The name kept recurring in Femi’s head as he entered the next room. Annabel had been like a daughter to the Okafors from what he had observed and she seemed just as bereaved as the others.
She had not been at home at the time of the murder but she had an alibi: she had gone to visit a friend; and he had sent Abbie and another officer to confirm her story and it was true, she had been with her friend that night.
She had a motive but Femi was convinced she was not the killer. He had a feeling that she was just a victim like Nduka and the orphans.
But…was it mere coincidence that she was married to Godwin? Her mother claimed she had promised justice…was getting into the family a part of the plan? Femi was not sure, he needed to speak with Annie. He hoped that she was also on the list.
“Hey” he said taking his place on the empty chair and watching a middle aged man raise his head. He was gagged and hands and legs were tied just like Nduka’s own.
As his eyes met Femi’s own, Femi realized he looked familiar and that was when he remembered one of the names he had researched on: Yemisi Bankole. He turned on the recorder and began.
“Barr. Yemisi” he called as if he was already familiar with him.
He removed the piece of cloth from his mouth and kept his eyes on him. Yemisi looked at him wondering where they had met but when he could come up with nothing, he finally asked “Who are you?”
“I’m Det. Insp. Femi Adebayo” he simply replied.
“Well, what am I doing here?” He asked when he realized he had no business with the policeman.
“I’m handling the homicide case of Chief Emeka Okafor and-”
“Let me get something straight” he interrupted Femi. “This whole rubbish is connected to the Chief’s murder?” He asked as Femi nodded. “Then what the hell is my business?” He asked getting angry. “And even if I am in anyway involved, is this how you interrogate people? What kind of derogatory action is this? Do you know who I am? Do you-” Femi could not let him continue with his ramblings.
“Just shut up” he had not planned on spending much time with him if he was one of the suspects. “What was your relationship with the deceased?”
Yemisi simply laughed and looked superciliously at Femi. “I know my right, you fool” he said angrily as Femi pretended to reach for his gun.
“Don’t tempt me” he bluffed and hoped Yemisi would fall for it.
“You can’t shoot me. I have the law at my fingertips, it protects me”
Femi immediately leaned forward in his seat and grabbed his throat. “Look around you moron, do you think the law can be of any help to you? I can do whatever I want and nobody is going to lift a finger…do you understand me?” he asked tightening his grip on Yemi’s throat.
The moment Yemi nodded in agreement, Femi let him go and relaxed in his seat. “Now…what was your relationship with the late Chief?”
“Nothing…he was a good man so he had no use of me”
Femi immediately sat up in his seat and glared at Yemi. “Really?” he asked bending his head to one corner and Yemi nodded. “That’s good to know…so I want to know…do you know Jide Kayode and Nduka Okafor?”
Yemi bent his head and tried to remember but he was blank. He looked up at Femi but Femi’s eyes were fixed on him, threatening him to remember and when he finally did, he looked up at Femi.
“Yes…I remember Nduka; the poor man lost everything despite my efforts…” he paused. “I had even handled his case pro bono but it wasn’t worth it” he said with sad eyes as Femi gave a wry smile.
“Okay, Yemi. You can cut the crap now” he said as Yemisi gave him a what do you mean look. “You know…” Femi began leaning towards him. “I’ve done my homework on you. You defend the big boys; make sure they seem clean and all that but I’ve also noticed somehting else…you never lose in court but…you seemed to lose these two cases and what’s more…” he continued as if he just realized something. “They both had a connection with the good old Chief” he finally said as Yemi looked down for few seconds before looking back at Femi.
“You listen to me…I don’t know who or what you think you are but whatever you think you know, I do not care. I had listened to Nduka and I believed him that was why I defended him, I mean, I already have a lot of money so I did not mind helping him, but unfortunately, I had lost”
“What about Kayode? You didn’t have much money then…why did you handle his case?” Femi asked trying to conceal his brewing impatience. He felt he was wasting time unnecessarily with the liar.
