Alhaji came running from the prayer mat where he was meditating. As hajiya’s sorrowful cry pierced the peaceful atmosphere of the house, all the rooms emptied its occupants as wives, children, relations and domestic workers, ran into each other trying to make out the room from where they had heard the cry.
Alhaji came thundering into the room, with his heart beating wild against his ribs. When he saw his wife lying behind the lifeless and blood stained body of his only son, he felt his strong legs quivering from the weight of his huge body. He held on to the wall for balance and proceeded to where hajiya was lying down.
Alhaji: “What is this that I am seeing this morning? What happened to the apple of my eyes?”
Hajiya continued to sob and wail loudly.
Alhaji: “I am talking to you, what happened to my son”.
Hajiya Hauwa: “I don’t know o, alhaji. They have killed my only child for me o”, she grabbed the edge of her wrapper and cleaned the phlegm running from her nose into her mouth. “I had just finished my morning prayers when I decided to wake Yusuf up to pray, I met him in this condition when I got here. Whoever killed my child should come and kill me too o. What will I be doing in this world without Yusuf”.
Alhaji: “Innanilahi wa innnanilahi rajun. By Allah, I swear that whoever has done this will pay with his or life. I will make sure I fish out the murderer even if it means using everything I have. I swear by Allah SWT that even if he or she has gone to hide in hell, I will bring him from there to face the consequences of his actions. My son was such a promising boy, he does not deserve to die in such a gruesome manner”.
News of the murder of Yusuf spread among the workers and they were all seized with fear.
Justina was sleeping soundly in her room when she heard hajiya’s agonizing cry. She ignored it but when it persisted and she heard footsteps running about in confusion, she got up and went towards the direction of the noise. Her heart flew to her mouth when she saw people gathered in Yusuf’s room. Gradually, like one dazed, she edged forward squeezing her way in between the crowd. When she saw the gory sight of her son’s lifeless body, she gave out an agonizing wail and passed out.
Some minutes later, security operatives came and carried Yusuf away and mapped out his room as crime scene forbidding anyone from going in as this could affect their investigations. There was heavy security presence in the house to forestall further attacks on the members of the household.
Alhaji was in his bathroom washing his body which had been stained when he carried his son’s body, he was in deep thought as to who the murderer of his son could be and didn’t hear the knock on his door. As soon as he stepped out, he felt a gentle tap on his door and it startled him. “What has this world turned into? Even a knock on the door now startles me”, he thought. “Yes, who is that?”
Police man: “It is me, alhaji. An investigator is here to see you”.
Alhaji: “Okay. Tell him I will be down shortly”.
Policeman: “Yes, sir”.
Quickly, he threw his black jalabiya over his body which had lost its sparkle when he beheld his son’s body. He grabbed his rosary which he had bought during his last visit to Medina and hurried downstairs. As soon as the investigator saw him, he got up.
Idoko: “Good morning, alhaji. Forgive me for disturbing the peace of your household this morning. I am AIG Idoko from the Force Headquarters. You can simply call me Idoko, I am not one for titles and protocol”.
Alhaji stretched out his right hand for a handshake.
Alhaji: “You are welcome, my friend. What do we offer you? Tea? Coffee?”
Idoko: “Ah, nothing alhaji. When I am on an official mission, I prefer to work on empty stomach. It is just a matter of personal caution. Thanks for your magnanimity”.
Alhaji: “It is okay, I understand”.
Idoko: “Also, in accordance with my usual way of kick starting things, I will like to tender my heartfelt condolences over the death of your only son. Sketchy information gathered by me reveals that the boy was an unassuming and cheerful chap. May Allah SWT rest his soul and comfort you accordingly”.
Alhaji: “Your words are soothing, thank you”.
Idoko: “As a top notch investigator, I have been assigned to handle your son’s murder case and considering the personality involved, I mean your political position, the governor has given me a limited time to fish out the murderer and bring him or her to face the law.
