Gbemiga returned home from work tired and hungry. He had a cold bath, changed into a sleeveless shirt and a pair of shorts, and went to the kitchen to make himself a meal. About twenty minutes later, he strode into the sitting room carrying a plate of noodles, fried eggs and plantain with a large piece of smoked Tilapia fish. He settled on the only chair in the room, a brown three seater leather chair. He hoped to get the rest of the furniture he needed before his wedding day. He had been given a two-bedroom flat like every other staff in USAID and the only thing he had been able to buy was a bed, a chair and a television. He had used most of his money to move his family into a new accommodation during the festive period. He also had a wedding to prepare for and it was draining his account. He didn’t know that couples spent so much on so little just for a one-day event.
The traditional and church wedding had been fixed on the same week, the last week of August. It was less than six weeks away. He prayed that God would finance both events. Although his family had promised to help, from both his father’s and mother’s side, he didn’t want to put his hope on anyone.
The Da Silvas were also moving mountains on their side. Abisoye was very special to them and they wanted the wedding to be memorable.
He finished the meal, dropped the plate on the rugged floor and stretched out on the chair. He picked up the remote and flipped through the DSTV channels and settled on the Sports channel. He began to doze off moments later, but, the loud bangs on his door woke him up. He jumped down from the chair and looked around.
Who was knocking at his door like that? He glanced at the wall clock. It was past nine. The bangs persisted. He frowned and marched towards the front door. He drew the latch, opened the door and came face to face with six hefty men. They were all in Police uniforms and they were armed.
“Are you Mr. Oluwagbemiga Phillips?” one of them asked.
He nodded and stared back at them.
“Do you work at USAID?”
He nodded again, his heart beat had quickened.
“Do you know Miss. Abisoye Da Silva?”
He blinked and nodded again.
“Who is she to you?”
“My… my fiancée.”
The men exchanged glances.
“Where is she?”
He swallowed hard, “I think… I think she should be home. I saw her this morning at work. She left around noon on an official assignment. She didn’t return.”
The men exchanged glances again.
“What is this about? What is going on?”
“Mr. Phillips, you need to come with us to the station.”
He frowned, “Why?”
The man who seemed to be the leader of the group stared at him sternly, “Come with us in peace. If you resist, we will drag you to the station like a dog.”
Gbemiga stared back at the man and swallowed hard.
“Let us go,” the man beckoned at him.
“I… I am not properly…”
“Let us go!”
“Like this?” he glared at the man.
The man signaled to the others. They grabbed him by the elbow and pulled him towards the exit.
“Wait… I cannot go like this. At least, let me put on something decent!” he cried out.
No one paid attention to him. He was dragged out of the building and thrown into the black vehicle parked outside the gate.
An hour and forty-five minutes later, Gbemiga was dragged into the police station. He was taken to a room illuminated by a very small dim bulb. He was made to sit on a chair, hands tied behind him, legs tied to the chair. The men left. He noticed a tall dark figure standing a stone throw away from him. He couldn’t make out the face of the man, but, something about him made fear to crawl all over him.
“Mr. Oluwagbemiga Phillips, you have two options. One, tell me the truth. Then we will take it from there. Two, lie and I get the truth out of you.”
Gbemiga swallowed hard. What was he doing in a police station? What crime did he commit?
“How long have you been working for USAID?”
“Em… About two, three months.”
“Good,” the man came forward. He was about six feet tall, all muscled and stern looking. His dark eyes were cold and emotionless and his bare arms were covered with ugly scars. “Who is Miss. Abisoye Da Siva to you?”
He swallowed hard, “My… my fiancée.”
The man grinned. His teeth were charcoal black. Gbemiga turned away. Irritation made him nauseated.
“When was the last time you saw her?”
“This… this morning.”
“Where is she now?”
He gave a shake of head, “Honestly, I don’t know.”
The man’s bushy brows creased in a frown, “You truly want me to believe that you do not know where your fiancée is.”
“I… I think she is home.”
The man marched towards him and stared down at him, “I can start with your genitals and believe you, me, you won’t live to father a child in this life or the next.”
Gbemiga felt a pressure below his abdomen. He was about to pee on himself. “Sir, I… I don’t know where she is.”
Unexpectedly, the man hit him across the face thrice. His vision went dark for about a minute. The only thing he saw were dozens of little shiny stars. The pain came, spreading around his cheek bone, then down his jawline. He tasted blood in his mouth. Was he bleeding?
“Where is Abisoye D Silva?!” the man bellowed. The man’s voice echoed through the walls.
Gbemiga felt his ears throbbing. He knew he was in trouble. Who was going to rescue him? He raised his head and stared at the ceiling. The small dim bulb stared back at him.
God please help me.
The man started to laugh, “Are you praying?”
He dropped his head and looked at the man.
“Are you claiming to be one of those fanatic church goers?” the man snarled at him.
“I am a born-again Christian,” he mumbled. It hurt to talk. His face was on fire.
The man laughed again. “If truly you serve a pure and holy God, why did you plan with your lover to defraud the agency you work for?”
His eyes widened in shock.
“Abisoye served in the Accounting department and when she was retained, she remained in that department.”
Gbemiga nodded quickly.
“All through her service year she redrew money from the agency’s account in piece meal and transferred it to an offshore account. She was so good with what she did that no one knew until a few days ago.”
He began to tremble. He was really in trouble. He had no idea that his fiancée had been stealing from the international agency.
“In total, she siphoned the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.”
Tears brewed in his eyes. His head began to ache and he felt very dizzy. Was he going to pass out?
“We have been monitoring her movements. She was supposed to report to her boss this evening, but, she is nowhere to be found. She is not in her apartment. She is not in yours. She is not home in Ibadan, neither is she in her uncle’s place in Lagos. Where is she Gbemiga?”
He shook his head again.
“Where is she?”
“I don’t know sir,” tears clouded his vision.
“Did you both plan this? Are you her accomplice?”
“No sir,” he shook visibly.
“Where is your rendezvous point?”
“Paris? U.K? Where?!”
“I don’t know… I don’t know anything,” he started to sob.
The man spat on him and backed away. “You are in soup young man. Your fiancée is a professional thief and she is wanted in Nigeria and abroad. The Interpol are looking for her as we speak. You are her fiancé and you must be in on it. I don’t believe that you are innocent.”
Gbemiga raised his head. The hate in the man’s eyes saddened him.
“Start talking or I will break every single bone in your body. When I am done with you, you will pray for death, but, it will not come.”
“I had no idea…”
“Stop lying and talk to me!”
“I don’t know… I didn’t know that she… I had no idea… “
The man dashed towards him, lifted him with the chair, and threw them against the wall. Gbemiga collapsed on the cold floor, bleeding and unconscious.