Dave inhaled the cold air in the ward deeply as he opened his eyes. He looked to his left and saw a man putting on the SSS top seated by his side. With the inscription on the shirt, Dave could tell that the man was a very senior official of the service.
‘You’re awake,’ the man said and got up from his seat to move closer.
‘Yea, Good morning sir,’ Dave said and managed to seat up. He felt pains at his back as he rested it against the headboard. He was without a shirt because of the plastered wound behind him. He also had a plaster on the left side of the head. Luckily for him, the bullet that got into his body narrowly missed the bone at the shoulder plate, making his injury less severe.
‘Good morning Agent. I’m Godwin Anyim, assistant director of the State Security Service in Anambra state.’
‘Oh!’ Dave smiled and raised his hand to make a salute.
The man smiled back briefly and then put on a serious face, ‘Agent, why didn’t you reach us early last night to provide support for you?’
Dave sighed. ‘I never knew I was going to need support, it came unexpectedly.’
‘But you should have reported to the SSS office first when you got into Anambra.’
‘Sir, I don’t work for the SSS, I work with the SSS. My direct Agency doesn’t have an office here, so I’m not obligated to report to any other organization.’
The man was silent for a minute. ‘So under whose covering were you working in this state?’
‘I got direct permission from the NIS Chairman,’ Dave replied.
The man chuckled. ‘Talking about the chairman, he called this morning and asked that you reach him as soon as you wake up.’ the man said and turned back to take Dave’s phone. ‘Here’s your phone, you also have a couple of missed calls.’
Dave collected the phone and unlocked it, he opened his call records and found the names of those that tried to reach him – Lizzy, Daniel and Inspector Dakolo. He exited and quickly searched for the chairman’s number.
He took in a deep breath before dialing the number. He knew he was in trouble with the chairman already. There were only two options; either he was suspended for a week or two or asked to withdraw from the case totally. He had only gotten permission for interviews and was supposed to have called to inform the head office immediately the game changed.
‘Dave,’ the chairman’s voice sounded through the phone’s speaker.
‘Good morning sir.’ Dave replied.
‘Dave, what happened to you?’
‘Sir, it came suddenly. I…I didn’t…I never expected to meet her here,’ Dave stammered.
‘And why didn’t you reach the office before taking any action?’
‘It was too sudden sir, I acted proactively.’
There was a few seconds silence. ‘You also never wrote in your reports that you were tracing Samantha through her credit card.’
‘Yes sir, I wasn’t sure if she was that person, I needed to make confirmation and that is what I was trying to do when…’
‘Shut up Dave!’ The man slammed. ‘Don’t you know who you’re talking to?’
Dave remained silent. He folded his lips in as his eyes met with Godwin’s.
‘Don’t ever take me for a fool and tell me stupid stories, is that clear?’
‘Yes sir, I’m sorry sir.’
There was another brief silence.
‘When are you going to be discharged from the hospital?’ the chairman asked.
‘I don’t know yet sir, I’ve not seen the doctors this morning.’
‘You should find out and book the next flight available to Abuja as soon as possible. You can continue with your treatment here.’
‘I’m sorry sir… But don’t you think I need to still do some work here before returning?’
The Chairman was silent for a moment. Dave was afraid he had made the man angrier.
‘If you have to do that, ll send Daniel to you, he’ll take the next available flight there. Do make sure you don’t do anything till he comes.’
‘Okay sir,’ Dave replied and gave a sigh of relief. He never thought the man would agree for him to stay and continue on the case.
‘Be careful Dave, be very careful Dave’ the man said in a tone which depicted more of threatening than warning.
‘Phew!’ Dave forced out a breath from his mouth as he dropped the phone. He closed his eyes, partly in frustration. Making any of his team members join him was something he dreaded. It meant he wouldn’t be able to cover his activities from the corrupt chairman and the police anymore but it was a better option than the case been withdrawn totally from him.
He stared at the SSS man’s face for a while. The man was back on his seat and scrolling through his phone without paying any attention to him. Dave opened his call records again and dialed Lizzy’s number first. She picked the call at a ring and he apologized for not having the time to call her the previous night.
