3, DECEMBER 2015
Nicholas hurried down the hall way, his fingers wrapped around the briefcase held tight. The briefcase held nothing important but his nervous fingers could not tell the difference. The building was not as big as CyberCorp’s office, in fact he could not believe such a big company ran from such a small building. He silently prayed that the size of the office building would be the only surprise.
Adam had told him about Kemi’s warning, it was already too late, he had signed and closed the deal. Mrs. Babatunde, the more than eager widow who was glad to have a job took care of all the formalities. He had signed a few papers – after thoroughly reading them, he was not going to let a sly woman deceive him into signing over anything to her, but that was all he had done. The acting president –Mr. Chukwu had made a few trips to Port Harcourt, but he knew sooner or later he would have to make the journey himself.
He reached the end of the hall way, the door was marked ‘Boardroom’, he knocked and entered. Everybody stood up as he entered, he forced a smile trying to hide his fear and anxiety.
“Good morning everybody. I’m sorry I kept you waiting, please sit.” He dropped his briefcase on the table and sat.
They all sat down. Mrs. Babatunde stood up to introduce him to the people seated in front of him. Apart from Chukwu and Babatunde, they were Logged-In management team – what was left of the old team. Nicholas noticed from Babatunde’s introduction that they were all relatively new. The original team, the people who had started Logged-In had all resigned after the takeover.
“I’ll like to hear from you guys, I have read the reports – lots of them, but I want to hear from you.” Nicholas said.
“I’ll start.” A young lady said. “Logged-In started six years ago, went public two years later and has been one of the biggest technology companies in Nigeria. We have clients all over the country and very recently as you all know signed our first Arab client…”
“Al Mubarak just rescinded the contract .” A voice announced as the door opened. They all turned to look, it was Faruk. “Surprised to see me? Well, I thought I’d come tell my boss the news.”
Nicholas looked around confused. Al Mubarak withdrew the contract? He knew Faruk was bad news but he did not expect him to crash the meeting. Suspending Faruk had been an impulse decision, his ego had been bruised and he had been angry. He had thought about it, and he was not sure it was the right decision.
“Mr. Abdullahi, you are welcome to the meeting, we were not expecting you seeing as you are suspended…” Nicholas started.
“I know you don’t want to see me, my question is which should you be more concerned about; the fact that the most important client of this company is actually not signing or the fact that I’m the bearer of the news?” He moved towards the chairs, pulled one and sat next to Nicholas at the end of the table.
“Faruk, what are you talking about?” Babatunde asked.
“Well, he said he didn’t want anything to do with a company that was being investigated by the FIRS. It was risky for business he said.”
“What?!” Nicholas said. “Logged-In isn’t been investigated, right?” he looked hopefully at the Lady who had been interrupted by Faruk.
“It happened two years ago sir, the case was dropped. A month ago, two agents from the tax office same here and asked to see the C.E.O., he wasn’t around so they promised to come back. They came back last week, I told them the company had been sold. They said they’d come back when you took over fully.” She said.
“So, Logged-In is being investigated and the company’s biggest client is walking away. And nobody knew this? Mrs. Babatunde, you didn’t?”
“Well.. I knew they were investigated two years ago like she said, but I was not aware the case wasn’t closed.” She replied.
“Wow, just wow. How bad is it?” Nicholas asked
“Well, it was pretty bad two years ago, we made a few mistakes but it all went away. I was surprised when they came back.” The Logged-In lady explained.
Faruk chuckled, turned in the chair and looked at the woman. “You never bothered to check why the case was dropped right? Of course you didn’t. Anyway boss, maybe you should have taken my advice and stayed clear of this rubbish they call a company”
Nicholas swallowed, it looked like Faruk was right but he could not understand why he would have advised him to stay clear of the deal if he truly meant him harm. Faruk sounded like he knew more than he was letting on.
“Mr. Abdullah, do you know why the charges were dropped and why they have suddenly resurfaced?”
“Well…” Faruk started with a smile, he was enjoying everything, it made Nicholas sick to his stomach. “I’ve heard things, but seeing as I am on suspension and I am not supposed to be here, I would share whatever I know when I am reinstated.”
Nicholas shook his head, now he was sure Faruk disgusted him, he was going to exploit him. He had made a spur of the moment decision to suspend Faruk, he was not going to make another spur of the moment decision to reinstate him.
