By Famous Ogbewe
Finally, we arrive at the age-old argument – nature vs nature” Omolara stated solemnly.
“Are we subject to the coding’s of our DNA or are we a function of the things we have seen, heard, felt, our environment…our experiences?” She said, pausing for effect.
“It’s all pointless really. Nature or nurture, we are not just who we are or who we can be but we are who we accept we are at any time”.
Omolara continued, stressing the word ‘accept’. “Pretension is pointless, why be someone else when you can be you. We are going into the world to make a difference” she said “or make money” she teased. “Either way you’ll lose precious time trying to figure out how or why you are the way you are.
At this stage in our lives, acceptance of who we are is what we really need to move forward. So, fellow imminent Uniben alums, I am Afolayan Temisan Oluwafunmilayo Marjani Omolara and I am not perfect but I am perfectly me…which is really all I can be. Thank you.” she ended graciously with a smile that put sunsets in the Caribbean to shame.
Department of state security agent, Lekan, stood at the crime scene surrounded by analytical experts and policemen with that slightly humped carefree posture all tall people seem to have in their genes. If anyone were watching him, they would have thought him crazy because as Lekan stared at the corpse before him, the edges of his lips quivered with the beginnings of a smile as he remembered Lara reciting her valedictory speech for him in practice for her convocation 5 weeks ago.
They had proceeded to wrestle like kids on coffee culminating with Lara pinning him to the floor, breathless and laughing wildly. It had been happening more and more recently, he would suddenly find himself daydreaming but they weren’t dreams…they were memories. Memories of his late sister, Omolara. He had expected the daydreaming to stop especially after the night before and considering his current location, perhaps that was why it was happening again, after all, this was his second homicide in 4 weeks.
The first being that of his baby sister which his superiors had declared suicide while gently but firmly letting him know that his theory that she was murdered was a figment of his imagination and grief. The best-not including Lekan himself -state security service agents were put on the case but they all came to the same conclusion. “I’m sorry Lekan but there’s just no case here, she jumped and that’s it…you can never really know what’s going through a person’s mind even if they happen to be your sister” Pasali, a fellow DSS agent of his had told him.
“Maybe now they would listen to me” Lekan thought, though he was already past the point of caring.
Lekan snapped back to the reality in front of him before anyone could notice his brief foray into his thoughts. The crime scene was at the very centre of the large empty warehouse where a raised wooden platform with a single upright and horizontal beam to which a rope noose was attached held a swinging corpse strapped to a wheelchair.
There was no doubt about his identity, everyone knew this was Kayode Lukeman, the sole and crippled son of billionaire mogul Ayodele Lukeman and course mate of Omolara. Lekan moved closer to the victim examining closely any clues that might lead to solving the case.
He looked around finally noticing just how many persons were in the warehouse. There were about a dozen policemen, half a dozen analysts with various kinds of equipment and 3 other DSS agents. Lekan was the highest ranking of them all so he was automatically in charge.
“First things first, we must ensure that this does not leave the confines of these walls. Discretion is of utmost importance”, Lekan addressed all present at the scene. He had no illusions about it, pictures of the scene would have already been leaked by one of the very people in the warehouse with him. It was probably being uploaded on gossip blogs even as he spoke.
“I want to know who found the body, when they found the body, how they found the body. I want the area cordoned off, no one gets in or out without my permission” he said mostly to policemen
“Get me a comprehensive list of his family, his friends, his enemies, his acquaintances, his neighbours, course mates, girlfriends even exes” he said to the DSS agents “and how exactly are we to get all that information?” asked one of the agents.
A portly fellow with so big a belly, Lekan thought he must not be able to see his penis. He looked to be in his 50’s. “Don’t be dense, John, we all know who this is…he has lived his whole life in the media’s eye. Any idiot with a smartphone could tell you his favourite TV show” Lekan replied tersely feeling slightly guilty at being rude to someone old enough to be his dad but also satisfied at the stupid look of surprise on John’s face.
“Alright, I guess you guys are here courtesy of Mr Lukeman” he asked gesturing to the analysts. “Yes we are” said the only lady present, obviously the one in charge. “Mr Lukeman felt you could use our help finding his son’s killer” she added.
