the laptop on his laps and played a video. Madam Henrietta was seen sitting alone on a plastic white chair and holding an exercise book.
‘Good day everyone, my name is Henrietta. I’m the foster mother to Stephanie George and I’ve been a victim of Samantha Osman. Samantha Osman took us – I and my daughter- several weeks ago from my residence in Abuja after sending some of her men to attack us.
I was lucky to escape today from the location she kept us and I’m making this video from the police custody but my daughter is still in Samantha Osman’s custody and her life is in danger. I want to plead with all Nigerians who have information about Samantha Osman to come out and provide the police with such information so that our country can be a better place. Samantha Osman has done a lot of terrible things to the nation already but very small is what she has done compared to what she is planning. I therefore plead…’ Tarasha stopped the video.
‘Why?’ Henry stared at her face.
‘She’s being compelled to do this talk,’ she replied.
‘I know but she said some things at the end which I’ll love you to listen to,’ Henry said.
‘What did she say?’
Henry sighed. ‘She said she has a lot of secrets to give about you also and they’ll be continuing the video tomorrow.’
‘When was this video uploaded?’
‘About ten minutes ago, I saw it on the popular PobsOnline blog and they’ve began to trend some new hashtags on social media against us, “#BringDownSamanthaOsman”” andfreeNigeria”. ‘
Tarasha took in a deep breath, not knowing the immediate response to give. She rested her back again, planning to take a moment to think. Her phone however disturbed her thoughts as her message ringtone sounded. She picked the phone from the footstool beside her. She unlocked it and swiped down the notification bar. She saw a new email from Rex.
‘I just started my own video series and I’m about to shock you with the videos, do we make a deal or keep releasing our videos?’ the email read.
Tarasha pondered on it for a short while before she clicked on reply.
‘Go to hell dude, my video series continues tomorrow. Watch out for it!’
Tarasha had slept off with her forehead on the table in the computer room when an alarm sounded suddenly. She raised her head up and saw a red question mark blinking on the screen of the main computer system. She tapped on the keyboard and quickly navigated to the security app to see what was going on.
‘ACCESS DOOR BEEN TAMPERED WITH,’ the warning read. She opened the surveillance camera apps and switched to the live streams from the cameras outside the gate of the compound. There were four vehicles outside the gate, up to twelve men with guns standing outside and a man with a machine, trying to open the gate. A second later, the stream from the cameras stopped suddenly. Tarasha knew someone had disconnected their satellite connection from outside and that would make it impossible to view the streams from the surveillance cameras until she boot up another system.
She got up from the seat and walked to the left side of the control room, she pushed a red button on the wall and a loud alarm which would be heard in every room of the building began to sound.
She walked back to the control system and navigated to the control panel. She clicked
To be continued