“The boy was only fourteen and I was willing to help him…but he confessed to his crime”
Femi glared at him. “And he spent sixteen years in prison?”
“That was the least we could ask for…the little girl was traumatized and so was her family. The judge had hated my client and had made no effort to hide it” he said immediately and looked Femi in the eye but the detective said nothing. He then looked down and waited patiently for him to say something but silence prevailed.
Femi rose to his feet and turned off the rechargeable lamp.
Yemisi was lost for words. What was going on? He waited patiently but there was no sound in the dark room.
Where was the detective? It was so dark he could not make out any shape.
“Hello” he finally said but recieved no reply. He tugged at the ropes holding his hands and legs; they were too tight and too strong for his teeth to even make a mark.
What Yemisi felt next was a sharp pain he had never felt before. The detective had hit him hard across his face but it was not with his hand; it was with something hard. He did not have enough time to cry out because the next minute, he felt a blow on his face making him fall back with the chair he was tied to. He felt a bolt of pain as his head and the chair hit the ground.
Femi then hit him on his legs with the lamp. “I think I should do that to your lying mouth” he thought loudly and bent down. In the darkness, he felt Yemisi’s mouth which was already bleeding from the first hit. He gave him a resounding slap that almost made Yemisi cry. Next, he turned on the lamp and raised it high above his head to hit Yemisi before he managed to speak amidst the pain he was feeling.
“I’ll talk” he begged as Femi brought down the lamp and spoke softly.
“I thought you did that already?”
“Please, I’ll tell you everything I know…just…just don’t hit me again” Femi thought he was close to tears.
“You’ve wasted my time and filled my recorder with your rubbish” he angrily said holding the lamp in a threatening manner.
“I’m so sorry…just give me another chance…please”
“Okay” Femi finally said and sat back on his chair.
It took a while for Yemisi to know that the okay meant he was to start talking.
“Can you raise me up, please?”
“Look, blood could-”
“Then you better start talking”
Yemisi wasted no time. “I was good at what I did but I wasn’t known by many people. The Chief had approached me and I was thrilled that I would be working for him but then he told me that I had to lose a case. He had promised one million naira and the fame I had always wanted. All I had to do was make sure the boy was sent to the electric chair or he faced the hangman. Unfortunately, due to his age, we couldn’t get the death sentence even though it was my job to make it look as if we needed the least punishment.
“The Chief still fulfilled his promise and I didn’t work or communicate with him until he told me I had to defend his brother but still make sure the court would find him guilty…and I did just that. He paid three million for that” he explained and then added. “I never knew what they had done to offend Chief…my job was just to hear their side of the story and then do what Chief asked”
“So you mean…Jide Kayode was innocent likewise Nduka Okafor?” Femi asked as if he did not know.
“Yes” he answered immediately. His whole body was beginning to ache him.
“Then how did Jide confess to the crime?”
“He didn’t” he replied spitting out blood from the injury he had gotten minutes ago.
“But you had his confession recorded?”
“He wasn’t the one…we actually hypnotized him but his story was still the same…we just had to get someone to confess to the crime” he paused. “Please, can you raise me up now?”
“Where is Grace Worlu?”
“Grace Wo…oh! I don’t know. I just did my job”
“You expect me to believe you?”
“Please you have to believe me…ask Tamunowari…he’ll know”
“Who is Tamunowari?”
“Someone else that does Chief’s dirty work”
“Thank you” Femi said rising up and turning off the recorder.
Yemisi couldn’t see him due to his position on the floor but he saw Femi stand up and walk towards the door.
“Hey, don’t leave me like this. Untie me at least” he begged but Femi walked out with the only source of light and closed the door.
It was not hard to break Tamunowari George. He was seventy already and did not have as much resistance as Yemisi did. It was after being in charge of Nduka’s case that he had finally retired…Chief’s orders. He had confessed to everything that Yemisi had already said but Femi still needed the extra information.
