Sunday 2 July 2017

Whistleblower, Are You A Referee? (Part 3)

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He had tried to call the number back but all he got was an automated voice that said the number did not exist.

The message shook him up pretty badly and all through the night he could not sleep, yet he was not deterred about going to the EFCC office. It was not that he doubted the threat, but he knew he needed to exonerate himself, so he was willing to take the risk. His plan was to get into the EFCC office, give them the evidence he had and also let them know about the threat to his life so he could be protected.

As early as 7am the next morning, he was on his way and was half way there when the cab he was in got stopped at a checkpoint at a quiet junction. There were only two policemen at the checkpoint and they were both in mufti. He found this strange but his alarm bells did not go off until one of them approached him and asked him to come out of the cab. That was really strange, their interest should be the cab driver and not him. But what really threw him into a panic was when one of the plainclothes ‘supposed’ policemen used the words, “Come with me, Mr. Musa.”

It became clear that they were not policemen and this was not a checkpoint, but a look-out for him. He remembered then the message he had gotten the night before. They were indeed serious about the threat; they must have known he would come through this point and had laid ambush for him to ensure he never got to his destination not to talk of give the EFCC the final proof that would clear his name.

He knew at that moment that the game had now changed to one of life or death. This people would not hesitate to snuff the life out of him to ensure he stopped talking to the EFCC. It had now gone beyond exonerating himself, he had to preserve his life.

He thought fast and moved fast. As he opened the door, he looked at both men and noted that their gun were in their belt holsters, it would take at least 2 minutes for them to pull them out and shoot him. So the moment he opened the door, he broke into a run and dived into the nearby bush.

It had all happened very fast after that. It turned out the bush rolled downhill and the moment he delved in, he found himself tumbling downhill fast. The false plainclothes policemen ran after him but came to a halt when they saw him crashing down a slope that led to only God knows where. They fired a couple of shots at him but thankfully none made contact.

When his fall finally came to an end, he had found himself at the neck of another road, and wasn’t sure where he was. But he was scared his assailant knew where he would end up at after his fall, and would simply drive round to meet him there and continue their assault on him. So without waiting to try and get his bearings or even dust off the mud and grasses that were now clinging all over his clothes and hair, he dashed across the major road, scaling three lanes of traffic and found himself on a busy walkway. Better, it would be hard for them to identify him in this crowd.

His appearance had drawn a lot of stares, but he hadn’t cared. He needed to quickly get himself and his family into safety. He did not doubt now that he was being hunted and there was no telling what his pursuers could do, they could go for his family now that they had failed at getting him.

Quickly, he had put a call across to Safiyah and asked her to get the children from school, pack a few highly needed things and leave the house for her aunt’s place; he would join them there shortly. “Trust me and just do as I say,” he told her when she had asked what the problem was.

His walk finally terminated in a market where he was able to pause and purchase a babariga which he had thrown over the dirty clothes. Then he had hailed a cab and asked to be taken to the address of Safiyah’s aunt in Kaduna.

It was back in Kaduna that he had put the call through to Dare, no longer able to keep the whole thing to himself. The only person he could think of sharing with was Dare, and not Safiyah, he did not want her panicking. That was when Dare had asked him if he was a referee to be involving himself in whistleblowing business. Then he had given him the very good advice of running for his dear life, leaving Kaduna and relocating to Lagos, at least till everything died down.

Ore, take the first flight you can get to Lagos. Do not delay. Leave with your whole family. Come to me and I will find you a place to stay and maybe something to be doing to fend for your family. If you remain in KD, those people will find you and kill, there’s no doubt about it. They are very dangerous and since you are proving stubborn to them, they will snuff out the life out of you to prevent you from giving them more troubles.”

Musa had agreed that that was the best thing to do and had at once heeded to the advice, and now here he was in Lagos, having taken the first flight down with his family as he had been told, driving towards Dare’s home and hopefully to a new safe life. It was lucky for him that he was an only child and no longer had parents, having lost them both during his university days, otherwise he would have been worried about them too.

Musa found himself surprised when they arrived at Dare’s place of abode. He didn’t know what exactly he had expected his friend’s living condition to be, but it was certainly not something as bad as what he was seeing now. He could recall Dare had told him he stayed on the Island and knew that was a high brow part of Lagos, but it turned out now that his friend stayed at the outskirts of Ajah, in a water-logged neighborhood, in a building that contained rows of similar one-bedroom apartments with a kitchen, toilet and bathroom at the end which everyone shared. Musa knew this was called face-me-I-face-you

It was the least environment he had expected to find his friend living in. During all their gist electronically and physically when Dare had visited Kaduna, the picture he had painted was that of a very comfortable lifestyle with a good paying job, a nice car, luxurious apartment with marriage being the only thing left for him to accomplish. What he was seeing now was anything but that.

Dare caught his look and stuttered an explanation. “Things have not been so easy with the recession in Nigeria now, my company had to cut down pay since they did not want to downsize, I had to sell my car and move to this place… it’s not been easy…”

Musa suspected he was lying, for the interior of the apartment did not look like a place that had just been moved into, but he nodded and said, “I understand. At least a pay cut is better than the downsizing that my own bank did.”

What Musa was really worried about was how his family was going to live in that condition, having to share a toilet and bathroom as well as kitchen with hordes of other families, and having to squash themselves into that tiny room and parlour apartment.

“Don’t worry, we would be out of your hair very soon. I am going to start searching for an apartment today,” he said to Dare, at least he had more than enough from his gratuity to take care of that.

“Oh, what’s the hurry, you are welcome to stay for as long as you want.”

Musa could only smile at that. As long as they want to could actually be one hour, but since that could not happen it would be as long as it took them to find a place. That was his priority now, to get his family in comfortable living conditions; it was even more pressing than finding a job.

That night, power went off and Dare’s small I-better-pass-my-neighbour generator suddenly developed a fault. It was very hot in the small apartment, so to make the most of the situation, Musa had to join Dare in the living room to sleep, allowing his wife and kids get a bit more ventilation in the bedroom. His resolve to start hunting for an apartment as soon as possible strengthened.

Dare and he spent the most part of the night reminiscing about their youth service years till Dare nodded off. Musa found it difficult to sleep, his mind kept dancing around the events of the day; his close shave with death and the fact that the EFCC would probably soon charge him to court. In fact, he would end up a wanted man once they could not locate him. Finally, he managed to slide into a nightmare-plagued dream that saw him endlessly trying to escape the clutches of gun-toting assassins.

Suddenly, he was wide awake. He was not sure what woke him up, maybe a slight sound coming from outside or inside, but suddenly he was awake. He slowly opened his eyes. There was still no power and the room was almost shrouded in the darkness, save for a tiny point of light coming from his right. 

Without turning, he looked in the direction of the light and after a few seconds of blinking in confusion, he saw that it was coming from a phone’s torch and once his eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness, he saw that Dare was crouched at the corner of the living room, holding the phone. He was crouched over something and digging through it.

The story continues>>>Click Here for Final Part

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