“It would help if you could get me the time of death and anything else you feel would speed this up. Also, get the body away from here as soon as possible” Lekan told her feeling awkward as he had never worked with forensic experts before, this was Nigeria after all.
“I cannot stress how urgently we need to do this. The name Lukeman is not one to trifle with. There will be hell to pay for what has happened here, so let’s do our best to avoid any collateral damage, now get to work!” Lekan barked.
As Lekan drove to question a suspect, he listened to the radio to clear his mind.”… Billionaire publisher in his suicide note bequeaths all of his wealth to the daughter of one of his dead authors, Miss Mun-” the radio stopped abruptly when Lekans phone started ringing. It was his boss, Director Garba, telling him to solve the case in 7 days. He thought Lara must have been murdered as Lekan believed and Kayode a witness.
“The killer must have thought the risk of him talking was too much, hence his murder” Director Garba whispered over the phone.
Lekan sighed after the director hung up. It was not a very bad theory but it didn’t fit right. If the killer really wanted to silence Kayode, he would not have done it in such manner that had clearly drawn everyone’s attention.
Some kind of accidental death would have made more sense. He was still musing when he got a second call. He had been anticipating this particular call. “Just call me Haruna” the caller said in a gravelly voice. Haruna was apparently some sort of henchman for Mr. Ayodele Lukeman. His job was to “deal” with whomever Lekan discovered to be Kayode’s killer.
“10 years you’ve worked at the DSS and you’ve solved over 300 cases. I have it on good authority that the only case you couldn’t crack was Lara’s” he said.
Lekan felt his face spasm in anger at the casual mention of his sister’s name but forced himself to remain calm as this was the call that was going to make things fit. “…but that’s understandable, you were too close to the case.
We have faith that you will solve this one and when you do, all I need…is a name” Haruna ended. There was a pause that seemed to stretch until Lekan simply said “okay”.
4 days had gone by with Lekan investigating all leads. Several suspects had been questioned then let off when evidence against them was too circumstantial, they just didn’t fit. The girlfriend was a certified gold digger but she didn’t have the means to murder Kayode, besides she gained nothing from his death. No fit. The step mom might have done it but she was barren without children of her own, so her husband’s inheritance would most likely go to some illegitimate son of his borne of another woman. No fit. The best friend? No motive. No fit. The neighbour? No motive, no means. No fit. The driver? No motive, no means. No fit. The father? Definitely not. No fit.
There was a breakthrough in the case when Lekan questioned one of the contacts on the victim’s phone saved as “tutor Effiong”. Effiong was a middle aged man whose job it seemed was to teach Kayode outside of school but Lekan was taken aback by 2 things he observed about Effiong.
Firstly, his fashion sense but not so much the fashion sense as it was the cost of maintaining it. He was not flashy, he was rather shabby looking actually but that was the problem. A decades experience had shown Lekan that the flashiest people were not always the richest, the reverse was usually the case. When the wealthiest people displayed their wealth, it was subtle, like a secret game only the affluent knew about and Effiong seemed to be a master player. The man was rich but he had no reason to be.
The second thing Lekan noticed was that Effiong was arrogant. This was not so unusual but his manner of arrogance was. He seemed to carry his arrogance like a shield. Only under careful examination, did Lekan discover that the arrogance was a mask, the folding of arms, the wide stance, and the darting eyes. “Can I go now?” Effiong asked cockily, sure that he had revealed nothing he didn’t want to but he had revealed much, he wasn’t arrogant, he was frightened.
On the seventh day, with some clever detective work in hand Lekan invited his top suspect, Effiong back to the office. He had put him under surveillance since their last meeting. When he arrived, Lekan went straight to the point. “Did you kill Kayode?” He asked. “Wh- Ha- I…No!” Effiong stuttered, properly affronted. “Actually, you did” Lekan stated “I did the math and by my estimates you shouldn’t be able to afford your lifestyle. Your clothes, your shoes, your apartment, your furniture, your jewellery, your watches…damn I was very impressed by the watches.