To achieve this, I need your indubitable cooperation as head of this household. I believe that if you lead by example, other members will follow suit. And during the course of my investigation, nobody will be spared including you. May I ask this of you, alhaji and I demand your most unpretentious reply. Do I have your approval to stake out the murderer of your son?”
Alhaji: “Why not, isn’t that what you have come here for? You have my absolute permission and cooperation. Do not hesitate to ask for anything whenever you need it. And of course, every member of this household is yours to drill as you wish”.
Idoko: “Thank you very much, alhaji. Now we can begin properly. May I ask you the number of people in this household apart from you?”
Alhaji: “I have three wives, 15 children, excluding my late son and a number of relations, domestic workers and personal aids which I have lost count of”.
Idoko: “Aiye. The life of a Nigerian politician. You have so many people working under you that you do not even know their number. That is by the way. I will like to meet with every member of this household. By everyone, I mean wives, children, relations, workers, etc. how soon can you arrange that, alhaji”.
Alhaji: “Immediately”. He picked up the intel in the house and dialed hajiya’s telephone. “Umar gida, instruct everyone to come down to the sitting room for an important briefing”.
Idoko: “Umar gida? Is that the pet name you call your wife?”
Alhaji: “Yes. You see, we Northerners refer to our first wives as uwar gida which means mother of the house. It is her duty to receive instruction from me and pass it to everyone. She is the mother of my deceased son”.
Idoko: “Oh, the plight of a woman in a polygamous home. I can imagine her pain of having to carry out her husband’s instruction after losing a child. By the way, there was a gun shot in this house and you have so many occupants, how comes nobody heard the sound of the gun?
Alhaji: “Oh that, this is my personal house. All the rooms have sound proof walls. Such that if anyone is inside the room, you don’t hear the sound from other people’s room to avoid disturbances. I didn’t know something like this will happen. You know, I have the money, why shouldn’t I live in a house I have built to my taste”.
Idoko: “Nigerian politicians! Sometimes your excesses with money is the cause of your own problems. As a member of House of Representatives, you live in a sound proof house. Do you know how many lives the money you used to do that can affect positively?”
All the occupants of the house made their way into the sitting room in twos and threes interrupting their discussion. The last to enter was Justina who looked ten years older than her age since the incidence that morning. AIG Idoko stood up from his seat and walked to each one of them staring in to their faces for some seconds before moving on to the other.
He returned to his seat and scribbled something in his notepad. After some minutes of silence that seemed like eternity to Justina, Idoko spoke up.
Idoko: Alhaji, are these all?”
Alhaji: “Yes, except my youngest wife Salma who went to visit her mother yesterday. She is due to return tomorrow”.
Idoko: “I see. How often does she, I mean your wife go on such visits?”
Alhaji: “Rarely, except during Sallah festivities. I was surprised when she told me she was going there yesterday afternoon. But I allowed her because she sounded like she received a distress call from home”.
Idoko: “Okay. Where does her mother whom she has gone to visit live?”
Alhaji: “Here in Abuja. At no 49, Isabella street, Wuse Zone 2”. Idoko quickly doodle the address in his notepad. May I ask who the mother of the deceased is here”.
Hajiya Hauwa who had not spoken to anyone since she left Yusuf’s room after his body was taken away got up from where she was sitting beside alhaji.
Idoko: “Please, sit down madam. I only thought it proper to tender my sympathy to you over the death of your child”.
“Thank you”, she managed to say.
Idoko: “Since I am sure that everyone is here, I will commence by…”
“Wait”, hajiya Hauwa said weakly.
Hajiya Hauwa: “We had a guest in the house yesterday, one man who called himself Achema, he passed the night in the house but I haven’t seen him this morning”.
Justina turned pale at the mention of Achema’s name. In her sorrow, she had forgotten that he spent the night in the house.
“Achema, who is Achema, what did he come to do in the house?” alhaji and others chorused concurrently.
Idoko: “And where could the strange guest be? And why is he not here?”
Question: Where is Achema? Did he murder Yusuf? Is Salma, alhaji’s youngest wife guilty?