“Thank you Mr. Abdullah for the information, I will take your reinstatement under advisement. In the mean time I would want you to leave the room so we can continue the meeting.”
“Okay.” Faruk said standing. “I would leave. You have my number, call me.”
Nicholas forced a smile as he watched him go out. Logged-In was in trouble, they were losing clients and Faruk was enjoying it all. Maybe being a C.E.O. was not a very good idea after all.
5, DECEMBER 2015
Adam and Nicholas sat opposite her with their hands folded in front of them. Tola had done a lot of research, she discovered it was easy to get other journalists to talk to you when you were a respected one yourself. She had done her research and had called Nicholas and Adam. They had talked over the phone and had decided to meet, she was still trying to undo all the wrong she had done.
“We are here Tola, what do you have that we don’t already know?” Adam started, he seemed to be in a bad mood, the investigation seemed to be taking its toll on him.
“What do you know about the man who has Kemi?” It had been difficult to have them tell her all that was happening but they had. They did not know what to do; she was going to bring some freshness into the case.
“I know he is heavily connected, heavily guarded and cannot be touched, just like any ex-governor would be.” Faruk replied.
“The question I have is this; why kidnap Kemi? I have to assume that is because of me, right?” Nicholas asked, rubbing his head, times were not easy on the young C.E.O.
“That is what I would assume too. So, the assumption is Faruk masterminded the kidnap, but with recent developments – I mean Kemi staying in the house of Senator Lawal, we have to assume he is involved in a way.” Tola replied.
“Yeah, I think that is obvious. You can’t keep a kidnapped girl in a person’s house without their permission. The question is why? What is his link with CyberCorp?”
“This is where it gets interesting. I spoke to people – people who have been in journalism for a while, they all say there is no link between the ex-governor and CyberCorp directly. But there is one connection between Senator Lawal and the late Babatunde. Babatunde sponsored him back in the day when he contested for the senatorial seat.
“Okay, that is a good thing right? Why would he want to harm CyberCorp if the owner was his sponsor?” Nicholas asked.
“That’s the question I asked too, this doesn’t give him a motive to harm you or CyberCorp.” Tola replied
“Did he sponsor Lawal after that first election?” Adam asked.
“No.” She replied, shaking her head.
“That is strange, I would think that politicians always need sponsors. Why would you sponsor me now and not sponsor me ever again? There was nothing linking them ever again, not even a contract, nothing! I think the answer to the question ‘why?’ is the answer we are looking for.”
“Faruk, what’s his story? How did he rise so fast?” Nicholas asked.
“He probably got in when things were still good between Lawal and your father. The time of his employment suggests that. Lawal probably helped him with some of his promotions. You know the C.E.O. does not conduct middle management promotions, so Lawal could have influenced it.”
“But there’s only a limit to which Lawal could have pushed him especially if CyberCorp was enemy territory.” Adam said.
“Yes, you’re right. He got to the top all by himself. Remember this Al Mubarak you’re all talking about, well, Faruk closed that deal for CyberCorp.”
“He did?” Nicholas asked, surprised.” Wow, I knew they had a sort of connection. Why didn’t Faruk just tell him behind my back about the lack of experience? Maybe he wanted it to blow up in my face or he just wanted it to look like an honest mistake.”
“I guess that is how he got his big break. At the time it was CyberCorp’s biggest deal, so you can imagine how much your father must have been thrilled.” Tola said.
“I’m sure he was.” Adam said, he looked bored with the meeting. “Does Lawal stay in that house? The one where Kemi is held?” he asked.
“He does, sometimes. Why?”
“Nothing.” He answered abruptly.
Tola looked at him, he looked like he had other things on his mind. The ex-governor was a powerful man, he had attempted to run for presidency but he had been forcefully told to step down. People believed he would be back stronger for the next election. It scared her to think that Nicholas and Adam had to contend with the man.
Faruk had been Lawal’s aide for a while, before moving to CyberCorp. It surprised everyone when he closed the Al Mubarak deal. She clapped her hands as a thought came to her.
“I’ve wondered how Faruk closed the Al Mubarak deal, I should have known. Guess who brought Al Mubarak to Nigeria in the first place?” Tola asked with a smile.
“Lawal.” Nicholas answered with a sigh. “Do you think Al Mubarak is being used by Lawal?”