To cost that much, they must tell you when Jesus is coming.” he said, giving a pointed look at just such a watch Effiong was wearing. Effiong moved his hand beneath the table as though it would be forgotten if out of sight. He tried poorly to cover his shock. “I tutor rich kids! They give me gifts! I didn’t get any of those things myself, they were given to me, and I’ll be getting married soon. I barely have any money left” he defended himself
“hmmm…barely any money. That’s true. Your bank account balance read #124,233.26 as at 2 pm yesterday”. Lekan said easily. Effiong didn’t bother trying to hide his shock. “How di-” he began “…but your other account, the ‘secret’ one had exactly #34,000,000…wheew! That’s a whole of o’s” Lekan interrupted.
He thought Effiong’s eyes might pop from his comical look of surprise. It had been a difficult job to get the secret bank account and the bank had refused to cooperate. Lekan had hacked Effiong’s email account so he could know the amount of money in the bank account courtesy bank alerts but the inbox was empty, Effiong was a very careful crook but Lekan was a better detective. He had simply paid #100 into the account and waited for the alert. “Talk” Lekan said.
Effiong was quiet for quite a while as though weighing his options but Lekan said nothing, he knew from experience that silence yielded the most answers. “Alright, I’ll talk. Kayode and I were dealers. We sold hard drugs all over the city” Effiong said. Lekan feigned surprise.
“So you made your money off the death of several addicts and you tricked poor Kayode into the drug business then killed him when he tried to get out” he said “No!” Effiong said terrified.
“You’ve got it all wrong, I didn’t trick him. He recruited me. He was my boss. I did not kill him” he added
“I know you killed him. Normally you would be given life in prison with no hope of payroll but you would be alive. Now if I happen to let slip your name to certain ‘representatives’ of Mr Lukeman, you would meet a very slow and sticky end” Lekan said sinisterly. Effiong swallowed.
“Please! You can’t do this to me…I’ll do anything, I’ll pay. Please don’t tell Mr. lukeman I killed his son!” Effiong pleaded “Alright, I won’t do that but you’ll go down for the drug dealing and you’ll also have to confess to murder…the murder of my sister” Lekan said “Thank y- wait, what?!” Effiong exclaimed “You committed murder, so you have to go down for murder just not the one for which you’re guilty…I’m not letting you off easy” Lekan responded, disgusted. “Absolutely not! I will not go down for a murder I didn’t commit” Effiong roared. Lekan took out his phone and started dialling. “OK OK, I’ll do it!” Effiong screamed.
Lekan left the interrogation room to get the confession papers. On his way back he made a call to Haruna ” You wanted a name, well here’s a mouthful, Effiong Etembo” he said before hanging up feeling not the least bit sorry for Effiong. He walked back into the interrogation room “Don’t think I don’t know why you’re doing this. When I officially confess to killing your sister, it will give you the freedom to find her actual killer and deal with him yourself” Effiong said, then with a dejected sigh, he signed the confession Lekan had given him. Lekan smiled as Effiong was only half right. The truth was, he had already killed his sister’s murderer…8 days ago.
“I don’t know how she found out” Kayode said with his bespectacled face looking innocent. “She told me she would tell the police if I didn’t stop while sitting on the balcony with her back to me. She underestimated me because I’m a cripple but I sure showed her” he said with a manic grin. He didn’t look so innocent anymore. “She had the audacity to underestimate me?! I who created a dynasty, the likes of which has never graced this nation. She threatened me?! I am a genius and in the end she could only fall to my foresight” he said laughing at his own pun.
“Don’t pretend to be what you’re not Lekan. Congratulations for figuring it out but we both know you’re not going to kill me. You’re too good for that. Your record is too clean, too perfect. You’re… too perfect” he sneered. Lekan paused for a moment as if in thought. Then he started to walk slowly and deliberately towards Kayode who was on the platform he had constructed weeks ago, strapped to his wheelchair with the noose around his neck. He stopped at the lever that would cause the foot stand of the platform to drop “In the words of my sister, Afolayan Temisan Oluwafunmilayo Marjani… Omolara , I am not perfect but I am perfectly me … which is really all I can be…” Lekan said. Then he pulled the lever.
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