‘Come on, hope you’re fine.’ she replied to his apologies.
‘Yes, I’m trying. I got a bullet beside my shoulder though.’
‘Aww! Sorry about that,’ Lizzy expressed her concern in a sad tone.
‘Thanks Lizzy, so how are you?’
‘I’m doing good. How long will you be in the hospital?’
‘I don’t know how long they plan to keep me, but I don’t want to stay here till tomorrow.’
‘Dave, please take care of yourself.’ she said in a pleading tone.
‘Don’t worry about me Liz, I’ll call you again soon.’
He ended the call and dialed Inspector Dakolo’s number. As usual the Inspector was requesting if he had any information contrary to what the news had reported that morning, not knowing that he was a part of those who made the news. He replied with a negative answer to the Inspector’s disappointment.
‘I don’t know what you would like to eat, I’m going to get food from the eatery along this street,’ Tarasha said to the man who was still seated in the same spot she left him in the living room.
The man turned to look at her where she stood behind the chair. He suddenly remembered that he didn’t know the exact location he was. He had been indoor since the day before and had not seen outside the place.
‘Where are we?’ he asked and waited for a reply but she gave no answer.. ‘Are we still in Anambra?’ he pressed on.
He got up slowly and sat on the sofa. ‘I have a time table at home which the maids use in preparing my meals, I don’t really choose what I like to eat, so I can’t tell you what to get for me.’
‘Well, I got some groceries from the store yesterday but your breakfast might come late if we have to follow your timetable this morning.’ she said. She hoped he would not insist on following the time table because she wasn’t ready to cook. She had learnt how to prepare some Nigerian dishes from Aisha and Tomi but didn’t like to prepare them herself even though she enjoyed eating.
‘I don’t even remember what’s on the timetable for today, you can get me anything to eat, I’m really hungry.’ the man replied.
‘Okay, I’ll be back in fifteen minutes.’ she said and walked away.
He drifted back to the realm of thoughts as she left him alone. He considered her offer again. Was it really the opportunity he had to finally right his wrongs? He asked himself. And what if his wrongs could not be righted? But it was still an opportunity to help the nation like she had put it, and it could just be his last opportunity to do something good for his people.
NIS Office, Abuja.
Lizzy was already preparing to leave her office when Victor’s call came in. She wondered if he was also in Anambra with his boss or if he was still in town. She didn’t hear from him the last night and even in the early hours of the morning which was unusual. She sat back and relaxed in her seat to answer the call.
‘Good morning Victor, how are you today?’
‘I’m fine, how about you?’
‘I’m fine too, hope you slept well?’
‘Yes, I did. Did you?’
‘I did too. So are you at work already?’
‘Yes, I am and I’m even preparing to go for a delivery now.’
‘Oh! Okay. I’ll call you later then.’
‘I love you Pat.’
‘I love you too,’ she replied, shaking her head in disgust.
She hissed and tossed the phone into the bag after the call ended. She then rose from the table and adjusted her skirt.
‘One of those old men, right?’ one of her office mates hinted, talking about her conversation.
‘No, an annoying young man actually.’
‘Which case is that?’ the office mate asked.
‘It’s an old case,’ Lizzy answered reluctantly. She picked up her bag and hurried towards the door. ‘I’ll see you guys tomorrow,’ she said, her shoes making noise as the soles came in contact with the ground.
The door to Cole’s room opened just as he ended the call. He sat at the edge of the bed facing the door directly. As expected, Tomi was the one who entered without knocking.
‘So that’s the girl right, Pat?’ she stood at the door with her hands on her waist. She was putting on an apron and had just finished from the kitchen.
Cole knew instantly that she had listened to his conversation on phone but still decided to feign ignorance. ‘Which girl are you talking about?’
‘The one you just spoke to on phone,’ she replied and folded her arms across her chest.
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he replied with a hiss.
‘I heard all you said on phone, stop lying to me.’
