Ononye: I will certainly recognize the man any day. I met him a few times,” Ononye said coldly.
Aliu: “And? Continue,” Aliu urged her on.
Ononye: “He said he needed me to take care of someone. He said he knew I’d be happy to do it because the person in question was a thorn in my own flesh as much in his. Then, he said it was Chukwudi Igwesi. He said I needn’t ask questions about what he knew, all I needed to do was take care of Chukwudi and he would pay me seven hundred thousand naira – three hundred and fifty before the job and three hundred and fifty afterwards.”
Tunde: “Did he make the payment?” Tunde asked. Both he and Aliu were taking notes frantically as Ononye narrated her chilling story.
Ononye: “Yes. I gave him my bank account details, and several weeks ago, he credited my account with three hundred and fifty thousand naira as he had promised. The devil really shot my eyes to reality that all I could think of was the money. I reckon my anger towards Chukwudi stoked the fire of hatred within me too. Well, I took the money and began to plot how to eliminate Chukwudi. He said to poison him. In fact, he gave me a chemical in a small bottle, which he claimed is highly toxic. He advised that I should try to lure in Chukwudi one more time and serve him food poisoned with the chemical. I could not go through with that. I felt that somehow, my conscience would be somewhat guilt-free if I had someone else do the dirty job.”
Aliu could feel his hands getting wet, as more sweat oozed out of his body. He could not fathom how some people could be so numb as to plot taking nother person’s life. Tunde was as focused as a hawk on the prowl for a stray chick to pounce upon.
Ononye: “I had met Samson through a friend, and I could tell right away he lacked confidence. He is all macho and stuff, but deep inside, he lacks charisma. I knew I could easily manipulate him. I also knew he was in a cult, something he did to bolster his self esteem. He threw around his weight as though he had life all figured out. Anyway, before he knew it, he was wrapped around my finger, doing exactly what I wanted him to do. I programmed him to believe that Chukwudi was indeed after me, and that he attempted to rape me. I was very sure he would take his gang members over to shoot him. I gave him a picture of Chukwudi cut from our class album from last Christmas, and Chukwudi’s address. He told me the job was done, and when I asked around Chukwudi’s street, I figured he was still alive. I had called the number the man gave me, to ask for my balance so I could run away, maybe go abroad or something before he finds out Chukwudi is still alive, but he said he needed to make sure he was dead before paying me the balance.”
Tunde: “Why were you still hanging around at Chukwudi’s flat after the job was done?”Tunde asked.
Ononye: “You see, I was hoping to send him out to go finish the job if Chukwudi survived. So, I had to hang around for a while longer.”
Aliu: “What is this man’s name?” Aliu queried her.
Ononye: “I don’t know. All I know is how he looks. He gave them a description of the man, which they both penned down.
Aliu: “Can we have the phone number he gave you?”
Ononye: “Yes. I don’t think it is his house number though. Each time I called him, someone else answered and they would tell me to call back in a while.”
Aliu: “Does he have a name?”
Ononye: “He said to ask for Charly when I called.” They took the phone number from her. “
Tunde: When you called, how long was it before he showed up at the phone?”
Ononye: “Normally they would ask me to call back in about forty minutes.”
Aliu: “Interesting,” said Aliu.
Aliu: “I am afraid we have to remand you in custody for a while longer,” Aliu told her.
Aliu: “We have to verify a bunch of things before we go release you on bail.”
Ononye: “I thought the deal was that if I told you everything, you’d let me go?”
Aliu: “Not yet. We have to check your account number to try to find out who paid that money into your account. Also, we need to try to make sure that the number you gave us is real. Even after all that, the court has to fix your bail and the conditions of the bail until the investigation is over. It is also likely that you will not be allowed bail at all. You make have to serve some time in jail. For now, you remain with us.”
Chukwudi walked slowly. His mother and Linda were on either side of him as they gently guided him to his new room. The doctors had decided to move him to a new ward from where they could run some more tests before discharging him. He was more upbeat and much less in pain. His new room was more spacious. They helped him to his bed. He lay back, and thanked his mother and Linda effusively. Shortly afterwards, Linda’s parents arrived, and as if on cue, Chukwudi’s father followed suit. “
Chukwudi’s Dad: Mr. Ijele, I am very grateful to you and your family for the immense support we have received from you throughout this period of trial. Thanks a lot. It is not in my character to say this to my son at such an early stage, but he is fast becoming a man, so I will say it anyway. Chukwudi. I think you are in good hands with a girl like Linda.”
Linda’s Mom: “I have no doubt that Linda is in good hands with your son too Mr. Igwesi,” Linda’s mother added quickly. She had come to admire Chukwudi’s charisma and attitude from the first time they met.
Linda blushed, but deep down inside, she leapt with joy.
Chukwudi’s Mom: “Thanks a lot Linda for relieving me to be by my son’s side when I am not here. You are truly an adorable girl,” Chukwudi’s mother added.
Linda’s Dad: “I think we should stay in touch even after Chukwudi is released from hospital. I like to take this opportunity to invite you to my house in Onitsha when you are free, over the next few weeks,” Mr. Ijele offered.
Chukwudi’s Dad: “That will be wonderful,’ answered Mr. Igwesi.
Chukwudi” “I like to thank you all – Papa, Mama, Mr. and Mrs. Ijele, and of course Linda. You have all been very kind and loving. I owe you all,’ Chukwudi said.
Linda wanted to reach over and hug him, but she restrained herself. Not in front of our parents she thought.
Linda’s Dad: “Shall we go out for lunch and leave these love birds for a while?” Mr. Ijele suggested.
Chukwudi’s Mom: “That will be wonderful. I am starving, Mrs. Igwesi concurred.
Linda’s Mom: “We’ll bring you back something from the restaurant,” Mrs. Ijele offered Chukwudi and Linda. “Anything you want in particular?”
Chukwudi: “Fried rice and chicken for me please,” Chukwudi requested.
Linda: “Same for me,” Linda added. They returned after over two hours with Chukwudi and Linda’s requests. They both ravenously munched down their lunch.
Linda: “Mrs. Igwesi, you can take the night off. I will stay over and watch Chukwudi. I think you need the rest,” Linda offered. Chukwudi’s mother threw her hand over Linda’s shoulders, rubbed her shoulders gently and said
Chukwudi’s Mom: “you are such a loving girl. Thanks! You two take care okay!”
Chukwudi & Linda: “We will Mama,” they echoed.
Their parents left as Chukwudi and Linda chatted away.
…. Stay tuned for Episode 19