The beautiful city of Abakaliki had been extensively hot all day on this stress packed Monday as such, the rain that came in the evening was a welcomed one. Like most Ebonyians who resided in the G.R.A part of Abakiliki, Grace was indoors, though, much more than a storm was needed to cool the heat she felt at the moment. She paced about her room holding her phone in one hand and the Bible in the other, she was deeply in a prayer mood while she occasionally checked her phone for the expected message. “Father Lord! Fight this battle for Tony, no weapon fashioned against us shall prosper, Amen! You are the al…” Her phone beeped and ‘new message’ displayed on the screen thereby interrupting her prayers. She clicked, scrolled, read and copied out a contact on a rumpled paper that was on her dressing table, then dialled the number, pressed the phone to her left ear and listened to the steady ‘burrh… burrh…’. She muttered some prayers softly as she waited to hear a voice from the other end of the connection which came after the sixth ring. “Hello!” A husky voice came through the ear piece of her phone “hello! Hello!! Please am i on to… Inspector Jatau of Madalla police station?” “No Ma” “please sir how do i reach him, it’s very urgent” grace said hastily as she began to loose patient “wetin happen?” “Please i need your help, my husband has just been attacked in the house at polosa” “i no de duty abeg, call station na” Grace couldn’t hold on any longer, she broke down in tears and replied in shaky voice “please Sir, someone just sent me your number I’m in Ebonyi State at the moment… help my husband because of God” “oya Madam calm down, i will contact station for you, na where the house de?” “No 15, polosa, opposite polosa central Mosque… Oga please help me abeg, i will transfer airtime to you now to enable you keep in touch” she said and sobbed further. “Okay Ma, i will get back to you” The inspector hung up, picked his walkie talkie that was plugged beside his television set, made a distress call to the station, gave out the address, wore a t-shirt, hung his police I D card, carried the key of his motorcycle and dashed out of his house promising his son that he would return pretty soon.
At about 9:16 pm, 13 minutes after Inspector Jatau received the call that dragged him out of his comfort zone, the environs of No 15. Polosa was deserted as the presence of armed Police Officers at such hours of the day called for caution. Some Hausas who usually lurk around that area had ran to the Mosque and could now be seen hanging by the Mosques’ window, watching as events unfolded. A police patrol vehicle parked by the road side had only the driver in it who was on standby in case of eventualities. 2 police men mounted at the back of No. 15, 2 others hid at various places over looking the front door of No. 15 while the O.C of the operation visited house number 14 & 16 to ask questions as regards the possible on-going attack. Mr. Ali of number 14 had confirmed that he heard someone shout not quite long ago while Annabel had taken the Officer to her bathroom where they could hear water running from the shower of the next flat which had been on for quite some time now, other than that, nothing seemed wrong. All indications pointed that Anthony of No. 15, Grace’s supposed husband, might be in danger, nevertheless, the Officers had to thread carefully. The O C in plain clothes knocked Anthony’s door, got no response, knocked again, went to Annabel’s to check if water was still running, signalled his men in hidden positions to get ready, knocked for a third time, still no reaponse, pulled out a pistol and booted the wooden door which shattered in its hinges, it wasn’t locked after all.
The time was 9:32 pm now, a lot had gone through Grace’s mind, she was hoping to get married to Anthony in 2 months time, how could this be happening to him now? Anthony was a business man who hated banking, he usually kept money at home, this bothered her too. ‘If Tony was murdered, the marriage would be off… If he was only robbed, the marriage would definitely be postponed and this she wasn’t comfortable with. What if Tony was crippled or something, can i still marry him?’ She thought as tears rolled down her fat cheeks. The Inspector had said he will get back to her and had stopped receiving her calls, she kept wondering what could be happening at the moment and wished she had any of Tony’s neighbours contact. She had dragged a friend all the way from Kubwa, almost 20 km from Polosa to help her check what was going on, he was still on transit and hadn’t even made half the journey yet. She dialled Tony’s number again & received the ‘switched off’ message yet again, this made her sob further, uncontrollably this time. There are times when even the strongest of men needs a shoulder to lean on, times when one wants to be in the arms of morpheous till a Hercules take control of the situation. Times when you want to delve into the ocean of your past activities and exhume a detailed record of your bad and good deeds then ask which had warranted the current situation, this was that time for Grace. She dabbed her eyes once more and was about dialling any of her recently dialled number when a call from an unknown contact came through.
“Yea… Hello!… Good evening!”
“Evening Ma! This is detective Musabe, am i on to… Miss Grace Obijiaku?”
“Eh… yes Sir”
“I would need you to report to our station as soon as possible at Madalla for questioning as regards the event that just occurred at No. 15, Polosa”
Grace’s heart skipped a beat then resumed, thumping very fast now
“But… I’m in Ebonyi State at the moment na, what’s going on? Is Tony Okay?”
“Ebonyi State?… damn! Then i would have to question you over the phone, i guess. Tell me where exactly you were as at 2247hrs this evening”
“In my hotel room in Abakaliki Sir”
“How did you get to know Mr. Anthony was in danger and why shouldn’t i believe that you had a hand in all of this?”
“Me? Look sir, Tony is my fiance, we hope to…”
“Hold it there, you initially told one of my men that Mr. Anthony was your husband right?”
“Ye.. ye… yes na, we…. were supposed to get married soon”
“Wait first.. sir! Are you insinuating that i kille…”
“Don’t be faster than your shadows. To the best of my knowledge, you made the distress call right?”
“I want to know everything that happened, exactly what you know”
“We were on the phone then all of a sudden something happened that made him yell, i heard a crackling sound, then the phone went dead, since then i haven’t been able to reach him”
“Madam! Does this look like a joke to you? I asked for a detailed explanation and you’re feeding me this crap? Do you want me to read out your rights for you and declare you wanted? Are you high?”
“I’m sorry Sir… I called Tony my fiance this evening at about 25 minutes past 8pm when i was sure he would have returned from work. He said he just returned from work and was very hungry, other than 2 packs of noodles, there was nothing to eat in the house. He’s a bad cook so i offered to coach him over the phone, all he needed do was use a hands free while i instructed him on what, when and how to do what he ought to do to cook the noodles. He had turned on the gas, sliced the onions and pepper, poured them in the water and we were waiting for the water to boil before i instructed him to put the noodles in it. We gisted about other things as we awaited the water that was already getting hot then he said he was pressed and wanted to use the comfort station. While he was doing that, i was cracking adult jokes on how his urine was sounding as it splattered in the bowl of the WC when i heard him scream all of a sudden. I heard other sounds before the phone went dead. I tried calling back but the network operator said his number was switched off, till now it’s switched off. I guessed he was under attack from probably burglars, so i called various contacts till some one sent me Inspector Jatau’s number”
“Hum! Are you sure you are telling me the truth? ”
“Yes Sir… I swear… how can i lie with something as serious as this? Officer! Please believe me”
“Madam! Well done! You try well well… Shey you carry Tony cut pepper finish you say make him enter toilet go piss abi? You wan tell me say you forget to tell am say make him wash hand ne? What did Tony do to you to deserve this for God’s sake?”