‘You shouldn’t be going around listening to other people’s conversation, don’t you have work to do?’ Cole slammed, trying to turn the tables.
‘Just shut up, I came to tell you breakfast was ready. You should be ashamed of yourself, always jumping around from one girl to another.’
Cole stared at her face for a moment and then burst into hysterical laughter. She stared at him thinly, wondering what the cause of his sudden madness was.
‘Girl, I believe you know I’m well aware of the many guys that have entered you back and front. And you know we don’t hide things from each other, I’ve heard stories on how you ride for several hours tirelessly. You shouldn’t be the one educating me in sticking to one girl, after you’ve been laid by every man that knows how to talk. Now stop acting like I’m the only one who has access to what you have there,’ he said with an evil smile, pointing with a finger to her chest and down to her privates.
She gritted her teeth and clenched her fists. Her face clearly showed her embarrassment and anger. She turned and stormed out of the room without saying any other thing.
He laughed to himself after she walked away. He stopped laughing when a thought flashed through his mind. He decided it was time he had to stop eating her food. With the way things were, she was likely to poison him as soon as she gets the right opportunity.
Udoka Estate, Anambra.
‘I brought you some clothes from the mall,’ Tarasha said as she walked into the room unannounced. The man was lying in the bed but wasn’t asleep. He sat up slowly and his eyes followed Tarasha to the wardrobe in which she dropped the bag of clothes. ‘I also bought you an antiseptic soap, a sponge, toothbrush and toothpaste. I know you must be feeling unclean the way you are now.’ she closed the wardrobe and proceeded back towards the door. ‘You have enough time to rest after your breakfast, we’d have to do some work together after lunchtime.’ she said and walked out without waiting for a reply.
The man rolled out of the bed slowly and slipped on the slippers by the bedside. He walked to the wardrobe and opened to check what she had bought. After checking all what she came with, he wondered if he was still in abduction or if she had already accepted him as a co-worker.
Defence Hospital, Anambra
‘Doctor, just dress up the wound. I need to leave here once my colleague arrives.’ Dave said to the Doctor standing in his ward who had just administered some injections to him. Two nurses were in the ward with them.
‘I know you have to get back to work but I’ll advice that you let us watch you till tomorrow afternoon.’ the doctor replied him.
‘For another twenty four hours?’
‘Yes, so we can monitor the wound and ensure its going to close up soon.’
‘I can always come back for you to check me, but I can’t stay here for another twenty four hours. I have some things to do tonight,’ Dave stepped down from the bed and put on his slippers. ‘Excuse me Doc, I’ll like to use the restroom.’
‘I’ll give you sometime to reconsider your decision Agent,’ the doctor said as he watched Dave walk to the toilet. He signalled to the nurses with him and they proceeded out of the ward together.
35 minutes later
Agent Dan had arrived with Godwin the SSS director. Another chair had been added to the ward, Dan and Godwin were seated and facing Dave who was sitting in an upright position at the edge of bed.
‘The chairman is mad at you and he wants quick correction,’ Dan said to Dave.
‘I know, but you think he would still place me on suspension?’ Dave asked in a sad tone.
‘I honestly don’t think so,’ Dan replied. He bit his lower lips slightly and placed a thin stare at Dave’s face. ‘That’s what he should have done but I think he was stopped.’
‘Stopped? By who?’
‘I don’t really know but the bottom line is that they think you’re doing well on the case and should not be stopped yet.’
‘And do you know if the police has taken any action with the information available especially the credit card details?’
Dan was yet to answer when the door of the ward flung open and the Doctor walked in with a file in his hands. Everyone in the room turned to him.
‘Agent, you’re free to leave when you like.’ the Doctor stopped beside Dave and handed an A4 sized paper to him. ‘Show them this at the reception, the nurses would give you the drugs I recommend for you.’ the doctor paused a little. Dave was scanning through the paper. ‘Agent, do not involve yourself in strenuous activities or exercises yet, you may open up the wound again.’
‘Thank you,’ Dave said in reply. The doctor turned and courtesied silently to the other agents seated before he walked.
