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Victims – episode 24

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Victims – Episode 24

A Story By Rosemary Okafor

Major General Usman sat on his lavishly furnished office drinking locally brewed coffee and refilling his cup at interval.

He just came back from an emergency meeting with the Chief of Army Staff. The country’s security dog was under pressure, the president needed answers and actions from them, likewise the people;

“This is not good for this Organization, we have to restore fate and trust from the citizens or I stand to lose my job…” Lieutenant General Ukachukwu had told the five of them, his eyes flaring red hot.

‘Who cares if you lose your job’ Usman had wanted to say. In fact he would have done a tap dance if the president had disposed of the slowpoke, he was nothing but a big scary pet to the president who barks whenever the president said ‘jump’.

Usman pulled himself up from the chair, kept his thermo flask on top of the little fridge in his office, he pulled out his dirty hanky from his pocket and blew his nose, he gazed at the brown slimy substance that came out of his nose, mashed it together in the hanky before putting it back inside his pocket.

He has been mandated to fish out those involved in the multiple bombing and other attacks, he wished he would have slapped the Buffoon for giving him that task,

“He would have done it himself, why will he always sit there in Abuja while we do the dirty jobs?” Major Makarfi had asked, taking the question out of his own mouth

“An Igbo Man for that Matter, what does he know?”

Usman had listened to the conversation without saying anything, he wasn’t sure yet how many of them were acting like an ear to the Chief.

With his right hand on his hip, he balanced his weight from his right buttocks to the left, he pulled his private phone and dialed the Imam.

“As-Salam alaikum”

“Wa-Alaikum Salaam”

*

Imam Husayn was with some guests when the call came in, it was a Friday and Jumu’ah was over while few faithfuls hung around to receive holy cancelling from him,

When he phone rang continuously, he knew he couldn’t ignore it any longer,

“Allah yi mani jinkiri (Please excuse me)” he said uncoiled his legs, stood up and walked inside his inner chamber.

“Abin da? (What?)”

“Mr President needs results”

“Then give him Results”

“You don’t understand sir…”

“I do understand, you need to show that you are working, if possible some arrests need to be made…”

Usman was shocked, he wasn’t expecting the Imam to know about all these…”How…how did you know this sir?” he asked

“I know things Major…I always know things…I have my ears and eyes everywhere…” Husayn knew he had rattled the Major a little, that was his intention, he deserved to be feared and he enjoyed making them know he was always ahead of them.

“So what do we do sir?”

“Give them what they want…I will make it possible for you to make some arrests but you know nothing should ever happen to them”

“Yes sir…thank you sir”

Husayn gave a smirk, this was going to be fun to watch, the government and the politicians were already playing to his tune. He wiped his face with his palm and unconsciously combed his gray beard with his fingers

“Nothing should ever happen to the boys…except one…” he muttered. The plan was already taking shape.

*

“I can’t come home mum…I am as good as dead”

They had talked through the night, till there was no Kerosene left in the only lamp she has, they were forced to sleep. Her mother had wanted to know everything that had happened to her, she was surprised that she could retell her ordeal without breaking down, She was even pissed when her mother shed tears periodically.

“Where did you bury them, let me speak to my grandchildren”

She wondered what different it would make, she had never bothered to ask of her grandchildren when they were alive, why now? Why did she want to speak of nothing now?

“There is no life after death” her grandmother had said when the village Ichie died and his wife wanted to kill herself too.

Adaeke would go to her husband’s grave in the night to cry like a cow, calling the name of her dead husband and disturbing her little but sweet sleep; “Umemnaeku o o Umemnaeku ” she would moo

Until the day the neighborhood couldn’t take her wailing anymore and the village youths decided to give her what she was looking for; one of the boys had worn a long white gown with white powder poured generously all over him and had waited patiently for the woman behind a plantain tree, Adaeke was never seen around that grave since that day.

“I didn’t bury them, they are with me” Ukwuoma had said to her mother

“What do you mean they are with you?”

Ukwuoma had hesitated before she stood up and felt her way in the darkness">darkness to the corner where she left the bag filled with bones and skulls

“Jesus!” Her mother exclaimed as Ukwuoma emptied the bag before her mother

“What Is this?”

“Your son inlaw…and your grandchildren”

Her mother was afraid to look at the bones, she was scared of Ukwuoma and Ukwuoma knew why

“You think I am man mum” Ukwuoma had asked before they went to bed, and her mother said nothing.

The next morning, she left the house early before the day broke, under the harsh dry wind and the many sands forming circles and slapping her face, she walked from street to street in search of Ife, by the time she got back, one could easily pass her for a walking molten Image.

She said little to her mother, but went to the bathroom and allowed the tears to flow, she had lost another child.

“Your father will forgive you when he sees you” Her mother tried again

“I don’t need him to forgive me, I have forgotten about him long ago”

Her mother was shocked to hear her sound that way, but she dropped the topic and continued eating Pap, she glanced at the kid shoving the food hungrily inside his mouth while Ukwuoma watched her, she knew her mother wanted to know about the boy, but she was not ready to explain anything.

*

Two day later the Nigerian Military announced their breakthrough; more than twenty Men were arrested and linked to the Jos Crisis.

Mallam Kabiru was in his new small apartment a week later eating Tuwo Shinkafa when four men with Army Uniform walked into his compound,

“From the presidency” they had said to him

“What for?” he had asked

“Just for questioning” came the responds

He demanded for a bowel of water to wash his hands but was denied, so he wiped his soiled hand on his white robe and followed the men out, by the time they got to their van, a handcuff was snaked round his wrist and he was pushed inside the van.

He was in Kuje Prison when his picture was flashed on every TV  station and his name mentioned on every Media house as the man responsible for the Abuja Twin Bombing.

To be continued

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