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People felt the police should have waited till after the funeral before arresting Alhaja Zainab. But soon, they were more concerned about why Alhaja killed her husband of many years. Bimpe watched the whole show with detachment; she could not wait to leave the funeral. So, as soon as the prayers were done, and Alhaji’s body carried into a car that would convey him to the graveyard, she entered her car and left. She drove off oblivious of a car that fell in line behind her, tailing her all the way to the house.
At the police station, Alhaja was being forced to confess to the crime of murder. She called Barrister Demba, who happened to be Alhaji’s lawyer, but he refused based on a conflict of interest. She had called her son and he was on his way to Nigeria. The other wives abandoned her because they didn’t want to associate with an alleged killer, they didn’t want to be fingered as accomplices. Alhaja called on the help of her friends, they hired a celebrity lawyer, a senior advocate of Nigeria. First they arranged her bail hearing. But bail was denied, someone higher up had called to make sure she was not bailed. All the rich friends and business associates of Alhaji Dambazzau believed Alhaja to be the culprit; she had the means more than any of the wives. They believed she felt betrayed by Alhaji for marrying other wives and even someone young such as Bimpe, so they wanted her to pay for her crime with no leniency. This group of friends was also pushing for an early trial, so trial was set for a fortnight, and Alhaja was to remain in prison throughout the period of trial.
At 8pm, Bimpe dressed in a black jalabiya which had a hood attached to it, and wore rubber shoes which left no foot prints. She drove out of the compound to a deserted place to meet with a man, and this time also, she was being followed and was oblivious to it.
Early in the morning, of the next day. People gathered around a man dressed in a black suit, he was lying in the pool of his own blood and body fluids; he had a knife buried in his stomach. He was already dead and rigor mortis had already set in. Soon the police arrived, with an ambulance team and a coroner. They closed off the place as a crime scene, and set to do preliminary investigation.
After a few hours, the case of the dead man was transferred to the division handling Alhaji’s murder case. This was done because, it was found that the dead man was indeed one of Alhaji’s body guards, also, the knife wound was identical to that of Alhaji’s. This meant that he was killed by the same knife used in killing Alhaji.
The police suspected that he was the one who actually stabbed Alhaji, and he was killed by whoever contracted him, as tying up loose ends. But the police were baffled by the fact that Alhaja was in prison, was the culprit of the murder, still out there? They wondered. But given Alhaja’s affluence, they concluded that her boys had taken the initiative to tie up loose ends, therefore killing the bodyguard they used.
The police held a press conference to intimate the public about the recent developments, for the case was a high profile one, and there was public outcry for justice to be served. Alhaja was not someone who was loved, there were families she had thrown out of her properties, there were girls she had destroyed their lives because they held Alhaji’s interest, all these people, came together and protested on the streets, up to the gate of the prison where she was held.
They believed she was capable of killing Alhaji and wanted her to face the consequences of her crime. All these, put a pressure on the police, they didn’t want the public’s ire, so they were in a haste to seal the case and secure a sentence for Alhaja. The press conference was held at the police station gate, both pressmen and ordinary masses gathered to hear about the case. The state prosecutor gave a speech where he linked the dead man found and the murder of Alhaji Dambazzau.
Prosecutor: “This conference is held in respect to the ongoing case of alleged murder of Alhaji Dambazzau by his first wife, Alhaja Zainab Dambazzau. We have other evidences to support our belief that she murdered her husband out of jealousy and deep seated hate for his betrayal. These evidences will be revealed during the trial. Aside that, we have also found the dead man to be one of Alhaji Dambazzau’s body guards, the same knife that was used in killing Alhaji, is the same knife he was killed with. The only conclusion is that he was contracted to kill Alhaji and now, his contractor is cleaning house” the man concluded and gave room for questions. Dominic was the first to ask a question.
Dominic: “Prosecutor, what makes you so sure that the body guard’s death was caused by the defendant; after all, she is in prison. Shouldn’t this point to the possibility of the real culprit being at large?”
Prosecutor: “We cannot be 100% sure, that is what a trial is meant for. However, Alhaja is a woman of means; she could be in prison while her boys do the dirty job.”
