Chuks Madike knew he had to kill his father-in-law. What he had not decided on was the method. He couldn’t burst into the man’s house totting a gun Scarface style or anything dramatic like that. It had to be a clandestine murder and since he didn’t trust anyone, he had to do it himself. He sat up in bed, his hand groping the bedside stool for the air conditioner remote control. 180c. Too cold, he thought, but his wife liked the temperature like that so he dropped the remote again. He glanced at her. There was an angelic quality to her beauty and Chuks thought there was no woman ever created that was more beautiful than his wife. Helen of Troy has got nothing on this one, he thought. He swung his feet to the floor and got up from the luxurious canopy bed. He padded to the door and opened it gently so as not to wake his sleeping wife. He walked down the stairs to the kitchen, grateful for the warmth that enveloped him. He knew he shouldn’t have but Chuks couldn’t resist making himself a cup of coffee. As he put on the kettle, his thoughts turned again towards his father-in-law.
Tope Babalola was one of the richest men in Nigeria. He owned companies in almost every sector of the economy. He owned a petroleum exploration company in Port Harcourt alongside a chain of filling stations situated all over the country. He owned a computer manufacturing firm in Aba and a huge cocoa farm in Modakeke, a pharmaceutical company in Lagos and a fertilizer plant in Zaria, a food processing factory in Ibadan and a satellite television station based in Lagos. He was also one of the biggest shareholders in Zephyr Trust Bank, Nigeria’s leading financial institution.
He was pushing sixty but could have easily passed for forty except for the salt and pepper hair which betrayed him, giving him an air of respectability. He was tall, lean and good looking and as expected of a man of his great wealth, he had good taste. Whether he was going to his office or to a party, whether he was wearing a suit or native, Babalola was always dressed impeccably. All in all, he could have had a bevy of wives if he so wished. He didn’t. Since he lost his wife to cancer twenty years back, Babalola had focused all his energies on business and he had succeeded wildly. Chuks hated the man’s guts but it had not always been so.
The week after he married Nifemi, Chuks came up a ‘business’ idea and decided to take it to his father-in-law. He was sure the man would be delighted. He knew the idea was not very honest but he didn’t care. He knew that no one could make as much money as his father-in-law had without being dishonest. It simply wasn’t possible. He didn’t tell his new wife about the plan, he just asked her to arrange a meeting with her father and she did. He went to see his father-in-law with confidence. He was about to make the rich man a lot richer.
He walked into Tope Bablola’s reception a few minutes before 8 o’ clock. Nifemi had told him how much her father hated waiting for people. I wouldn’t wait for anyone if I was this rich either, he thought as he was ushered into the office by the pretty secretary. It was his first time here and he marvelled at the splendour of the surroundings. The office itself was huge, with brown Italian tiles covering the floors. Straight ahead was a large working desk of beautifully carved wood. Babalola was seated in a swivel chair on one side of it, with two other chairs on the other side. The older man stood up when Chuks came in and pointed to a corner of the office. Here, overstuffed cushions were arranged in a semi-circle. A couple of abstract paintings adorned the wall, with a large plasma television as the centrepiece. A plush rug covered this section of the office with exquisite glass stools at each end of the settee. Chuks was trying really hard to restrain his wonderment at all the luxury.
‘Good morning, sir.’ He said, shaking Babalola’s outstretched hand.
‘Good morning, Chuks,’ Tope Babalola replied, ‘please sit down.’
‘Thank you, sir.’
‘I have a meeting in ten minutes so I’ll appreciate it if you could give me your idea in about half of that.’ Babalola said as soon they sat down.
‘No problem.’ he replied. ‘Believe me, I won’t need that much time. The beauty of this idea is its simplicity.’
Babalola gave a non-committed smile and waited for Chuks to continue. He listened with half of his mind while he studied the younger man’s face with the other. Chuks Madike looked like an actor fresh off the film set. He was that handsome and Babalola was sure that was his only selling point. He was light in complexion and had dark curly hair, like the Somalian refugees that roamed the streets of Ibadan. He was tall, over six feet with a body that was lean, rather than thin. An aquiline nose and thin lips completed the picture. Babalola wondered why Nifemi always fell for the dumb, handsome ones. Her mother was different, he thought, she fell in love with me.
‘The plan is for you to import a large shipment of luxury cars for a new auto-dealership you’re going to open. The shipment will be insured and then when they get to port, they’ll disappear.’
‘Disappear?’ The older man asked, perplexed. His full attention was now on his son-in-law’s words.
‘Yes sir. I would organize some boys to drive them away in the middle of the night and in the morning, no one would be the wiser.’
Babalola was stunned but he had to chuckle as he saw how excited the boy was getting.
‘What happens after that?’ he asked, trying unsuccessfully to keep a straight face.
‘You collect the insurance and after a while, you’ll announce that you’ve found the cars.’
‘Is that so?’ he asked sarcastically but he could see that it was lost on the crook.
‘Yes sir. You’ll then sell the cars as if nothing happened. That’s profit on two sides.’
‘Are you being serious?’
‘Yes sir.’ Chuks replied with a nod.
‘You said you studied law in school, right?’
Babalola shook his head. ‘And you’ve never heard of the principle of subrogation?’
The older man watched his son-in-law closely and saw him hesitate. He could see exactly what he was thinking. The poor boy probably realised he was been pulled into a trap. If he said he had heard of it, Babalola would ask him to explain it. Yet, he couldn’t say he hadn’t so as not to look stupid. The tycoon waited for another moment before putting Madike out of his misery.
‘Then you’re even dumber than I thought.’ He said, standing up, forcing Madike to do the same. ‘Why don’t you google it and see what you come up with?’ He pointed to the door and waited for the shell-shocked Madike to walk out before heading out to the conference room for his meeting.