‘Have you had lunch?’ Tarasha asked the doctor as she walked into the living room. She had a can of spray paint in her right hand and a license plate of a car in the left hand. From the little stains on her top and jeans trousers, he could tell that she had just finished spraying a car.
‘Yes, I took the plates and tray to the kitchen already,’ he replied and returned his gaze to the television. The news was being read.
She walked to the store in the house and dropped the things she had with her, then she went outside again and returned with a can of spray primer and a masking tap. She didn’t return until fifteen minutes time. She had changed into an armless black top and a blue jean bum short and also carried a laptop with her when she returned.
‘Can we work now?’ she asked as she proceeded to the man’s seat.
He sat up and watched as she approached him. She dragged a footstool with her and placed it beside him.
‘I have a couple of documents here detailing the importation of some drugs into the country between 2010 to 2016. I made some research and discovered that these drugs were banned in the US during that period,’ she said as she opened a document. ‘But the confusing thing here is that the importation was approved by the Nigerian drug agency then. I don’t understand this, ‘ she stopped and looked at his face. ‘You confessed to work with them in the business, so I believe you should have an explanation.’
The man didn’t appear to be listening to her. His focus was fully on the document she opened. ‘Where did you get this from?’ he asked, referring to the article.
She closed the laptop screen on seeing that he wasn’t paying attention to her. ‘I asked you a question first, how did they get this importation and many others to be approved?’
The man sat, he released air from his mouth and looked the other way. ‘The drug agency Chairman at that time was a part of Elvis Richards team, I can recognize his signature in that document you opened but I never knew a document like that existed.’
‘But people bought this drugs, if they’re really fake, how come there were no deaths credited to them?’
‘There were several deaths, an example is the patient that doctor Danjuma treated which led him into trouble. But the way those drugs were; they weren’t really fake or expired. A more proper way to describe them is calling them substandard, they did lesser than they were supposed to do.’ the doctor explained.
‘And no investigation was ever carried out?’
‘During the early days, the drugs and vaccines were only acquired and used by low funded hospitals and some petty pharmacies. Our hospital had to get from them when we suddenly ran out of supply and needed those drugs urgently.’
‘How long did the substandard drugs business last for?’
‘I don’t really know how long they’ve been operating before I met them, but the operations stopped totally in 2015.’
‘But I’m still wondering how they could operate at all, how come no report or investigation was made?’ Tarasha asked with a confused look on her face. She opened up the laptop again.
‘I’m aware that after the Danjuma’s incident, they began to repackage the drugs into similar containers of well known pharmacies in Nigeria. Several of these pharmaceutical companies were shut down by the new government that came in in 2016 because the substandard drugs were found in their names and containers . I think it must be the reason for the end of operations in 2015.’
‘So, do you think we can get proofs for all these?’
‘Well…’ the man sounded not sure. ‘We might get some proofs but we have to visit some locations in Lagos.’
‘Okay,’ she said and opened back the laptop.
There was silence for the next two minutes.
‘But sir… Do you have anything else you think we can use against Elvis Richards?’ Tarasha asked after the silence.
The man who was still reading through the documents Tarasha opened on her laptop stopped and leaned backward. He closed his eyes for a moment as if to recall something. Then he opened it again. ‘I have some documents in my house at Nnewi, if you’re ready we can go there to get them.’
‘Oops! That reminds me, your family has officially declared you missing. What do you want to do about them?’
The man stared at Tarasha blankly. Sadness overwhelmed him. He didn’t know what to do. He had expected that she would tell him what to do instead of asking.
‘How did you know they are looking for me?’ he asked.
‘I heard it being said when I went to get paint earlier and I’m also with your phone, you’ve gotten a lot of messages already,’ she replied and took out his phone from the laptop bag. ‘Would you like to speak with your son?’ she asked as she gave it to him.
‘What would I tell him?’ he replied.
‘Tell him not to worry about you and to make sure the rest of the family is also calm. Also assure him that you’ll be back soon, let him know you’re just taking a short break somewhere.’
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