Dominic: “If the police is not sure that Alhaja is the murderer, why are they not looking into other suspects, there were other occupants of the house as at the time of Alhaji’s death, why is no one investigating them”
Prosecutor: “Do you mean to teach us our work? Alhaja was the last person found with Alhaji, she was seen going into Alhaji’s house, and no one saw her come out. Besides we have one bit of compelling evidence to justify our claim, which will only be revealed in the court room. Look around you, these people you see have been affected badly by Alhaja, she is the killer” the prosecutor said vehemently. The crowd watched Dominic with derision; they wondered where he was coming from, and why he was supporting Alhaja Zainab, when everyone else saw her as the villain.
Woman 1: “Maybe he is one of her sugar boys, useless people” one woman in the crowd shouted and people who heard her, burst into laughter.
Bimpe watched all these, on her flat screen television, in her big living room. Ever since Alhaji died she was always on edge, but seeing Dominic on air, and remembering what he told her at Alhaji’s funeral, she became really uneasy. She stood up and began to pace the living room. She was pacing up and down when she heard the shouts of jubilation. She rushed out to the balcony and saw a G- wagon had driven into the estate and people were gathered around it. She sighted the other two wives and wondered what the fuss was all about. Then she saw the most handsome man she had ever seen, alight from the back seat of the G wagon.
Bimpe: “Oh my God, he is so cute” she said gazing at him, then he raised his head up and their eyes met.
Yususf was Alhaji Dambazzau’s eldest son; he left the shores of Nigeria after his secondary education,to the United states. Now he was back because his father was dead, and his mother was accused of murdering his father. It was not the type of welcome he expected to come home to, after his long sojourn in a foreign land. And the woman responsible for fingering his mother as the murderer was standing there, looking at him like she had seen a god. It was also bad that, she was the most beautiful girl he ever saw, and it scared him that as they gazed at each other, his heart skipped a beat. He looked away and went with his step mothers.
Alhaja Zainab was not finding it funny in prison. The kirikiri maximum prison was no place for a young woman, much more an older woman. She spent most of her days in the sick bay because, she has having high blood pressure. Her fair, luminous skin had darkened and become shriveled, her eyes had big bags that could hold a coin, and the extension wig she had on was dirty and matted. Her cell mates saw her as wicked. “How could you kill that poor man like that” some told her. While some others who were victims of wrong accusation, were hesitant in condemning her.
The lawyer and solicitor in charge of Alhaji Dambazzau’s estate, Barrister Demba, called for a meeting, where the sole agendum would be the reading of the last will and Testament of Alhaji Dambazzau, it was to be held in Alhaji’s own house in the estate. That day, Bimpe knew she would meet Yusuf, so she was ready to turn on her charms. She dressed in a charcoal black, midi dress, which hugged her curves, and covered her hair with a silver hijab. She wanted Yusuf to feel her presence when she arrived, so she took her time, wanting to be the last to arrive. Alhaja Zainab was brought to the house in a Black Maria, she was wearing an orange jumpsuit, and her hands were handcuffed immediately she got out of the van. Yusuf’s heart bled when he saw his mother in that state, whatever hypnotic effect, Bimpe’s beauty had on him were immediately dismissed. So, when Bimpe sashayed into Alhaji’s living room, smiling specifically at Yusuf, all he saw was a she-devil, and the hate in his heart grew.
Alhaja: “You dressed for the occasion, didn’t you? You little whore, too bad you will be getting nothing”
Bimpe: “If I get nothing, I will contest the will, because you seem so sure I will be getting nothing, did you falsify my husband’s last will?”
Yusuf: “Mother” he said with steel in his voice, then turned to look at Bimpe menacingly.
Barrister Demba: “When you all are done bickering, can we get to the business of the day?” He said as he brought out of his port folio, a big brown envelope.
Barrister Demba: “As you can see, the seal is not broken. This is the last will and testament of Alhaji Mustapha Dambazzau” He said and before them, broke the seal and brought out, a lone piece of paper. Everyone present looked on with anticipation; uppermost on their minds was what Alhaji had left for them, the room was electrified with tension. Bimpe got up abruptly, and walked to the kitchen, everyone turned to look at her receding figure with surprise. She poured coffee beans into the Scanfrost coffee maker.
Yusuf: “What, are you waiting for, Barrister?”
Barrister Demba: “Mrs. Bimpe Dambazzau, has to be here for the reading” he said. Bimpe came back after a few minutes, with a cup of coffee in her hands.
Bimpe: “Sorry everyone, I needed this, the tension here is palpable” she said’
Question: What is going to be Bimpe’s fate, will she get anything from Alhaji Dambazzau, or will she be thrown out of the estate. How would Yusuf avenge his mother, what is the fate of Alhaja Zainab?
To be continued on 5th April
Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.
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