AIG Idoko instructed some Policemen to go in search of Achema in all the rooms and they returned to say they couldn’t find him.
Idoko: “I see that this strange visitor called Achema is the prime suspect in this murder case. However…”
Hajiya Hauwa interrupted him.
HajiyaHauwa: “Prime suspect? Isn’t it obvious from his disappearance that he murdered my son? What other proof do we need?”
Idoko: “You are not far from the truth, hajiya. However, experience has taught me not to rush into conclusions in murder cases for one may end up nailing the innocent person while the guilty one is at large. Yes, his strange uninvited visit to this house and his sudden disappearance is enough reason to declare him wanted. But, I shall restrain myself from doing that for the time being because this could be a hoax by the murderer to distract us”.
Alhaji: “What are you talking about, officer? A stranger came into my house, murdered my son over the night and escaped and you are here talking about restrain? Now is the appropriate time to send people after him before he escapes from our reach”.
Idoko: “I understand how you feel but let me handle this my way. This is not politics”. He stood up and with an authoritative voice, he began to speak.
Idoko: “I am sure that you all have deduced that I am here in connection with the evil that befell this house last night/this morning. I am talking about the murder of Yusuf, whom you all know. I assume that all of you here are eager to see that the perpetrator of such bastardly act is brought to face the law. I want to as a matter of humility appeal to you all to come out clean with me here and now. If anyone is guilty of this crime or if anyone knows anything that can help the course of investigation, he or she should speak up now and I promise the punishment will be balmy as we will ensure that the prosecutor enters a plea bargaining with such a person. Need I say that withholding vital information in situations like this is a crime punishable by law? If you allow me to fish you out which I will surely do, there will be no mercy for such a person in the court of law. Research and experience has taught me that almost everyone at the locuscriminis, that is, the crime scene of this type is a suspect. Let me come down to your level, there is no way an outsider could have effectively carried out this crime without the cooperation of an insider. This is so because there are no signs to show that anyone broke into this house, nobody heard the security dogs barking in the night which would have been the case had it been the assassin came into this house in the night. All fingers point to you all as responsible for Yusuf’s murder. So, is anyone here ready to confess?”
The sitting room became as silent as a graveyard at midnight. Idoko paced up and down for few seconds and came back to his seat.
Idoko: “Very well then. I shall unravel this mystery myself. Who did the so called Achema come to visit in his house? Alhaji, was he your guest?”
Alhaji: “By Allah, I don’t know him. I didn’t even know that any guest slept in this house yesterday. Nobody told me”.
Idoko: “Who did Achema come to visit in his house?” he thundered causing them all to startle.
Hajiya Hauwa: “He said he came to see Justina”.
Idoko: “And who is Justina here? Step out quickly”.
Justina who was carried away in deep thoughts didn’t hear them mention her name. She continued to stare into space like one hypnotized when the maid close to her touched her and pushed her forward.
Idoko: “Are you Justina?”
Justina: “No, I mean yes sir”.
Idoko: “You look like you have seen a ghost. Are you ill? Or do you need medical attention?”
Justina: “I am fine. This is how I usually react to shock. Yusuf was too promising to be killed now”.
Idoko: “Oh, I see. You don’t have to cry more than the bereaved. Even the mother of the murdered child doesn’t look as bad as you do. How people think they can be more Catholic than the Pope beats my imagination. What is your relationship with Achema?”
Justina: “He is, he was…”
Idoko: “Yes, go ahead. I am listening”.
Justina: “He was my friend in the village. He only came to visit me and hajiya insisted he slept over since it was already too late for him to leave”.
Idoko: “What sort of friend?If I may ask”.
Justina: “He was my ex”.
Idoko: “Oh, so you contacted your ex to come and murder your boss’ son?”
Justina: “No! Why would I do a thing like that to my Son..?”
Idoko: “Your son you said?”
Justina: “No, I mean to Yusuf. I see him as my son, sir”.
Idoko: “I should be asking him why you had to do that. Are you trying to pay back your boss for a wrong he or his wife did to you? I mean how else can you explain that the boy was murdered the same night your boyfriend slept in the house? So, tell me, what did you do after he killed the boy? You opened the gate for him to escape right? No wonder nobody heard the dogs back at the stranger leaving the house, because the dogs recognized you as a member of this household”.
Justina boxed into a corner didn’t know what to say as the sorrow in her heart could not allow her think properly.
Idoko: “From what you have said, Justina and from my observation of your countenance since I came here, I put it to you that you and your boyfriend are prime suspects in this crime. I give you 24 hours to produce him, contact him and tell him to turn himself over to the police or you shall be arrested and charged to a court of law for the murder of Master Yusuf Danbaba.
Justina: “No, you can’t do this. This is unfair. You need to listen to my story, I can never kill Yusuf”.Hajiya cast her sharp look when she heard Justina talk about story.
Idoko got up to leave. “This briefing is over, alhaji. However, let me warn that no member of this household is allowed to step outside this compound for anything. There is 24hour surveillance on this compound and its occupants. I have pasted my number on the wall, should anyone decide to offer any useful information, he or she should be free to call me. And, I am sorry that you won’t be able to bury your son today according to Islamic rights. The deceased will be released to you for burial as soon as we conclude autopsy on the body”.
Alhaji: “We shall do as you say, thank you”.
He turned to leave and they all heaved a sigh of relieve. Then he turned back.
Idoko: “Wait, not so soon. I need a comprehensive list of all the cell phone numbers of the occupants of this house. It is just a normal thing that we do during investigation. I need your numbers so that I will know when ever any of you calls me because I don’t pick anonymous calls”.
Alhaji: “As you wish. We will write it out on a sheet of paper for you”.
Idoko: “No, I want you all to give me your phones so that I can dial my number, that way saving it will be easier. You know, I have time for such frivolities”, he said with a mirthless smile on his lips.
As soon as news of Yusuf’s death got to Salma, she returned to her husband’s house and ran upstairs like on who was being chased by an armed robber.
Somewhere in the rooms, someone dialed a number.
Caller: “Can you hear me? Make sure you find him and kill him before he exposes us. Make sure you get him before they get him, else we both go down”.
Justina who was contemplating what to do after the death of her son and afraid that the investigator may arrest her as he had threatened picked up her phone to dial the investigator’s number to tell him the truth about her murdered son. She dialed the number and waited for it to ring.
Question: Who was the caller and what does the instruction mean? Is the investigator’s life in danger? Why did Salma run upstairs immediately she got to the house? Will Justina tell the investigator the truth?
Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.
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