“Where is Grace Worlu?”
Tamunowari stared at him for a while before speaking. “She’s dead” he said casually as Femi stared at him shocked.
He had thought she never existed.
“What about her parents?” He asked as Tamunowari smiled.
“She was an orphan…I have no idea where he picked her from”
“But her parents were at the trial”
“Money can do wonders detective” he said in a tone that suggested Femi should know better.
“Was she really raped?”
“Reports say she was…what I don’t know is who did it…Chief simply told me where to make the arrest and I did just that”
“Who killed her?” He finally asked after few seconds of silence.
“Do I need to tell you who?”
“Yes” Femi insisted as the old man relaxed in his seat with a frown on his face.
“Chief was a very smart man, he never did the dirty work himself…when he was done with you, he either got rid of you or made you wish you were never born”
“You sound like he did that to you…is that why you’re telling me everything?”
“No…I’m just tired of keeping it all in. And for someone who’s in the last stage of prostrate cancer…there’s not much I’m scared of. I know I’m going to die. I’ve lived my life, made my money and I have no regrets”
Femi stared at him in disgust and felt a kind of anger making its way up his system.
“You ruined lives” Femi shouted as his fists tightened but the old man was not moved.
“I didn’t deny that. I simply said I have no regrets. My wife and kids love me, my grandkids admire me…so I’ll die a fulfilled man” he said with a smile that just upset Femi the more.
“Your recorder doesn’t scare me either. In my years of experience, you can fake that” he said as if giving Femi advice.
The calmness in his voice annoyed Femi who just wanted to strangle the life out of him but the man did not care about his life. The legacy was all he cared about.
“You’ll pay for all you did” he said turning off the recorder.
“Wow…I can’t wait to see how you’ll pull that off”
“Amarachi Duru” she replied as soon as Femi turned on the recorder.
“How old are you and what class are you in?”
“Sixteen…I’m in SS3” she seemed scared but her eyes were still fixed on Femi.
“Do you know why you’re here?”
“No” she replied in a low voice. “I was on my way back from school when some men took me and I woke up here…please can I go home?” Femi could not help but notice how young and innocent she sounded.
“It depends” he said as fear filled her eyes. “…on what you tell me”
“I’ll tell you what you want to know, just promise me I will go home”
“We’ll see…did you know Chief Emeka?” Femi made sure he took in her expression. She had not expected that question.
Fear filled her eyes as she nodded slowly dreading the next question.
“How did you know him?”
“He…he…I…he was” she bent her head and when she looked back at Femi, the tears in her eyes were obvious.
If she did not like what she was doing, then why was she doing it?
“Why are you crying?” Her tears did not move him but he tried not to sound rude.
“Because I’m a horrible person” her voice was now cracked.
“Amara, how did you know Chief?”
“We were having an affair” she finally said but saw no judgement in Femi’s eyes.
“For how long?”
She folded her lips and wiped the tears that stained her fair cheeks. “Seven years”
“You were with the Chief since you were…nine?” Femi could not hide his surprise.
She simply nodded and looked down.
Femi did not know what to think. What had he promised her? What had made her stay?
“Why? Were you in love with him?”
“I don’t know…he was the only man I had ever known” there was a tone she used that begged Femi to understand her.
“So you loved him?” She shook her head halfway.
“I think I did…as a kid, he had threatened to beat me up if I told anyone but as I aged…”
“Yes…why did you continue? Why did you remain with him? You didn’t like boys that were younger?” Femi hoped he was not sounding judgemental.
“I liked one boy” she paused and looked at Femi. “I wanted to stop what was going on and mingle with my mates but he threatened to kill me”
“You’re a big girl, you should have known he was bluffing” she shook her head as the tears flowed down her cheeks.
“He wasn’t” she sounded sure.
“How did you know that?”
“He killed my boyfriend”