“Well, there’s only one way to find out, let us ask him.” Adam replied, standing up. “Is Lawal in town right now?”
“Yes he is.” Tola replied. “It’s not like you can just walk into his house, and your boss isn’t going to help you.”
“I can always knock on the door, right?”
“Are you crazy Adam?” Nicholas asked as he stood also. “You’ll knock? Don’t do anything crazy please.”
They both stood and approached the door, Tola called to Adam as they left.
“Adam, don’t do anything crazy please.”
5, DECEMBER 2015
Adam stood in front of Lawal’s gate in his full police uniform. Nicholas had told him not to do anything crazy but he saw no other option. There was a camera on top of the gate so he knew he had already been seen, he knocked anyway. He was not armed, there was no point; whatever he had was going to be taken as soon as he entered. He put his hands in his pockets and looked around trying to be as calm as he could.
The gate opened and one of the men he had met earlier came out.
“What do you want man? Are you not scared of dying?” he looked indignant.
“Oh, I’m not scared of dying. I just want to take the girl?” Adam replied with a smile.
“You are a fool, you know that right? I don’t know the girl you’re talking about, I suggest you leave.”
“And if I don’t?”
“Well, it’s your funeral then.”
“You better buy the coffin because I’m not moving an inch.” Adam felt the adrenaline rush, he stilled his fingers in his pocket.
“Okay, you want to die? Step right in, I’ll oblige you.”
Adam smiled and entered. It was a large house, the kind only corrupt politicians could afford to build. From the gate he could see two buildings; the main house and what looked like a ‘boys-quarters’. He knew he had to get in the main house if he was to see Lawal, he doubted Kemi would be in the ‘boys quarters’ either.
“Hey, can I have like a dying wish?” Adam asked the man leading him.
He chuckled. “What do you want? An European prostitute? That would be nice. If you want she can even be the one to kill you.”
“You have European hookers here?” Adam replied with a smile. “That would be nice but that’s not what I want, I want to see Senator Lawal.”
“You want to see oga, you are a very funny guy. I didn’t know they still made fools like you.” The man said, bending over with laughter.
Adam took the opportunity and slammed his elbow into his back, the man fell over with a groan. He punched him heavily on the side of his head, he fell down cold. Adam moved in quick steps towards the house, he had a few minutes before the man woke up.
The front door was open, It led to a corridor, he slipped in and closed it quietly. He saw two men sitting in a room close to the door, he stopped, they looked at him and went back to what they were doing. A fully dressed policeman obviously was not a strange sight to them. A staircase stood at the end of the corridor, he hurried towards it. He climbed the stairs, three steps at a time. It led to another corridor, from where he saw the Senator sitting opposite a large television.
He approached the room where he was seated and opened the curtain. He felt a hand smack him across his face, he tried to grip a chair as he fell. Strong hands grabbed him by his shoulders, he knew he was about to be thrown out.
“Sir, I want to talk about the girl you kidnapped.” He shouted as he was lifted from his feet. The senator looked at him, and signaled to the guard. The guard dragged him towards Lawal and pulled him to his feet.
“You want to talk about a girl I kidnapped?” Lawal asked laughing. “You are the cop who has been getting in the way of my people, right?”
“Yes sir, I am. I just want to ask for your permission to take her away. If you won’t give me the permission you must at least tell me why she’s here.”
“I must tell you? I don’t have to do anything. This is my house not a police station, remember? About your request, the answer is no. I can’t let her go. She already knows I’m involved in this, I don’t want Nicholas to know that yet, so the answer is no.”
“I think you are too late, Nicholas already knows you are involved. How about you let us go, both of us, you know we can’t touch you.”
“Very funny.” Lawal laughed, Adam joined awkwardly. “You are a dead man, the girl will survive though, there’s no use keeping her, if Nicholas knows already, then I have no reason to keep her.” He picked a cup half-filled with some kind of juice and sipped it.
“Sir, I am a policeman, you wouldn’t want to hurt me, right sir?” Adam asked, his heartbeat running faster.
“You are? I didn’t notice the uniform. That was sarcasm by the way. Which unit do you work under?”
Adam told him and watched him bring out his phone and dial his boss.
“Hello son, I have one of your boys here… Adam, do you know him…okay, he just got fired. alright? So prepare all the necessary papers. Thank you,” He ended the call and looked at him with a smile. “You were saying?”